Tree skiing in Les Gets

30th January 2012, by Chris Gill

Snow falling in Les Gets on Monday 30 January

Snow falling in Les Gets on Monday 30 January

No, it’s not sunny. Yes, it’s cold – and getting colder, we hear. But I have just spent a fabulous day’s skiing among the trees of Les Gets and Morzine, on squeaky packed powder snow, with a layer of fresh building nicely as (you guessed it ..) more snow arrives.

These may be low altitude resorts in skiing terms; but conditions here are as good as anywhere in the Alps right now. So that cold weather is welcome, and keeping the pistes in fine nick.

Our arrival in Les Gets was neatly timed: there was 20cm of fresh powder to play in and it was Sunday afternoon – so the day trippers from Geneva would be leaving shortly. We spent a rewarding afternoon on the gentle treelined blues and benign reds in the Chavannes sector. Snow cover is good to resort level, but the Ranfoilly bowl (1826m) in particular has some excellent soft snow at present. The trees are a distinguishing feature of both resorts; so you’ll not find much better when the weather is foggy, overcast and snowing – as it has been recently.

Plenty of snow, plenty of trees

Today was spent exploring Morzine’s network of intermediate pistes and enjoying a superbly deserted afternoon on the separate Mont-Chéry slopes above Les Gets. Having been immersed in cloud and fog on Sunday, we got a surprise on the high point of Chamossière above Morzine. At 2000m and above the cloud level, it was bathed in sunshine. The black run from here was closed, but the red provided good fun and fast carving.

Here and on Nyon are some of the more challenging slopes in this part of the Portes du Soleil. There aren’t many black runs in the ski area, but in good conditions there is excellent off-piste to be found. And there is mile after mile of rolling cruisers. Lunch was the Point de Nyon table-service restaurant, above Morzine, which is still worthy of our ‘Editors’ Choice’. The smoked duck breast salad was a notable highlight, washed down with a glass of red. At 16 euros and 4 euros, prices were reasonable for France too.

Good food at Morzine’s Pointe de Nyon

Next, it was back to Les Gets for a couple of runs down Mont Chéry, now covered in another 2-3cm of fresh snow. It’s rare to get a run to oneself, so the experience was to be savoured with a last few laps in the fading light, followed by one of the best hot chocolates that I have supped in a while. The pit stop was the Grand Ourse hut, managed by Brits who lovingly restored it from a derelict building five years ago and now run it as a restaurant/bar.

Les Gets is delightfully charming, especially at night with festive lights and cute shops.There are also plenty of places to eat – only problem is deciding which one to head for. Pre-dinner drinks at the Bà Bar, next to the hospitable hotel Stella, sounds a good start …

Tomorrow we’re hoping the clouds lift a bit for a ski over at Avoriaz. From what the locals are saying, more snow is forecast and temperatures dipping to the minus 20’s – if they do that, it will be the coldest winter in the area since 1952, apparently.

Above the clouds on Chamossière, Morzine

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