Col de Porte ski station closed

The Col du Porte is blanketed under a meter of fresh snow. Perfect skiing conditions. But the five “Poma” lifts and the lone chair sit idle, the only sound the clinking of the perches as they move in the breeze. The Col du Porte started life back in 1935, one of the France’s very first ski resorts. Before the war motor transport was rare and the Grenoblois would cycle up early on Saturday morning, skis strapped to their backs.

col de porte
Sunset on the col de Porte

At the time the drag lift was custom built, largely in wood, by a carpenter called Rossat. The resort was run by Pierre Garin who owned a hotel and restaurant at the col. Since the 1950s the resort has also been the center of Meteo France’s snow studies research station, monitoring every crystal that falls on the 1400 meter mountain pass. The resort has adapted to recent trends with a snowpark and night skiing. However the son of the station’s founder, Paul Garin, mayor of Sarcenas, says that the resort will remain closed until a deal can be done with nearby Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse. The col de Porte is also the gateway to the classic Chamchaude ski tour, possibly the most toured mountain in the world and the area was a model of peaceful co-existence between randonneurs and downhill skiers.

Further Information

St Pierre de Chartreuse, Paradise Lost?

Posted by davidof on Tuesday, 15 January, 2008 at 09:32 AM


Tout est dit dans le 1er reportage du mercredi 16/01
de l’édition locale de grenoble de france3 :


Posted by  on  Friday, 18 January, 2008  at 09:29 PM

Merci Man,

There is a big article in the Daube today covering the situation at the Col de Porte.

Michel Becle-Berland, mayor of Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse claims the situation is not his fault. Paul Garin says St Pierre has been delaying things for 3 years. According to Roger Caracache, mayor of nearby le Sappey, it has the best snow cover in the Chartreuse. Certainly ski tourers often climb the Chamchaude mountain from November to the end of April. Mr Caracache says le Sappey is overloaded by disappointed skiers who have found the Col de Porte closed.

Paul Garin, the current owner wants to sell up and the SIVU of Saint-Pierre-Planolet wants to buy so where is the problem? According to St Pierre, Mr Garin has not complied with current legislation. There is no « délégation de service public » so there is no authorization to operate the ski domain. This sounds like a technical point to us, the delegation of a public service is require when a state or local authority wants to outsource part of its operations to a private company – such as rubbish collection. St Pierre (and others) claim the ski lifts do not comply with current standards. Mr Garin says he has the necessary paperwork from the prefecture and that everything is in order, the lifts can be started tomorrow.

St Pierre has suggested that the Col de Porte becomes a minority stakeholder in the SIVU. Mr Garin says this would limit the communes control over the area and also make them liable for losses at St Pierre. According to St Pierre the ski station is “worthless”, Mr Garin wants the “price of a studio flat in Grenoble”. St Pierre claims an immediate investment of 90 000 € is needed to start operations with another 700 - 900 000 € within three years. The SIVU is looking for another cash injection from the Isere General Council. St Pierre also needs the Col de Porte’s better snow cover. Mr Garin is also negociating with private investors.

We spoke to some locals from Sarcenas who seem very loyal to their Mayor and don’t seem overly disposed to the maneuverings in neighbouring St Pierre. This story looks set to run on.

Col de Porte - Dauphine Libere

Posted by davidof on  Sunday, 20 January, 2008  at 12:08 AM

Man, David,

Thanks for the extra info - very interesting. Looks like it won’t be ready this season then.

I was in St Pierre on Saturday as it happens. Had a quick lunch in town where a couple of old locals were discussing whether they should put in a bid!


Posted by  on  Tuesday, 22 January, 2008  at 01:36 PM

The present situation is a shame. Mr Garin asks for hardly 90000€ to sell its ski resort. The mayor of St Pierre de Chartreuse calls the resort ‘worthless’ ??! What a dumb a......e. This ski resort is perfectly located since it’s the nearest from grenoble (30 minutes), there’s a very good snowpark where a dedicated lift is running, while a four seat lift gives skiiers and snowboarders free access to a wonderful freeride domain, and of course standard wide slopes. As it was said in the article above, the snow cover there is one of the best, though it’s not high mountain (there’s plenty of fir trees). If you want to eat, the ‘3 sommets’ Inn cooks good and inexpensive meals, and they’re not the average crooks you often have to deal with when on ski holidays.
I don’t understand why Mr Garin wants to sell it to St Pierre :
- the mayor has no idea of the resort potential
- its resort is way too far from Col de Porte, no link can be made between the two.

To conclude, I’d say that it should be Le Sappey that would take over the Col de Porte Resort, because they’re really close from each other, and Le Sappey lacks a good snow cover and is often closed while Col de Porte is full of snow - as it is now !!! I really miss this resort and its freerides… sigh…

Any investor here ? There’s easy money to make !!

Posted by Olivier Desportes on  Friday, 15 February, 2008  at 12:03 PM

The point about le Sappey is good. Le Sappey is going to close its lifts at some point and stick to cross country skiing so the col de Porte would make a fantastic complement and they could develop the ski touring and snow shoe side too. There are two “mythic” summits - the Chamchaude and Charmont Som - to climb too.

Take a look at this fanstastic photo of the freeriding in the area:-

Posted by davidof on  Friday, 15 February, 2008  at 03:02 PM
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