It is with great sadness that the PisteHors crew have learned of the closure this season of Chambon les Neiges, a microstation perched on the slopes of an extinct volcano in the Grand Vallee of the Auvergne.
Reports say that work has already begun on dismantling the lifts and an abandoned Ratrac was seen buried under a snow drift. The tourist board has contacted PisteHors to say that everyone in the office regretted the news, especially in view of the excellent snow this year.
To anyone passionate about micro-stations, this is a day of mourning. With the Microsoftisation of the mountains is there still a place for these havens from cattle trucks in the ski, perfect slope grooming and the coming hyper-resorts such as La Plagne / Arcs? Where will tomorrows skiers come from? Where’s the challenge, the savage beauty? Maybe we are too nostalgic, but we are not the only ones. Mighty l’Alpe d’Huez has woken up to the risks of ski factories and devil take the hindmost. They have invested in l’Alpe du Grand Serre, worried that if small family stations vanish young people will turn to other sports.
There are other challenges ahead, Mont Serien on the Ventoux also risks closure as does Artouste in the Pyrenees, in the latter case a petition is being organised. So cancel that weekend waiting for buses in Chamonix, forego the lift queues of Courchevel and see what else there is to offer.