Saturday, 20 January, 2007

St Tropez des Neiges turns forty

Avoriaz, in the Haute-Savoie will officially celebrate its 40th birthday today but the ski resort had a difficult birth, almost going bankrupt until the intervention of Pierre et Vacances boss Gérard Brémond. It’s childhood was no less troubled. The ski resort was the dream of Olympic ski champion Jean Vuarnet. Native of Morzine he had built a cable car to the Avoriaz plateau in 1963 but had run out of money. He contacted Paris based builer Gérard Brémond who was only too happy to work in the mountains.

Posted by davidof at 09:54 AM
• (0) Comments •

Wednesday, 03 January, 2007

Series of avalanche incidents in the Alps

Reports have come in about a serious avalanche incident on the Glacier de Pendant above the Bochard gondola lift at Grands Montets, part of the Chamonix Mont-Blanc ski area. A 20 year old local man was buried under 1 meter of fresh snow at around 11h20. He had left the open Bochard run to ski some off-piste couloirs with a friend who gave the alert.

val d'isere avalanche
Probe line at Val d’Isère - photo JC Souillac

Posted by davidof at 04:57 PM
• (6) Comments •

Monday, 01 January, 2007

Val d’Isere for sale?

The rumour has been doing the rounds over Christmas. The Blas family are looking for a cool half Billion euros for the Sofival which controls the ski lifts of Val d’Isère, La Rosière, Valmorel and Avoriaz. The main name in the frame is the Compagnie des Alpes (CdA) which already run 8 of the 12 top French ski resorts including nearby Tignes, la Plagne and les Arcs.

face bellevarde

Posted by davidof at 12:02 AM
• (5) Comments •

Thursday, 21 December, 2006

Mayor of Chamonix sees red

The mayor of Chamonix, Michel Charlet has described plans to paint the summit of Mont-Blanc red as “stupid and illegal”. A Danish artist, Marco Evaristti wants to colour the summit of Western-Europe’s highest mountain with fruit based pigments to draw attention to the pollution in the Alps caused by tourism. Charlet told the AFP news agency that there has been a earlier project to “paint the glaciers blue” by another team and said that Evaristti was a self-publicist.

mont blanc
Artist’s impression of the red Mont-Blanc

Posted by redac at 12:18 PM
• (19) Comments •

Thursday, 14 December, 2006

Final Solution for Flaine

The French Alpine ski resorts are known for their rugged slopes. Normally these kind of runs need close to a meter of snow in order to be skiable. The high mountain terrain can also be challenging to less than expert skiers. One of the consequences of climate change is that snow depths are thinner, particularly at the start of the season. Snow canons can be used to lay down base but they are costly to run both in terms of water and energy resources.

Durable development?

Posted by davidof at 08:50 PM
• (3) Comments •

Wednesday, 29 November, 2006

Aux armes citoyens!

Skiers in the Hautes-Pyrenees department have been faced with a nasty surprise as they have queued up to by their ”gens du pays” lift passes. The department’s prefect has told ski resorts that it is illegal for them to offer discounts to locals or any other form of discriminatory pricing. 

Posted by davidof at 05:31 PM
• (4) Comments •

Sunday, 26 November, 2006

Grands Montets closed ‘till Christmas

The Grands Montets domain, part of the Chamonix Mont-Blanc ski area will be closed until around the 20th of December following the discovery of problems with the structure of the load cables of the first section of the cable car during tests in October. The closure also appears to affect the Plan Joran chair which passes under the cables.

Posted by redac at 02:04 PM
• (6) Comments •

Sunday, 19 November, 2006

Prison sentence for snowboarders after fatal avalanche

Two snowboarders who triggered an avalanche that killed a girl at La Clusaz in February 2003 have been sentenced to 2 and 4 months in prison. They had been tried for “manslaughter due to lack of care, negligence or security”. Both sentences were suspended by the Annecy Criminal Court. On the day of the accident Météo France had announced a considerable avalanche risk (3 on a scale of 5) with particular dangers close to ridgelines.

la clusaz avalanche
© Frederic Laugier

Posted by redac at 11:00 PM
• (3) Comments •

Tuesday, 14 November, 2006

Locals Duped by Compagnie du Mont Blanc Ads?

According to an article published in Monday’s edition of regional paper Le Dauphiné Libéré (titled in English “With or Without Courmayeur” - page 7) the new season and yearly passes for the Mont Blanc ‘Unlimited’ area are actually quite the opposite and do not include Courmayeur. Pistehors.com reader Rich already told us that the Mont Blanc unlimited season pass advertises access to Courmayeur all season long. However when he went to buy his pass the CMB revealed that it was a “mistake” in the advertising.

Posted by firechick at 10:59 PM
• (10) Comments •

Saturday, 11 November, 2006

Prefect says stop to Les Houches shenanigans

At 9 million € the new gondola lift at les Houches Prarion is the biggest investment in the French Alps this winter but its opening has been threatened by a series of legal actions. This time it is not the eco-warriors of the FRAPNA or Mountain Wilderness who are objecting to the new cable car but a local lift operator. For historic reasons the ski lifts at les Houches are run by two rival companies. The THP (Télécabine Les Houches Prarion) which has recently changed its name to LHSG (Les Houches Saint Gervais) and the SEPP. Think Dallas and the Ewings and the Barnes.

les houches / prarion cable car

Posted by davidof at 09:09 PM
• (2) Comments •
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