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  • Journey to La Plagne

    Left Maidstone at 4am on Wednesday (last day of October) to drive to La Plagne with Hazal, Alan (who drove all the way) and chalet host Jodie.

    It turned out to be good that we were early for our Tunnel boarding as we found a deviation from the M20 which added 20 minutes.  Cold and damp with the forecast of rain, I was wrapped up in a knee blanket in the back seat with a carrier bag of snack food at my feet, so, nice and cosy!  A bit of a disaster through the tunnel as we discovered that the passenger side window wouldn’t stay up…. so a quick garage stop to get  Duct Tape, a great fix.  Out onto the French Autoroute into surprisingly clear and pleasant weather and I had the good fortune to have a nap for about an hour.  Very clear roads with modest traffic all the way and we hit the outskirts of Lyon about 2 o’clock, making decent time and no drama’s.  Soon after that and we were hitting the beginnings of the Alps and some snow covered peaks coming into view.  By the time we arrived at Albertville we had established that the snow was all above the tree line at 2000 metres.  On to Moutiers and Aime, then it was the steep climb up to resort in bright sunshine, the trees now all different shades of red and brown, the Autumn beauty that makes the Alps such a wondrous place.

    Now we are passing the Bob Sleigh and a light snow covering down to La Roche below us, thats getting steadily deeper as we climbed up past 1800 and into Plagne Centre. Here was a deviation to avoid the new bridge being built over the debutantes’ piste that goes under Hotel France and on up past Soleil, the snow now looking much more solid and we arrived at Bon Coin with the chalet looking very wintery indeed.  In was 4.30pm and right on schedule…so… well done Alan!

    Greeted at the door by Dan the Chef who had travelled out the day before us and I was delighted to find all new carpets in the hallway and stairwell and into the lounge where a crackling log fire complemented the new carpet and deep red plush seat coverings.

    My winter home has never looked so good… now it’s diet and exercise time as I impatiently wait for ski-ing to begin….

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  • Len October 2018

    Well into October now and starting to get into skiing mode (mentally that is!).  Keep telling myself to do some knee bends, but, so far, have resisted temptation!  Instead I have been dreaming about some of my favourite runs and today the long drop from the top of the Becoin chair out of Plagne Centre descending to La Roche where one of my favourite restaurants sits alongside the chairlift (great steakhouse).  Off we go to the right off the top of the chair and schuss along the top of the ridge putting in the occasional shallow turn to keep the speed reasonable.  At the very end bearing right and into the steep red which overlooks almost every part of the whole of La Plagne.  Great view and a good photo opportunity.  Carve down the red and two big turns and you’re onto the flat bit at the bottom.  Choices here with a modest blue to the right and my own route to the left and into the steep and wide red (should be a black really) going down towards the huge Aime 2000 building (designed to look like trees from a distance, but failing miserably).  Keep an eye on your speed at the end section as there will be people standing about at the top of the Golf chairlift.  Then it’s into Golf itself taking care to give some of the beginner skiers plenty of space.  But here the snow is always good and the area is a great confidence booster…. down to the bottom going past the restaurant Les Bonne Vie Temps (Good Old Times) where the lazy ones can stop for a great mid-morning hot chocolate and to the right of the Golf chair entrance.  Now you’re at the edge of the drop into the Andre Martzolf route towards La Roche.  That first drop is one of the most exciting and exhilerating sections in the whole run.  Rounded and gullied with (if you choose it) a drop so steep half way down that you feel as if you’re flying, the back of your ski’s off the snow and head and shoulders hanging forwards…. great.  You have to stop at the bottom just to get your breath as for sure you won’t be breathing normally on that section.  Then it’s a left turn and onto the easy bit of the run, undulating and smooth with very few other skiers around to annoy you.  But it lulls you into a false sense of security as you turn at the end where it joins the Emile Allais red and suddenly it’s steep again.  Reach a long way down with your poles here to make sure you can turn as you need to, pausing for a moment on the narrow track that crosses the run before diving into the final steep section.  Here the snow can sometimes be patchy so you need to pick your route with care.  A final swoop to the bottom and then it’s off with the ski’s and into the Roche restaurant for a great steak lunch… you’ve earned it….

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  • Len’s Thoughts – 4.10.18

    Colder weather on the way and the first snows of the winter starting to drop.  Time to get prepared with some leg exercises (ouch!) and think about our favourite runs of last season.  Most days, on my way to lunch, I chose the route to Plagne Soleil and Monica’s Restaurant via the Becoin lift out of Plagne Centre.  Turning right off the top of the lift and along the ridge a short schuss to the beginning of the steep red running directly towards Plagne Centre and parallel with the “Stade” where all the slalom training goes on.  Always good snow and an exhilerating fast drop where great carved turns are a “must”.  Never many people, so you pick your own route easily.  By the time you reach the wider and flatter lower section take some care because you can be going faster than your energy can deal with!  Bear left and then right where the slightly narrower section begins with maybe a few bumps to negotiate… but go slowly to make sure you do not shoot past the track going off to the left and heading for Plagne 1800.  A short schuss to the tiny wooden bridge leading to the Jean Marie piste.  Watch out for possible icy patches but you are quickly past and into the piste proper where wide carved turns make you feel good.  A good drop towards the bottom of the Meleze chair taking care on the steeper bottom section where a few skiers can be standing at the chair entrance.  Up the chair and off left at the top to then grab the Bergerie lift.  Braver skiers can then almost schuss the whole way down Ecarte (not me!) and right to the door of Monica’s… ready for a hot wine and a Spag’ Bol’…. great.

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  • Time to dream again of the runs I enjoyed last winter

    Join me as we complete one of the longest drops in La Plagne, from Roche De Mio at 2700m via Levasset all the way to Champagny at 1250m. 

    Set off down what we have nick-named the “M25” from the top of the Bubble to Inversens Restaurant.  Varies according to how busy, but always advised to ski at a moderate pace to handle the often awkwardly shaped bumps and the even more awkwardly ski-ing skiers!  Safely at the crossroads opposite the restaurant and pause to admire the scenery.  Here’s where brave skiers can let it all hang out as we go left to follow the line of the Carella chair…. the long schuss winding down to the rope tow which helps if, like me, you’re not going quite quick enough to make it up the short uphill bit at the end.  Now a bit steeper and needing better technique to negotiate the right turn down to the Quillis restaurant, the signs to slow down warn you of skiers coming in at different angles, so very necessary.  Always a pause just past the restaurant where it drops sharply and lots of people, all deciding when and where to go.  Be bold and head more or less straight down, killing speed with some short sliding turns and hitting the fast schuss at the bottom in full control.  Keep over the front of your ski’s to maintain speed, veering to the right before having a pause before it steepens off again.  Here is where I enter one of my favourite parts of the mountain, dropping off the piste to the left into the valley which runs parallel to the Levasset piste.  Almost always soft snow and good shaped bumps, keeping well forward and picking your way down, using your poles to mark each short turn.  Very hard work, but exhilerating.

    Half way down and the bravest always zoom up the steep jump to the left (not always landing on their feet!).  I never do it and go slightly right and stay in the valley, short sharp turns all the way to where the valley ends and re-joins the piste, thoroughly exhausted and skin leaking!

    Keeping left onto the track heading for the Borselier restaurant (whose giant hot chocolate is well worth stopping for).  Now we leave the end of Levasset, heading behind the bottom of the chair and into Les Bois red.

    Like many of the trickier runs, Les Bois (trans. The Woods) starts with a wide and gentle beginning, always good snow into the forest area.  After about 500 metres or so the serious skiing begins and you need to be on top of your game as the track becomes much more narrow and steep with some very sharp turns.  Not a place to be careless.  Turning on your big toes and using your poles to pick the route.  I always have a very short pause on each of the sharp turns to make sure that there isn’t a skier prostrate in the snow out of sight.  The skiing here is brilliant, when, like most of the time, it’s soft and fresh, but hard graft if it’s hard pack and icy.  Just as you’re getting exhausted you arrive at the gentler run to the bottom, wider and easy, but often so fast it takes you by surprise.

    At last you arrive at the bottom of the bubble car where there is a snack hut serving delicious home made cakes to be eaten on the way back up.  Time for lunch?

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  • Midsummer Thoughts of Snow

    Been dreaming of last winter and the many runs I enjoyed in fabulous snow.  I’ll be re-living some of these with you during these midsummer days.

    Malatray Black below Crozats in La Plagne.  One of my favourite black runs which starts next to the restaurant at the top of the chair from Les Bauches.  An easy lead-in to fool the inexperienced with a shallow track at the bottom of the Crozats area.  Then, just above two derelict old farm buildings, a steeper bit that leads around them.  Need to control the speed, maybe side-slipping it off a bit so that on the rear side of the buildings you can stop at the edge of what initially looks like a cliff edge!  Much much steeper with some nicely rounded moguls, so really get over the front of your ski’s, steering on your big toes using the shape of the moguls to control, turning on some of the tops an using the sides to slide and slow while also, if you’re sharp enough switching quickly from ski to ski to keep in the “valleys” between the bumps.  Great feeling that, but lots of energy required.  The middle section gets tricky as it narrows up and here the use of your poles becomes very important, reaching down as low as possible on each turn and almost lifting the backs of your ski’s out of the snow and making sure your head and shoulders stay well forward.  Into the lower section which is always less bumpy.  By this time your body is telling you to stop and have a long rest… instead let the ski’s slide downwards as well as sideways to kill the height with the least amount of effort and suddenly you are on the track leading to the Les Bauches chairlift, feeling good.  Great run.

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