Well, we decided to give them a go – snow shoes that is. And Wow, what fun they are! Makes walking in snow a breeze, very sure footed on slush or ice, so no more trying to keep your feet straight sliding about in normal boots. You can just power on up the hills with practically no fatigue. We went to the base station of St. Gervais – Le Bettex – and walked out directly from there, straight up the piste to Mt. D’Arbois at 1840m, then out along the ridge towards Mont Joux, but stopped for a beer half way, so probably about 1900m. I think Bettex is about 1250m, so about 600m of climb. After enjoying the well earned beer, we took a slightly longer downhill following one our our normal ski runs back to Bettex. The snow shows and accompanying sticks were EU3.50 for the afternoon, so very good value. You could by the same for about EU50, so not really worth the investment as we’d not really have use for them at home.
Yesterday (Weds) we tried to drive over towards Bourg St. Maurice in order to see if we could ski in Les Arcs or Le Plagne, but the Cormet de Roseland (mountain pass) is still closed for the winter. We tried to see how far up we could drive, but eventually you come across barriers and snow on the road, so gave up. We parked a little lower down, and tried to walk up towards the Lac de Roseland, a large artificial lake used for Hydro Electric. Unfortunately we were walking up the access road to the base of the dam – on the map it looked like the road would take us out onto the perimeter road, but alas we were just at the foot of the dam wall. We probably shouldn’t have been there – we passed a No Entry sign on the road and barrier but thought ‘what the hell’ and carried on. It was all very peaceful walking up though a steep sided, partly forested valley.
As we approached the dam wall, it reminded me of some WWII movie (Heroes of Telemark?) set in an alpine forest somewhere, where the mission was to destroy the dam or some such. Anyway, all slightly creepy, I was expecting any moment for the Gestapo to come running out of the trees or the dam (there were tunnels leading into the rock around the base of the dam) and start shouting ‘Halt’ or some such! As it was, we did see a couple of EDF workers as we started to retrace our steps – they didn’t seem bothered by our presence but equally were not friendly so probably thought ‘stupid tourists’!
So we walked back down to the car, and then drove off to Albertville for a short stop and wander around the town (no redeeming features), and then took a leisurely and scenic drive back through some of the mountainside villages. As this was away from the normal ski areas, it meant we got to see a little bit more of rural mountain living, still quite a few active farmers, lovely old barns and quite a lot of large, posh looking chalets, so no doubt the same problem as we have – professionals commuting to the larger towns for work. Still – a bloody lovely please to live – spectacular scenery, fresh mountain air – very tempting!
Today is another lovely sunny day (clouding over forecast for the weekend and possibly rain on Monday), so today we’ll go walking again – can’t wait to try the snow shoes again – and tomorrow probably back to Flaine for another days skiing on decent snow. Pretty much all of the areas immediately around us are now so trashed that there is little enjoyment in skiing them – only the very top runs have actual snow on them rather than slush and mud – and it makes it too limiting. Flaine is near enough and has sufficient high runs to make it worth the effort.
Will try to get back to the internet cafe tomorrow to post some more pictures and video. Will try and get some video today of the walk and the scenery, so you can watch us flap about like penguins!
Alas the holiday must be starting to come to an end as we have started talking about routes back and best day to leave. Seems such a shame not to be able to just keep it up – I have always loved mountain scenery ever since visiting Denver and the Rockies. The perfect setup would be a little chalet with a large panoramic view of the mountains and the desk just in front, so that I can sit and be inspired whilst I work!. Bit of a commute back to Wiveliscombe though for customer visits!