Sunday, October 21, 2018

Val Cenis: Diehard Skiing and Boarding in Mini-Blizzard Conditions

Our third day of skiing is probably the most epic we’ve had in this Val Cenis winter sports holiday in the French Alps.

This the beginning of the Flambeau slope.

The Girarde chairlift in Termignon.

There was a warning of a mini blizzard and non-stop snowing. Some of the lifts were closed and we were already thinking of just calling it off but decided to research on which lifts were open. Indeed, there were a number of lifts open in the mountains, so we decided to pick a route that would be safe for us.

We chose the route from Les Champs to Lanslebourg via the Ramasse chairlift and then to Termignon via the Turra and Sources chairlifts. We got lucky that they were open despite the weather warning. And I just love this skiing from village to village. It thrills me about the idea that I am visiting a village in the alpine mountains on my skis! Let's go!

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Our breakfast:  Greek yogurt with oats, cereal, blueberries, and pomegranate seeds. Super delicious. 

Great slope conditions.

We just got off the Pre Novel chairlift and will be skiing towards Lanslebourg.

The last time we were in Termingon was the day before this and we took the blue slopes, Flambeau Traverse and Forestiere so we will try the red slope called Bois des Coq this time which will bring us to the village of Termignon. It’s bad weather so I don’t think the outdoor terraces will be lively in the village so I have adjusted my expectations.

Well, what can you say, the higher we got up in the mountain, the whiter it became and the snow didn’t stop at all. It was dry snow so it was okay, it’s just that visibility was a bit of an issue. We pressed on with our plans to visit Lanslebourg and Termignon.

We quickly noticed as well that there were very few skiers and boarders. A lot seemed to have made the decision to stay indoors. Except us!

Getting off the Turra chairlift...

We are taking the Sources chairlift here to go up to 2300 meters.

When we reached 2300 meters via the Sources lift which connects us to the other side of the mountain, the weather conditions worsened. We wondered if we made the right decision of skiing on that day.

Well, there was a blizzard up there! It was so bad that we had to stop every now and then to gather ourselves because we were experiencing some Siberian-like snowstorm, well at least similar to the ones I saw on TV. Strong chilly and painful winds slapping your cheeks, it literally takes your breath away, like a few seconds you cannot breathe. There are gusts of snow whirling away like dust everywhere and forming small tornados. Visibility was almost zero, it was total whiteout.

Did I get scared? Well, honestly, just a little bit =)

Dutchman tried to take a picture of the blizzard but not sure if he was successful with this one.

Moi braving into the mini-blizzard conditions!

We were diehards so we pressed on, haha. We were able to visit both villages which looked like ghost towns anyway because of the bad weather, so we didn’t really stayed long and have a drink there.

But because of this mini-blizzard weather, our skiing and boarding got delayed, we were behind our planned schedule. The lifts kept on stalling because of the strong winds. It was a bit intimidating to be up in a chairlift with strong winds. You can pretty much feel the weight of the wind rocking the hanging chair you are sitting on as you watch the tall massive pine trees sway and drop huge loads of snow to the ground. By the time we were in Termignon, we had to hurry to go back up so we will not miss our connection via Lanslebourg to Les Champs.

Check out the ski map here: Val Cenis Ski Map

You cannot see it in this picture but the chairlifts and the pine trees were SWAYING really hard.

We skied down to 2100 meters at the bottom of the Grand Coin lift and encountered this ski class. They were calling it a day and are going down.

The village of Termignon is like a ghost town. The outdoor cafe terraces were closed because of the bad weather conditions.

We didn’t miss it but for some reason, we decided to take the narrow Traverse blue slope to Lanslebourg. We were hoping to ski down on time to get the connecting Ramasse lift that will take us to the Escargot green slope that is linked to our village, Les Champs. Well, the decision to take the Traverse slope was bad. Well knew it snowed a lot and normally the ski resorts keep the pistes on top shape, but they didn’t do anything at all with the Traverse! #toughluck

There were many pine branches and stones on the piste. Skiers can easily inch away but this proves more challenging to boarders. In addition to this, the Traverse blue slope is super narrow and some terrain is a bit flat too. Big trouble for the Dutchman on a snowboard. For moi, I just glide down straight and forward. Boarders, however, needed space to criss-cross. But there is very little space left because the already narrow slope has been made narrower due to the deluge of snow. Poor Dutchman!

We were running out of time and we knew we will not catch the Ramasse lift. I had to slow down a bit because the troubled Dutchman was inching down real slow, he is having problems turning. And before we knew it, the watch from the ski resort on a snowmobile scooter was behind us, well, in this case, following behind the Dutchman closely. I was perhaps several hundred meters ahead but throughout the downhill run, I kept a good distance and eye on the Dutchman.

The Dutchman being rescued by the snow mobile scooter and overtaking me. Not fair!

The rule at ski resorts is that someone does the survey, like a watch at the end of the day to make sure no one is left in the mountains. Now this guy on the snowmobile was the one doing the mountain we were on. He was patiently following the Dutchman until I guess he got impatient and told Dutchman to hop on at the back of his mobile scooter.

So while I struggled to ski on a flat blue slope, both of them vroomed past me, the Dutchman with a huge wide grin and waving his hands with the camera. Cheeky Dutchman is getting ahead of me! No way! But why is he being rescued? What about me? Oh okay, it's the snowboard excuse, haha. #raisedeyebrows

So yeah, we basically closed the mountain ourselves on our third day of skiing =)

The guy from the ski resort who rescued the Dutchman. He didn't rescue me though! lol

We took the (free) ski shuttle bus from Lanslebourg to Les Champs. What a day!

Travel Period: January 2018
Destination: Val Cenis, Savoie (Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes), France

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Dutched Pinay Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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