Les Gets, FR 01/26/14

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Les Gets, FR 01/26/14

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:47 pm

Even though I've skied several times in the Alps over the past ten years, I'd had such good luck with Austria, I kept going back; however, this season, I decided to make my long-awaited first visit to the French Alps and chose a ski region with a mind-blowing amount of terrain -- 400 miles of marked trails, to say nothing of the offpiste acreage -- the Portes du Soleil, whose literal translation is "The Doors (or Gateway) to the Sun."

First, a bit of logistics. Many U.S. skiers go on about how much they'd love to go to the Alps, but never get around to it because the logistics are too daunting; you lose travel days; it's easier to fly out west, etc. Here's some food for thought and praise for the Geneva airport, which is incredibly convenient for many of the largest lift-served ski areas on earth. How convenient?

My nonstop flight spent an extra hour on the ground at Newark waiting to be de-iced during a snowstorm, but even with a 6:45 pm departure, we landed in Geneva at 7:40 the next morning. Our airport shuttle was a half hour late leaving the airport and after a quick 55-minute drive to the resort, a short breakfast, and checking into my hotel, I was still on the lift at 10:30, which is even earlier than if I'd taken the morning flight to Salt Lake City and sprinted to one of the Cottonwoods ski areas.

Long story short, you don't lose a travel day on the outbound trip and can ski at least six hours on your arrival day. Now, some people may prefer to spend the first day taking it easy and recovering from jet lag, but I'll sleep when I'm dead -- I'm there to ski. Due to the six-hour difference, there's no way around spending a travel day on the return trip, but hey, by then, you'll need some recovery time.

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I'm headquartering during my first three days in Les Gets (pronounced LAY SHJAY), a cute village with family-oriented atmosphere and terrain (mostly intermediate). The map above makes it look a smaller than it is. Basically, take Snowbasin's blue terrain and multiply it a few times and that's what it felt like.

They picked up a foot Thursday night. With the large crowds from Geneva along with many destination visitors, the cut trails had been scraped down to a hard base in many areas, but the offpiste (even five feet from the trails) was soft as could be with piles of lightly chopped pow.

Today was really overcast with flat light, so not tremendously photogenic. Moreover, I was alone: no in-action pix. Here's what I have:

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Welcome to France

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Dropping Into The Trees

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Lifts Open at 9:30 and Run Until Almost 5:00 pm

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Summit View Looking Toward Mont Chery

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Lots of Atmospheric Restaurants All Over The Mountain

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It's Europe. Lounge Chairs Are De Rigueur

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Lunch On The Deck: A Crepe With Eggs and Emmental Cheese


Sunday night and it's nuking here at valley level right now (hoping for six inches or more) so I'll probably have better visuals tomorrow.
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Re: Les Gets, FR 01/26/14

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:56 pm

Jamesdeluxe wrote:Long story short, you don't lose a travel day on the outbound trip and can ski at least six hours on your arrival day.

Not from here. We will consume 3 days in transit for 6 days of skiing (Feb. 9-14) with the Diamond Dogs in Zermatt. One of those is due to us getting on this trip a couple of weeks ago, and thus having 2 plane changes going and one coming back in order to match the timing of the transfers.

The other issue is that Portes-de-Soleil is quite close to its gateway airport in Geneva. We land in Geneva at 9:15AM, but I suspect it's going to take much of the day to get to Zermatt from there.

Overall, living in the West it's not surprising that I only had 2 Euro ski trips while I was working and counting my vacation days. For those living in the East, I agree with James on all counts.

Jamesdeluxe wrote:I'd had such good luck with Austria, I kept going back

Good move on both our parts not to be going to Austria this season, at least now. Fraser Wilkins' reports http://www.weathertoski.co.uk/ for Austria have not been good this year. Supposedly off-piste skiing is very limited.

Any issues with off-piste coverage? Portes-de-Soleil is relatively low altitude and the early season was subpar. The good news is that it's a high snowfall microclimate, so now that you're getting the snow there rates to be a lot of it vs. most other places.
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Re: Les Gets, FR 01/26/14

Postby jasoncapecod » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:45 pm

If I remember right, it took us just under 4hrs by train to Zermatt..
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Re: Les Gets, FR 01/26/14

Postby Marc_C » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:56 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:
Jamesdeluxe wrote:Long story short, you don't lose a travel day on the outbound trip and can ski at least six hours on your arrival day.

Not from here. We will consume 3 days in transit for 6 days of skiing (Feb. 9-14) with the Diamond Dogs in Zermatt. One of those is due to us getting on this trip a couple of weeks ago, and thus having 2 plane changes going and one coming back in order to match the timing of the transfers.

What Tony said. I have a full day of travel logistics just to get to an east coast international departure airport. I suppose there may be something to Geneva out of one of the mid-west hubs, but I haven't checked.
The other thing I discovered on Europe trips is the hard to avoid jet-lag-induced sleep-wall that just slams me around mid-afternoon the first 2-3 days. 6 hours of skiing in Europe on day of arrival? Ha. Not for this boy.
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Re: Les Gets, FR 01/26/14

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:09 pm

For me, the best way to Europe is direct from LAX, though to avoid obnoxious bag fees it has to be Delta partners Air France or KLM. Yes, I'm going through the infamous CDG again. I'm actually pleased that the layovers are 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 hours, giving me a better shot of having luggage arrive with me at final destination. Needless to say I'm using the bootbag backpack for this one.

MarcC wrote:The other thing I discovered on Europe trips is the hard to avoid jet-lag-induced sleep-wall that just slams me around mid-afternoon the first 2-3 days.

For any these trips it's best to be doing something moderately active and keep yourself awake through dinner local time. In my then zombie-like state I'll usually crash, sleep 10 hours or so and wake up in the morning local time.

I've had no issues with jet lag on the other 3 ski trips.
Jamesdeluxe wrote:If I remember right, it took us just under 4hrs by train to Zermatt..

That's recipe for zoning out at the wrong time and potentially taking longer to adapt to the time change. We shall see. Skiing has a way of keeping me awake though....
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Re: Les Gets, FR 01/26/14

Postby BryanL » Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:06 pm

Awesome trip report, James! Definitely makes me want to jump on a flight and try Les Gets out. Now...I have to read your other TRs.
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