Mont Chéry, FR 01/30/14

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Mont Chéry, FR 01/30/14

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Feb 02, 2014 7:51 am

On Thursday, we got another overcast day with seriously flat light. Moreover, conditions at lower elevation on Morzine and Les Gets were getting a bit crunchy in spots, so pub owner Colin took the afternoon off to show me around Mont Chéry, which is right in the town of Les Gets, but not interconnected to the larger circuit. It's only a 5 to 10-minute walk across the village or a two-minute ride on the Petit Train to get there, but that small "inconvenience" keeps crowds to a minimum, even during peak periods.

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Back on Le Petit Train

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Sorry Charlie, It's France -- No Public Transport During Lunch


With 2,100 verts and virtually no flats, Chéry has a beautifully consistent pitch. Other than a gondola to mid-mountain, all of the lifts are fixed-grip chairs or platter pulls. Many people from the other side of the pond (especially the Brits) get annoyed when their uphill transport isn't the high-speed variety, so that also helps keeps skier numbers down and conditions are noticeably better than on the other side of the valley.

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Mont Chéry on Far Right


Colin calls Chéry the "Burke Mountain (VT) of the Portes du Soleil" and it's a pretty accurate description, although I'd have to argue that it has more varied and steeper terrain than Burke (including a couple tempting but dangerous avy zones).

We went straight to the mountain's north side, where the snow was beautifully soft and chalky, a huge difference from across the village. Colin went tele for the day, on which he's as strong a skier as on an alpine set-up.

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After a couple hours, we stopped for a quick lunch: a brie sandwich with hard cider from Brittany.

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From the top of Mont Chéry's backside, you can see just across the valley the top of Flaine, i.e. Le Grand Massif, as well as another mountain that Colin claims to have the most snowfall of any ski area in the Alps: Praz de Lys (pronounced PRAH DE LEESE). It would be within the realm of possibility to throw up a lift between Mont Chéry and Praz de Lys; however, environmentalists have successfully fought an interconnect. When I return to the region, I'll definitely make a point of skiing there.

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Re: Mont Chéry, FR 01/30/14

Postby rfarren » Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:42 am

What time does the sun rise in the alps at this time of year? I would imagine that even on the most brilliant of sunny days the sun is never too high in the sky at that northerly latitude.
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Re: Mont Chéry, FR 01/30/14

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:29 pm

rfarren wrote:What time does the sun rise in the alps at this time of year? I would imagine that even on the most brilliant of sunny days the sun is never too high in the sky at that northerly latitude.

Good question and the difference between the U.S. and the Alps is remarkable. It doesn't get fully light out until about 8:30 am, which is a bit unnerving. That's why the lifts don't open until 9:30 am and they close between 4:30 and 5 pm. An additional reason why the custom of leisurely lunches doesn't really mean that you're cheating yourself out of turns.
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Re: Mont Chéry, FR 01/30/14

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Feb 02, 2014 7:35 pm

Being farther east, the lifts in Austria (same time of year) opened at 9AM and closed I think at 4PM.

Alps latitude is around 46 I think, about the same as Mt. Hood or Big Sky. But at that latitude and typical altitude snow preservation on north facing slopes is outstanding. You could go without new snow for a month and still find winter snow in many places.
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Re: Mont Chéry, FR 01/30/14

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:59 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:at that latitude and typical altitude snow preservation on north facing slopes is outstanding. You could go without new snow for a month and still find winter snow in many places.

Correct, as my photos from France and Austria certainly demonstrate. Conversely, if they don't get new snow for several days, the much higher percentage of people who stick exclusively to groomers (compared to the U.S.) means that the on-piste can get pretty scratchy during a precip drought.
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