The big storm from the southwest arrived on schedule Friday. It puked snow all day with the cloud layer just a few hundred feet up so I never went out. Fraser warned that the rain/snow line would be close to Morzine’s 3,100 foot elevation. It always looked like snow coming down, but Liz went out for a walk and came back with damp clothing. When we went out for dinner the formerly packed powder snow in the streets was very slushy.
This map of Avoriaz is slightly expanded to show the part of Chatel we skied at lower left plus some of Morzine at right.
Saturday was predicted to start out sunny but cloud over in the afternoon before some more snow, slightly colder, Saturday night. So when we got up Saturday morning we saw for the first time from our hotel balcony the view up to Avoriaz.
This was our last day so we packed, checked out and made the drive up to Prodains by 10AM. We did get a parking spot but I probably still should have reread Fraser’s advice.
Fraser wrote:3. Drive to Ardent (15 mins away) possible but only really worth-while on peak dates
Saturday with blue skies, 27 inches new snow and a 4/5 avalanche rating definitely qualifies as a peak date!
There was a huge crowd at Prodains, but fortunately a good part of it was the ticket line and we had ours from the hotel. The gondola wait of 9 minutes was not too bad. The problem was after we got up to Avoriaz. With the avy danger all the lifts south of Avoriaz were closed and control work was being done even under the Tour lift we used Thursday to get to Les Lindarets. Instead of Tour we had to ride two beginner lifts, the slow Plateau and then the long Proclou used by the skiers coming up on the Super Morzine gondola. So we consumed the same better part of an hour as those people. The beginner run from Plateau to Proclou goes through the tunnel at center here:
In the nice weather we got some great views from those chairs though. Prodains valley and Morzine from Plateau:
Avoriaz’ best Grandes Combes terrain:
It was never open on this trip. I guess we need to return!
Here’s an overview of Avoriaz with Fornet/Choucas/Chavanette in the background, overlooked by the Dents Blanches
The notch at center far left is the way into Switzerland that was also closed for our entire visit.
The pic below combines the right side of the above picture with the left side of the previous one.
Skiing toward Brochaux we got a good view of Pointe de Mossette (left) and the Dents du Midi (center)
James says you get a closer view of Dents du Midi from the Swiss side.
Liz zoomed the view.
Here you can see more clearly the closed chair going up Pointe de Mossette, another route into Switzerland.
Low on Brochaux we get our first shot at the new snow.
Previously on this trip the powder was generally Utah quality. This stuff was thick Sierra Cement. If the pitch flattened you would grind to a halt and if you hit chopped snow it would hit you back.
So when we rode the Brochaux chair I took both of my runs through a tracked narrow opening in a cliff band to reach some untracked.
It was now close to noon and the powder was getting tracked at about the rate it would at North American resorts. This was mainly due to so much terrain being off limits due to the avalanche danger.
We moved on to Chaux Fleurie. The clouds are starting to come in as we look across Les Lindarets to the Brochaux terrain.
I took one powder run on Chaux Fleurie, traversing as far left as possible to get a little bit of untracked. We skied the same off piste left of Rochassons but the runout at the bottom was tedious in the heavy snow so Liz said she was done with off piste for the day. However I had to check out the bowls skier’s left of Chaux des Rosees that had skied so beautifully in windsift Thursday.
The blue line is the bowl we skied Thursday. The red line bowl had no tracks then but did have some Saturday, which must have added just enough coverage from Friday's storm to squeeze through that cliff band.
The blue line bowl had to be straightlined above the cliff band to keep moving in the heavy snow. The red line bowl had more pitch and skied better. Tracks continued in the fall line but to points where some skiers launched over the cliff band. I followed a step-up traverse skier’s right to this view down.
That was a steeper sideslip down than it looks in the pic with careful maneuvering to get around the rocks.
The snow below that choke offered the best powder turns of the day, steep enough for gravity to easily overcome the resistance. Zoomed view back up of the choke.
I rejoined Liz and decided that I too was now done with off piste as the clouds were lowering and degrading visibility. We skied the 31 and 32 pistes down to Pre la Joux, not too busy so fairly nice. From the top of Rochassons the Grand Plan piste to Les Lindarets was busy and very heavily mogulled after 3PM. Since we were driving to Geneva, we decided to have a late lunch in Les Lindarets, which Fraser touted for excellent on-mountain restaurants. His specific recommendation, Cremailliere, was unfortunately downhill towards Ardent, perhaps another reason we should have driven there today. We didn’t want to require 2 lifts to get back to our car so we had an excellent Tartiflette at Passe de Montagne in Les Lindarets. As on Thursday we rode the Prolays chair and skied to Prodains, the piste on Saturday being both bumpier and foggier than on Thursday.
I skied 11,700 vertical in Avoriaz and 6,300 in Chatel, about 5K of that heavy powder. We got on the road at 5PM and to our hotel by Geneva airport at 7PM.
You would think Geneva of all airports would be able to take ski bags at the check-in counter. But no, we had to drag them the length of the check-in concourse to a special baggage area. Ski bags were stacking up there, ramp not moving and attendant not doing anything about it. This was at 6:35 for our 7:10 flight, so I feared our perfect
Alps luggage record might continue. But to our pleasant surprise the luggage record has been broken!
We arrived at LAX on time with all bags and were home in plenty of time for that rather disappointing Super Bowl.
You could argue that this was not a 100% clean trip in terms of air travel due to missing the inbound connection at Amsterdam, and thus arriving in Geneva on a different flight 3 hours later than scheduled. However that was minor inconvenience compared to the baggage issues on the other trips.