After my deep day in the woods at Vercorin on Tuesday, I shifted my sights toward the main event of this trip: the three highly-regarded ski areas in the Anniviers Valley (pronounced Ah NEE Vee Ay). Zinal and Grimentz are lift connected and I spent a day at both, Weds and Thurs, unfortunately, the weather didn't play along as I'd hoped for -- really overcast with tough visibility more than half of the time, occasional spitting rain on the lower mountain, combined with terrain that was 100% above treeline. While the skiing itself was actually pleasant on wet powder, it was difficult to do anything but stay between the sticks lining the groomed trails. Luckily, for my visit to St. Luc/Chandolin, about which the germanophones on Alpinforum have been raving for years, the skies finally cleared up for the first time since Sunday.
Heading down into the valley, it was nice to see something other than steel gray overhead:
Arriving in St. Luc:
My Citroën enjoys a parking space with a view:
All of the Val d'Anniviers areas have high-speed lifts to deliver you from the base to the actual ski area, but once at elevation, it's nothing but Poma platter drag lifts.
As you've heard me say for most of the ski areas on this trip, the trail map doesn't show how big this place is -- between St. Luc and Chandolin, which are interconnected across a shared ridgeline, it's six miles across:
Time to ski:
There's only snowmaking on the lower trails like this one:
Some of the Poma lifts are very steep and they definitely take their toll on your legs by around 2 pm. I can't imagine what the lift lines are like during peak periods. Even t-bars can load two people at once, but platters are one at a time.
A few warmup runs:
You can see the returning Poma line up against the blue sky:
Unbelievable amounts of offpiste:
A quick stop at a buvette:
Conditions were absolutely spectacular with the sun warming up everything to the right consistency, but the untracked offpiste didn't turn to slop. I finally made it to the top of St. Luc to try the signature groomed run all the way down into the village: a rollercoaster ride that's 4,400 verts and almost five miles long:
Finally below treeline:
In short: an absolute knockout of a ski area and it certainly helps going on a sunny day. Definitely a place where you'd need local knowledge or a guide to maximize the offpiste, avoid terrain traps, etc.