Thollon les Mémises, FR: 03/11/17

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Thollon les Mémises, FR: 03/11/17

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:02 am

Day 8
For the final ski day of this trip, I drove an hour west to the eastern edge of Lake Geneva near Montreux and turned onto a road that runs right along the water.
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Heading up into the ski area on a new gondola.
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It's not a huge area by Alps standards, but the trails add up to 50 kilometers. The slopes on the looker's right are maybe 700 verts; the middle area served by a triple about 1,100:
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I was on the snow by 10:15, but being at a comparatively low elevation, Thollon les Mémises was already in spring mode and it didn't appear that they got the recent five-foot dump like the Portes du Soleil a short distance away to the southeast. The snow was pretty much bulletproof, so I took a quick photo tour on skis to kill time until things softened, which I was guessing wouldn't be until early afternoon given that most of the terrain faces dead north. The entire place was filled exclusively with local families -- I saw not one other person taking photos the entire day -- and I was amazed how tiny kids and teenagers alike were ripping the concrete surface like Jean-Claude Killy, with zero complaints.
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Running gates:
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For obvious reasons, Thollon les Mémises' tagline is "Between Sky and Lake." While the view is not quite as powerful as Quebec's Le Massif (where the St. Lawrence River is six miles wide and for all intents and purposes looks like the ocean), this is still an effective value-added visual:
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Most of the trails are named after flowers or berries:
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It may not come across in the photos, but if you subtract the view of the lake, if I'd been dropped blindfolded into the ski area, I would've guessed that this was New Mexico.
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This beautiful face is earned-turns only because it ends in a drainage that dumps you out five miles away from the ski area base:
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I decided to go back to the restaurant to have a beer or two and work on my tan while the snow warmed up.
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Woman with pooch -- "how you doin'?"
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Around 12:30, it was time to head back to the summit and try out the area's signature run: Les Vielles Cases. You can see it on the map above on the far looker's left -- a scenic 2,000-vert drop into a valley with distracting views of the lake at every turn:
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The sun had softened the trail beautifully -- so nice, I ended up lapping it three times:
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That's the city of Montreux in the background on the north side of the lake -- famed for a world famous jazz festival and its role in the song "Smoke On The Water."
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From this vantage point facing mid-lake, we're now looking west at the city of Lausanne:
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You begin the uphill return on, what else, a Poma detachable platter:
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Then sneak through the woods:
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And take an old double chair back toward the base.
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With so many bigger options nearby, Thollon les Mémises might be considered a novelty ski area for a fly-in visitor; however, it was a fun way to spend five hours and you couldn't beat the price for an all-day lift ticket, $23 -- and that's the regular rate, not a late-season special. Also, I noticed that food prices were more than a third cheaper than in Switzerland.

Another great Euro trip in the can. :bow:
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