Montgenevre, France + Claviere, Italy, Feb. 2, 2023

Tony Crocker

Staff member
Upon leaving Serre Chevalier we backtracked a bit to ski Montgenevre, the French side of Via Lattea. Geographically the split is at Cesana Torinese, a low valley where the connection is only by lift not piste. But the border between France and Italy is within Montgenevre’s geography, and that sector is Claviere.


Montgenevre has probably 5x as much terrain as Claviere, and a Montgenevre only lift ticket includes all of Claviere’s terrain except the part leading toward Cesana Torinese. I skied one run in that direction all day and Liz none.

Fraser says Montgenevre gets more snow that the Italian Via Lattea, but the Jan. 23-25 storm was a Retour d’Est so they got the same 18 inches. But on Feb. 2 it had been a week since that snow and conditions were similar to Serre Chevalier, allowing for altitude and exposure.

Logistics started us at the ticket office near the Chalvet gondola. If you’re going to ski here only one day you need to do a counterclockwise circuit due to the one way connection from Montgenevre’s Rocher d’Aigle lift into Italy. So we started skiing from the old double Chalvet lift, which for James’ benefit still has some center bar chairs.


The south facing Chalvet piste was quite solid at 10:30AM. We skied Pharo to the only piste crossing the road to the Templin chair and the larger north facing side of Montgenevre. Overview of that from Chalvet:


The prominent peak is 10,889 foot Pic de Rochebrune.

Lower pistes on the Prarial chair were also firm. In line at Prarial was a candidate for Liz’ fashion police.


We used the Chalmettes chair to ascend to the Gondrans area, distant view at left of that later:


View down from top of Gondrans:


North of Gondrans are these scattered old buildings.


My guess is that they are from the WWII era. Mussolini attacked France for two weeks in 1940 before the armistice was signed. Not surprisingly the Italians made little progress in the Alps and only captured Menton on the Mediterranean coast. We read about this during our day in Briancon, one of the objectives Mussolini failed to achieve.

Gondrans was an easy cruising area in good packed powder. The lower part is a flat runout so we used the l’Alp poma to lap the upper half. Our final run in Gondrans was Sagnes to the Crete chair. The back of Crete was our introduction to Montgenevre’s most interesting terrain.


Riding the Rocher d’Aigle lift you can see numerous tracks, but it’s not easy to figure out the approaches.


Overview of Rocher d’Aigle sector with its piste at center:


At far upper left the top of an open bowl is visible. I decided to check that out while Liz took the 100 piste into Claviere.



View down near top of the bowl, labeled Secteur de l’Aigle on the map:


There was some soft week old powder in the shade lower down.


Eventually the gully narrowed to a chute which was not too steep.


Below that was a runout through the trees, ending at the Brousset chair perhaps 2,500 vertical from the top of the bowl.

It took 25 minutes to ride the two slow chairs up and then ski piste 100 into Italy. Liz had texted me that Cime Saurel lift was not running.


The pic above shows no chairs on it, so it has been abandoned, puzzling as it would be Claviere’s highest lift.

I skied a few runs on Serre Granet and one down to Bercia. View from Bercia of Pic de Rochebrune:


From the top of Serre Granet, there ‘s also a view of Mt. Fraiteve, where the Italian Via Lattea areas connect at the top.


The lifts directly under the peak are Sansicario’s #34 and #35 pomas. Ascending to the peak from the right is the gondola from Sestriere, under which we had those deep powder runs the week before.

Exiting Claviere to Montgenevre is tricky. We missed the catwalk and short step up to the Col de Boeuf chair on the first try. Eventually we made it to Serre Thibaud chair, which is far longer than it looks on the map. It was past 4PM so we did not have time to check out the Rocher Rouge lift beyond the top of Serre Thibaud. I couldn’t resist taking a pic through this Mt. Chaberton frame because the Moon was exactly on top of the peak at the time.


The final descent via Chemin to Rocher Rouge was much better than I expected. It is not as steep and is less south facing than the Chalvet run where we started our day.


I dropped into the gully at left which had some soft windblown snow. Total vertical for the day was 23,700.
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Thanks for the report. I wondered what it's like as I drove by to Milan for my flight. Looks worthwhile and it's impressive to note the extensive amount of lift-served terrain in the Southern Alps.

The common trope is "everything sounds better in French." That said; "Voie Lactée" reminds me of cow lactation cycles. :eusa-sick:
Montgenevre gets more snow than Sestriere because it's right on the border and exposed to both the Retour d'Est and storms coming in form the south-west (the ones that get Serre Chevalier). It even taps into some storms from the north-west (the type that the big northern French resorts rely on) but only when they are reasonably potent.