I have recently been cleaning up old external drives that I’ve used over the years for backups and found a folder of photographs from a 2003 ski trip to Champèry. Champéry lies in a side valley of the Rhone valley under the Dents du Midi (“Teeth of Midday”) mountain range. Some of the photos really capture the beauty of skiing in this region, which is part of the Portes du Soleil (The Doors of the Sun). So I decided to put them up in this post. The Portes du Soleil is one of Europe’s two largest ski areas, around 1000 square kilometres, with 13 interconnected ski resorts and around 650 km of marked pistes, and includes Les Gets where we skied in February this year.
Continuing to head upwards from where the above photo was taken will bring you to the ridgeline which marks the Swiss border with France. Later in the day I skied down the other side into France and ended up in the Morzine valley, where I caught a chairlift back up to the top.
From Morzine, I could have caught a chairlift to the south and skied to Les Gets, where the boys and I spent a week skiing a bit over a month ago now (https://mountainsrivers.com/2019/03/04/skiing-in-the-french-alps/).
Le Pas de Chavanette is a particularly difficult piste also know as the “Mur Suisse” or the “Swiss Wall”. It starts on the border and is 1 kilometre in length with a vertical drop of 331 metres, starting at 2,151 metres above sea level. It can be partly seen to the lower left in the photo below covered in moguls and lying behind the ridge near the middle of the photo. Apart from the moguls which grow to the size of small cars, the average slope is 40 degrees, reaching 50 degrees in some parts, and a fall can mean the skier may fall hundreds of metres. It is considered one of the hardest pistes in the world.
We skied all day and didn’t start the descent back to Champéry until the sun was getting low in the sky.
By the time we reached the valley floor, the last rays of the sun were illuminating the peaks of the Dents du Midi and the moon was shining above them.