Méribel mountain views

Some photos of the French Alps from the Saulire on the mountain ridge between Méribel and Courcheval. The Saulire is at 2738m and has spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, including Mont Blanc in the distance 63 km away. And then a thousand metre descent which made for great skiiing.

Looking west over the Méribel valley towards Val Torens

Dent du Bergin seen from Saulire

A traverse along the ridge before dropping over the other side to descend to Méribel.

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A week skiing at Méribel

We went to Méribel in February for a week skiing. It is a resort in the French Alps about halfway between Grenoble and the Italian border. Last winter was not a great year for snow, but it snowed heavily just before we arrived and there was lots of fresh powder. The entire week until the last day was clear blue skies.

At 2275 m on the Col des Lozes between Méribel and Coucheval

Looking down towards Méribel village in the valley. We could ski from here down to the door of our hotel.

We were skiing on one day with eagles,owls and a condor. One large eagle, 2m wingspan, was flying down the piste with us. It was just behind Alex some of the way, then flew over his head. His handler was waiting at the bottom, but the eagle decided to take a sandwich from a man having lunch with his family. A fight for the sandwich ensued, the eagle won, leaving the man with cut fingers.

The eagle came up on the chairlift ahead of us, in the white container. Its sitting on the foream of the woman behind.

Eagle taking off. It flew down the piste between Alex and me.

And won the fight for the sandwich. The man in orange has fallen back clutching his cut fingers.

The handler eventually got the eagle under control.

At 6.15 pm on 15 February, the international space station passed directly over Meribel with a French astronaut aboard. 500 skiers with flaming torches formed a giant heart on the piste visible from the space station. We saw the lights in the distance, but didn’t find out what they were until later.

The next day we went up to the highest point on the mountains between Méribel and Courcheval. The Saulire is at 2738m and has spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, including Mont Blanc in the distance 63 km away. And then a thousand metre descent which the boys loved, and insisted on doing again the next day. To get to the top we skied to the bottom of the valley and caught this cablecar all the way up.

One of the boys starting the descent.

 

Snow on the pines

Thanks to the President of China, I spent a day in January skiing at Les Houches near Mont Blanc. Xi Jinping was visiting my organization, and we were told to avoid coming to work if possible, as the security arrangements were extreme. Juras and Swiss Alps were forecast to have low temperatures, low visibility and strong wind, so I headed up towards Mont Blanc where it was sunny and no wind. The temperature was still low at about -10 degrees C.

Mont Blanc seen from Les Houches

Mont Blanc seen from Les Houches

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Parapente flight from France to Switzerland

Yannick has combined parapente (paragliding) with alpine climbing and has a tandem harness. He told me he could arrange two more pilots and my boys and I could do a flight over Mont Salève, in neighbouring France near Geneva. The boys were very excited, my older boy had been lobbying for several years to do a parapente flight. And Yannick is very experienced and I know he does not take risks. So around the end of August, off we went. All three of us launched from the grassy slope on top of the Salève out over the cliffs. I cruised around the cliffs and above them. Saw the boys from time to time, though they ended up going up to around 1700 m altitude, much higher than me. Guess I am a bit heavier.

Below is a short 2:30 video of my flight. In the second half of this video, I flew the wing for a while, then Herve did some acrobatics before we landed back in Switzerland.

Mont Pelvoux

Les Ecrins

I was cleaning up my photo files, and came across these photos from a trip in September 2012 to Les Ecrins, the southernmost part of the French alps, about 100 km south of Grenoble. There are a number of peaks over 4000m but our objective was to climb Mont Pelvoux, just below 4000m at 3946 m (12,946 ft). Bad weather in the Swiss Alps had led us to flee southwards looking for better weather. There was heavy rain all the way to Briancon, so we stayed down in the valley for the first night rather than climb to Refuge de Pelvoux in the rain. But that meant a big day the next day with a 2700 m climb to Pelvoux. We left at 3.30 am, amd climbed the 1200 m to Refuge de Pelvoux in about 3 hours, arriving just as the sun was rising. Continue reading

Skiing Mont Fort near Verbier

I chose a day with perfect weather to go up to Verbier to do some skiing. I did not have the boys with me and took the opportunity to go up to the summit of Mont Fort (3330 m) and ski down the Mont Fort Glacier (about a 400 metre descent to Col des Gentianes. From there its another 1500 vertical descent to Verbier. The glacier is usually well covered in snow and crevasses are not a problem as long as you don’t stray too far off the main route. But it is very steep and develops large moguls, that can be icy. I’ve done this descent several times, but never too gracefully. On this trip, I was skiing above 3000 m in brilliant sunshine, about zero degrees, no need for gloves or too many layers. In fact, I was sweating and got sunburnt.

Following are a few photos from the same trip.

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Skiing in the French Juras mid-March

The Jura mountains lie about 15 km west of Geneva in France. Lower than the Alps to the east of Geneva, but they still have great skiing in winter if there is enough snow. The following video was from a trip mid-March 2016 to Le Crozet, less than half hour drive from Geneva. If had snowed the day before, and the pine trees were covered in snow, incredibly beautiful scenery in the sunlight. Up on top, it was quite windy and got colder as the clouds came over. We had trouble staying on our feet, until we could ski below the crest of the range. To the east we had spectacular views across Geneva to the Alps, with Mont Blanc lit by sunlight about 100 km away.