Monthly Archives: September 2012

19/9/12 – Anzere: new Grilleses chairlift takes shape

The top station of the new Grilleses chairlift at Anzere

The top station of the new Grilleses chairlift at Anzere, photographed in mid-September. The four-seater will take skiers from Grilleses village to a few hundred yards above the Combe and the base station of the Le Bate chairlift

The many friends of mine who have been to Anzere, where my family has had a flat for nearly 40 years (almost the age of the village), know it mainly as a place of T-bars.

There are four – the Combe, Les Luys, Tsalan and Grilleses – which cover at least half the skiable terrain, plus the Le Bate and Les Rousses chairlifts and the Pas de Maimbre telecabin.

A late-afternoon descent of Grilleses - with barely a soul around

A late-afternoon descent of Grilleses – with barely a soul around. The S-bends on the mountain the other side of the Rhone valley are part of the Piste de L’Ours at Veysonnaz

I’ve always been happy about this, as the T-bars have probably helped keep the place reasonably quiet – it’s still a brilliant place to find quiet slopes any time out of the very highest season.

I also enjoy T-bars in themselves: my sister, Teresa, and I used to swap places on the flat bits to entertain ourselves or jump on with unsuspecting ‘singles’ who tried to go up on their own.

Lift men and women at T-bars have much more sociable time with skiers than chairlift operators do. Also, on a T-bar there’s no chance of vertigo, and if it gets stuck, at least you can jump off without breaking a leg.

Near the top of the new lift, its chairs will pass below the Le Bate lift using a 'two-for-one' pylon

Near the top of the new lift, its chairs will pass below the Le Bate lift using a ‘two-for-one’ pylon

However, I’m excited that the long-planned Grilleses chairlift, due to replace the faithful old Grilleses T-bar, is at last being built. My parents returned from Anzere last week with excellent photos of the new lift-in-progress.

It begins at the pretty hamlet of Grilleses, well below the bottom of the Grilleses T-bar, near the skatable Les Reines descent to Anzere, ascends well to the east of the T-bar line and finishes a few hundred yards above the base station of the Le Bate chair, crossing its path via an ingenious shared pylon.

This is the base station. The hamlet of Grilleses - a summer 'mayen' - is to the right

This is the base station. The tiny village of Grilleses – a summer ‘mayen’ – is to the right

With the new chair completed, and the Grilleses T-bar removed, the terrain will be much improved, and access to various bits of excellent off-piste, some reached previously by two lifts or by traversing, will open up. (By the way, the strap on this website, of my mother, Juliana, and my friend, Kirstin, was photographed on the lovely Grilleses off-piste.)

Of all Anzere’s T-bars, Grilleses was always the most difficult – as well as the most prone to queues, from people returning from Les Rousses.

Grilleses at rush hour: at busy times the old T-bar was a bottleneck

Grilleses at rush hour: at busy times the old T-bar was a bottleneck

Its track had a left-slanting camber and an early steep stretch that became easily worn in melty conditions, and its route cut through off-piste the whole way up, leaving fallers to work out the best way back to the groomed slope (those who didn’t realise they could simply traverse across would usually make heavy weather of tramping back down).

However, when I worked for the ski school (1991-96) I took dozens of classes up – children and adults – without incident, using my own Rules of Riding T-bars. In fact, I think beginners who learn using drag-lifts benefit – the more time they spend actually on their skis, rather than sitting on chairlifts, the more quickly they get used to the feeling.

The Grilleses ski jump, Anzere

The Grilleses jump in 1990 – with me less in control than I look… The T-bar is on the right

The main thing that worries me about the change from T-bar to chair is: what will happen the Grilleses jumps? Since I learnt to ski in 1976 these have been about half way up on the left, in a handy gulley. Will people still do them if nobody is watching from the lift? Will they fall into disuse? Or will they get a new lease of life due to the possibility of starting from higher up, now the lift track isn’t in the way…?

DO you enjoy this BLOG? Then SIGN UP to RECEIVE AN EMAIL each time I post a NEW ONE by clicking on ‘SIGN ME UP’ on the top right of THIS PAGE.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw, Off-piste, Switzerland, Transport

14/9/12 – Yoga-trekking in Champoluc, Val d’Aosta

Yoga-trekking: the wind-down session back at Stadel Soussun, near Champoluc in the Aosta district of the Italian Alps

Yoga-trekking: the wind-down session back at Stadel Soussun, near Champoluc in the Aosta district of the Italian Alps

Take a hike, take a stretch, and breeeeathe. That’s what I was trying out last weekend on the summery slopes above the ski resort of Champoluc.

You can read the full story here on Planet Ski.

Squash Falconer, who had paraglided off the Gran Paradiso the previous day

Squash Falconer, who had paraglided off the Gran Paradiso the previous day. The mountains here include the Breithorn and Castor and Pollux, on the Italian/Swiss border

It’s a couple of years since I’ve been to the Alps in the summer, save for a brilliant whirlwind trip to a friend’s wedding in Kandersteg, Switzerland, earlier this year.

My last work visit was reporting on a polo match in Gstaad – a fantastic place but a far cry from the great-value, down-to-earth and super-active experience of Champoluc.

During last weekend’s trip I was lucky enough not only to try the eccentric but surprisingly satisfying yoga-trekking, but also to take a spectacularly scenic mountain-bike ride – mostly downhill – and to have a go at canyoning and climbing.

This is Rebecca Fordham rock-climbing - she was a first-timer for all the activities of the Champoluc trip

This is Rebecca Fordham rock-climbing – she was a first-timer for all the activities of the Champoluc trip

We were a mixed bag in terms of adventure experience: at one extreme was Squash Falconer, the first British woman to have climbed and paraglided from the top of Mont Blanc and who has also climbed Mount Everest; at the other was Rebecca Fordham, a recently graduated fashion journalist who had never been to the Alps or to Italy, never been mountain-biking, climbing or done yoga – and what’s more, never worn a wetsuit (in fact, pulling that garment on was probably her biggest challenge of the weekend).

I’ll sort out my pictures in the next few days and put up a gallery of each of the activities we did – as well as prices and so on in case anyone has aspirations to become like Squash… and is as brave as Rebecca!

Meanwhile there’s loads of info on the Aosta Valley district at aosta-valley.co.uk and a worthwhile news feed at iloveaosta.co.uk.

DO you enjoy this BLOG? Then SIGN UP to RECEIVE AN EMAIL each time I post a NEW ONE by clicking on ‘SIGN ME UP’ on the top right of THIS PAGE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Italy, Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw, Switzerland