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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.