Anzere, the sunny little Valaisan resort where I have skied almost every year since I was three, has a new lift. A few months ago I showed you some pictures of it being built.
Now it is fully in action and it’s no exaggeration to report that this four-seater chair, Grilleses-Conches, travelling 500 vertical metres mid-mountain in five minutes, has transformed Anzere’s skiing. Compared to before, the area (previously about 50km of pistes) seems half as large again, and the speed of the thing, compared with the t-bar it has replaced, feels supersonic.
I’ve ridden up and skied down a couple of dozen times over the past few days. Here’s what I’ve found…
Introducing the new-look Grilleses…
Regulars in Anzere are more used to t-bars, such as this one, Les Luys. But now these two-man drag lifts are in a minority
My first glimpse of the base station
It starts considerably lower than the t-bar it has superseded
They have kept the lift man’s hut from the old t-bar, complete with fully functioning clock, which the new lift station lacks
Ready for a first ascent
There’s a nice view if you turn round…
…and to the left are pretty chalets, previously much more secluded, but maybe now going up in value thanks to true doorstep skiing
The right-hand half of this mayen (place to go traditionally with cows in May, if I understand correctly), directly under the lift, has been modernised
You can see the old t-bar hut on the right of this picture. The chair takes a route a little to the east of the old t-bar line
This cow shed is near the top. You can see the top of the telecabin on the left of the picture, on the horizon by the mast
A double pylon! Don’t panic, it doesn’t seem to get tangled up with Le Bate, a longstanding two-seater chair
Near the top, with the Four Valleys (Verbier, Nendaz, etc) looking very close the other side of the Rhone Valley
The top station
This is the original piste back down, which remains intact and lengthened, top and bottom…
…but there is also a brand new run, the other side, classified black, called Chaux de Duez. We used to ski it as an off-piste run – along with much of the terrain either side
The chair has made swathes off off-piste more accessible. This is good, but I suspect it’ll be tracked more quickly than before, when these bits of mountain were less visible and with less obvious access
Much of the best terrain accessible from Grilleses can be seen here. But there’s more behind me (taking the photo), and over that ridge…
Anzere’s best mountain restaurant, Tsalan, is on one of the half-dozen piste runs you can now do from Grilleses. This week I have been eating a plate of help-yourself salad, with beef, prawns and lettuce, priced by weight. So far I’ve paid between SF7.40 and SF9.30 per meal. A prime example of cheap Switzerland
This is the brand new run down from Tsalan to Grilleses chair. It’s lined with snow cannons – which have finally also been connected up on the original Grilleses run. Progress!
A final view from the top, previously a spot on the mountain only visited by an occasional off-pister
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