Les 3 Vallees
Tuesday 1 January 2002


Clear skis, but very cold out of the sun.


Early season conditions with thin cover. No new natural snow, but snowmaking in full flow.

New Year's Day was another beuatiful day, with blue skies and this time not a hint of cloud in the sky (or in the valley). Temperatures were a degree or so higher than on the previous day.

View from our apartment

Hot air balloon

Le Chalets gondola

Mottaret from our apartment

Mottaret from our apartment


Pas du Lac 1 (1746) :

Cathy was still having boot troubles, so did not come out in the morning. Chris and I decided to head out to the Courcheval side for the first time, via the Pas du Lac gondola. Being New Year's Day, there were very few people about at the start of the day, and that included the lift operators. The gondola was about 15 minutes late opening.

Pas du Lac 2 (1538) : Creux

The Col de Saulire is one of the two connections between Meribel and Courcheval valleys with gondolas on the Meribel side and a cable car on the Courcheval side, plus a choice of strainghtforward groomed red runs. For the first run we took the wide Creux almost opposite the top of the Grand Rosiere chair.

View from Saulire

Mike at Saulire

Gondola station

Chris at Saulire

Gondola station

Saulire sign

Chris skiing away from Saulire

Bd Lac Creux

The run then turned into a pretty flat cat track, with some uphill section, eventually coming out just above the impressive and busy Altiport in Courcheval. Stretching between the edge of a cliff and a rock wall, the runway makes good use of gravity to help light planes land and take-off safely.

Altiport runway


Altiport runway

Café near Altiport

Altiport runway


Pralong seemed to be the main nursery slope, judging by the width, easy gradient and the number of ski school groups on it.

Pralong (1185) : Marquetry

Marquetry was the first serious challenge of the week. Graded red on the map, it was rather more difficult, with a combination of ungroomed moguls, steep sections and a run-out which crossed a small U shape valley with a very steep uphill section.

Snow under Pralong lift

Rocky peaks

Saulire (2049) : Combe Pylones

The Saulire cable car took us back to the Col de Saulire. We took a different route down the mountain, Combe Pylones, starting on the groomed area and moving into the ungroomed area off to the side of the piste near the bottom, with nice soft forgiving moguls.


Coqs (1251) : Lanches

Coqs took us up towards the Col de la Loze, the other interconnect between Courcheval and Meribel. The first challenge was a choice between a short slope is very bad condition or a walk to get round it. With rented skis we took the slope. Lanches was a relatively simple red run, with a few rocks showing, turning into a cat track at the bottom.

Coqs lift

Coqs lift

Worn slope above Col de la Loze lift

Dou Des Lanches (1445) :

We stopped for coffee at the café at the Col de la Loze. The service here was less bad than at many others so we returned several times. This was one place that seemed to ignore the transition to the Euro.

Café at La Loze

Mike at cafe

La Loze lift and Meribel

Café at la Loze

Col de la Loze

It was still relatively early, so we stayed on the Courcheval side and a few straightforward runs from the Coqs lift.

Lac Bleu

Coqs (1251) : Coqs


Groomed snow on Chenus

Loze Est

Bottom of Loze Est

Coqs (1251) :

Col de la Loze (251) : Blvd de la Loze

It was now time to think about lunch and getting back to the apartment. The first section was the long Boulevard de la Loze, mostly a narrow flatish cat track down to just above the Altiport area of Meribel.

Meribel from slopes

Meribel Aliport

Blvd de la Loze

Meribel Altiport

Meribel Altiport

Bottom of Dent de Burgin chair


We couldn't see the black run down from the Col de la Loze, but we could see Renard and decided to try it. It was not groomed and a combination of partially formed moguls in some places and just cut up snow in other places. Chris fell near the top, but otherwise it wasn't too much of a problem.

Chris in trouble

Blanchot Doron

Altiport (1072) : Rhodos

We were planning to ski all the way down to Meribel, but took a wrong turning and need to take one ride on Altiport to regain altitude and cut across the the trails down. (A couple of days later we discovered a rope tow that would have done the job).

Col de la Loze

Chris above Meribel

Plan de l'homme (1921) : Grive

Plan de l'homme chair took us back towards the apartment, taking us a little higher up that the gondola. The two runs down Grive and Perdrix were very easy.


Sue was not skiing, but did get out around to take some photographs of the area around the apartment, together with pictures of our car blocked in with ice at the front and another car in the rear.

Footpath near the apartment

Footpath near our apartment

View down to Meribel

Le Hameau sign

Our car covered in snow

Our car blockin in

The apartment building

The apartment building

View across the valley

Le Dandy sign on apartment

Table Verte (1538) : Martre

Cathy tried coming out with us after lunch. We decided to head across to the Plan des Mains and the gentle slopes there. To avoid the gondola queue, we took Table Verte and cut across Martre to the bottom of the plateau.

Sittelle (363) :

Next step was to get to the top of the plateau. The Sittelle drag lift took us to the bottom of Chatelet. We had been avoiding drag lifts because of memories of tired knees from Les Deux Alpes and Tignes. This was the first of the week and reassured us that they really were usable.

Chatelet (1231) : Rossignol

From the top of Chatelet, Chris and I took the ungroomed face. The snow was relatively soft and not heavily skied, so needed a different technique. I fell once, near the top - my only fall of the week. At the bottom of the lift, Cathy was still obviously not comfortable, so decided to take the gondola back down to the village and then up to the apartment.

Chatelet (1231) : Bouvreuil 2

Chris and I wnet back up Chatelet and the more difficult of the two Bouvreuil runs down to the Mont Vallon gondola (and the toilet).

Mont Vallon (2620) : Campagnol

There was a short queue for the Mont Vallon gondola and a bit of a scrum to get in. It was a wonder that people were not routinely pushed off the boarding platform. The stand-up gondola was pretty unfortable without proper hand holds. There was a choice of runs at the top. We could see the moguls on one, so chose the other. This was not necessary the best choice. The top section was a narrow zig-zag cat track with a steep drop on one side. This made people nervous, with the result that most people were skiing very slowly. This section was pretty congested. Below that the run was a long red run, groomed at the start of the day, but by mid afternoon, showing little evidence. There was a long ski out at the bottom along a cat track around the edge of the valley; the run down the centre of the valley was closed for lack of snow.

Mont Vallon (2620) : Combe Vallon

On our second trip up Mont Vallon we took the other run. Combe Vallon was one of the best runs of the week. It had not been groomed that day and as a result was lightly mogulled all the way down (>2500'). There were relatively few people skiing it, so it was possible to pick out a ski a line. A good run but very tiring.

Choice of trails at Mont Vallon

Mures Rouges (739) :

There were 2 choices for returning to Meribel. The tarck along the bottom of the valley was already getting bare and icy above the Mures Rouges lift and the likelihood of the rest of the run being any better was not high, so we took the lift and Plan de Mains to give us a route back towards the apartment.

Mont Vallon

Mont Vallon

Mont Vallon

Combe Vallon run

Plan des Mains (937) : Sittel

The condition of the lowest section of Martre down into Mottaret village was truly awful on the previous day, with a great deal of ice. So we decided to try the cut-off signposted towards Le Hameau. Apart from being pretty flat this turned out to be a better option.


Track to Le Hameau

Table Verte (1538) : Combe Tougnete

There was time for one more run from Table Verte before we stopped for the day. This time we looked more closely at the sign and Combe Tougnete was definitely marked black. Apart from the short section from the top of the lift to the main run, this middle section of the run did not justify a black rating. Later in the week we found out that the top and bottom sections are much steeper and hence do earn the black posts.


That evening we had booked the Menu Savoyarde at the restaurant near the ski shop.

Cooking meat on hot stone

Mike cooking meat

Sweat with Rhum Flambee

Cheese plate

Cheese plate

Cathy at dinner

Cathy's artistic picture


Lift Vertical Easy Runs Intermediate Runs Top Intermediate Runs Advanced Runs
Early morning photographs
Pas du Lac 1 1746
Pas du Lac 2 1538 Creux
Bd Lac Creux
Pralong 1185 Marquetry
Saulire 2049 Combe Pylones
Coqs 1251 Lanches
Dou Des Lanches 1445
Coffee break
Col de la Loze
Lac Bleu
Coqs 1251 Coqs
Loze Est
Coqs 1251
Col de la Loze 251 Blvd de la Loze
Blanchot Doron
Altiport 1072 Rhodos
Plan de l'homme 1921 Grive
Table Verte 1538 Martre
Sittelle 363
Chatelet 1231 Rossignol
Chatelet 1231 Bouvreuil 2
Mont Vallon 2620 Campagnol
Mont Vallon 2620 Combe Vallon
Mures Rouges 739
Plan des Mains 937 Sittel
Track to Le Hameau
Table Verte 1538 Combe Tougnete
End of Day
Total vertical 27777

Last updated: 1/15/2002