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Skiing Wrap Up: All good things must come to an end

April 10, 2023

As the proverb goes, all good things must come to an end and our time in the Alps has drawn to a close. After being starved of snow throughout February, March has brought better conditions with some good dumps of snow but rising temperatures mean that many of the low lying areas have melted back quickly. We’ve been seeing temperatures as high as 20C in the valley and 13/14c on the slopes. There have been some overcast days in March but the majority have been beautiful blue skies. Alpe d’Huez boasts 300 days of sunshine per year and this has certainly been borne out while we have been here.

Powder in March

The slopes at the top of the mountain remain in fantastic shape with the runs down from Pic Blanc covered in powder and in great condition. The low lying resort of Auris de Oisans though is really struggling and the slopes down to Maronne have been closed for some time.

Snow down Low

There are slopes in the resort that have not been open throughout both February and March because there just hasn’t been enough snow to keep them open. Although after the large dumps in March some of them have been skiable for a few days even though not officially open.

Powder on Les Cristaux

In 2 months of skiing I have skied 965 km’s with a vertical drop of 190 km’s. I’ve skied just about every run in the resort (there are some green runs I haven’t tried) and taken every lift.

Below you can see a heatmap from Strava of the skiing that I have done and this looks a lot like the resort ski map.

Heatmap of Alpe d’Huez

and the heatmap showing the runs in the Sarenne Valley:

Heatmap of Sarenne Valley (extends through valley to left)

So for us we are heading back to the UK for some downtime, before starting the next chapter in our adventures!

The undoubted highlights of the resort for me are:

Sarenne Run

Sarenne: From the very top of Pic Blanc (3,330m) this black slope falls 1,820m, through 9km into a deserted valley below Alpe d’Huez, the Sarenne Gorge. Once you start there is a bail out after the first 25% but then you are committed to the whole thing but the first section is probably the most difficult. In good snow, freshly groomed it is a standard red run but in the late afternoon with spring conditions it can become quite moguled in certain places making it live up to its black designation.

La Fare in the trees with Vaujany ahead

La Fare: This run is so good they built a gondola purely to service it as it drops down well below the town of Vaujany. If you ski from the top of the Alpette lift it is a 8km drop of around 1600m vertical. But the highlight is when you turn onto the narrow La Fare run dropping through the trees. It is never busy and is one of the few runs through the trees in the whole domain. I have skied it in powder, when icy, pisted and non-pisted and each is a different experience but all have been fantastic. It is quite shaded which means even though it drops down so low the snow has stayed in great condition throughout the time we’ve been here.

Tunnel: Often making the list of top 5 hardest runs in Europe. Tunnel starts from the highest point in the resort at 3330m, Pic Blanc. From here you have to ski down a steep moguled run called Glacier, to the entry point to the tunnel. This 200m long tunnel, built in 1964,  takes you under the glacier and through the ridge back into the main valley of the Alpe d’Huez resort.

Entrance to the Tunnel

At the end of the tunnel a very narrow, steep and moguled funnel is the start of the much wider, but no less moguled or steep slope. The slope is 70% or 35 degrees making it the steepest moguled slope in France.

Start of the Tunnel Run (Steeper than it looks)

Just don’t fall on this one as getting skis back on is fiendishly difficult. The run finishes at its own lift to connect back to the Alpe d’Huez side of the resort or can be skied out to just below the Dome de Rousses.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Paul Baxter permalink
    April 11, 2023 8:30 am

    Glad you’ve had a good time and photos look absolutely stunning! What are your plans for back in the U.K. and any thoughts on where that next chapter of your adventure might take you?

    • April 14, 2023 8:49 am

      We’ve got a few things to do in April (birthdays and the like) but we’re moving into a motorhome and planning where to go from May. Hoping for summer to arrive.

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