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TR: Champoluc 8th-15th January 2010

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Really busy right now, but a full TR will follow shortly. Let's just say "I've found the Alta/Snowbird of Europe"

Edited by Wear The Fox Hat - 1/20/10 at 4:47am
post #2 of 16
Hi Fox!

It has been really a brilliant day! I was looking forward to read your TR and see your pictures!

For those not in the know, we've been skiing toghether on Tuesday (12th, that is)...I'm the short guy in the middle...and on my right is my colleague Gio. Fox, you all know him, right?
post #3 of 16
Hi Mr Fox, sorry to have missed you and sorry for the phone snafu on Monday (see Alagna trip report). Mr Nobody and I were musing over your ESA Italy idea yesterday at Madesimo...
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
OK, trip report time...
It all began on Friday 8th January. The UK has had the most snow for years, with the main airports closing, flights being cancelled etc. We had been snow-bound in our village for 4 days. Thankfully our lift to the airport was in a 4x4 which could make it in and out of the village (where, I just learned today, we are a bit of a joke - leaving all the snow here and a brilliant hill, to fly to Italy to ski).
We arrived in plenty of time for our flight, in fact we considered trying to check in for the earlier flight to Milan, but decided against it - thankfully.
As we got through security, the earlier flight was showing as delayed half an hour. Our flight info just said "please wait". We went to the business lounge and had a few drinks. Later on, when our flight should have been boarding, it was still saying "please wait", and the other one was saying that the delay was only for a few more minutes. An hour later, and suddenly our flight went from "please wait" to "flight closing at gate 38". The earlier flight was still saying it was delayed. When we got to the gate we found out that the earlier flight had been cancelled, and only ours would be leaving that night. (all due to the snow in the UK and planes being out of position).

We made it to Milan and were greeted by the minibus driver, whou had been waiting 5 hours for us. The drive up to Champoluc was interesting. As we got higher the roads became icier with a lot of snow on them.
We finally arrived at our hotel at 3am on Saturday, and just as we got to our room, the night porter told us she had some food ready for us if we were hungry. Thinking it would be a light snack, we agreed. So, at 4am we were finishing off our dinner, that wasn't exactly light, but it was washed down well with a beer.

We had arrived at the Relais des Glaciers in Champoluc.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
On Saturday we had a bit of a lie-in, and probably didn't hit the slopes until around 10.30.
The walk from the hotel to the main lift took about 10 minutes, thankfully there was ski & boot storage beside the lift that we could use free as part of our package.
I didn't take any photos on Saturday cause it was snowing all day and too cold to take my hands out of my gloves to use the camera.
So, let's jump straight to Sunday...

The cloud kept the temprature down, but some of the lifts brought us above it to some of the busier slopes, as you can see here, we had to share this one with a boarder...

Champoluc is linked to two other areas - Gressoney and Alagny - as part of the Monterosa Ski Area. While there may not be hundreds of lifts, or many pistes, there is a lot of off-piste and probably as many bars/restaurants on the hills as there are runs.
Of course, this being an Italian resort where Italians come to ski, rather than tourists, the food tends to be very good.

On the 11th, Helen and I made our (failed) attempt to meet up with prickly. The worst part of it was the busy runs back from Alagny to Gressoney.

If you look carefully, you'll see we had to share this one with 3 other skiers.
On the way back we stopped at one of the bars for a late lunch, where I had possibly the best lasagne I have ever tasted. It also gave me a few minutes to put my feet up and enjoy the view.

post #6 of 16
 WTFH, WOW!  Thanks for sharing!  
While you were enjoying this beautiful trip, your friends were talking about you at Aspen Snowmass.  Glad to know you were off enjoying yourself somewhere in this gorgeous world.

Keep on smiling!
post #7 of 16

Nice TR, WTFH.

I spent a week at Cervinia with a quick detour to the Dolomites where we realized we had just left the best skiing and returned to 4 days in Gresonney la Trinite. During the week in Cervinia we took a guided tour up Monte Rosa down to St Jacques, taxi to Champoluc, touring up into Col Pillonet from the ski area, then skiing down into Chamois and one more lift ride to get back to the bus line to Cervinia. A gorgeous day.

While in Gressoney, we spent a more than half the time skiing Alagna. Absolutely some of the best skiing, even without fresh pow. I'm envious of your beautiful trip. Fabulous photos.


post #8 of 16

Looks good. Shame I wasn't there to keep you from frequenting every bar on the hill.
post #9 of 16
More! More!
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Ah yes, more.

...there is more!
12th January - Matteo (Nobody) and Giovanni came into town. They had driven about 3 hours to ski with us for the day. The weather was perfect - clear blue skies in the morning which balanced out well with the perfectly quiet slopes.

The Matterhorn is visible from various points on the hill, Champoluc is about as far away from it on the Italian side as Zermatt is on the Swiss.

We headed over to Gressoney with the interntion of going to the Refugio Guglielmina for lunch. The conditions at the top were wind-blown ice, which made the start of the off-piste route to the refugio look a bit dodgy, to say the least. We decided to give it a miss and try again another day. On the ski back down Helen spotted an eagle that was soaring between two peaks. We stood and watched it for a few minutes - it was a beautiful sight.

We stopped off at a restaurant just above the bottom of the bubble (2nd to last picture in the earlier post) where we relaxed and enjoyed the view of the (still) busy slopes.

After that we skiied some more before returning towards Champoluc.
I'm including the following photo not because it has Matteo in it, nor because of the Matterhorn, but because there was a cloud that day.

This was at the top of the main home run - the only blue in Champoluc, everything else being red.  As we fought our way through the crowds the temperature dropped when the sun went down.

Matteo and Giovanni were great ski partners for the day, very enjoyable company with a great understanding of English, and the British sense of humour. They were also kind enough to give Daryl & John a lift down the valley that evening.
Matt, I hope to ski with you again soon - perhaps at an ESA?
Edited by Wear The Fox Hat - 1/20/10 at 4:16am
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
The 13th started off with us staying on the Champoluc side of the valley and stopped off at the Tana del Lupo restaurant for a drink around 11.30. It's owned (and run) by Tiziano Bieller, a former Italian World Cup skier, and someone who is mad as a bag of spanners.

The restaurant was very busy, particularly when two others came in, taking the number of customers up to 6.

If it had been a blue-sky day, we'd have been out on the deck chairs, admiring the view.

Now, I don't have any photos of the lunch that day (the boss took a few, I may upload them later) , but I think that was when we went to the Frantze restaurant. I could go on about the quality of the food, wine, basillica, etc. I won't, cause this is supposed to be a ski trip report, not a report of the gastronomical adventure of an alcoholic. Let's just say "great food and drink, very reasonably priced". So, time to mention some skiing. To get to the restaurant you come down the main piste and about half way down turn onto a track about 3 feet wide. One side of the track is a drop of about 10-15 feet. The other side is a high bank with rocks and tree stumps sticking out of it. The track is steep in places and undulates, leaving little option to ski anything other than a "flying wedge".
The track out of the restaurant back to the piste is more fun and is best attempted only after a few glasses of wine/basillica and one of the special sugar lumps that we're not allowed to talk about.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Almost done!
On the 14th we tried (again) to get to the Googlemania (as I've now started to call the Refugio Guglielmina). This time the snow conditions were excellent, but the main reason to go to it is for the view. At the top of the lift, the view was like this:

so the refugio would have been completely in the clouds. It's going to have to wait until we return.
Our flight back was on the Friday evening, which meant we had the whole day to ski. I spent more time skiing than I did taking photos, so I'll leave you with the view from the hotel as it was just before we left:

...and another view, earlier in the week...
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
..."but why", I hear you ask, "did you start this report by saying that you've found the Alta/Snowbird of Europe?"

Well, a multitude of reasons...
Some of the higher lifts were very like those in Alta/bird, e.g. the locations of the top station going over to Gressoney is very like the top of the Sugarloaf lift (as is the first 100 yards of skiing down from it)
Two other lifts reminded me of Tombstone and Short Cut in the Canyons.
A lot of the skiing was in the trees, which is very uncommon for Europe.
There aren't hundreds of pistes or lifts (again, not like most Euro resorts), but there is a LOT of off piste.
And then there are the mountains. It's the first time I've skiied Italy, and the mountains are a different shape to those in the French resorts. They aren't the same as the Austrian on Swiss ones either (although a bit closer). The peaks, with their ridges, reminded me of LCC, BCC and the Park City area.

A certain bootfitter on here recommended Champoluc to me. I don't believe he's ever skiied Utah. I'd now like to turn round and recommend Utah to him. Colin - I think you'll love it!
post #14 of 16
A brilliant report! You do have a way with words!
For sure I hope we'll be skiing again toghether soon. ESA? Why not!
post #15 of 16

I got a t-shirt and postcards at the refugio on one of the runs we took by it. Absolutely fantastic views. Wish we could have stayed the night. One day we watched as the Llama flew in the supplies of wood and food and flew out the refuse.

Thanks for the memories. I wish I was in Italy again.

Are trip reports from 15 years ago acceptable?

post #16 of 16
Originally Posted by MastersRacer View Post

I got a t-shirt and postcards at the refugio on one of the runs we took by it. Absolutely fantastic views. Wish we could have stayed the night. One day we watched as the Llama flew in the supplies of wood and food and flew out the refuse.

Thanks for the memories. I wish I was in Italy again.

Are trip reports from 15 years ago acceptable?

You got pictures? ;-)
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