Posted by: ankneredelstein | August 6, 2010

Jennifer, Beaven and Piper Hike Refuge-to-Refuge in the Haute Savoie

Refuge de La Flegere - Chamonix

Beaven and Piper (lower right) on the descent to Praz-Coutant.

Piper at the Cascade de la Pleureuse

Beaven and Piper on the decent to Praz-Coutant

Refuge de La Flegere - Chamonix

La Cascade du Rouget

Starting at the wonderful La Cascade du Rouget, “The Queen Of The Alpes” (commune Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval) Jennifer, Beaven and Piper began their three-day rando through the Houte Savoie going from refuge-to-refuge.  The terrain near Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval is stunning.  The starting point was the Auberge De La Cascade Du Rouget – a family restaurant powered by a large diesel generator since no power lines extend up that far into the mountains from Sixt. (click HERE for good photos from Linternaute.com)

La Cascade du Rouget (click for larger image)

Auberge De La Cascade Du Rouget (click for larger image) (photo credit of the Auberge to the Famille Deplace blog.)

Scenery in Sixt

Refuge Sales:

(Refuges.info link HERE)

The initial hike was about two and a half hours from the start at Le Cascade de Rouget, ending up at the first refuge - Refuge Sales.  Refuge Sales holds a maximum of 60 people (reservations required!), is situated at an altitude of 1877 meters and is supplied wuth approximately 900kg of goods by helicopter three times per season. DOGS ARE NOT ALLOWED IN THE NATURE RESERVE – even on a leash.  Fines are levied for violations of the rule! No cellular phone coverage.

Refuge Sales

Refuge de Platé

(Refuges.info link HERE)

The next stop was the Refuge De Platé at 2,032 meters. This refuge is smaller, with space for 35 people (reservations required!). No showers due to the lack of water at their location. Two female donkeys (Nanette and Fifine) live at the shelter. The site is unique as a high-altitude karst (limestone pavement). Animals include ibex, chamois, marmots, bearded vultures and fox.

Some photos:

Refuge de Platé


Vue de la Portette coté Sales
(click image for larger version)

Refuge de Platé

Praz-Coutant

From the Refuge de Platé, the final 2hr 30min hike was to Praz-Coutant, a tiny mountainside village just above the small town of Passy.

Photo Gallery:

Posted by: ankneredelstein | July 10, 2010

Glacier Skiing in July – Les Deux Alpes, France

The upper reaches of Les Deux Alpes in France (Near Grenoble) are open for skiing the glacier for several weeks. It’s probably bigger than most people think with 4 chairlifts 7 draglifts (cable T-bar), 2 snow tows and 1 funicular. The glacier offers 110 hectares (approx. 300 acres) of piste skiing including 1 red run, 8 blue runs and 2 green runs (but they are really all greens in my opinion). The altitude of the skiing  is 2,900-3600 meters. They maintain a Super Pipe, half-pipe, hips, quarters, modules and boardercross.

The glacier is open from june 16th to august 28th (2010), from  7:00 to 12:30. It is firm in the morning, and gets a bit sticky at noon, but not deep mush..just sticky, slightly corny snow.  Everything is groomed flat in the morning.  While they tell you it only takes 24 minutes to get to the glacier by the Jandri Express…it realistically takes 45 minutes from the village once you wait in line to board the Jandri telecabine, switch the to the second telecabine for the final ascent to the baselodge of the glacier.  You can see the site from several webams.

They claim this is the largest European glacier used for summer skiing.  You can realistically expect to see national teams setting up gates for training on the glacier first thing in the morning, and on any particular week, you may run into hordes of European ski academies and/or schools out for summer ski training, so expect some liftlines since the surface drag lifts are slow, but keep the crowds on the slopes to a reasonable level.

The resort village is a fairly low-end, family-oriented affair, with your basic pizza shops and bars, tourist souvenir shops and the like.  No Michelin multi-star dining extravaganzas and the fur-coat scene to go with it. It reminds me of a Jersey boardwalk.  Functional, simple, low-key and just fine to keep you fed and watered on a visit to the glacier.

Les Deux Alpes is a mecca for downhill mountain biking. They have one of the best networks of widely varied downhill terrain I have seen, with some truly hairy trails and superbly banked downhill courses…something for everyone.  They also have a killer freestyle MTB (VTT) park at the base, with drag-tow surface lift service so you can hook on and get a ride back up for the freestyle park without riding a long chairlift way up again.  Very nice layout.  Very busy.  Some truly hardcore downhill freaks visit Les Deux Alpes, and there are some very serious bikes to be seen. As expected, there are TONS of rental shops for bikes, armor, gear…you name it…  Pretty happening place with serious downhill mountain biking and skiing in the summer!

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