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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