Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Skiing in Portes du Soleil, France

Actual date of this event: 3-10 March

A group of 13 of us decided months and months ago to go on a group ski trip. Falene was the angel who organized the whole trip and found us a terrific catered Chalet in the town of Morzine, France (more on the Chalet in another blog). If staying in Morzine, there is the option to start from the base of the Pleney lift or the base of the Super Morzine lift. You can also take the town bus to another base, but that is more difficult and takes more time.

We had all types of levels in our group which was a terrific, but at the same time not terrific. During the day, we pretty much stayed in two groups the whole week. Half of us were a little more comfortable with steeper slopes and had the desire to ski for 5-6 hours a day and were always on the first shuttle to the base... let's call this the BlueRed group. The other half were not as comfortable with steep slopes... lets call this the GreenBlue group. We also had two folks who had never skied before the trip so lessons were arranged, and then one person who used to ski competitively so he went off-piste (off-trail) quite often.

Monday, March 4th: It was our first day on the slopes. The BlueRed group set off to Pleney at 9:00 am and did a few greens, mostly blues and few reds (explanation of the colors later). The slopes seemed a bit icy, and we really weren't a fan of the snow. I had ordered longer skis than I had ever used and did not like the length (I exchanged them for shorter ones that evening). One of the members of the group lost their lift pass in Les Gets, so she had to talk her way onto lifts for the rest of the day (luckily, she was able to get another one at no charge the next day). It was REALLY HOT that day to the point where I could have skied without my jacket. The GreenBlue group also started at Pleney because they had afternoon lessons arranged to help them feel more confident on a new mountain. Unfortunately, we had a major accident.
Let's add this up... Remember, I was a math teacher, so let's do some math folks...
ski boot too tight to the ski
ski stuck in a patch of ice
ski didn't pop off
twisted leg
broken knee bone
For realz. Poor Ryan hadn't even been on the mountain for 15 minutes and he broke his leg. Poor thing had to sit in the snow for 45 minutes before ski patrol reached him to take him to the base hospital. Ryan had never skied before and Jill was looking forward to her husband learning to ski and enjoying it so they could have years and years of enjoying the activity together. That is all thrown out the window, now. We all felt and still feel so terrible for them. (Now that we are back in the UK with national health care, the situation has not gotten any better.) There is still so much more to this story, so please pray for them that things will get better for Ryan.

After the accident, the GreenBlue group had their lesson which they all thoroughly enjoyed as much as possible without thinking about the accident. The two groups met up around 3, and I took off back to the Chalet with the GreenBlue group since I was not enjoying my long skis. The rest of the BlueRed group did a few more runs before going home.
The rest of the week isn't as exciting... or depressing, I should say....
Tuesday, March 5th: The BlueRed group set off to the Super Morzine side at 9:15 am. We did quite a few runs for the day and ended up in Switzerland (Les Crosets) for a short period of time. We can now check off that we skied in the French Alps AND the Swiss Alps! It was cooler in this area of the mountain than Monday's area, but still warmer than we would like. The group enjoyed this side of the mountain so much more than the Pleney side. The GreenBlue group enjoyed their day on the Pleney side.
Wednesday, March 6th: The BlueRed group headed back to Super Morzine at 9:15 am and tried out a few new runs. Portes du Soleil is huge... there are so many different bases that we had access to and so many different lifts that could take us over one mountain and down the next. The GreenBlue group eventually made their way to Super Morzine as well. We tried to catch up with them, but since the map is so confusing it didn't end up happening. At the end of the day, the BlueRed group clocked at least 30 miles in 5 hours.

Thursday, March 7th: The BlueRed group convinced the GreenBlue group to meet up with them in an area that was fun for all - the area we attempted on Wednesday. There is a jump park in Avoriaz that was fun, but also an area that was doable for those still uncomfortable with the steep slopes. We all got to eat lunch together and the sun came out for a bit, so it became really warm.  It was a fairly easy day for the BlueRed group, but not so much for the GreenBlue group. We clocked 15 miles for the day. I am glad that we all got to ski together!

James putting on WAY TOO MUCH sunscreen
Friday, March 8th: MOST. MISERABLE. DAY. EVER! It was raining from the beginning of the day. The BlueRed group set off to Super Morzine at 9:15 am. On the way up, the rain turned to freezing rain which soaked us especially since the lift stopped a few times. Ski clothes are SUPPOSED to be waterproof, but I think the tags mean to say snowproof. When rain is drenching you, nothing can stop it from getting in. The visibility was terrible so it was difficult to see. The weather went back and forth between snow and ice. The GreenBlue group also went to Super Morzine to enjoy their time in the Avoriaz area, but that turned into a not-so-enjoyable time. Everyone except Luke, Jonathan and me made their way off the mountain. The three of us tried to wait it out, but we ended up in misery. Our hands were soaked so it was painful to put our gloves back on. Our legs were wet, rain was seeping through my jacket somehow, our goggles were cold, my beanie was soaked. The worst part about it was that because of where we were, we still had at least hour before we could get back to the chalet. Luke was able to walk back because he had on his comfy snowboarder boots, but Jonathan and I had to wait 30 minutes for the town bus to take us back. The two of us just kept talking about the sauna and the hot tub and hot tea and warm blankets. We finally reached our destination. We survived. And then we felt horrible for feeling like we were in such pain because Ryan was released from the hospital and greeted us at the Chalet with a broken leg. We still clocked 17 miles somehow.
I swear there are mountains behind all that white.  

Saturday, March 9th: Our last day was a GREAT DAY! After such a bad ski day the day before, we were so thankful to have a great day. The BlueRed group set off to Super Morzine at 9:30 am to try out some areas that we had not yet been. We really enjoyed the Chatel area. It was pretty far away from where we started, but it had some great runs. Temps were perfect for skiing. It was cold and my face was frozen a a few times, but that is how skiing is supposed to be! The GreenBlue group went to Pleney for the day. Opposite from what you'd think given that it was a Saturday, the mountain was not very packed. Ski schools do not operate on Saturdays, so there were no lines of little kids which made it so much easier to navigate your way down the mountain. At the end of the day, the BlueRed group clocked 37 miles in 6 hours. Success!!
Close to the same two picture as Friday's two pictures. Major difference!

 Lunch time! The chairs kept randomly sinking like 8 inches into the snow. Sooo funny!

Our route for Saturday... You can see we were right on the border of Switzerland. Tuesday, we went to Les Crosets.
What an exhausting week! It was super fun and such a great experience for most of us. Now... back to my loads and loads of laundry which includes washing things separately due to different types of material. Hopefully, I will be done with my laundry by Friday.
1 load washing
1 load drying
2 loads waiting in this picture
1 load waiting in another room
1 giant pile of "needs special treatment"

Other posts on skiing in Portes du Soleil: Post 2, Post 3

If returning to Morzine by Super Morzine, you must take the Super Morzine bubble lift (a closed in gondola) back down to the base because there are no ski slopes to the base.



  1. What an adventure you guys had! Really sucks about Ryan, that's my worst nightmare about skiing which is why I haven't tried it yet!

  2. I love the GPS map of our skiing!!!

  3. Hey there! Thanks so much for commenting on my blog! Glad we found each other - we are frequent travelers to Antwerp!

    ski in france


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