Les Menuires

in the 3 Vallées, France

Geoff's blog from your man on the spot



2018-2019 Season Washup
A decent fall of snow in mid-December gave some good skiing in the lead-up to Christmas but a milder spell followed by a big temperature drop led to hard, well-worn pistes by the beginning of January with the off-piste frozen crust. January itself though mainly dry and sunny was very cold with little daytime melting. The pistes were relatively uncrowded, with fewer Eastern Europeans than in recent years, and a couple of small topups mid-month gave some better conditions for a while but the real saviour of the early part of the season was the metre plus of powder that fell between the 28th January and the 4th February - best run of the season deep, over-the-head powder on Lac Noir on the morning of the 4th.

Excellent piste conditions mid-February allied with a prolonged Grand Beau and slightly milder temperatures made ideal conditions for the vacances scolaires but the pistes then suffered again in unseasonally warm weather towards the end of the month - best skiing around lunchtime before conditions became too heavy. The Grand Beau finally broke down towards the end of the month leading to an unsettled spell at the beginning of March which heralded the second snowy episode of the season, around 70 cm falling between the 5th and the 18th of the month, before the weather turned sunny again for a further fortnight. Cold nights and warm days made for icy pistes first thing and soggy conditions later in the afternoon but with some good skiing on the fresh snow in between.

The last significant snow of the season - around 30 cm - fell on the 4th/5th of April, winter making a brief return after which the weather quickly turned mild again and it was a matter of waiting for the spring powder, which however was slow to form.

The lasting memory of the season is the sunshine with no fewer than 9 glorious Saturday Courchevel picnics - in comparison with just 2 last year. The snow came in just two major unsettled spells but nevertheless lasted well with most pistes, except the likes of Verdet and Jerusalem, complete until the end. The other notable feature was the lack of the Cime de Caron cablecar which broke down in early January.


Week 21st April 2019 - 22nd April 2019


Les Menuires closed Monday 22nd - no more lifts, no more buses. Geoff and Sheila departed Wednesday 24th, Ray and Maggie Saturday 27th. Some pistes wearing thin towards the end but all-in-all still a pretty decent snow cover at the end of the season. Easter Sunday overcast with flat light, last ski on Easter Monday on deserted pistes: extremely windy, particularly at Val Tho with many lifts and most liaisons closed but some cracking spring powder on Allamands.

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 0 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: +4°C to +3°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 1.85 m
Avalanche risk: 2
Crowds: Deserted
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Ray, Maggie


Week 14th April 2019 - 20th April 2019

Pistes de la semaine -

Blues & Greens

- spring powder forming widely on Easter Saturday

An overly warm week after a cold start. Some nice early runs on La Masse and a little off-piste beside St. Martin 2 on Monday with the return just holding out. Off-piste higher up generally disappointing - crusty below the surface layer and the old tracks slow to disappear. Mostly sunny though afternoon conditions generally very heavy. Semaine des proprietaires - many Courchevel lifts shut, but a fairly full service in Meribel and Menuires with just Roc 2 and the Masse sector restricted (telecabines only). Superb weather for a final Courchevel picnic with Ray and Maggie - lunch in the trees beside the Grandes Bosses and the spring powder starting to form fairly widely after an icy start on Mt. Vallon. Home early via the Alpage.

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 0 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: +3°C to -7°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 1.85 m
Avalanche risk: 2
Crowds: Very quiet except Val Tho
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Ray, Maggie


Week 7th april 2019 - 13th April 2019


Snow low down quickly turning very wet and heavy in the mild conditions but little bits of fresh on and off during the week still gave some good conditions on the upper runs - notably the Combe de Vallon with 5 cm fresh on top of the pisting on Wednesday morning. Most of the time spent with Eva, Zoe and Lily on the magic carpets plus Violette / Bettex here at Menuires then up on the beginner runs up at Val Tho - all 3 really enjoyed it and made good progress, Eva graduating to a full ticket at Val Tho on the Saturday and declaring Tete Ronde to be her favorite run!

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 8 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: 0°C to -3°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 1.96 m
Avalanche risk: 2
Crowds: Moderate
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Ray, Maggie, David, Lynette, Jenny, Eva(10), Zoe(8), Lily(5)


Week 31st March 2019 - 6th April 2019


Grand Beau came to an end on Sunday followed by mild, mainly cloudy conditions. Best skiing on the morning corduroy and low down late afternoon once the snow has softened - hard and icy in between times and things looking distinctly fin de saison. Return of winter mid-week with heavy falls of snow in the Préalpes and a reasonable dump in the Vanoise. Sun came out again on Friday to a transformed landscape - snow-laden trees snow and the pistes well covered if a little on the sticky side. Fine, if breezy, Saturday despite poor forecast. Silky smooth corduroy on La Masse a.m. with everything pisted except Lac Noir, and a trek round the Meribel valley with Ray p.m. looking for the sun and spring powder.

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 28 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: +2°C to -7°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 2.00 m
Avalanche risk: 1-3
Crowds: Very quiet
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Ray, Maggie


Week 24th March 2019 - 30th March 2019


Grand Beau all week but conditions, particularly in the morning, turning very hard and icy following a big temperature drop on Monday night. Val Tho/Orelle pistes passable Wednesday afternoon though very compacted and St. Martin going very soggy low down later on Thursday. Top half of Verdet creamy but the lower half more like water skiing - nearly gone. A grand day out with Ray and Maggie at Les Arcs on Friday, though Sheila tweaked a knee. Just Ray and Geoff for another glorious Courchevel Saturday picnic: a late start and a liesurely round waiting for the soft stuff - rewarded by perfect spring powder on the Petits Bosses and a nice run down the Chanrossa black on the way home.

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 0 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: +4°C to -7°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 2.01 m
Avalanche risk: 1
Crowds: Very quiet
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Ray, Maggie


Week 17th March 2019 - 23rd March 2019


Much colder on Sunday, a futher topup of snow on Sunday night making for some nice piste conditions. Progressively milder as the week wore on, a freeze-thaw regime leading to icy slopes first thing, though with the snow softening nicely in the afternoon sunshine - another Grand Beau underway. Off-piste pretty well skied out but a hint of the spring powder starting to form later in the week. A varied choice of skiing from the Roc de Fer to Mt. Vallon to Orelle, often with a picnic, in the company of Sabine and Stéphane, Angela and Didier, Gary and Juliet, as well as the usual suspects. Fabulous conditions for a final Courchevel picnic for Penny and Terry on the Saturday - Combe de Saulire particularly good. Not so good for Dave (hospitalised with an eye problem) and Gay with a broken ankle on the Bouquetin!

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 7 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: +5°C to -9°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 2.29 m
Avalanche risk: 2-3
Crowds: Moderate
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Terry, Penny, Dave, Gay, Ray, Maggie, Sabine, Stéphane


Week 10th March 2019 - 16th March 2019


Extremely mild conditions over the weekend followed by a sharp temperature drop made for icy conditions at the start of the week. A fine day on Tuesday - Masse (newy repaired) and Val Tho - but snowing for much of the rest of the week. Not great weather for all the new arrivals and the temperatures not quite low enough for the poudreuse but at least a decent topup for the pistes. Fresh snow a bit sticky - allied with a windcrust made for disappointing conditions off-piste. Skies cleared on Saturday for another glorious Courchevel picnic. Combe de Vallon great a.m. though things got a bit soggy towards the end of the day and Creux was horribly busy. All skiniors made it, plus Gary and Juliet from Necou.

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 51 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: +4°C to -6°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 2.52 m
Avalanche risk: 2-4
Crowds: Busy
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Terry, Penny, Dave, Gay, Sue, Ray, Maggie, Sabine, Stéphane


Week 3rd March 2019 - 9th March 2019

Piste/off-piste de la semaine -

Combe de Caron

- via piste-basher

Dave and Gay returned at the beginning of the week bringing a mixed bag of weather - sun, cloud, snow, rain, gale-force winds (föhn) and yo-yoing temperatures. A mixed bag of skiing too - 4 downdays, a run down to St. Martin on the soft on Sunday, some nice little bits of fresh on Lac Noir and off the edges at Val Tho on Tuesday and, the highlight of the week, a piste-basher ride up the new Cime piste (see Lift Updates), followed by a descent of the Combe in 10-15 cm of fresh on Friday. Morning pistes best avoided, especially without Bouquetin/Covili/Masse, and best snow now above about 2700 m: a decent fall much needed.

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 10 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: +5°C to -5°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 1.88 m
Avalanche risk: 2-3
Crowds: Very busy, except lunchtimes (Parisians and Belgians)
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Terry, Penny, Dave, Gay


Week 24th February 2019 - 2nd March 2019


Marked deterioration in snow conditions in the increasingly warm weather. Morning pistes now rock hard and marbly except at the very top and the off-piste crispy. Mornings not helped by a broken Masse 2 (out for 1-2 weeks?). Mainly just skiing around lunchtime once the snow has softened and before the heavy stuff (and the crowds) appear in the afternoon. Went shopping in Albertville on Thursday and sat out for lunch at a café - very pleasant at 22ºC! Grand Beau finally came to an end on Friday after two and a half weeks of unbroken sunshine. Friday/Saturday cooler and cloudy with some light snow, so no Courchevel picnic. Less busy than past two weeks - surprising since there are still two French regions on holiday.

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 3 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: +5°C to -3°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 1.83 m
Avalanche risk: 2-3
Crowds: Busy, except lunchtimes
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Terry, Penny


Week 17th February 2019 - 23rd February 2019


Mild, with not a cloud in the sky all week - great for the kids on their vacances scolaires but not doing the snow any favours. Nevertheless there has been virtually no sog, except right down at the bottom in Meribel, and piste conditions are still pretty fair on the early corduroy and at lunchtime once there is a covering of loose powder on the hardpack. A fabulous week exploring the funparks with the family, aided and abetted by Penny and Terry either riding shotgun or leading the turns onto the "high off-piste" outside the jalons! Ben is turning into a real racing snowplough demon, just as fearless on Red Fred as on the Bouquetin, whereas Alice (Covili, Christine, Quatre Vents/Alapge) is more controlled and trying to get her skis together between the turns. Another warm, sunny Signal picnic on Saturday with the snow showing the first real signs of suffering in the heat.

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 0 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: +3°C to -3°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 1.86 m
Avalanche risk: 2-3
Crowds: Very busy, except lunchtimes
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Terry, Penny, Graham, Linnie, Jenny, Alice(7), Ben(5).


Week 10th February 2019 - 16th February 2019


Blizzard conditions to start the week, the vents violents leaving the new 20 cm of fresh a little crusty and not quite as poudreuse as we have come to expect. Grand Beau from from Tuesday on however with continuing excellent piste conditions. Tuesday/Wednesday spent investigating the Meribel fun parks in anticipation of Alice and Ben's visit next week. Rocher Noir, Lac Noir, Dame Blanche (and Face Olympique) all pisted Wednesday - it's well seen that it's the French school holidays! Thursday, a gentle punt down to Les Allues in the afternoon. Friday/Saturday exploring Courchevel 1550 and the standard Saturday Signal picnic - picture postcard views and still good snow.

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 20 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: +2°C to -10°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 2.16 m
Avalanche risk: 3
Crowds: Very Busy (except lunchtime, when deserted)
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Terry, Penny, Michael, Denise, Liam, Louise, Grace(5), Sebastian (2).


Week 3rd February 2019 - 9th February 2019

Piste de la semaine (et de la saison?) -

Lac Noir

- over-the-head powder

Grade 5 snow and weather conditions Mon/Tue following last week's metre of powder - great skiing both on and off the corduroy again. Fabulous premières traces down Lac Noir first thing Monday morning. Morning Masse busy at times with groups coming down from Val Tho. Dame Blanche slope now well covered giving a good run right to the bottom. Mid-week Courchevel run (busy) to meet a friend of Penny and Richard's for a picnic on Signal. Return route complicated by a broken Dou des Lanches. Getting milder towards the end of the week with the first signs of thawing since the New Year. Dull and cloudy at the weekend with poor visibility.

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 28 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: -1°C to -12°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 2.61 m
Avalanche risk: 3-4
Crowds: Busy
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Terry, Penny, Richard, Maggie, Michael, Denise. Dave and Gay departed mid-week.


Week 27th January 2019 - 2nd February 2019


A snowy week - the much appreciated has arrived, light and fluffy in the main to boot! Pistes busier, not helped by restricted lift opening most days for déneigement, plus the Cime is still broken (possibly out for the whole season?). Great conditions both on and off piste though the corduroy does tend to cut up very quickly until the new soft snow has been pisted in. [neige traffolée (savoyard dialect): well-tracked powder - difficult to avoid existing tracks, not yet the pisted off-piste: okay if still fresh, impossible if frozen] Mainly just skiing bits of days, weather permitting. January a nicely cold and sunny month with very little daytime melting.

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 75 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: -4°C to -12°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 2.59 m
Avalanche risk: 3-4
Crowds: moderate
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Terry, Penny, Richard, Maggie, Dave, Gay.


Week 20th January 2019 - 26th January 2019

Piste de la semaine -

La Chasse

- unmarked soft powder (closed)

Cover starting to wear thin in places with the odd grassy patch starting to show - a decent dump would be much appreciated. Sheila, Terry and Penny went for a private lesson mid-week - no catching Penny now! Still very cold and mainly sunny though a 10-15 cm top-up of poudreuse on Wednesday helped things a little. Thursday morning an entertaining excursion down a closed and unmarked Chasse with Richard: we think we followed the line of the piste - mostly. Soft and deep, but generallly the depth of new snow off-piste is not enough to stop one hitting bottom. A few more visitors about but still straight onto most lifts. Clouds heralding start of unsettled spell on Saturday so no Courchevel picnic.

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 10 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: -6°C to -13°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 1.80 m
Avalanche risk: 2-3
Crowds: quiet
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Terry, Penny, Richard, Maggie, Dave, Gay.


Week 13th January 2019 - 19th January 2019

Pistes de la semaine -

Lac Noir/Covili

- silky smooth corduroy/10-15 cm poudreuse on top

Pistes much improved mid-week and some nice little bits of off-piste in the gullies after a couple of days of snow Sunday/Monday. Still very quiet - there are far fewer Russians and Eastern Europeans about than in previous years. Light snow again Thursday, some of it falling after the grooming had been done, so some cracking premières traces on the pistes Friday morning. There is a problem with the cables on the Caron télépherique - it has been out of action most of this week and may take some time to fix. Saturday deemed too cold for a picnic so Combe du Vallon and Quatre Vents a.m., back in to warm up, then towards Roc de Fer p.m. Pistes starting to harden up again towards the end of the week.

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 23 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: -1°C to -10°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 1.68 m
Avalanche risk: 2-3
Crowds: very quiet
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Terry, Penny, Richard, Maggie, Dave, Gay.


Week 6th January 2019 - 13th January 2019

Pistes de la semaine -

Bouquetin / Tête Ronde


Continuing grand beau for the beginning of the week followed by a couple of days of mainly light snow in a cold northerly air-stream. Temperatures down to -25°C at 3000 m and upper lifts closed Wednesday/Thursday a.m. mainly due to icing. Slightly voilé conditions Thursday/Friday made it feel extremely cold. The mid-week snow improved the pistes slightly and gave some limited off-piste but basically everything is still rock hard with polished patches and icy marbles forming quickly once the corduroy has worn off – best conditions on the gentler blues. A super Courchevel Saturday (just Geoff, Sheila and Terry) on the easy runs above 1650 – cold, crisp and sunny, brilliant blue skies and the trees still plastered from the mid-week fall.

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 10 cm
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: -3°C to -15°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 1.40 m
Avalanche risk: 1-2
Crowds: very quiet
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Terry, Penny, Richard (old!), Maggie and, from Thursday, Dave and Gay.


Week 30th December 2018 - 5th January 2019


Grand beau temps to welcome the skiniors (Geoff & Sheila, Terry & Penny plus their son Young Richard) back to Les Menuires. Unseasonably mild over Hogmanay but then a sharp drop on Wednesday morning (to around -7°C at 2000m) and staying low thereafter. Good snow cover down as far as St. Martin at the beginning of the week but the pistes are rock hard and not softening any during the day. The snow has worn during the week and the odd pebble is now appearing with the hillsides looking not quite so white. The off-piste is frozen crust and virtually unskiable. Saturday saw the first Courchevel picnic of the year. Lunch at the top of Signal a touch chilly but on the other hand the pistes were deserted and we'd a good run down the Combe du Vallon en route free of boy racers.

It seems that we are surviving on the remains of a big dump sometime round about mid-December but that there has been no fresh snow for a good couple of weeks now - just wall-to-wall sunshine. I've been appreciating the razor-sharp edges on my brand new Atomic Vantage 80 piste skis! All-in-all a good start to the season.

Fresh snow at 2000 m: 0
Temperature range at 08:00 at 2000 m: +4°C to -10°C
Snow depth at top of resort: 1.5 m
Avalanche risk: 1
Crowds: very quiet
Skiniors in residence: Geoff, Sheila, Terry, Penny, Richard (young).


Welcome to Season - 2018-2019 - A few updates for this season
There has been quite a lot going on in anticipation of the 2023 World Cup.

The Cherferie poma coming up from the Meribel side to the top of Jerusalem has been replaced by a chairlift. The Plan de l'Homme and Roc de Fer chairlifts from the Meribel Chaudanne rondpoint have disappeared and the Plan de l'Homme replaced by a new chair, Legends, allegedly with heated seats, following the same line.

There are new comfy cabines on the Mont Vallon, and the Bruyères cabines have also been replaced. These are a distinct squash for 8 people, all seated and the lift staff are having to push the doors shut at the bottom. There also appears to be a problem at the mid-station, where there is no on-access and again at the top there is a scramble to get off before the cabines begin their re-descent - hard to see the improvement, though it is supposedly faster than the old lift.

On La Masse the big new reservoir just beyond the top of Masse 1 has meant some slight re-alignment of the pistes and more significantly the Crêtes run between the top of Masse 2 and Lac Noir has been re-landscaped so that there is now virtually no uphill.

There is a new zipwire at Val Tho, from the top of Moutière back down to the village with an intermediate pylon just beside the Chalets run. It appears necessary to clip-out and then clip back in again on a platform at the top of this pylon.

The Montaulever poma has disappeared, so no more quiet late afternoon runs down a deserted Plan du Bouquet.

Update 9th March:

Since the Cime téléphérique is out of action for the season due to a damaged cable, a piste-basher shuttle service has been introduced between 10:00 and 13:00 taking 20 people at a time, if the weather is fine, along the new red/blue Cime piste to the top of the Combe. The ride starts where the new piste crosses Falaise (about halfway down the steep bit where the piste bends) and the round trip takes the piste-basher about 15-20 min - so potentially quite a long wait if you are not at the front of the queue. The new piste continues the initial traverse line of the old black run onto the Val Tho - Orelle ridge (blasted out in the summer) before dropping down on the Val Tho side to cross Falaise and then continue, ending up close to the bottom of Variante. The entry to the black run down the Combe is now a little further on than in the past, and is easier.

The Masse 2 télécabine also gave up (worn pulleys on one of the lower pylons) on the afternoon of the 24th February, necessitating the rescue of 140 unfortunates by helicopter. Out of action for two and a half weeks waiting for a new part.