Sunday, August 12, 2018

Morzine Avoriaz 2020 Developments

Morzine Avoriaz 2020 Developments

New lifts and piste developments will grace Morzine over the next 20 years. The traditional market town is part of the Portes du Soleil ski area and a speedy lift, known as the Express Morzine Avoriaz will whisk skiers from the centre of Morzine to the Prodains gondola lift in less than 20 minutes, making the resorts easily accessible for skiers and snowboarders wishing to explore more slopes.
Morzine is a resort located in the heart of one of the most extensive ski regions in the Alps – Portes du Soleil. It’s one of the closest major French resorts to Geneva airport and boasts over 650km of marked ski runs which makes it great from beginners to advanced skiers and snowboarders. The town itself is a traditional market town that continues to outdo itself each year and we can see why. If you’re considering Morzine for your next ski trip, first of all – great choice and second, make sure to read All about Morzine for some inside tips and suggestions for food, drink and more.

Let’s go back a few years..

Morzine 1930's
The lifts of Morzine have come a long way since 1963
The mayor of Morzine, Gerard Berger has expressed his interest to link both of the resorts together for quite some time and plans are finally being put into action. But lets go back a few years so we can paint a better picture for you.
A 30 year deal was signed in 1962 to develop the Avoriaz plateau in to a superb ski resort with great snow and pistes that all skiers and snowboarders would love. This was achieved by opening the original Prodains lift in 1963 (which was updated in 2013), followed by developers purchasing 82 hectares of pasture for just 30,000 Francs and then work for building the resort began. While there are a few ways to get to Avoriaz from Morzine, a direct link just makes it even better.

Project Morzine Avoriaz 2020

morzine avoriaz developments 2020
Morzine Avoriaz 2020 Developments Presentation
The project Morzine Avoriaz 2020 is sure to pave a way for a better future for both of the resorts. Construction is planned for 2019, kicking it off with the Express Morzine-Avoriaz lift and completions scheduled for 2021. The new development budget is a large €35 million with a further €11.6 million to be spent on surrounding infrastructure. Below we break down the developments that will be put into action for Morzine and Avoriaz.
  • The base station will be located at the top of the Rue du Bourg
  • A tunnel will be built from the bottom of the Pleney lift to a new lift station overlooking the supermarket carpark
  • To better connect the new lift station and the Pleney, the tunnel’s moving walkway will transport skiers and snowboarders to the new Express Morzine Avoriaz lift.
  • Beneath the new lift station in the area known as La Plan, (the current Carrefour carpark) there will be a new bus station
Overall, the new high speed lift will benefit Morzine and Avoriaz with a much faster connection across the valley, whilst also making it easier for skiers and snowboarders who are staying in Les Gets. Morzine TV published a visualisation of the planned project, we cut out the interesting bit so you can see a short video highlighting the development. You can view the full video here.

Piste developments in Morzine

A total of €147.9 million has been allocated to the piste and lift infrastructure developments within the Morzine ski area, including the huge project ‘Morzine Avoriaz 2020’. But what else will be going on in the ski resort?
From 2025 onwards, new lifts and pistes will be created, with both Tour and Choucas highlighted for development. Not only is the resort improving itself by widening it’s ski area to improve skiers and snowboarder experience, but the village centre and the outskirts of the resort are in for some TLC. They will be adding a pavement to the Poute de la Plagne which widens the Route d’Avoriaz as well as creating 600 new parking spaces within a 5 minute walk of the Pleney lift.
Morzine will be busy for the next few years developing the popular resort to be better and we’re happy to be able to see it’s progress. In the meantime, if you’ve been hunting for a ski trip to Morzine but haven’t been able to find suitable accommodation as of yet, our catered Chalet Chamois D’or provides stunning panoramic mountain views. Don’t forget to keep up to date with our latest catered and self catered offers either so you can treat yourself!
Morzine Resort

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Managing snow

Managing snow

How do ski resorts ensure the pistes are in the best possible condition through a season?

Ensuring holiday makers can enjoy the snow is vital to a healthy ski industry but of course the weather may have other plans. Ski resorts are employing an increasingly diverse toolkit of snow management techniques to bring order to the chaos. The long term snow forecast is uncertain, climate change is clearly having an effect on the Alps but it’s hard to know what that will mean for skiers. A study by the Swiss environmental office predicted that all European small and medium sized glaciers will have melted entirely by 2050 and glacial resorts seem to agree. Tignes, a high altitude resort with 9 months of skiing a year thanks to its glacier is planning to build an indoor snow centre at 2000m which could indicate they feel their glacier’s days may be numbered. So we thought we’d take a look at the how snow management works today and wonder at what the future may hold.

Piste bashers

These mighty and fascinating vehicles are the workhorse of snow management. They come in all shapes and sizes but a typical model costs about quarter of a million euros and can weigh upwards of 10 tonnes. They use hydraulic blades, rotary tillers and piste shaping equipment to shape our slopes as they crawl around the mountainside in the middle of the night. The drivers are highly trained and have the best possible knowledge of the mountain, even in today’s world of technology their personal knowledge and observational skills are the main reason piste bashers manage to find their way around the mountain safely night after night. The art of piste preparation could fill entire volumes, let alone an article maybe one day we’ll get the chance to go out with a real piste basher driver and tell a more complete story.


Snowmaking is commonplace in major resorts around Europe but the scale of snowmaking varies a lot from one resort to another and it is growing every season.
From the Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism and their 2016 study into snow management operations in French ski resorts
This survey confirms that the snow conditions are a major priority for ski resort operators to provide comfortable skiing conditions, to ski back down to the village or even to connect with neighbouring resorts. The required minimum snow depth is shared by most resorts, decreasing from 60 cm in February to 40 cm in April with a minimum 40 cm to maintain regardless the date. Snowmaking also appears as the major method to mitigate the dependency to natural snow conditions.Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
snow cannon diagram
The principle is simple, when the air is cool enough (-1.5˚c) water and air are fired into a funnel together and then out into the air to become snow. The modern mechanics of snowmaking cannons are complex and advanced. The cannons themselves are able to atomise huge amounts of water to form large sheets of snow that shower onto the pistes below but the cannons are only half the story.
To feed a system of powerful snow cannons you need deep reservoirs of water at high altitude and the infrastructure to keep them filled and able to deliver water to the cannons on demand. This can mean major investment for ski resorts but it appears the resorts are finding it well worth it. As concerns about the climate grow the scale of snowmaking across the Alps is set to continue to grow.

Storing snow

Storing or farming snow sounds crazy but it has become increasingly common for ski resorts to literally stockpile snow from one season through to the next. As it turns out a big enough pile of snow at a high altitude will loose only 10-30% of it’s volume over the sunny months when an insulating system is employed. We saw this happening over the summer and wrote about it in our article snow farming in Courchevel.
Resorts in France, Switzerland and Austria are looking after their own snow stash through this very summer and it should make all the difference when the season draws near. A range of insulating methods are being used, tarpaulins, plastic matting and even sawdust have been shown to be effective. In the Swiss ski area of Andermatt-Sedrun they are using some kind of fleece to save snow & were kind enough to make a video explaining all about their techniques.

How technology is improving snow management

Satellite coordinated systems are not a thing of the future, they exist today. Naturally today most piste grooming vehicles are using GPS positioning on some level as backup navigation to their excellent mountain knowledge and for location in the case of an avalanche or other accident. Systems are being developed to allow for more effective management of a piste basher fleet. Val Thorens of the Three Valleys employ the state of the art SNOWsat system that allows them pinpoint every vehicle in the network in all weathers and good old Caterpillar offer a system offering similar features. Centralised management of the snow management effort brings lots of potential benefits for example finding the the most optimum routes both for snow quality and fuel economy.
snowsat piste sytem Better information on snow depth can allow resorts to make the right choices, see problems developing early and know when there’s no need to use snowmaking machines. How do you get accurate information on the volumes of snow around the mountains in your ski resort? Systems like those from Sensoft use ground penetrating radar (GPR) and GPS mapping to produce 3D maps of the snowlike and depth. How long will it be before they mount these monitoring systems on drones and get a full survey every day?
Drones are likely to be playing all kinds of roles in the ski resort of the future. Monitoring conditions and activities are tasks ideally suit automated flying vehicles, drones are already used to survey buildings and landscapes at altitude, it won’t be long before they are carrying more specialist equipment and performing more automated functions.
We may find uses for automated vehicles for all kinds of snow management tasks but we expect it’ll be a while before piste bashers drive themselves around the slopes at night. That job is harder than it looks and it looks pretty hard indeed.
If pressures on the climate continue to affect ski conditions, ski resorts can be expected to expand and refine their current snow management methods whilst continuing to innovate new ways of giving us the winter sports experiences we love so much.
We hope technology will offer further solutions to the problem of snow. Furthermore we hope that the driving forces behind climate change can be tamed and that the Alps will remain a haven of winter sports and natural beauty.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

16 Embarrassing Skiing Faux Pas

Linda Marsh is involved in the day-to-day running of Cophall Parking, one of Gatwick’s oldest off-airport parking and valet services. The 24-hour business that started with just a couple of family members and a single minibus now has 50 staff and a fleet of vehicles.

“In the winter, many of our customers are skiers and boarders, and we love hearing stories from the slopes on their return,” she says. “Although quite a few of them involve the embarrassing behavior of their fellow skiers.” READ ON

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The 20 Most Notorious Snowboarding Criminals

What kind of legal trouble have snowboarders got themselves into over the years? Illicit Snowboarding lined-up a veritable rogue’s gallery of snowboarding miscreants who have run afoul of the law for a range of criminal misdeeds…

First up its snowboarding’s version of Point Break...

The Snowboard Bandits.......Read On

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Which Ski Run Is Better for the Planet?

The method of clearing a ski run can be the difference between a permanent scar on the mountain and a healthy landscape

PHOTO: Hank de Vre
We’re on a mountain, but at the moment skiing is a distant abstraction. I’m sweating through my shirt and pining for sunscreen, following Jennifer Burt as she leads the way through shoulder-high brush. “In retrospect, maybe I should’ve brought you up the trail,” she says.

We’re at Powder Bowl ski area, north of Lake Tahoe, hiking up the middle of a run—if you could even still call it that. One of dozens of abandoned ski areas scattered around the Tahoe Basin, Powder  Bowl closed in 1984. If Burt wasn’t here to tell me, I’d have been hard-pressed to pick out the run from the surrounding forest. But that’s kind of the point. Burt, 40, a restoration ecologist, has been studying how ski slopes regenerate—that is, how they return to their pre-ski-run condition—since 2005, when she was studying for her Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis.
Industry experts estimate that as many as half of the country’s ski slopes could close in the coming decades, underscoring the importance—and permanence—of this decision.
Initially, she was broadly interested in the ecology of ski mountains as managed landscapes, but soon she noticed that some ski runs looked markedly different than others. When mountain operators build a new ski run, she discovered, they make a choice that shapes how the mountain will look years, decades, and even centuries later. Industry experts estimate that as many as half of the country’s ski slopes could close in the coming decades, underscoring the importance—and permanence—of this decision. This slope, its edges already fading back into the woods, could be a preview of those future abandoned mountains. Luckily, whoever created it made the right choice, Burt says—they went with the chainsaw instead of the bulldozer. Read on..


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Gear Made Clear: Skis

Ski construction may seem like a difficult subject to fully grasp—after all, how often do you get to take a look at the proverbial guts?—but the reality is similar building principles apply to each and every pair of planks on the market, regardless of the brand behind them. have kindly put together this guide to ensure you know exactly what it is you’re looking for in your next set of skis.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

What To Know When Buying New Ski Boots

With so many choices, how do you know what type of ski boots to get?

While few purchases are as exciting as new ski equipment, the act of shopping also comes with a healthy dose of consternation. Nowhere do we get more flustered than trying to figure out how to find the right pair of ski boots.

As a reflection of our many different skiing styles and desires, the industry has produced specific boots to match our ever-segmented world. From fit to style to design to whether or not you want a walk mode and grippy soles, just knowing where to begin can be intimidating. This is true for professionals on down to beginners.

But this issue applies best to those who ski all the time: Boots, which cost a pretty penny, mean a great deal to us. In fact, boots can make or break a season. Since we depend on them all the time, we need them to be comfortable and work as intended. But even those of us who ski regularly have a hard time knowing exactly how a boot should properly fit.

In search of professional advice, I reached out to one of the industry's foremost experts in bootfitting and design. Matt Schiller, 46, has spent the majority of his career dialing equipment for some of the world's best skiers. From the World Cup to big mountain athletes to the X Games, he's been responsible for making sure boots, skis, and bindings are precisely tuned to get every possible advantage on the biggest stage. That includes three years as the service manager for the U.S. Ski Team, six years as Nordica’s race director, and three years as competition director for Atomic, where he helped Mikaela Shiffrin find the best fit for her equipment as she launched her career.

As the saying goes: You don't choose the boot—the boot chooses you. Schiller says finding new boots starts with having an open mind about fit, mechanics, and function. During an appointment, Schiller takes at least a half hour to collect several measurements before he even puts a boot on someone's foot. "I look really hard at mechanics," he says. "That will give them a short list of boots where they can think about fit, stance, and flex, and then they can go pick their top three boots with some guidance. I think that has to happen, no matter if you're a pro or a layman."