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Excellent spring snow on the pistes in Les Contamines

Snowboarding on cruisey pistes in the sunshine

There hasn't been any new snow in the Mont Blanc region for a while now but thanks to warm temperatures there is still some very nice soft spring snow out there if you time it right.

My family were visiting this week, with Saint Gervais as their base rather than Chamonix as I thought they would prefer the skiing on offer in the Evasion Mont Blanc area compared to that inside the Chamonix valley. 

I stayed a few nights with them in the apartment they had rented just out of town, getting picked up by friends on their way out of the valley to La Clusaz for an excellent day's skiing on Wednesday and visiting some good local restaurants in the evenings. On Thursday I joined them for a day on the mountain.

They hadn't skied Les Contamines yet so it was a good chance to show them around a bit. My sister is a good skier but had joined her boyfriend on a couple of indoor snowboard lessons in the last month and planned to snowboard the whole week, so I thought I would get my first day's snowboarding in three years and join them (big thanks Local CHX ski rentals in Chamonix Sud for the gear).

The warm weather has meant that the pistes are re-freezing pretty solid overnight before warming throughout the day, so we had a long lazy breakfast before driving to Les Contamines' Montjoie gondola for about 10:30 to give things a little time to soften up.

Once up the first two gondolas, the pistes were just starting to soften and there weren't too busy - perfect for finding my feet on the snowboard again on a few gentle blue pistes under the Signal gondola to start things off and to check out how Roslyn and Richard were getting on.

It took me a couple of runs to really get comfortable, and a bit of fiddling with my bindings was required, but once that was sorted I was feeling good cruising about, albeit at a slower pace than I would normally on skis.  

We spent most of the morning on the Signal gondola and Montjoie chairlift on the front side of the mountain before moving onto the Nant Rouge chairlift for some nice cruisey blue and red runs. The reds weren't much steeper than the blues and holding pretty smooth snow without much traffic to dodge, really building up our confidence. So naturally after this it was time to move onto the Olympique black piste off the Roselette chairlift. My sister and I got down clean but Richard had one fall, even though he had been the one progressing better all week, haha!

After a big lunch (our parents were paying after all) we tried some of the red pistes off the Buche Croisee chairlift and blues & reds off the back side of the mountain, but things had softened up a lot and were getting a bit chopped-up. An earlier or later lunch might have been a better idea to ride the sweet spot of 12-2pm but we still had a lot of fun despite a few good falls.  

I think a stiffer snowboard will help next time I'm out to better deal with variable snow at speed. Back over on the Olympique piste we all got down clean the second time, even if the snow was a bit scraped in places and the final cruise down to Signal midstation was really fun, taking some good speed though very soft snow by staying far right all the way down.

Dinner in Chamonix's Telecabine restaurant finished off an excellent day before saying bye to everyone ; it was the best meal I've had all year.

Les Contamines is included on all Chamonix MBU lift passes (activation is required in Courmayeur, Saint Gervais or Les Contamines ticket desks for the first time you ski here), as one of the free coupons for Le Pass season pass holders, or as part of the Evasion Mont Blanc lift ticket. Les Contamines is a 25 minute drive from Chamonix town. Read more on how to get there from Chamonix


Follow more from Lorne in his ski blog.  


NB: Off piste skiing and mountaineering are dangerous. The opinions expressed in these articles are very much time and condition specific and the content is not intended in any way to be a substitute for hiring a mountain guide, undergoing professional mountaineering training and/or the individual's own back country decision making.


Location: Chamonix / Mont Blanc Valley



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