The Chamonix ski season isn't over yet
Summer's in sight but we're still skiing in Chamonix
We all know all about FOMO, the fear that, elsewhere, something better is happening and you should be there. But why isn't there a phrase for the fear everyone else is missing out on something great here? FEEIMOOSGH? I'm not sure it'll make any trending lists any time soon but it's a fairly accurate description of how I feel while out on the empty slopes at the moment.
While the forecast for Sunday wasn't stellar, it was far from terrible and a look round the webcams in the morning showed lifting clouds and few queues. At Grands Montets, the somewhat depleted roster of lifts meant that the few skiers who'd turned up were lapping the Herse chair. So we headed straight for the home run. Normally in April, you experience Pierre a Ric at the end of the day, after above zero temperatures, strengthening sun and hundreds of skiers have had their way with the piste and cut it up.
At the beginning of the day, however, it is pristine. Well groomed and empty, apart from the occasional ski tourer getting their training laps in on the way up. We explored a little higher up but, with the off-piste being either sun-crusted or mogulled, and none of the other pistes being as good, it was to Pierre a Ric and the quick laps on the Plan Joran telecabine that we kept returning.
Flégère and Les Houches are now closed. For the season for Les Houches, and forever for Flègère. Well, sort of. After 63 years of service, the Flégère Telepherique is being retired and replaced with a 10-person telecabine. The new lift should be in service in time for winter 2019/2020.
Tuesday saw us back at Flégère. Kind of. As the day was forecast to be overcast with snow or rain arriving in the afternoon, a forecast sandwiched between two sunny, beautiful days, we decided to go for a bit of a ski tour.
Starting in Brévent from the highest lift, now open only for pedestrians and ski tourers due to the rockfall blocking the Charles Bozon piste, we took in the spring snow delights of the Hotel face before heading back up the hill on the Col Cornu lift. Skins on and we traversed over the Aiguille de la Glière to look down on the now-closed Flégère ski area. Still plenty of snow but, alas, no open lifts. The descent of the Glacier de la Floria was under grey skies but in great snow, a north-east oriented banking all the way down held smooth creamy snow, the reflected heat from the clouds likely the only reason it wasn't still genuine powder.
Skins back on for the ascent and a boot pack up to Pointe Alphonse Favre. The weather had come in by now and much of the climb was done under light snowfall, not enough to make much difference to the descent but it certainly made the climb more atmospheric. The final descent on the Glacier Mort was also on great snow. Again, more creamy than powdery but nothing to turn our noses up at. The exit out to the road is broken in a few places now. You can still make it out whilst keeping your skis on but only if you don't like them.
With the majority of the remaining lifts closing this weekend, now's the time to get those final laps of the season done. Grands Montets will be the only area open after the weekend and it's scheduled to remain open into May – check our lift status page for the most up to date information.
The weather looks seasonably sunny through until the weekend when it currently seems like we'll go back to morning sunshine and afternoon showers. No reason to stop skiing because of the weather then, get up there and see what everyone else is missing out on.
NB: Exploring beyond the ski resort boundaries is an amazing experience for anyone who's physically fit and has mastered the pistes well enough. There are, however, risks associated with venturing outside the safety of the marked/patrolled ski area, including awareness of your actions on those below you on the slopes. Mountain guides are professionally qualified and have extensive knowledge of the local terrain to provide you with the safest and most enjoyable possible experience in the mountains; as a visitor here we highly recommend you hiring one. Many ski schools also provide instruction in off-piste skiing, avalanche safety and mountaineering techniques. Make your time in the mountains unforgettable for the right reasons, ski safe!
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 backcountry decision making.
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