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Winter 2017-18 starts in Chamonix

A great start of the season in Grands Montets

Featured in:

Graham Pinkerton | Chamonix Reporter | Published: 4 Dec 2017


Winter 2017-18 starts in Chamonix

Through the autumn farmers have noted the onions' thick skins and the mice have been out in plague numbers. Now meteorologists tell us La Nina is likely and the North Atlantic Oscillation trending to positive. So, from this, we can confidently and definitively tell you that this coming winter is going to be... as good as you make it!

Yup, we have no idea how good or bad the snow will be this season, but your Chamonet snow reporters will be on hand to let you how it is right now and what's likely to happen in the next couple of days.


Grand Montets opening day saw the Argentiere-Lognan, Plan Joran, Bochard, Marmottons and Tabe lifts open. The five lifts only accessed four pistes so whilst queues were short the pistes were a little busy, though nothing too hectic and there was plenty space for everyone to get their winter legs back.

Conditions on piste were firm but fun. The natural snow of the last few weeks has been mixed with lots of artificial snow which makes for a denser piste. Sharp edges are needed to make the most of the centre of the piste in steeper bits, but the sides of the pistes harboured softer snow and easier turns.


The longest piste open is the red Bochard from its eponymous gondola which gives a good amount of vertical and was seeing the most traffic during the day. Whilst the cover is fine on the piste, it's maybe not the best choice for beginner or nervous skiers due to the firmness of the snow. Lower on the hill the Coqs and Marmottons blue pistes were more suitable for the less confident, but Les Houches is probably a better option overall at the moment for anyone still on their first few days on snow.

Obviously this is Chamonix, tracks were appearing all over the hill rather than just between the piste marker poles. It's still early season so there are lots of rocks lurking just below the surface and plenty of skis will be needing repairs after the weekend, but for the time of year conditions were reasonable.


Armed with touring skis, glacier and off piste safety equipment, we headed uphill from the Bochard gondola for a quick look at the Col du Rachasses. There was plenty of untracked snow and surprisingly few people out having a look, but the thin snow cover and uncertain snowpack stopped us from exploring beyond the col and instead we enjoyed a good lap back down towards the top of the Herse chairlift where we joined the many tracks from riders traversing over from the top of the Bochard gondola.


Grand Montets and Les Houches are only open for the weekends just now, however the 9th December is the current scheduled date for full opening of the Chamonix ski area. Keep checking Chamonet for the latest news on exactly where and what will be open as it gets nearer the time.

If you just can't wait until Saturday then Courmayeur, which is included in the Mont Blanc Unlimited lift pass, is open every day of the week and whilst not all the lifts are running yet there's still plenty to keep you entertained between stops for coffee and pizza.

From now until next weekend the weather forecast is suggesting cold weather which will give plenty of opportunity for more artificial snow to be created. Some of the forecasting models are suggesting a return to good old fashioned snow falling from the skies instead of cannons towards the weekend too, fingers crossed the predictions are right.

A positive start to the season, have fun out there!

Ski safely off-piste

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 and also mountain guides provide instruction in off-piste skiing, avalanche safety and mountaineering techniques. Make your time in the mountains unforgettable for the right reasons, ski safe!