Posts Tagged ‘Chatel’

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As extreme sports and extreme vacations go – Chatel has it all

June 16, 2009

Instead of talking about one extreme sport today, I am going to wax lyrical on an area which supplies just about everything you could possibly want to do on an active summer holiday (we’ve already covered this region for the winter season) – Chatel in the Haute Alpes.

In the whitewater sports they offer canoeing (two-strong team), canyoning (jumping, sliding, daredevil abseiling), hydrospeed or whitewater bodysurfing (a slippery, fast, exhilarating experience), rafting (a 7km ride down the Dranse) and kayaking.

Then there’s bobluging… a 650m descent with 7 bends, an average speed of 7m/sec – definitely a fun-filled thrilling descent. There’s a chairlift to get you back up to the top. The bobluge is open from 28th June to 31st August – weather permitting, and closed over the lunch hour.

And then of course there’s the ubiquitous mountain biking.

The Portes du Soleil has around 650 km of marked mountain bike trails and seemingly endless single track to explore. Using the 24+ lifts that are adapted to carry bikes in the summer,  you have access, from Chatel,  to almost every resort in the Portes Du Soleil including Morzine, Les Gets and the Swiss resorts of Morgins, Champery and Les Crosset – this really is prime mountain biking country and  ideal for mountain biking holidays.

ffredt gives us an idea of what the mountain biking is like:

There are also many downhill mountain biking tracks. Châtel bike park is situated at Pré-la-joux and accessible by Pierre-Longue and Rochassons chair lifts, it consists of 13 trails of all levels of difficulty (including 12 downhill courses) and one “Cross park”.

The 27th and 28th June will see the  PassPortes MTB event celebrating its 6th birthday. More than 20,000 people have now participated in this 80km circuit. The event takes place at an altitude of between 1000 and 2250m and covers resorts in France and in Switzerland discovering the Portes du Soleil area and its fabulous landscapes.

You can check out the link here if you’re interested in taking part yourself:

There’s a second competition on the 3rd, 4th and 6th July called the Chatel Mountain Style contest.  Professional and amateur riders will compete over the 3 days on the 300 metre long “Face” course. 22 Pro Riders from all over the world have already entred the competition.

Climbing:

There is also a good range of climbing routes available in the area.

Plaine Dranse is an excellent place to learn with more than 26 routes, but its the Essert waterfall which will suit our readers I think. You can abseil and canyon at this 250m landmark, with two semi-wet and wet routes and six 30-50m descents. Plus the Pas de Morgins which offers 50 climbing routes of 10m-40m and with a difficulty level of 3 – 7.

Of course there are artificial climbing walls too…

And then there’s the Fantasticable…

This is for the thrill seekers, the  adrenaline junkies of this world. Dizzying speeds and astonishing heights in a ride that is unique in the Alps. Safely harnessed you can fly over the Plaine Dranse hamlet at nearly 100kph, 240m up. The length of the first run is 1,200m and the second one is 1,325 and participants must be no less than 35kg and no more than 120kg.

Watch TheBukakeMaster experience the Fantasticable. I love the superman music and the euphoric laughter!

And, of course, paragliding where you can go for a first tandem flight with a professional.

As adventure holidays go, or an extreme vacation for that matter, what more could you possibly want? Discos?  Well of course they have that too: Le Sloopy, to name but one, and to add to the fun they have theme nights throughout the season…
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Skiing in Europe – Les Portes du Soleil

January 21, 2009

You might remember that I talked about our brief skiing trip the other day up in the Portes du Soleil. It is a resort/region/area which is worth going into in more detail for all you extreme sports enthusiasts out there – whether winter or summer … or both!

But we’ll start with winter…

The region offers 650 km of marked runs and about 230 lifts in total, spread over 14 valleys and about 400 square miles. Snow dumps over the Portes du Soleil are common and snowmaking ensure that slopes are kept healthy during warmer periods.

We stayed in Chatel, France, (though in the past I have often stayed at Champéry in Switzerland) but there are 11 other resorts in this huge region which are all connected making one of the biggest ski areas in Europe – if not the world. Abondance, La Chapelle d’Abondance, Avoriaz, Les Gets, Montriond, Morzine, St. Jean d’Aulps, Champéry, Morgins, Torgon and Val d’Illiez-Les Crosets-Champoussins are the other linked resorts.

This region crosses between France and Switzerland and this video from jfperron73 happens to have been filmed in the resort we stay at – Chatel.

Snowparks

The Portes du Soleil has 9 snowparks dotted all over the network. With boxes, tables, walls, a big air superpipe, raised bends, freestyle airbags and rails, there’s plenty to keep all riders smiling.

AVORIAZ has the bulk of them with 5 parks for all styles, disciplines, levels and needs. Arare snowpark is a shoe-in for advanced riders, La Chapelle is for improving riders hungry for thrills, while rookie freestylers should head for Trashers snowpark or the new Kids Parkway. Superpipe hounds can find this sculpted beauty near the top of the Prodains cable car, whilst The Stash is a genuine Jack Burton conception with multiple trails featuring wooden modules in Lindarets forest. The track winds through the woods with all-natural wooden obstacles at regular intervals. Look out for the Flat Log, Rainbow, Step Up and Wall Ride. avoriaztv posted this video and it certainly looks fun.

This year Avoriaz is opening The Little Stash, exclusively for kids !

This looks really cool too – wouldn’t mind doing it myself! Thanks to avsegaga for posting it.

At Chatel, beginner and improver riders have the Super Châtel SmoothPark; experienced riders might be tempted by the 800m long Cornebois Happy Park slopestyle in Linga-Pré La Joux. Happy Park is recommended for crazy adrenaline kicks and is open only to expert riders. It is a paradise for intermediate and advanced riders with all kinds of boxes, ramps and drop-offs.

In  Les Gets rookie, intermediate and hardcore riders hang out on the sunny slopes of Mont Chéry’s Freestyle District.

Les Crosets’ Superpark is a freestyler’s paradise for big air tricks where beginner riders can train up on the Micro Park.

And Champoussin offers Edge Park. This is best for beginner riders…

So much for the wide selection of snow parks – what else is there?

The Portes du Soleil is also a no-limits winter playground for powder-hounds. The unspoilt mountains are a fabulous challenge as long as they are treated with respect… enjoy them to the full – but with care too!

Avoriaz Snowcross gives skiers and snowboarders all the thrills and spills of freeriding on runs that are unbashed but safe. After fresh snowfall, riders in search of powder scoot over to Les Crozats, La Frontalière, Les Brocheaux and La Marmotte.

At Champéry, Cuboré is a favourite point of call for anyone in search of powder. From the top of the chair the only thing you have to do is choose your couloir… If  Chavanette is an iconic run, the bits bordering it are also a favourite for fans of fresh powder turns. Anyone in search of fresh tracks will find all the untouched powder they’re looking for on the edge of the Grand Paradis slopes.

In Les Gets, both sides of the resort have  plenty of powder for experienced skiers –  for instance the Rosta sector (Chavannes side)  or the more technical slopes of Les Planeys near the Snow Park, or Chéry Nord (Mont Chéry side). As an added bonus there’s a wonderful view of the Mont Blanc range…

The Nyon and Chamossière peaks in Morzine offer many an extreme skier a slection of wide untracked slope riding.

Les Crosets and Champoussin are pure joy for riders and there are many favourite spots: The Pointe de l’Au and its steep ‘n’ deep couloirs, La Combe de Bonnavau for beginner freeriders, the Pierre Plate couloir Tovassière way and the Aiguille des Champeys sector are just some of them.

Thanks to mokeystyley for posting this video.

What else?

If you’re first time skiers or going with young kids there’s plenty for you too.

La Chapelle d’Abondance offers the new 6-man Crêt Béni chairlift on the north face of Mont de Grange which leads to the plateau which is ideal for beginners. More experienced skiers can rejoin the resort far below at the bottom of the Cerf piste. All visitors should keep an eye out for the wild deer which roam the nature reserve on the slopes of the Abondance valley.

And Les Gets has a playful and educational discovery route for 5-12 year-olds – a playground for children  with skis on. Pure fun, with red Indians and trappers to see, and bumps, woops and raised bends to tackle.

To finish off on the skiing  on offer – though I fear I have to admit I have barely scraped the region – if you want to prolong the day, Linga, at Chatel, offers night skiing on Thursday evenings between 7.30 and 9.30 p.m. This is a different way to enjoy your favourite sport – ski to the sound of the latest pop hits! It is free for everyone.

So much for the skiing, but what else can you do in this area in winter?

Well, you can ice fish, you can ice dive (!!!), you can ice skate, you can snowshoe, you can ski jore (I think I have that right) and of course there are the high-altitude mountain activities.

Ice fishing is done on the Lac de Vonnes. All equipment is provided and anyone from the age of 6 (accompanied by parents!) can do it.

You don’t need to be an experienced diver to try ice diving – though I am sure it would help. However, whether you have dived before or not, you can take the plunge and experience some unforgettable thrills in complete safety, with underwater diving instructors who hold recognised qualifications. All equipment is provided and there is a heated changing room where you can leave your clothes! I have a feeling you might need it!!!

Ice skating is done on an artificial rink near the Lac de Vonnes in stunning countryside. If the ice conditions permit a natural rink is also open on the lake. Now that would be fun!

Snowshoeing, of course, you all know about and it is a ‘sport’ that can take you off piste and on your own trails whenever you choose. However, the resorts of the Abondance Valley and Morgins (in Switzerland) have more than 80 kms of prepared and waymarked trails for exploring the winter countryside in all its beauty. The different trails, some of which cross the border between the two countries – France and Switzerland – have been designed to please everyone from a 1-hour ramble to an energetic hike lasting 4 – 5 hrs. You can also sign-up for a half-day or full-day trip with a resort professional.

And last but not least – ski joring. This is a different way of exploring the mountains in winter. Combine skiing with horse riding. Sounds fun.

The high-altitude mountain activities offer a whole range of high mountain activities including supervised off-piste trips, heli-skiing, ski touring, ice climbing, mountaineering, etc.

There is something for ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE… and remember, this is all in one huge linked region.

This is such a huge area that it is difficult to know where to stop – and I haven’t even begun to talk about what’s on offer when the snow melts. For starters it has some of the best mountain bike trails in the world… but more on that later.