An Unexpected Weekend in Les3Vallées


Sometimes things are meant to be. PlanetSKI was due to be part of a team competing in the Enduro, a fun skiing challenge of events across the whole 3 Valleys. Forecast poor weather forced its cancellation before we even arrived. Bad news? Apparently not. NEW

The omens were not good ahead of our trip.

Though the forecast big dump of snow for Friday and Saturday was great news for new arrivals heading here for the start of the Easter holidays, it was not helpful for the big event due to take place on Sunday 2nd April.

Some 800 skiers – including me – had registered to take part for the 19th year of the Enduro.

Professional, amateur and family teams of 3 take on a series of challenges all across the 3 Valleys.

Among them a mini slalom, biathlon, bumps run and – for one member of the team – a flying kilometre speed test.

The man who took the decision to cancel the Enduro for only the second time in it history, was the Director of Les3Vallées Association, Olivier Desaulty.

Olivier Desaulty, Director Les3Vallées Association. Image © PlanetSKI

He consulted the lift company and the piste patrol.

They told him it was too risky to go ahead as they were not sure they would be able to open the lifts linking all the 3 Valleys resorts, such as Les Menuires, Val Thorens, Méribel and Courchevel.

“The purpose of the Enduro is to show that it’s very easy to go from one valley to another and also to show that we always have snow, even in April,” Olivier Desaulty told PlanetSKI.

Well, one thing they did have as March turned to April was snow.

A shed load of snow.

As my Enduro team and I took to the slopes on Saturday 1st April on what should have been a warm-up day, the weather provided us with just about everything as I explained in the PlanetSKI Snow Report.

Les3Vallées, 1st April. Image © PlanetSKI

Les3Vallées,  1st April. Image © PlanetSKI

Les3Vallées, 1st April. Image © PlanetSKI

Les3Vallées, 1st April. Image © PlanetSKI

Les3Vallées, 1st April. Image © PlanetSKI

The following day, with our reason for being here gone, we braced ourselves for a difficult start to Sunday.

Lifts closed, avalanche blasting, more heavy snow, zero visibility?

What we got was something else entirely.

It’s no exaggeration to say that we lucked out.

Bright blue skies, sunshine, a drop in temperature.

Les3Vallées, 2nd April. Image © PlanetSKI

Les3Vallées, 2nd April. Image © PlanetSKI

And powder.

Fluffy, knee-deep powder.

Skiing knee-deep powder in Les3Vallées, 2nd April. Image © PlanetSKI

It felt more like January than April with temperatures below freezing,

Ironically, the Enduro could have gone ahead in near perfect conditions but, as Olivier says, it was better to make the call early than have to do so on the day.

Our guide for the day should also have been part of our Enduro team.

French former World Cup Ski Cross racer, Salomon freerider, ski instructor and Les3Vallées ambassador, Timy Théaux, put us through our paces.

It seemed as if we did a whole day’s skiing – on and off piste – before lunch.

We skied Les Menuires, Méribel Mottaret, Courchevel and made it back to Les Menuires before 1pm.

Les3Vallées, 2nd April. Image © PlanetSKI

Perfect, as just after lunch, the clouds rolled in again.

Timy Théaux & PlanetSKI’s Jane Peel in Les3Vallées as the clouds rolled in, 2nd April. Image © PlanetSKI

The weekend had been a pleasant surprise all round.

The only question was whether we’d get a couple of hours of bluebird skiing on Monday morning before leaving for the airport.

The answer was, yes.

Val Thorens, 3rd April. Image © PlanetSKI

I can’t remember ever having better piste skiing on the high altitude slopes of Val Thorens than I had on Monday 3rd April.

It was minus 11 Celsius at the top of the Cime Caron cable car (3200m) and minus 5 at 2300m.

The snow was perfect.

And the views…..

View towards Mont Blanc from the top of Val Thorens, 3rd April. Image © PlanetSKI

Val Thorens, 3rd April. Image © PlanetSKI

Is this really the 3rd April or am I dreaming?

It has been the most unexpected long weekend in Les3Vallées.

Nothing like I’d expected when the trip was arranged several weeks back.

Nothing like I’d expected when I saw the weather forecast.

Nothing like your average April spring skiing.

And far better than I could possibly have imagined.

(And there’s always 2024 for the Enduro).

Jane stayed at the 4* Higalik Hotel in Les Menuires, which opened this winter. It is located on the entry to Les Menuires and is ski-in ski-out.


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