Where to SkiBike - Hirmentaz-Les Habères (Valee Vert)

Posted: Friday, 24 February 2012 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,


I am on a roll, I have discovered a whole new strategy to finding new places to skibike. I just turn up and ride and/or ski. Boosted by this new bravado I decided to visit the twin ski stations of Hirmentaz and Les Habères.
They are next door to the Massif des Brasses that I visited yesterday. It is the same drive to Boëge then you follow the sign for Les Habères and 5 minutes later you are there. There is a reasonable sized car park, filled with cars, as it is currently French school half term.

Les Habères

Dotted around are; the ubiquitous ESF school, is there anywhere in France the ESF mafia haven't cleaned up? and the equally ubiquitous Bar cum Cafe/Brasserie.
Concerned about the state of my hydration, I had consumed litre of water at breakfast and my kidneys were functioning well. Unfortunately and to my great astonishment, I discovered that there is only 1 public toilet available, not 1 public toilet block but a single toilet between perhaps 1000 people, half of which appeared to be under 10 years old. Without being sexist or misogynistic, ladies please take note, bring the shepee.
I was recommended to try the cafe, who have the only other toilet in town and was greatly relieved. Micturition duly accomplished, I investigated the local ski hire shop with 6 assorted types of SnowScoot on display outside, a sure sign that I was probably going to be doing some skibiking today. A brief chat with the owner and an exchange of details confirmed that Hirmentaz-Les Habères would be skibike friendly.

SnowScoots a plenty at Le Christiania Sports

It has 3 chairlifts, I took the first and then progressively worked my way around and up the hill. One liftie was woried that I didn't have a leash, the SnowScoot ones run from a wrist strap to the handlebars, but mine stows in my inner jacket pocket when riding. Once I produced it he was very happy and apologised for even asking. The next liftie saw me rock up and announced that he didn't think it was allowed, I explained that it hadn't been a problem at the other lift, he radioed through to the liftie HQ and got the all clear.
Riding to the top of the hill and primed for a ride down into Hirmentaz the next liftie was kind enough to warn me that they had mostly drag lifts, including the interconnecting link. Armed with this insider knowledge I decided to stay on the Les Habères side and leave the reconnaissance mission to Hirmentaz for SnowBlades later.

Les Habères Village

The riding at the bottom of the hill, closest to the village turned out to be treacherously hard and icy, whilst the sunnier slopes at the top of the hill were much better. I stayed high and played for a while, I was particularly happy to cover a steep red run almost entirely "on the pegs". I keep forgetting that only a month ago I had never ridden my skibike successfully without footskis and today I found myself on a red run riding standing up!

Having exhausted my options, I returned to the bottom to change sliding technology and go from soft boots and skibike to hard boots and SnowBlades. As if on a mission, I got back up the hill and over to the Hirmetaz sector. It is a large bowl with runs coming back to the base from all sides.

The liftie had been quite accurate in his assessment, they did have a lot of drag lifts and the one that would get you home at the end of the day is short but steep.
On the plus side there is a modern 5 seater chair running up the centre of the bowl and would easily give you enough options to stay amused for a morning or afternoon of skibiking. You could choose to move your car over lunch between centres, make the walk uphill, or like the SnowScoot rider I saw, use the Poma "on the pegs". He was doing quite well on one of the fast and difficult drags, but was yelling the whole way I think it may have been doing damage to his undercarriage.

Above Les Habères looking North towards the Jura mountains and Lac Leman

In conclusion, another great little resort a stones throw from the suburbs of Geneva.
Great views of the mountains and on a clearer day Lac Leman / Lake Geneva. Fun and varied skibiking in a simple, natural and unpretentious manner. Excellent value at around €20 a day with cheaper options for half day and individual sector passes. The presence of an enthusiastic local SnowScoot rental shop will hopefully drive this ski station to embrace skibiking of all its many flavours.
Sadly, low altitude will mean a short season and multiple freeze thaw cycles will never make for the best riding snow. On the other hand, with somewhere this close you just have to hit it after a big dump or when the conditions are in its favour.