SkiBike Tour 2012-13 - Praz De Lys

Posted: Monday, 4 February 2013 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , , ,

Last night was yet another stormy one, I was awoken around 4am by the sound of the wind rattling and banging the metal shutters on the apartment block windows. At first light it became apparent that there were a couple of inches of fresh snow even right down here in the shelter of the valley.
My morning shower revealed an interesting selection of bruises including one within an inch of my "meat and two veg". After yesterday's rough and tumble I needed a break from skibiking and a chance to give my legs a workout, in short, it was going to be a ski only day.

  Praz de Lys - today was going to be a ski only day

With the wind, snow and poor visibility it looked like we needed South facing slopes with sheltered runs below the tree line. This is quite a rare combination, most of the slopes in this part of the Alps are North facing to reduce the detrimental effects of the sun on the snow. The database sitting in my head suggested that Praz de Lys may be the ideal place.
So whilst the winds calmed and the snowfall reduced, Paul and I made a morning visit to McDonalds for a coffee and a chance to leech some of their wonderful free wi-fi service.

Internet chores accomplished, we geared up and headed for Praz de Lys, just 30 minutes from Cluses. On arrival we found it to be virtually deserted, no doubt due to the extremely poor visibility. We headed high up to the peak of Haute Fleury into total whiteout, coming back down at a snails pace trying to head from one piste marker to the next. Back at our starting point we consulted the piste map and identified what looked to be some interesting tree lined runs further down the hill served by the Veran and Praz l'Eveque chair lifts. Within the trees it was much easier to sense your speed and direction, there was also a good depth of unpisted snow in places. I really enjoyed the sensation on tiny SnowBlades, but it came as a bit of a shock to my cousin Paul on his vintage 2m long straight and skinny skis.

Praz de Lys - a good depth of unpisted snow in places

Late in the day the visibility improved enough for a rapid descent from top to the base station, ducking in and out of the clouds on the last run before it was time to head for home.

As of last season (2011-12) it was possible to use skibikes at Praz de Lys and the general attitude seems pretty relaxed. There is plenty of variety and in such good conditions, a good amount of off piste too. The infrastructure is biased towards chairlifts, which is good news for skibikers. But some of them are the older type that tend to sweep you off your feet and spit you out at the other end. But Praz de Lys is very good value at around €20 a day for a lift pass, with discounts for skiing after 11am or finishing before 1pm.
Once you have exhausted the runs at Praz de Lys you can head over the hill to neighbouring Sommand and explore further.

It should however be noted that a lot of the runs are South facing and the station is at quite low altitude. Pick a good day to visit and enjoy some great value, unpretentious winter sports, whether it is on skis, snowboards or skibikes.

Praz de Lys - ducking in and out of the clouds on the last run