SkiBike Tour 2013-14 - Combloux Hello Old Friend

Posted: Tuesday, 11 February 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

Combloux is another one of those places that no-one has ever heard of, which is surprising, because it's across the valley from Megeve, a discrete resort for those seeking the classier end of ski holiday market.
Combloux used to be a favourite of mine, mainly because it has been consistently skibike friendly since my first visits to France. I've not been back for at least two seasons, as other domains have taken precedence.
Today, I was to renew my friendship with this little known area; a clear and crisp morning in Geneva was a good start. But the clouds had lingered over the mountains and when I arrived in Combloux the dull morning sky looking like burnished steel.
I chose to have a quick scout around on skis, familiarise myself with the layout and check with the lifties regarding skibike access. I always feel that if you ask them as a skier half way up, or down, a mountain they take you a bit more seriously than some fat English duffer with bad French who's plodded over from the car park.
Combloux is part of the "Evasion Mont-Blanc" Domain, so the lift prices are a little higher than you might expect, but still below the Grand Massif and way below nearby Chamonix. So what does the price get you? Almost all the chairlifts are now of the slow loading/unloading detachable design and are 5 or 6 seaters. This is ideal for freestyle skibikers who can step off safely without risk of being mowed down by the chair if they are not the fleetest of foot (like me).
The lift pass covers the adjacent areas of Jaillet, Le Christomet and I think La Gietaz too. Whilst still on skis I went down to Jaillet, as I have a work colleague who rates it highly, the main uplift is a gondola system, the lifties confirmed that if a skibike can be fitted inside they will carry it.

Jaillet gondola - if a skibike can be fitted inside, they will carry it

At about this point the leaden skies lifted, the flat light gave way to bright patches of sunlight and I headed back to the car park to make the transformation into skibiker mode.

There are plentiful wooded blue runs above Combloux to flatter any rider, with 800m of vertical drop served by a relay of two chairlifts, it makes for a great training area. There are some steeper red runs, which are all worth attempting, even if you are not the strongest rider, as there are run off areas to the side of the piste to escape into if things go pear shaped.
I made a trip over to the Le Christomet side of the station, the ride down appears short on the piste map, but is actually a long descent along what appears to be a summertime mountain access road. Once down, a chairlift will whisk you up to the summit of Le Christomet from which there are some splendid challenging runs back down. The Chevreuil was an absolute treat, feeling somewhat trickier than a blue, I gave it a few goes so that I could learn the curves and know when to go faster and when to hold back.
I got a little over confident and headed onto the Aigle black run, it was very mogulled but seemed way to easy to be considered a black until I found myself at the top of what can only be described as a cliff. For once I followed my own advice, as given to Mark Bayston just a few days earlier.
When the slope seems impossibly steep and you don't want to risk turning across the fall line. Ride wide traverses from one edge to the other and when you reach the edge, get off the skibike, turn it around and get back on.

I got a little over confident and headed onto the Aigle black run

Yes I know it's cheating, but if you don't like it, as the locals keep telling me, "go stick your head in a pig".

It is worth noting that to get back over to the Combloux side you have to use the Pres chairlift, as it is non-detachable you are supposed to ride straight off it. The lift operator had a few choice words even though I only put a foot down before getting on the pegs, pretty slick by my usual standards.

I found my visit to Combloux to be like meeting up with an old friend, but one who now cooks a wicked curry, does massages and owns a pub. The whole area seems so much bigger now skibikers are being accepted outside of the core of the station. Maybe one day we'll even see skibikes parked next to the Mercedes in chic Megeve.

Combloux - the whole area seems so much bigger now