SkiBike Tour 2013-14 - Leysin Almost Got Away

Posted: Thursday, 20 February 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

Throughout the Alps there are so many resorts and ski stations that it is easy to miss the odd one or two. Leysin was one such resort that almost slipped under the wire. Fortunately I love maps, it was the part of Geography lessons that appealed to me most, I can pick up a map of a known area and immediately recall the sights, sounds and smells associated with it.
Whilst I was pouring over the map for the area around Glacier 3000 that I visited a few days ago, it dawned on me that I had missed out Leysin, Les Mosses and La Lecherette thinking they were part of Les Diablerets. Some research on Google revealed that you could hire SnowScoots in Leysin, it had a gondola and chairlifts, it was looking promising, this had to be worth a second visit to the Vaud.

There was no need for sat nav or maps to find Leysin, it was exactly the same drive along Lac Leman past Montreux to Aigle before heading into the hills that I had so recently made. One left turn and I had quickly arrived in the village of Leysin and headed for the car park at the base of the gondola station.

Marshalls lined up the cars in the car park like the Concours d'elegance at a classic car show, Swiss precision, I love it, so different from the usual parking bun fight. I was able to get a lift ticket almost straight away, slipped into skier mode and went up in the gondola to explore.

I am so glad that I chose to start with skis, the snow was as hard as concrete, I overcooked my first run and ended up doing a neat pirouette on my derrière. The piste map looked like a small area, but when the piste markers start at 150 you know the runs will be long.
I worked my way across to the Brion, Choulet and Solepraz areas, served by tiny 2 seater chairlifts. Had there been two days to explore and not one, I would have checked out the Les Mosses and La Lecherette areas, served by a shuttle bus link.

When the piste markers start at 150 you know the runs will be long

Oddly the snow had a yellow/brown tinge to it, the locals said it was dust from the Sahara brought on the South wind that had settled. Curiously I had noticed the same dust on my car yesterday and blamed it on the high volume of renovation work taking place at the apartment.

Working out where the best off-piste stashes were

Many of the slopes are South facing, I made an assumption that things would have softened nicely by lunch time, so after 11 I headed back to the car. Whilst doing my quick change routine into skibiker mode, a couple of locals stopped to watch me assemble the skibike. They turned out to be downhill mountain bike riders in Summer and were very enthusiastic at my offer of the chance to ride together in future.

My quick change routine into skibiker mode

In the afternoon I focussed on the blue and red runs heading from the top of the chairlift back down to Leysin, carefully working out where the best off-piste stashes were and exploiting them to maximum advantage.
Towards the end of the day all the runs back into town were very heavily scraped, right down to ice. A couple of steep sections were like a recreation of the Battle of the Somme on skis, bodies and kit were scattered about willy nilly. With the smug satisfaction of one who has paid his skiing dues, I nonchalantly picked my lines, taking full use of the run off areas the skiers avoided and made it down without a tumble.

Late afternoon run down - like the Battle of the Somme on skis

Leysin made its name as the location of tuberculosis sanatoria, where patients were lined up on balconies to inhale the pure mountain air in order to speed their recovery. Many of these facilities now provide the perfect place to watch the sun go down with a Gin & Tonic for the contemporary visitor. Even by local standards, which are high, it is a very pretty village, mostly comprised of wooden chalets; some huge and others modest. If I understood the poster correctly, Leysin is now a heritage site and there has been a policy of sustainable development, using locally sourced wood as the favoured building material.

Leysin - very pretty

Today Leysin is a small but perfectly formed little resort, with a good selection of runs, good infrastructure, quick links to Geneva and has proved to be very skibike friendly. What's not to like about that combo?


  1. Carl says:

    looks nice there ;-)

  1. Pretty, pretty, pretty. I missed out on seeing the back mountain area where there is a snow park over looking the lake. Perhaps one for a second visit.

  1. ....Oh and I did a "Carl" and managed to misjudge a turn and hit a pine tree square on. Just as well my skis are wood cored!