SkiBike Tour 2013-14 - Col De La Faucille

Posted: Tuesday, 25 March 2014 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

Having taken two days off, my kit is finally all dried out and this morning I was aching to be back on the snow. I didn't fancy high prices or extended drives and from what I could see, my local spots on the Jura mountains would have plenty of fresh snow to exploit.
This morning I left the flat and headed for Le Crozet-Lelex, about 20 minutes away by car. On arrival I was stunned to find everything packed up and shut down, there wasn't so much as a poster or notice to give you a clue as to what was the deal. It was a real let down, as there is often some great off-piste to explore at this station and it has the greatest vertical difference of all the Jura ski stations that I know of.
But as the old saying goes, "There's no point crying over spilled milk", so I jumped back in the car without further ado with my next destination, the Col de la Faucille in my sights. It is about 25 minutes down the road and was very much still in operation. The view of the pistes was a sight for sore eyes, fresh snow covered everything and the trees were laden with it.

La Col de la Faucille - fresh snow covered everything and the trees were laden with it

I had hardly had time to get my lift ticket before I was stopped by Baudoin (I hope I've spelled it right), he had bumped into Carl and myself on our last visit and wanted to know if he could come ride in the afternoon, I had no objections and we made a hasty plan. This gave me the remainder of the morning to scoot around; the pistes were just perfect, the snow had the ideal balance of grip and slip and there was no iciness to be found.
The off-piste sections even had powder on them, who would have thought that you could find powder at 1300m, in late March, in Europe. This ski station is just a few kilometres outside the ring of the Large Hadron Collider at C.E.R.N. and I began to wonder if the scientists have successfully warped the space time continuum in this area.

Clouds roiled across the summit of the mountain, periodically reducing visibility to near white-out, but in between, the piste appeared in great clarity and you had to make your descent in double time before the next cloud bank rolled in. The sun could occasionally be seen through the murk looking as wan as the full moon. All this helped to prevent any thaw from setting in and the snow quality remained the best of the season so far. Furthermore, it was most welcome to be able to ride with dry socks for a change.

Clouds roiled across the summit of the mountain

I took an early lunch and the cold forced me to eat it in the car, I didn't have to run the engine and heater, but I thought about it. Fortified, I put in a couple of runs before it was time to build up number two skibike, in readiness for my rendezvous with Baudoin. We met at his workplace, la Petite Chaumière and headed up the hill.

Making steady progress down the blue run with great style and panache

He soon took to making some steady progress down the blue run with great style and panache. It was he who asked if we could progress to a red run and he made it with great aplomb, not bad for someone with about two hours of skibiking experience. The steepness of the slope caused a few slips and falls, all part and parcel of gaining one's "Skibiking Diploma" and the ideal opportunity for me to explain the difference between drifting a turn and carving one.
Towards the end of the afternoon, we moved back on to the easy runs, Baudoin was tiring and he had a party to attend tonight, but it didn't stop him making a final descent on the pegs. Top marks for progress; don't let anyone tell you that freestyle skibiking is hard to learn, here was someone tackling red runs and riding on the pegs after just 3 hours experience.

Baudoin - final descent on the pegs