SkiBike Tour 2015-16 - La Clusaz

Posted: Sunday, 17 January 2016 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

I had planned to have one or two mellow solo rides to end the season, but instead found myself heading off to La Clusaz to re-join Thierry and Stephane, why? Because although La Clusaz has been skibike friendly for a number of years, this season the skibike restrictions on (almost) all of the chairlifts have been lifted. The arrival of plenty of fresh snow meant that we would need no excuses to see how this principal would translate into practice.

La Clusaz - the arrival of fresh snow meant we would need no excuses

As locals Thierry and Stephane were guiding me I had only a rudimentary awareness of the route we took. But I spotted some odd anomalies which you need to adjust to at La Clusaz. For example, the Telemix Etale which has both chairlifts and gondolas running along the same cable requires you to be in the gondola section, presumably because you are classed as a pedestrian.
At other chairlifts the lift operators wanted you to travel alone, or as a pair. I think one wanted the skibike on the chair, inside the safety bar, proper old skool leper style; skibiker unclean, unclean, unclean.
It all harked back to the way things were at other ski stations five years ago whilst they were adjusting to a new and strange skibike rhythm. Hopefully as this season progresses the poor lifties will loosen up a little, much as they have done elsewhere.

Hopefully as the season progresses the lifties will loosen up a little

For nostalgic reasons I was quite keen to see the Le Fernuy side of the mountain, as it was one of the first places in France I ever took my skibike to. Le Fernuy was the first area at La Clusaz to open up to skibikes as a niche activity. At the time I stuck to the pistes exclusively, but now appreciate that this quiet back mountain area has some very extensive and expert off-piste riding available, much of it way above my skill level. As if to force the point home, Thierry and I discovered some of the most amazing pockets of untrammelled powder snow just off to the side of the piste.

La Clusaz - amazing pockets of powder just off the piste

So I am very pleased to report that it's all working out just fine at La Clusaz.  It's not a place I would normally have considered to go skibiking, it's just that little bit further than the Portes du Soleil for me to get to. But I can now see that with the new chairlift options, La Clusaz is really quite a substantial resort of which I had only scratched the surface previously.