TR - family trip to La Thuile, 18-25 Feb 2015

TR - family trip to La Thuile, 18-25 Feb 2015
Started by Dobby in Italy
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Who? Family of 4 intermediates, 2 skiing mainly reds and blacks, the other 2 skiing mainly blues and reds
Where? La Thuile (and a half day in La Rosiere)
When? 18-25 Feb. 2018
Who with? Crystal ski

Early Sunday morning flights to and from Bournemouth and Turin. Flights pretty much on time (about 90 mins flights each way), despite having to hold over Turin due to fog. I quite like Bournemouth – nice little airport and very little queuing. Transfers about 2 hours each way by bus with Crystal.

Helpful, responsive and unobtrusive, but were always there when you wanted them. We bought the 6 Euro Crystal discount card which paid itself back a few times over.

We stayed in the Planibel apartments, overlooking the lifts up the mountain. Location was perfect. Accommodation was a little, erm, eccentric, but absolutely fine. You only got 4 glasses, one of which was an empty Nutella jar, but got his 'n hers dressing gowns and slippers. Barking mad! One bedroomed apartment for the four of us. The bedroom was large and had a decent en suite. The living room had two single beds and a kitchenette area with a two-ring hob. Microwave made cooking a meal possible. No oven. The living room had a bathroom off it, and there was a cubby hole for boot storage. We kept the skis on the balcony. Plenty of storage space in the living room, kitchenette and bathroom. Safe in the bedroom.

We didn't use the facilities at the Planibel at all.

Ski hire
We just went with Berthod Sport, who supplies Crystal. Skis and boots were of acceptable standard, with reasonable edges and bases, but nothing flash. Service was quick and efficient, but you weren't asked your standard, which meant that everyone's DIN settings were a little high. Mrs Dobby had to ask for her 7 setting to be reduced to her usual 4.5-5.5.

We also used some cross-country kit from Only Ski (albeit hired at the cross country centre in La Thuile). It was very shonky, and I am positive that the shonkiness contributed to my complete inability to do cross country. Bloody Scandinavians can keep it. Stupid sport.

Three and a half days of sunshi-ine. Day and a half of cloud and a day of thick "Where T F am I?" cloud. Actually found out how to change the lenses in my goggles. Only taken 7 years. FFS I am a dull ***** at times… Bit cold, too, mind. Can see why they call La Thuile "Little Siberia"

Good variety of pistes, spread over several different areas, all of which are explained below. Snow condition was good all week apart from one day where bit of slush on lower slopes which turned some of the blacks into a start-stop ice-slush pile combo.

Blue Bowl
There are 4 blues, 11, 15, 16 and 14 above the gondola. They are generally very benign, but get increasingly steep as you go left to right on the piste map, with 14 having a steepish (for a blue) section about a third of the way down. Snowplough carnage!

Runs 11, 15 and 14 are really quite flat and you may need to pole it if there's been any new snow.

Blue 20 above the blue bowl (off the Gran Testa drag lift) and blue 12 below the gondola station provide slightly more of a challenge.

Reds above Blue Bowl
Both red 9 and 10 are relatively wide, straightforward reds (with the exception of the chicken run part of red 9 which you can use to avoid black 9a). We preferred black 9a (steep but wide) to the red 9 chicken run. Red 10 did get a bit cut up throughout the day, resulting in some comedic falls. Why do people insist on taking their snowploughing littlies down a cut-up red late in the day?

Avoid La Combe and Chaz Dura lifts if you can – they are very slow. Use Chalet Express for the Blue Bowl, and Chaz Dura Express for the reds above it.

Runs back to resort
There are several ways back to resort from the gondola area.

One of these is IMO easily doable by someone who can ski blues. Take red 4 from blue 14, and then red 4a. This will bring you onto red 7 which will take you back to resort. I have no idea why red 7 is a red, maybe because red will be the colour of your face once you've done all that blinking poling. Avoid this route if there's fresh snow, because you'll be poling for ages. This is a road route, so it can get busy, but you will never be travelling very quickly so there's never much of a problem.

Red road 6 is a different matter, however. Another road route, but a much steeper one, with sections which get icy and busy. Any snow on the top of the piste tends to get pushed to the edges, resulting in a shallow half pipe. If there's been any fresh snow, the half pipe effect will get more pronounced. We do not like this run, and preferred the blacks.

The blacks back to resort are proper blacks in that they have decent steep pitches, changes in pitch, changes in direction and narrower sections. A lot of the other blacks in resort are steep, but are fairly wide and are straight line runs.

Black 5 is a nice run. Twists and turns a bit to keep you on your toes. Tends to be quieter than the other blacks back to resort. The bottom does get narrow and the piste camber pitches you onto the junction with red 6, so keep your speed under control at the bottom of the run.

Black 2/3 is another good run. Gets nice n' icy, and cut-up. Take care at the top of the main pitch of black 3 – tends to be very icy here.

Arnouvaz area
We spent a little time in this area. Lots of reds and a short black. The black was good fun, and the bottom of the black 33 provides an easy chicken run instead of the last pitch of red 34. Skied reds 30 and 31, but these are fairly unremarkable. Skied red 17 but so cloudy I cannot say anything much about it, apart from there was a steep bit which I managed not to see.

Col Du Petit St Bernard area
This little area of the back of the mountain provides some red runs which are a little harder than the reds elsewhere in resort. There's also a blue 26 from the top of the Belvedere lift to the bottom of the area. As the ad says, you have to Schuss this bit, Margaret (and don't take the turn to La Ros). This area is often a little quieter than other parts of the resort, and the wind is often different. Don't' take blue 26 from the bottom of Piccolo San Bernardo chair to the bottom of Fourclaz chair – it's as flat as flat can be. Red 7 heads from the bottom of Fourclaz chair to the bottom of the mountain.

Maison Blanche area
This little area at the bottom of the slopes has a blue run and two short, but steep blacks. The blue run is a bit dull. Black 35 is a bit more interesting than black 37 which is very steep, but wide and straight. Not missing much is you don't ski these.

Signposting on the pistes was good.

Trip to La Rosiere
We spent a half-day in La Rosiere. Navigating to and from La Ros was simple (the weather was great). La Ros was far busier than La Thuile, but we did only ski the blue piste where ski school met (Eucherts?). Snow was not as good as La Thuile, and lunch was rubbish. So we headed back to Italy.

Only one red run required on the way back, which was a bit lumpy-bumpy, but not too bad. Keep a little speed to get back to the first drag lift to La Thuile. To get back to La Thuile you can either take one drag lift and then head to Col de Petit St Bernard or take two long drags.

If anyone spots it, let me know.

The supermarket in the Panibel complex was unexpectedly good, but very Italian as you may expect. Think rows of different types of pesto, pasta, breadsticks and different varieties of genepi.

Bars, cafes and restos
Overview of prices (all in Euros) – hot choc – 4; large beer – 5; Panini or hot sarny – 4-5; bowl of chips/fries – 5; hot wine – 2-3; expresso – 1-1.5; cappuccino – 2; pizza – 6-10;

Some places on the piste
Le Foyer, F on piste map. Nice little coffee stop located at top of blue bowl. Difficult to see because it's nestled in a hollow. Good hot chocolate and, more importantly, decent toilets.

TH-2.200, E on piste map. Self-service resto next to gondola. Meh. Wouldn't bother. Slow queues. Mediocre food. Can get better elsewhere. And toilets are all squatters.

Bar du Lac. I on piste map. Great stop at the bottom of the Piccolo San Bernard chair. Lovely hot chocs and decent sandwiches. Huge heater on which to warm or dry-out your kit.

Maison Carrel. M on piste map. Best music, decent hot choc and good toilet facilities. Lunch looked good here, though we never ate here ourselves.

Plan du repos, La Ros. T on piste map. Great location, great views, good service, rubbish food. Cold, expensive and our veggie was not happy with the one veggie option – chips.

Some places in town
La Buvette, bottom of gondola. Surprisingly good sarnies, despite appearance of the bar.

La Cremerie – bottom of Planibel complex. Great little café, with lovely ice cream.

La Cage aux Folles – small pub in Planibel complex. Not much atmosphere, but we got a whole load of nibbles with our drinks free of charge.

Kings Bar – a barn.

Angela's Café – on the main road into/out of La Thuile. Serves umpteen types of hot chocolate. Went down well with the kids.

La Lisse – on the other side of the valley from the rear of the Planibel complx. Good food, good service and great value (pizzas about 6-9 Euros)

Great place for a family ski holiday. Not one for those who like their apres.

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