With the foehn still persisting in Chamonix we had another enforced day off after our adventure to Trient. Winds & Clouds meant that most interesting options were off the radar, and we didn’t really feel like yo-yo-ing on the pistes with the hordes.
Word was filtering through that the Monte Rosa region of Italy had received a decent amount of fresh snow, so we made the split decision to head in that direction, and by lunchtime we were on skis in the town of Gressoney-La-Trinite. The region, particularly Alagna, has started to receive some coverage as a top shelf freeride destination over the last few years, so we were definitely keen to check it out.
The plan was to take the lifts over to Alagna, and spend the night in that town before our last day’s skiing. Unfortunately winds, visibility and avalanche risk had closed the link to Alagna, so we decided to head up the other side of the valley towards Champoluc for a look around.
Jerome’s first ride on a hooded chairlift:
Praying for snow Nepal style:
There was fresh snow in Champoluc, but unfortunately the fog was dense and the temperature had increased, so we stumbled our way around in the claggy snow. It looked like a very fun place to ski, with a different outlook to the other areas we had skied during our trip.
How a guide finds his way around a new area:
Despite the poor visibility and heavy snow, we were starting to like the feel of the area. The skies were forecast to clear overnight, and we were looking forward to our last day on skis. After skiing we found a cool bar & restaurant in Gressoney-St-Jean called the Flying Brasserie and had a lovely dinner which led into far too many drinks afterwards. The bar was somewhat of a local hangout and we befriended the natives, with Jerome pumping them for information on where to ski the next day.
We wound up well on the wrong side of midnight, but as we stumbled our way to the hotel, we could see stars and a clear sky which we were hoping was a good sign for the morning.
As our last day dawned the dun did indeed shine, but regrettably the winds were howling:
All the upper lifts in the area were shut due to the wind, and the lower slopes would have been packed as the day was a de-facto public holiday due to the previous day being the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, with many locals electing to take a long weekend.
We were pretty gutted, every decent ski area on the Italy-Swiss border was closed due to wind. Cervinia would have been a reasonable option but alas they were closed up top as well.
Jerome sought out a couple of the local guides who conveyed their pessimism that little of interest would open for the day. So it was with much regret that our last day had been a write off, we grabbed a coffee and jumped in the van back to Chamonix.
Safe location for a house in the Gressoney valley…..:
We even dropped by a tiny resort near the Col du Grand St Bernard called Crevacol with the hope of a ski tour from the top, but even their upper lift was closed due to the wind.
So after a lovely pasta lunch we returned to Chamonix where we packed up in preparation for a 6am departure to Geneva Airport the next day.
Despite our lack of fortune in the Monte Rosa area we left the place with a good vibe, it was definitely a place we were interested in returning to ski. After talking to some of the particularly passionate locals in the bar we were convinced that in the right conditions it could be a very worthy destination. As many people often say about travelling, you need to leave something for next time, so in addition to the famous Chamonix lines that we weren’t able to ski due to low snow, the Monte Rosa region is definitely a box left unticked. Jerome agrees, and is going to attempt to head there with friends to learn the area better as he sees the enormous potential as well.