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La Tania to Val Thorens in poor snow?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi there,

I'm considering booking a holiday to La Tania, because the resort looks a lot nicer than Val Thorens, however I will be going 16-23rd December and am worried about snow conditions then. I read that La Tania is really good for snowmaking however I wonder how easy it is to get to Val Thorens via only lift if the other pistes are closed? Will the lifts that allow you to do this remain open?

Thanks
Tom
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@mcqtom, Val Thorens will have a better chance of good snow that early, but the links across may be open but not guaranteed. I'm sure that the snow making will help, so a good chance that they'll get it open, but who knows.
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Only lift would be difficult but the main runs will be kept open unless it's horrifically bad. Stayed in La Tania the week before Christmas '15 and snow wasn't great but Folyeres to La Tania was full cover and it was easy to get to VT. Still stones and grassing showing through in some places but they were helicoptering in snow by the end of the week to cover stuff, so they'll put in huge effort to make it work. VT will be busy though and there were still stones on a lot of the open pistes, tbh the best run I found in the 3V that week was down to Meribel Villages.
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@mcqtom, don't sweat it. You'll be able to get up to the higher slopes and back no bother. And if it snows heavy you'll happily be in the trees down at La Tania rather then in the bleakness of Val T. Best of both worlds.

Worst case scenario you will have to download on the lift at the end of the day.
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@mcqtom, there's not usually much demand for 16-23 Dec. Are you flexible enough to wait until you could assess the snow conditions? Almost certain to be reasonably priced deals available. La Tania a good choice if snow OK. If not so good I think I'd prefer to be based a bit closer to Val T.
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You should be OK-they tend to snow make on the links as a priority. I can see why you might want to stay lower down as it is much nicer if the weather does close in and the wind gets up. I went to La T that very week about 8 years ago. The snow was OK, but it was windy. Being in La T in those circumstances was far nicer than what would have been a bleak VT. We probably got to ski more too as at least some of the lifts were open. Have you thought about Meribel as another option?
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@mcqtom, there is so much snow making these days that the links tend to only close due to high winds rather than lack of snow cover. However, IME even that tends to be more of a January problem than a December one.

The week you're considering is a reduced opening week with a reduced price lift pass also. Usually, 60-70% of lifts/pistes are open which is more than enough - I ski the pre-xmas week most years and it's great not having to queue anywhere except the big lifts in VT.

Also, don't be fooled into thinking that the best snow will definitely be in VT. The lemmings go to VT but when it's bleak, VT is cold, wind-blown and icy. You're more likely to find good, easily accessible snow at the top of Courchevel than in most of VT. Les Menuires when it softens in the sun and La Masse because it's sheltered are also excellent very early season and have no queues. You can usually do circuits round La Masse 2 on excellent grippy snow with a lift to yourself and only see half a dozen other skiers. Cool
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La Tania-Val Thorens takes quite long, one way already....
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@Langerzug, realistically takes a few hours and I found it easy to get lost, but the ski back is quite straightforward, seem to remember doing it inside an hour comfortably and I don't ski that quickly
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Thanks everyone for your replies, any more would also be greatly appreciated for peace of mind. I don't have a lot of flexibility on the dates, but if its going to be easily possible to get to higher, open slopes thats enough for me.

Distance isn't a worry, i'm confident on that one, just accessibility
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I was also thinking, with the free bus up to 1850, that surely from 1850 mottaret and then VT are easily accessed
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The time taken really depends on what kind of skiing you want to do on the way. I usually take one of several 6/7 lift routes depending on my mood for more interesting skiing but it can be done in around 50 minutes on a simple 5 lift route via Meribel and Mottaret. Entire route is blue/green easy slopes and paths so you need to be able to carry your speed without poling or it'll feel endless.

Route is: La Tania/Lanches/Plan de l'Homme/Platieres/Cote Brune. You can substitute Tougnete 1 for Plan de l'Homme but then you have to take your skis off, so unless I need the loo next door I can't be bothered. Only about 12 minutes of the journey is actual skiing, the rest is sitting so it feels more like a commute to work than vacation.

When I was ski guiding, I was doing this trip 3-4 times/week and would take a 6/7 lift route, allowing 1.5-2 hours each way for a keen group. I generally preferred routes via Meribel-Mottaret or Meribel-Les Menuires so as to avoid the reviled red run into Mottaret from 1850, Aigle.

However, when I'm on my own, I will often do a few circuits around the top of 1850 before moving on, to make the most of Courchevel's grooming. Breaks the trip up and I'm still in VT for 11.30am.
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Distance+Poor snow to me sounds rather problematic....
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
mcqtom wrote:
I was also thinking, with the free bus up to 1850, that surely from 1850 mottaret and then VT are easily accessed

Quicker to ski than take the bus. Even if you're on the first one, you'll hit the ski school scrum at the Croisette.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Langerzug, it's not. Been there, done that, had no issues.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@SnoodlesMcFlude, What if another December comes by with temperatures too high for snowmaking....?
It happened before...In fact, after three consecutive disastrous decembers, all of The Alps are now already shivering for this coming december....
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@Langerzug, then they'll ship in snow like they did before.
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It's the first week La Tania is open - and if they were confident there would be plenty of snow the previous week they would open a week earlier. So skiing back to the village isn't going to be guaranteed; but as others have said, higher up and links should be open.

Raceplate wrote:
mcqtom wrote:
I was also thinking, with the free bus up to 1850, that surely from 1850 mottaret and then VT are easily accessed

Quicker to ski than take the bus. Even if you're on the first one, you'll hit the ski school scrum at the Croisette.

Agree skiing would be quicker, but there's not going to be that much of a scrum in mid-December. The bus could be a good option to/from 1650/1850 if the skiing in La Tania is limited and the 3V links are closed.
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They may not even sell the 3V pass if the snow is poor and Val T may restrict pass sales to people staying in VT. Visitors are not welcome.

This has been the case at least once in recent years in Dec.
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@SnoodlesMcFlude, sorry, but that's sheer nonsense.
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Have twice written polite, considered replies to the above and crappy windows edge has wiped them on an uninitiated refresh.
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So, in short @Langerzug, LT has never suffered early season. It may be grass in April but that is also unusual.
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@ecureuil, LT doesn't open late due to snow coverage, it's visitor numbers. The lift company, tourist office and tourist operators are spectacularly uncoordinated when it comes to opening dates. Therefore, there's no marketing. In 2015, I personally had to inform P&V that LT had moved their opening date from 12 Dec to 5 Dec - they had no clue.
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ecureuil wrote:
Raceplate wrote:
mcqtom wrote:
I was also thinking, with the free bus up to 1850, that surely from 1850 mottaret and then VT are easily accessed

Quicker to ski than take the bus. Even if you're on the first one, you'll hit the ski school scrum at the Croisette.

Agree skiing would be quicker, but there's not going to be that much of a scrum in mid-December. The bus could be a good option to/from 1650/1850 if the skiing in La Tania is limited and the 3V links are closed.
Nonsense. Even if you have to download on LT gondola at the end of the day, there's no reason at all not to take it in the morning to get to higher resorts. Coming in from LT brings you into 1850 above the Croisette and you certainly wouldn't go to 1650, it's a suntrap. LT will always have better snow than 1650 in a poor year. The only reason to get the bus home to LT from anywhere is because you've spent too much time in the wrong pub wink
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TQA wrote:
They may not even sell the 3V pass if the snow is poor and Val T may restrict pass sales to people staying in VT. Visitors are not welcome.

This has been the case at least once in recent years in Dec.

I remember VT refusing to sell passes to non-resident visitors a couple of years ago or so (specifically to stop Club des Sports from low lying resorts et al from blocking the lifts with their ski instructor priority) but I've never seen a refusal to sell a 3V pass to a punter in a different resort. Do you have any hard evidence of this?
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@Langerzug, why is it nonsense? Saw it with my own eyes two years ago, they were using helicopters to bring snow up to areas of regularly used pistes that had thin cover. It was one of the 'disastrous Decembers' that you're talking about I skied the week before Christmas and skied in and out of LT every day. Very limited snowmaking because it wasn't cold enough.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.

Helicopter that was transporting dumpy bags of snow
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SnoodlesMcFlude wrote:
@Langerzug, why is it nonsense? Saw it with my own eyes two years ago, they were using helicopters to bring snow up to areas of regularly used pistes that had thin cover. It was one of the 'disastrous Decembers' that you're talking about I skied the week before Christmas and skied in and out of LT every day. Very limited snowmaking because it wasn't cold enough.

Was trying to avoid this spat but SnoodlesMcFlude is correct, C1850 has helicoptered snow all over the place last few years. First, to create the race piste for the WC and then to dismantle it to keep the punter pistes open. Benefit of having an altiport for Russian oligarchs. Plenty of chopper pilots available for moonlighting wink
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You know it makes sense.
In the last three decembers there was no natural snow in the Alps, apart from some thin layers on the glaciers. And in 2015 it was too warm to make snow.
Friends of us have been going to Meribel for years at Christmas. They did'nt go 2016, because of the experiences in 2014 and 2015
Meribel is half way between La Tania and Val Thorens, is'nt?

My point: with the last three decembers in mind, booking in La Tania to ski in Val Thorens is not a very wise thing to do.
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@Langerzug, Meribel is pretty spread out, but the geography is completely different and conditions are usually worse there I'll admit, but they aren't so bad that I'd say stay at home. I went in 2015 and would have had no qualms about heading back in 2016 had I not decided to go to Austria instead. Like I said, the pisteurs were working hard to repair pistes where cover was poor, either dragging snow from banks at the edge of the piste or pulling it from stashes somewhere else. Last year there were resorts making snow in the valleys and then transporting it up hill. So it's not 'nonsense' that they will bring in snow and they will likely do the same if we have another bad December.

If you want to ski in VT every day then it's silly to book in LT, but my point is that you can happily book LT and ski in/out all week even in poor conditions. Sure another week would be better, but the reason that a lot of people go at Christmas is because they can't get the time elsewhere. Personally I'd rather spend a week skiing around Christmas than just sitting at home, but that's because I have to take the week off work and the cost of the trip is only for me.
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I'll try to be objective. I missed December 2014 due to surgery but was in LT in December 2015 and 2016.

Langerzug wrote:
In the last three decembers there was no natural snow in the Alps, apart from some thin layers on the glaciers.
So what? The whole point of booking somewhere like the 3V's is that they have invested massively in infrastructure to still give you guaranteed snow whatever mother nature does. How they manage to keep the resorts open in a thin snow year is a true wonder.

Langerzug wrote:
And in 2015 it was too warm to make snow.
No it wasn't. I was in LT from Dec 5-19th and the conditions were way, way, way better than the press would have you believe. Every long term LT person I know that was there then had a great time! If you don't believe me, watch this:
http://youtube.com/v/Egnt2nlSbEA

Langerzug wrote:
Friends of us have been going to Meribel for years at Christmas. They did'nt go 2016, because of the experiences in 2014 and 2015
Meribel is half way between La Tania and Val Thorens, is'nt?
Yes. It's also a suntrap and has the heaviest throughput of skiers so in a poor snow year it suffers more than the valleys either side. LT and C1850 are both North facing and sheltered, particularly in early season. The snow is almost always better above Courchevel than VT when conditions are rough and it is much less crowded. Bouc Blanc above LT was only bettered by the snow off La Masse 2 in December 2016 - I was there pre-Xmas week. But La Masse is a bit of a trek and you had to download on La Masse 1, Bouc Blanc is on the doorstep. VT was full of lemmings.

Langerzug wrote:
My point: with the last three decembers in mind, booking in La Tania to ski in Val Thorens is not a very wise thing to do.
Agreed in principle because it's illogical. It's also unnecessary - there is perfectly good (and most likely better) skiing in the Courchevel valley.
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@Raceplate, I don't think anyone's disagreeing that when there is snow it stays in good condition in both LT and C1850. But if there isn't sufficient coverage, either natural or artificial, down to about 1800m then La Tania isn't going to be open at all. Most years it isn't going to be a problem, but just occasionally there is going to be a bad year, and in those years LT in December is much more of a risk than VT.
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@ecureuil, agreed, of course VT will be more reliable than LT in a bad snow year.

I assume your 1800m comments are referring to the top of the LT gondola and yes, if you can't ski back to that then the resort is stuffed. I've had my apartment 10 years and last season was the worst that I can remember for snow cover in that time. 2001/2 may have been worse but it's a memory test. I think the very first week of 2014 was also bad (I missed that one) but I've looked up the snow depth history and that says there was far more snow than 15/16 or 16/17 so it must have come Xmas week. They laid on extra complimentary buses to C1850 in the first week. Second week, they ran the gondola.

I skied the second week of last season (third week of December) and the last two weeks. In December, the resort was still ski-in, ski-out. A little thin but accessible. In April, you had to walk to the gondola in the morning for the last 10 days and download on it for about the last 5. Both of those were a first for me. You could still ski down until the very last week. However, accessing the top of the gondola to download was never an issue and the top half of Bouc Blanc back to it was one of the best runs anywhere last year.

It was a genuine consideration for me when I bought the apartment that freezing levels may rise over the future decades and make direct access on skis an issue for some of the season. The gondola up/down to 1800m was the insurance policy that should always make the apartment viable as a base for skiing, at least for as long as my legs still work. I wouldn't be surprised if seasons get shorter over the next 20 years and become more Jan-Mar than Dec-Apr though.

I think the point for the OP is that he's planning to go in the 3rd week of December, not the second. The resort is opening later than recent years. In that week he'll be very unlucky not to at least be able to get the gondola in/out of LT. If the gondola is shut, S3V (lift company) will put on extra buses so he can still ski. He doesn't need to commute to VT for good snow, there will be good snow above Courchevel.
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Raceplate wrote:
..... Every long term LT person I know that was there then had a great time! If you don't believe me, watch this:
http://youtube.com/v/Egnt2nlSbEA...
Looks a lot like Whistler in that season a few years ago when there was pretty much nothing other than the pistes open in December.
Locals describe those conditions as "brutal" and don't bother riding them; most tourists are perfectly happy as there's snow on the ground. It's all about perspective.
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A couple of years ago, at a pre-EOSB, @admin convinced me in the afternoon to ski from VT to Courchevel and back.

I was a little nervous about the time we had to do it – but he assured me it would be fine. So we left the centre of VT at 2.20pm, (having already bombed down to there at high speed from lunch in Orelle) skied the whole way across and to the bottom of Courchevel Moriond, then turned around and came back. We made it to the Cote Brune lift back in to VT at 4.35pm, just before it closed. My final descent to home from the top of that was very, very slow, as my legs were absolutely destroyed! (and that was after 3 weeks of solid skiing – I was pretty ski fit).

Moral(s) of the story – you can get from Couchevel valley/La Tania to VT pretty quickly if you really try; and @admin is evil
not really, it was lots of fun Toofy Grin
Twisted Evil .
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fixx wrote:
A couple of years ago, at a pre-EOSB, @admin convinced me in the afternoon to ski from VT to Courchevel and back.

I was a little nervous about the time we had to do it – but he assured me it would be fine. So we left the centre of VT at 2.20pm, (having already bombed down to there at high speed from lunch in Orelle) skied the whole way across and to the bottom of Courchevel Moriond, then turned around and came back. We made it to the Cote Brune lift back in to VT at 4.35pm, just before it closed. My final descent to home from the top of that was very, very slow, as my legs were absolutely destroyed! (and that was after 3 weeks of solid skiing – I was pretty ski fit).

Moral(s) of the story – you can get from Couchevel valley/La Tania to VT pretty quickly if you really try; and @admin is evil
not really, it was lots of fun Toofy Grin
Twisted Evil .


Much better to leave at 9.00 and have a leisurely lunch at the Bel Air [ best mountain restaurant in the 3V ] before returning.

BTW if you do get caught in Courchevel then a taxi back to VT is in the order of 250 euros for 2 people 400 for 4.
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fixx wrote:
and @admin is evil
not really, it was lots of fun Toofy Grin
Twisted Evil .
It was fun snowHead You were just making it harder for yourself by turning Wink

Twisted Evil NehNeh xx
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philwig wrote:
Looks a lot like Whistler in that season a few years ago when there was pretty much nothing other than the pistes open in December.
Locals describe those conditions as "brutal" and don't bother riding them; most tourists are perfectly happy as there's snow on the ground. It's all about perspective.
Not so much perspective as expectation, I think. The 3V's is mostly on top of slate; you need snow depth to ski off-piste safely. No regular visitor expects that in December. It happens occasionally and those are the years that get remembered as "epic". 2007/8 was one and 2011/12 - can't remember any others in the last 10 years.

In 2015, LT opened on Dec 5th, 1-2 weeks earlier than most seasons. This year it won't open until Dec 16th. Hence why everyone thought it was great - perfectly good artificial snow covering, no lift queues and ski-in/out from LT at a time of year when normally you would have to drive to C1850 or Mottaret. It far exceeded our expectations!
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SnoodlesMcFlude wrote:

Helicopter that was transporting dumpy bags of snow


That pic is obv lies and sheer nonsense, bad @SnoodlesMcFlude! Twisted Evil snowHead
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@N0rthernMonkey, could've been taken ANYWHERE!
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