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TR - family trip to La Thuile, 18-25 Feb 2018

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
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

Travel
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.

Reps
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.

Accommodation
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.

Weather
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"

Skiing
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 16 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.

Apres
If anyone spots it, let me know.

Supermarket
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)

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


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Sat 10-11-18 15:07; edited 2 times in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Thanks very much for the review.
Heading out there for the first time with Crystal, staying at the Hotel du Glacier.
Am hoping we can leave the skis in lockers somewhere to avoid having to walk too far with them.
Any other tips on runs or eateries on the mountain welcomed: especially pizza Smile
Was looking forwards to be able to ski La Ros also albeit thinking we'll stick to the blues at the top of the gondola on the first day.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Thanks from me too @dobby, especially for your info on the different ski domains. I'm out there at the end of March staying at the Miramonti. Did you notice many ski shops around the Planibel? My other half fancies buying some ski boots and we thought Italy in late-ish season might be a good option.

@kabooooooom - your hotel looks great too Smile
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@Valluga, Berthod Sport and Only Ski have shops in the Planibel complex. I'm sure there's another shop on the road into and out of town, too (on the way to the ski area from Miramonti). @kabooooooom, we didn't pizza on the mountain, I'm afraid - lunches were mainly hot choc and toasted sandwiches. I think that if you hire kit from Berthod Sport next to the gondola then you can use the lockers there - I'd check this with Crystal, though.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Nice TR. We had a great trip to LT 7 years ago where we also went with Crystal to the Planibel apartments and reading this brought back a few memories. (Not as many as a Facebook reminder of a photo from there 7 years ago today - who were those midgets with me? They look a bit like my kids but they were soooooooo small!)
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@dobby, Great report. Brought back some good memories from our trip a few year's ago.
@kabooooooom, we stayed in Hotel Glacier and loved it. It's in a really pretty, quiet spot but an easy walk into he main town (harder walking back though). Suzanne, the owner is wonderful and a fount of all knowledge. You can hire lockers at Berthod Sport by the gondola but we chose not to as you can ski back to within 2-3 minutes of the hotel (just a little walk past the chapel off red7? I think). You can then store them at the hotel and catch the bus from next door in the morning, but this may not be for everyone.

Another recommendation is to have a day in Cormayeur, free on your lift pass. It's a lovely change of scene, about 30 minutes away by bus and you can cover most of it in one day. If you want a bit of relaxation, head to the spa at Pre St Didier, about 10 minute's bus journey down the road. It's a beautiful out door spa with views of mount blanc. You can do a cheaper evening deal with your lift pass which includes a small snack buffet.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@kabooooooom, As @EdYarker, says, the Du Glacier is a great place to stay. Quiet and well placed to ski back to at the end of the day. You can ski down to the gondola in the morning as well (walk through a small car park just below the hotel) and onto piste 7. Suzanne is an absolute delight; nothing is too much trouble and she is very happy to make reservations at restaurants you might otherwise not find. Each of them was superb!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@EdYarker, cheers. Hotel Glacier looks good. Always fancy staying in a hotel, but we have a veggie and a fussy eater, so SC it is for us. Weather looks great out there today, mind.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
kabooooooom wrote:
Thanks very much for the review.
Heading out there for the first time with Crystal, staying at the Hotel du Glacier.
Am hoping we can leave the skis in lockers somewhere to avoid having to walk too far with them.
Any other tips on runs or eateries on the mountain welcomed: especially pizza Smile
Was looking forwards to be able to ski La Ros also albeit thinking we'll stick to the blues at the top of the gondola on the first day.


We had great pizza at la Remisa (its either A or Q on the piste map) half way down the red run 7 back to resort.

About 8 euros for a giant sized and delicious pizza...photo here - https://imgur.com/a/b3Y0d
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@sheffskibod, looks great! I know it's quiet, but did you find anywhere decent for a post-ski beer? There in 3 weeks.
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Valluga wrote:
@sheffskibod, looks great! I know it's quiet, but did you find anywhere decent for a post-ski beer? There in 3 weeks.


We stay in La Ros and ski over to Italy so can’t help you on that one. La Ros is pretty sleepy too but that suits us !
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Got back yesterday from a very enjoyable week. I can't match the detail of the OP but to add my tuppence ...

Stayed at the Hotel Du Glacier which was very much as good as the well known review site suggests. The options for getting to the slopes were to have a locker and walk down in the morning, walk around 200m to access the slopes or get the free bus that stopped around 50m away. We mostly did the second option but think if we go again option three would be my preference.

Really enjoyed the area and the runs but oddly can't put my finger on why as I'm finding it easy to think of the negatives. Too much polling, no easy blue back to base so usually went down red 7, joining the middle section. Horrible red 51 back from La Ros.
We particularly liked the reds accessible from near red 6 as these were empty compared to the other runs off Chalet Express and Chaz Dura Express. The extremely flat blue 11 was always a nice warm up in the morning and great for larking about on practicing 360 degree turns and the like.

Staying at the Du Glacier we were close to Lo Tata where the food was excellent so we ate there a few times.
Wasn't too keen on the mountain fare but did enjoy pizza at the foyer close to the Chalet Express.

Must also say that the Crystal organisation was good as were one or two of the extras offered.
The free cheese, meat, wine, genepy, limoncello tasting at the butchers shop was great and the 5 wines / 5 courses at coppa pan good too.

Would definitely go back but probably in a few years as I like to try other resorts.
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