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TR: Champoluc, Italy

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Champoluc, Italy
First post on the forum after lurking most winters and so thought I would start with a trip report.

2nd-9th January 2022, family of four travelling with another family. I’d say I am an advanced intermediate. Wife closer to beginner than intermediate and two kids with three weeks under their belts so becoming decent intermediates themselves. We travelled with Esprit having originally booked (and paid!) with them for a March 2020 holiday in France, of course cancelled due to COVID. Champoluc was one of two options after last year also got cancelled, although have to say I’d never heard of the place!

Resort
As above I hadn’t heard of Champoluc previously, did not much research when Esprit moved our holiday there and not much in the weeks prior as it was unclear if we’d even get to go with Omicron meaning countries were reluctant to let us in! We were lucky that Italy was welcoming (although pre flight tests, FP2 masks required everywhere, indoors and outdoors).

We flew into Turin and reasonably negotiated passport control etc and got on the coach. Two hours transfer had us arrive around lunchtime at the Chalet Hotel de Champoluc. We found the village very pleasant and attractive. It was quite busy and we were told early on that this was a very popular week for Italians to ski so expect the slopes/lifts to be busy (see below on that).

The best thing about the resort was the various restaurants both in the village and the many in the amongst the pistes. It surprised me that almost every piste seemed to have a restaurant or bar. We particularly enjoyed Cafe du Bistrot and Churen pizzeria in the village and Ostafa at the top of the second gondola. All the food was good probably half the price of a French resort.

Generally everything was close together and because our hotel was adjacent to the gondola that meant it was very close to us. E.g collecting ski hire was easy. There was a nice park with sculptures a bit further away and a lit river walk. All pleasant.

Accommodation - Hotel De Champoluc
This was our first time in a chalet hotel (half board) having done self catering and chalet trips before. We liked the experience. The rooms were large albeit a mix of mostly old and tired with a handful really nicely refurbished. All very clean indeed.

Hotel staff were brilliant, friendly and more than competent. Quite a step up from the gap year staff chalet hosts. Esprit staff were also good.

In particular we found the food excellent for both breakfast and dinner. Everything was tasty and with ample choice. I believe you can book direct as the hotel is family owned so not restricted to Esprit.

The best thing about the hotel though was the location about 10m from the gondola and you can ski down a (admittedly fairly challenging) red to get back to the door. It was a novelty therefore to ski down for lunch and be able to get out of ski boots for a while.

Ski Area
Champoluc is part of the Monterosa ski area with 37 lifts and 66 runs. As I said news to me. Also news to me was that unlike France the pistes are marked either easy, intermediate or expert, so the green lines on the piste map are not very easy runs but in fact cross country ski routes. The majority of the runs are red with a few blues and only a couple of black runs. Most runs were long, I think because unlike the mostly French resorts I’d been in before the topography doesn’t allow for much crisscrossing of pistes or lifts so there is a lot of skiing the full length of a gondola lift without options to deviate. The long (and wide) runs often meant that parts were straightforward but both reds and blues all had somewhat challenging sections for less experienced skiers especially as the well manicured pistes got cut up a bit later in the day.

For me this was about perfect. I have to say it was not at all good for beginners though. There are a couple of magic carpet nursery slopes at the top of the first gondola (Crest) which are fine for ski school beginners but the problem is that once the nursery slope is conquered there is no green, very easy run to progress to… and there is no blue easy run either… instead it’s up the gondola for your day 4 skiers to tackle the red run down. It’s doable for many (kids fine) but does not suit a nervous skier and so I would not recommend Champoluc for true beginners. The neighbouring villages have easier runs in some cases accessible by shuttle buses but obviously not ideal. Skiing to Frachey, the next village resort, where there are some blue runs, requires tackling probably the hardest red section in the Monterosa area where it’s steep, narrow and busy so don’t take your beginners there!

The rest of Monterosa ski area is fairly sprawled across three valleys. Despite the warning about the village being busy we only rarely found any significant queue on the lifts and it was nothing like skiing in busy weeks in France on the slopes. It was easy to ski to the furthest valley and back in time to still make late lunch. I really found that the ski to lift ratio was excellent and there are several continuous runs with close to or over 1000m elevation changes.

Other than the beginner problem, the other criticism I have is the whole area does feel a little samey. Not many runs have much character. Even the black runs, are black because they are icey (heed the warnings) not because they intersect narrow terrain or similar. A nice lunch (which seemed the Italian way) did help break up any monotony however.

Conditions
When we arrived there had not really been much new snow for a few weeks so the snow was hard packed. Pistes were well looked after and the whole area was covered with snow cannons. I don’t ski off-piste but the conditions would not have suited. There were still plenty of lines from those who had at some point so expect it would be decent.

Mid week we got several cms of fresh snow which really helped the remainder of the week. Not loads but enough. What we did have almost the whole week was a decent amount of clear blue skies. The last day was mixed - as we suffered some from one of the potential downsides of Monterosa (I understand it’s not uncommon) in that it was windy so even though we made it on practically the first lift up the two gondolas, when we skied down we found only the first gondola remained open - that meant only the red down to the hotel was open. Still a few trips up and down with the kids got us to an early lunch and by 2pm the other gondola was open intermittently… of course that much earlier disruption meant the slopes were practically empty so funnily enough a nice way to finish our holiday.
Operator and ski school etc.
Esprit will suit some and not others. It was our first time with them despite our kids being at top end of target age range. They were on the whole pretty decent so no real complaints other than some lack of information on arrival. Almost everything was booked through them and the kids really enjoyed ski school. Those who needed ski lessons arranged on arrival did report a fairly chaotic scene however. Not sure if that was due to covid disruption or the busyness of the week.

Overall
It’s difficult to judge this one. It was a brilliant week and we had a blast after missing out for two years. Skiing and the hotel were great. But it’s not good for beginners I think and I don’t feel any rush to go back despite there not being any other negatives really. I would certainly recommend it to a group of competent skiers fancying a trip to Italy however!
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Excellent report -- thanks for posting !
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Great report, thanks for that - very interesting to read about the relative difficulty of the runs. Glad it felt brilliant to be back on snow for you all! snowHead
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Great report. Did you get over to to Gressoney and Alagna? If so what did you think compared to Champoluc?
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Thanks , that was helpful.
We’ve been considering Champoluc, however with younger children and “nervous” beginners will probably wait a few years before attempting.
Glad you had what sounds like a great trip Eh oh! Eh oh! .
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@Langski, Nice write up and chimes pretty well with my memory of it. The only thing I would disagree with is the description of the runs as 'samey'; we all view things through different lenses I guess.

The other thing to note with regard to nervous skiers is that a lot of hotels will run you up to Frachey on request.
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@Langski Welcome to Snowheads

Nice report
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Gaz_H wrote:
Great report. Did you get over to to Gressoney and Alagna? If so what did you think compared to Champoluc?


Yes, made it over to both and similarly enjoyed the skiing. Still mostly long red runs but a bit more variation and there was both a fun run (banked turns/tunnel etc.) and a higher lift for off piste which I think was closed. The views were often spectacular. The villages were maybe a bit too small even for a family trip, but Gressoney and Stafal being in the middle valley I could imagine appealing for convenient access either direction. However, as there wasn’t much in the way of lift queues getting places wasn’t too time consuming. Some Italians on a chairlift told me lady gaga had been filming in Gressoney last year and were hoping that might help bring some ‘glamour’ to the village so it could compete with Champoluc!
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Riccardo wrote:
@Langski, Nice write up and chimes pretty well with my memory of it. The only thing I would disagree with is the description of the runs as 'samey'; we all view things through different lenses I guess.

The other thing to note with regard to nervous skiers is that a lot of hotels will run you up to Frachey on request.


We were also recommended Antagnod for easier beginner runs that the regular bus could also take you to. So there are options just not quite as convenient, but I get that in bigger resorts it’s not uncommon to need a bus to get to any lift so maybe it’s a slightly unfair gripe!
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i went to champoluc a few years a go, i took my friend on his first skiing trip, in hindsight i would have picked a different resort for him, as a beginner they just took him up and down the same slope all the time, our first day skiing was sunday and he had enough by wednesday, he decided skiing wasnt for him, if i had took him to austria i"m sure he would have enjoyed it more, anyway, the pic is of the piste from champoluc down to gressoney
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Quote:

Some Italians on a chairlift told me lady gaga had been filming in Gressoney last year



That was for the film "House of Gucci"
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Really great report! Interesting thinking for those with kids
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