A Last Blast in Les2Alpes
23rd April 2022 | Jane Peel, Les2Alpes, France
Last modified on April 30th, 2022
It’s a final spring fling on the slopes for PlanetSKI’s Chief Reporter. A couple of days in the resort that has the highest skiing in France seems as good a place as any to end the season. Even better if there’s some powder skiing to be had.
Winter in Les2Alpes starts early and ends late.
Its final day of the 2021-22 winter season will be 1st May.
Then it’s only a matter of weeks before it starts up again for glacier skiing and summer activities – re-opening on 28th May.
The skiing here goes up to 3,600 metres.
That’s higher than any of the other famous high altitude resorts in France, such as Tignes and Val Thorens.
So with little more than a week of ‘winter’ left it’s time to see what Les2Alpes has to offer at this time of year.
Day One, Friday 22nd April
It’s 9.30am and the temperature at 1,650m in resort is several degrees above freezing as I head up the mountain.
All the way to the top.
Well, to 3,400m to be precise as the top drag lift is not open.
There’s the mandatory stop for a photo opportunity at the Belvédère des Ecrins viewpoint.
Then it’s time to see how the snow is holding up.
It’s a little hard underfoot for the first couple of runs but it soon turns into that lovely grippy, cold snow we all love.
The weather is a mix of a few sunny spells and high cloud and the top runs remain in good shape.
Even below the glacier area it’s pleasant spring snow and not too slushy.
We think about skiing top-to-bottom.
I’m told it’s around 11km long.
Even intermediate skiers can take on the challenge as it can be done wholly on blue runs.
But the snow is just too good above 2,000m so we decide to avoid heading back to the resort.
Even though almost everyone here has probably come up high for the best snow, the pistes are quiet now the Easter holidays are over.
At 2pm, it’s time for something different on skis.
Tandem paragliding is a new experience for me.
It’s a little disconcerting pointing my skis straight down a black run – especially one called The Devil.
But they’re not on the ground for long.
If you haven’t done it, I recommend it.
It feels as if you are travelling really slowly.
But we’re actually moving at 35kmh.
Perhaps that’s why I feel a little nauseous as we get to the end of the 10 minute flight.
The queasiness doesn’t last long.
Soon I’m polishing off a delicious late lunch of ravioli with local cheese and mushrooms.
While wearing a rather natty sun hat provided by the restaurant.
Not my usual attire on a ski trip, it must be said.
Long, late lunches on sunny terraces are what spring skiing is all about.
It’s gone 4pm by the time we leave the restaurant and, with a food coma about to set in, I decide it’s wise not to risk the slush and I take the chairlift down.
It’s worth it for the view.
They’ve kept a blue run open to resort level for those who choose to use it but there’s no snow either side of it.
Around 60% of the resort’s 96 pistes remain open at this time of year so there’s still plenty of skiing to be had.
It’s far better than I anticipated for late April.
My first day draws to a close with a visit to the outdoor whirlpool at my hotel, the Chamois Lodge….
… followed by cocktails and tapas at Chez Nous 2.
All in all, it’s been a great day in the mountains.
Day 2, Saturday 23rd April
What a difference a day makes.
Day one in Les2Alpes was the very best of spring skiing with sunshine and some high clouds, mild temperatures and little wind.
Day two can only accurately be described as one of many seasons.
In just three hours on the mountain we experience almost every type of weather imaginable.
Rain, snow, low visibility, good visibility and some vicious winds….
… and just occasionally there is evidence of a yellow thing in the sky trying to pierce its way through the clouds.
The forecast for today was not great but as we set out at 9.30am it’s looking good as we head up the Diable chairlift from resort level.
A couple of hundred metres up snow begins to fall.
But as we go higher, we are buffeted by high winds.
Our plan to head up to the glacier in the hope of finding some freshies is abandoned.
We’ll probably be blown off our feet.
In any event, the gondola that would take us there is forced to close by the strong winds.
The good news is that the snow, though wet and sleety, is enough to soften the pistes that would otherwise be hard first thing in the morning.
With the fair-weather skiers and snowboarders giving it a miss, we enjoy some fabulous quiet slopes.
Run of the day is the red, Fée 4.
It has the best conditions and no one but our small group on it so we lap it several times.
Later, as the weather begins to deteriorate, we decide to call it a day.
We risk skiing the heavy slush on the only piste open to the bottom, despite the warning signs.
It’s been raining at this altitude and it’s taking its toll on the piste.
The patch of snow gets narrower and narrower as we head down.
By the bottom it’s barely more than two skis’ width.
We spend the afternoon sightseeing in the rain.
An 8 minute gondola ride – whose ticket is included in the Les2Alpes lift pass – takes us down to the ancient and pretty village of Vénosc at 900 metres.
It is on the edge of the Ecrins National Park.
It’s one of two original villages from which the purpose built ski resort of Les2Alpes gets its name.
The resort sits between the two alps or mountain pastures of the municipalities of Vénosc to the south and Mont de Lans to the north.
The steep, pedestrianised cobbled streets of Vénosc are home to many artisinal workshops.
Most are closed on our visit, no doubt as a result of the weather, the late season and the fact that there are few holidaymakers left in the area.
But it’s well worth a visit.
Back up at Les2Alpes, the rain continues to come down hard.
Until, as night falls, this happens …..
It’s not much, but maybe winter isn’t finished in Les2Alpes just yet.
Day 3, Sunday 24th April
Today is my last day on skis for the season.
Could it be any better?
Overnight, the landscape of Les2Alpes has changed.
This is how it looked at resort level on Friday…
And this is how it looks now..
I hope it’s going to be worth it.
I have just two hours to ski before heading to Lyon airport for the flight back to the UK.
It certainly looks pretty and promising.
And, yes, it most certainly is worth it.
It’s the first time I’ve skied in powder since the 2018-19 season.
I’m a little rusty.
It’s strange to think that it’s 24th April and this is the most snow I’ve seen all on my trips this winter.
All too soon, it’s time to head down.
What a way to end the season!
It’s goodbye to the mountains from me.
See you next winter!
- 200km of slopes
- 12 black runs, 20 red runs, 50 blue runs, 14 green runs
- 1 freestyle area in La Toura
- 70% of the ski area is above 2,000m
- 2,300m of vertical descent without taking a lift
- 44 lifts, including 5 free ones at the bottom
For more information, visit the Les2Alpes website.