After 4 weeks of almost continuous sunshine in the Alps, this weekend brought thunderstorms to the Val d’Anniviers and the Turtman valley, our from/to points. The Forcletta pass we were to cross is high and steep, and freezing temps were forecast. Hmmm… what to do… our last two days of hiking… IMG_3414IMG_3423IMG_3425 Our new good friends, Margaret and Ron, served as our inspiration for skipping out. They had already made alternate plans for train ride to Domodossola, IT and on to Zermatt. That, combined with the fact that we had just finalized our Vail Epic passes a few days earlier, gave us our new plan. As it turns out, the Vail Epic pass now includes 5 free ski days in both Verbier, Switzerland, and in The Three Valleys Ski resorts in the French Alps. A few train rides away, and with a better weather forecast over a few 14,000 foot mountain ranges, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to go do some reconnaissance for a future possible ski trip.
Moutiers, France, gateway to Les Trois Vallees

Moutiers, France, gateway to Les Trois Vallees

Moutiers, France

Moutiers, France

Les Trois Vallees is the largest ski area in the world, and is located in the French Alps about 50 miles southwest of Chamonix, France (as the crow flies). It includes the resorts of Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires – Saint Martin, Val Thorens and Orelle. Here are a few facts about it (200 ski lifts!!!): Ski slopes : 600km Number of ski lifts : 200 Number of skiers transported hourly : 260, 000 Number of snow cannons : 1,500 Hectares of groomed runs : 2,500 Number of ski patrollers : 320 Piste bashers : 70 Ski instructors : 1,500 Cross-country ski tracks : 130 km Switzerland (2013.09.08) - 0001 IMG_3437IMG_3447 Switzerland (2013.09.09) - 0005Switzerland (2013.09.09) - 0004Switzerland (2013.09.09) - 0006Switzerland (2013.09.09) - 0007