Val Thorens - Part I I

Mountain wind and cold - Bad Judgement


This article is intended to tell you more about the beauties and powers of mountains and potential dangers they bear.


         Going down the connection called 'Petite Bosse', from a favourite plateau, lasted long enough for us to realise there was an overcast coming with a sudden weather change, but the thrill was so strong that we had no doubt about going forward.

The next destination was 'La Tania'! We paid no attention to the snow that began to fall and to the fog that gripped the slopes.

        Rapidly taking the lifts 'Aiguille du Fruit' and 'Marmottes' we arrived at Courchevel and to the footers of the lift 'Loze' taking 'Arolles' and 'Folyêres' on our way down, which left the strongest impression on me due to the areas covered in wood. These wavy and long slopes are a real treat for carving fans (take my advice and go there to practise carving, or to correct your style). The lift we saw occasionally above our heads through the wooded environment pushed towards the top the egg-baskets that looked rustic but impressive.  Everything exuded the old charm of the French Alps emerging from everywhere. I felt the long skiing tradition of this place. However, the real surprise came about when we started to climb up taking this lift. The space inside the egg was designed for four people, but we barely fit two! We climbed slowly above the slope and some parts of the slope under the lift were deep in the wood, which increased even more my sense of adventure. After several gentle gusts of wind, 'the egg' we were in started rocking slowly, but the sound it produced made us firmly stick to our seats. The creak went on for several more minutes, because the rocking went on for a while. It was only then that we realised that we went too far and that our return to 'Val Thorens' was probably impossible that day! A new even thicker snow that was falling closed the view which was already limited by high pines and spruce. All the joking immediately ceased and we started to comment about a possible seriousness of the situation. Quite a long climb cooled us in every way.

        Leaving the lift 'Dou Des Lanches' was hasty and bad weather conditions took their toll. The wind that whipped sporadically gave us the real subjective feeling of cold making it worse. We missed the turning for Meribel and we went down a short slope of Col de la Loze commencing our wandering through the slopes of 'Col de la Loze' (2305m), where visibility was reduced by a thick fog down to about 10 meters, the snow was getting thicker and heavier, as if poured down from a hood after falling into a deep snow. While searching for any type of orientation mark, I spotted a stick marking the slope and the traces of a lift appearing from the fog. I didn’t even know there was a lift above this short slope. I couldn’t but think about the additional 15 minutes lost and I started to panic. All the unpredictability of this mountain got down on us. Luckily, the slope was short, however the lift was probably the slowest on the mountain, thus we tried pushing it with the movements of our shoulders into the immense fog that was opening before our eyes in short moments when we wiped the snow piled on our goggles. Nevertheless, the ascent ended faster than I presumed and this time we went to the right side towards Meribel (1450m). Our brains started to work fast, predicting all possible options. For a second I remembered I always carried a battery and a compass in my rucksack, but I abruptly chased away such thoughts with disbelief. The minutes were melting rapidly and with them the working hours of the lifts, leaving us with a completely timed situation and all the lifts that were to take us back were just in time....uh, I thought about the famous lift 'Cóte Brune', the closest connection with 'Thorens'. Everything was against us and the tiredness we felt in our feet started taking us down. Our descent turned into a real adventure. Our previous experience made us go for this, but the tiredness and the overstrained muscles took their toll. If only we could get to Meribel, we promised ourselves that we would never let this situation happen again. It became clear to me why everyone I know who had been to this place, avoided making this big a circle over the mountains. This was simply too ambitious and completely depended on the whims of the mountain and not just on our readiness and capabilities. I got carried away by all the mountain allure, with my friends, great time on the snow, fun and skiing and it led me to a mistake. If only we hadn’t gone to 'Mont du Vallon', it was right in front of Val Thorens and we could have gone up some other time. How could we have let ourselves make such a bad judgement? I stopped checking my watch. The only thing that mattered was to go down as soon as possible and try to catch 'Tougnete 1', maybe there was hope. . .





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