|NY fireworks at Arc 1600|
No one could have failed to notice that the start of the season has been less than perfect in terms of snow cover. Nowhere near as bad as last Christmas (2014) but still definitely a snow-drought and all that implies, especially for the lower alpine resorts. However I can safely say that all the guests we have had so far (including my own children) have been pleasantly surprised by the extent and quality of the terrain available. Much credit for this must go to the pisteurs for their hard and ingenious work spreading what snow there was into decent pistes and the ADS for managing the resort in a way that kept everyone happy.
Last week it seemed everybody wanted to be in Les Arcs, with our last few beds going to guests fleeing other resorts (such as Chamonix, Morzine, Chatel, etc) in search of a true taste of winter. However one thing was different this New Year - hardly a word of Russian to be heard anywhere, not even in Arc 1950. It seems the collapse of the rouble following the Great Bear's foreign policy and domestic woes has made us prohibitively expensive, and of course new and better winter sports offerings are coming on-stream all the time in Russia itself after the success of Sochi.
The idea of upgrading Cachette to full FIS-homolgation (slalom and giant-slalom) has been around for at least 20 years. It was a key feature of the bungled 'CSNHN' scheme that would have seen a prestigious national ski academy based in Bourg, had it not been lost to Albertville because of political dithering ( click here for the full story). There were originally going to be two tunnels, the other would have allowed the 'Arpette' blue piste to pass beneath Cachette: now that piste will be closed or diverted on competition days.
|Monster snow cannon|
The lift company ADS proudly showed of its new TechnoAlpin TL6 snow cannons, the 1000th produced being among those deployed. These monsters are capable of making 20 cubic metres an hour (a double-decker bus?), and other 'lower pressure' jets can double that in the right conditions - it has to be between -2.5 and -5c.
There's no doubt that Les Arcs massive investment in snow-making has really paid of this season. Not only did it allow the resort to open more skiing than most of its rivals, but the deep, compacted layer will be an excellent base for the natural snow now falling in abundance. This will also be beneficial at the other end of the season as the spring temperatures begin to rise.
|Cachette piste before the tunnel|
If energy prices were to rise substantially some resorts might well struggle to pay their electricity bills without adding to the vicious circle of decline created by ever-increasing lift pass prices. But At least a higher oil price would make the Russians able to afford Les Arcs again!
See also my post on the history of the Cachette piste and lift
Coming next: Mille8 - skiing dumbed-down or is this the future?