Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snowboarding in the Alps part 2

This weekend we went to Areches Beaufort to play for a bit in the white stuff. Areches Beaufort is much closer to Lyon than the resort I blogged about below (Val Thorens), and much lower elevation. And unlike most of the resorts higher up in the Alps, Areches Beaufort has trees! Lots of em. I really like trees and tree runs (maybe not as much as my friend Dave Birchak who has an odd propensity for jumping into them), so I was very excited about going to this resort.

Clear skies and warm, and not at all crowded, the resort had a lot of promise. Unfortunately it hadn't snowed there in quite some time, and the snow was pretty hard and packed, so I had very few tree runs, and lots of sticking to the pistes, but if this place ever gets a good dumping, I am there the next day because I saw lots of awesome looking terrain.

Supposedly the place has a park, but I only saw one jump, and no rails or boxes or anything. Maybe they are waiting for more snow :-/

Oh, and this place had one of the worst types of lifts I have ever ridden. Resorts in the US, at least those that I have been to, only have 4 different kinds of lift. 2 for the big boys, chair lifts and gondolas, and 2 for the kiddies, rope pulls and magic carpets. Rope pulls kinda suck, but they are usually really short, and only on very slow inclines, so you deal with them when you have to (usually just when you are learning). So for the most part, you ride chairs or gondolas. This place, however, had one of these:

Yes that person is holding onto a metal pole that he has shoved up his crotch. That metal pole is attached to a lift line that pulls him up the mountain. By his crotch! Whoever invented this lift should be shot--In his crotch!

To ride this lift, you have to grab this metal pole with a small seat on the end as it swings by on the lift line. You then shove the pole between your legs quickly (because it is moving up the mountain), and clench your legs and hold on. The lift maybe makes sense for skiers, although all of the guys with me were skiers and they hated it too, but for snowboarders it is pain, exhaustion, and pain.

Fortunately most of the lifts at this resort were the normal sit in the chair ski lifts, but to get to the very top of the mountain, you had to ride this evil contraption. I only went to the top of the mountain once.

To see more pics of this place, cliquez ici.


Tim said...

Resorts here in NZ have the T-bars as well - and like you, I tried it exactly *once*. They definitely didn't have snowboarders in mind when they designed them!

Fortunately there are only a few of them, and you can pretty much get around the mountain without them as long as you aren't hell bent on going to the summit.

Balloonfighter said...