Meribel, France

Hidden 3 Valleys

Using the world class lift system to access the area, we will guide you to the very finest off-piste for you to learn and improve the skills that will open up the best kept secret in the Alps – the hidden Three Valleys!

At the end of this course you will be a confident and accomplished skier of most off-piste runs, including steeper lines and more difficult snow conditions. You will also be able to evaluate the risk of avalanches in more extreme terrain and learn the skills to navigate you way around the mountain safely.

With just a short step or skin up, we can access the stunning Les Avals valley. Despite its proximity to the resort of Courchevel, lifts are instantly left behind. With simple or more demanding pitches, this is a great area to get your off piste legs back. It is also possible to make a short tour up the ‘Petit Mont Blanc’ high above Pralognan for a thrilling descent down the wide-open North facing slopes.

The Trois Vallées area is not synonymous with glacier skiing but the possible descents with a guide are truly impressive. The Borgne glacier makes for ideal open terrain with a perfectly constant pitch to check out your powder turns. An exploration to the summit of the Péclet will leave you towering over the resort of Val Thorens, with a thrilling descent of the Face-Ouest as an option or a descent of the Bouchet in the Forth valley of Les Trois Vallees!

Easily accessible off piste descents away from the crowds abound. The Lac de Lou and it’s many variants ensures minimal up, but lots of down, and the Valley with no name lives up to its mystical air. Sticking to the Belleville valley, the Vallee des Encombres takes you from the western fringes of the domain back down to the beautiful hamlet of St Martin de Belleville. And the descents around the Aiguille de Fruit could keep you busy for weeks.

Day Itinerary

  • Travel out day. You should aim to arrive in Meribel for late afternoon.

    The trip officially starts with a welcome meeting and briefing at 7pm in the chalet.

  • There is no fixed itineraries for the week, our expert local guide will take you to the best locations based on prevailing weather and snow conditions. 

    The programme includes 5 full days of off-piste skiing instruction & guiding. During the week there is 1 'freeskiing' day when no instruction is provided.

    The course starts with a welcome meeting on Saturday evening. This is an opportunity to meet the instructors and the rest of the group and to discuss the plans for the week. The skiing will start on the following morning.

    The principal aims of this week are: 

    • To provide first class instruction and guiding from our team of BASI 4 instructors and IFMGA Mountain Guides to improve off-piste skiing technique

    • To give practical mountain awareness training on the hazards and risks associated with skiing off-piste particularly for avalanches

    • To provide the opportunity to ski the best off piste in the Trois Vallées ski

    The week is intended to be fun with lots of thrilling skiing but always directed with maximum attention to your safety and the safety of others.

  • Depart after breakfast

2019

Dates

Price

Sat 23 Mar
- Sat 30 Mar
£1495 Book

Trip duration is 7 days with 5 full days off-piste instruction plus 1 'freeskiing' day when no instruction is provided.
The price includes 7 nights chalet board accommodation with breakfasts, afternoon teas with homemade cakes and delicious evening meal (on 6 evenings). 5 days off-piste instruction & guiding, group transfers between Geneva airport and the chalet, in-resort transfers.
Additional local expenses include lift pass, lunches, drinks, 1 evening meal, equipment hire
Places can also be booked on a course-only basis if you have made your own accommodation arrangements. The course only price is £545 per person.

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE

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Ski Club Winter Arrangements limited (trading as Mountain Tracks)
Registered in England No. 2099115. VAT No. GB 461 5692 34

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This is an extensive list of the recommended clothing and equipment you will need if you are coming on one of our Off-Piste Adventure trips.  On all our weeks you’ll be staying in comfortable catered chalets or hotels. When skiing you need to carry just a day pack, which contains your safety equipment and any personal items or extra clothing layers you may need.

  • Good pair of goggles – essential. Useful to have 2 pairs on powder days in case of head plants! A pair with a lens for low light is essential in the event of snow and poor visibility
    Good quality sunglasses – UV factor category 4 recommended
    20-30 liter rucksack is usually suitable for most off piste skiing. Key features are a method of attaching your skis in either a A-frame (one either side) or both together on a diagonal ski carriage; easy access into the main compartment without having to empty the sack to get something at the bottom; separate pocket for avalanche shovel, handle and probe; small top pocket for items like wallet, sunglasses/goggles etc; an ice axe loop and possibly a built in rain cover and a secure method of attaching/stowing a ski helmet (if you use one). It’s essential that the pack has a good hip/waist belt and adjustable shoulder straps.
    Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used but please remember that they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack with cylinder in; so unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one.
    1-1.5 Liter water bottle – we don’t recommend hydration-systems (e.g. Camelbaks) as these often freeze in winter
    Suncream and lip salve (factor 30 or higher recommended.)
    • A good quality pair of ski trousers. They must be made from a waterproof and breathable fabric like Gore-Tex or similar. It’s useful to have some venting zips on the legs either inside or outside thigh or full length side-zips. Integral snow gaiters and some pockets for handy items are good features.
    • An outer shell jacket made of waterproof and breathable material like Gore-Tex or similar with a built-in hood. We advocate the ‘layering principle’ and so a shell is recommended rather than an insulated jacket.
    • Comfortable underwear with good wicking properties. Very popular at the moment are the wool based layers from companies such as Icebreaker and Smartwool. They are comfy, breathable, warm when needed and can be worn for days without your friends catching a whiff!
    • Several thin (rather than fewer thick) layers between your skin and the outer shell - an approach that gives better heat retention and good flexibility. These tops are known as ‘mid layers’.
    • Insulation layer like a down or Primaloft jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.
    • Roll neck rather than a scarf. We use and recommend the ‘Buff¹ ¬ a light, stretchable tube. Excellent despite the name! They do both a fleece/cotton version for warmth or just a cotton one (to keep the sun off).
    • Headwear to include warm hat and sun-cap or wide-brim hat for extra protection from the sun. Mountain Tracks fully supports the wearing of helmets for skiing, although not mandatory for any of our trips we do recommend them.
    • Good quality, ski gloves or mitts if you suffer from cold hands and 1 thinner pair of gloves made from a soft shell or fleece material if the weather is warm. These are particularly useful if you do any ski touring or hiking on the trip as thick gloves quickly become too hot.
    • Silk inner gloves can be useful if the weather is cold and you suffer with cold hands.
    • Technical Socks - Investing in good quality ski socks will improve fit, warmth and feel when skiing for long periods. Bring along a few pairs.
  • The “Safety Trilogy” - applicable for all our off-piste courses and ski tours.

    Avalanche Transceiver/Beacon 
    Snow shovel
    Avalanche probe

    Avalanche airbags/rucksacks – if you wish to ski with one of these on our courses you are welcome to do so, they are not mandatory but we always support the use of available safety items.
    You can hire avalanche rucksacks in a lot of resorts, makes are usually Snowpulse/Mammut, ABS or BCA Float sacks. Prices vary from shop to shop and resort to resort but a guide line price would be from €20-30 per day or around €100-120 for 6/7 days.

    Remember it is not enough just to carry this equipment; you have to know how to use it.
    How about joining one of our specialist avalanche courses – check out http://mountaintracks.co.uk/discipline/winter-mountaincraft

  • We continue to see big changes in ski, boot and binding design and technology, which make off-piste skiing and ski touring much more accessible. For our Adventure courses we prefer you to ski with” freeride” skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings but are suitable for off piste then you are welcome to bring them with you. Downhill boots are also acceptable but please bear in mind that you will do some touring on ALL our Off-Piste Adventure courses so you made need to hire suitable skis and boots in resort.

    Skis
    There are many ‘all-mountain/freeride’ skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from Dynastar, Movement, Black Crows, Trab Skis, Scott and Volkl. Look for a ski that is the right size for you height, typically the tip of the ski should be somewhere around your nose height. As for the width of the ski or “side cut” a mid-fat ski – 90-110mm under the foot is a good place to start; this offers plenty of flotation off piste, while remaining suitable for day tours and they should also handle reasonably well on piste and mixed terrain.
    Dynastar Skis: www.dynastar.com
    Movement Skis: www.movementskis.com
    Black Crows Skis: www.blackcrows-skis.com/
    Trab Skis: www.skitrab.com/en-us/
    Scott Skis: http://www.scott-sports.com
    Volkl Skis: http://www.voelkl.com

    Boots
    For our Off-Piste Adventure courses its best to have a pair of ski touring boots – they have great skiing performance and with the vibram soles they are much safer for scrambling around on rocky or icy ground. However standard downhill ski boots are also acceptable. We do not recommend you come on a trip with brand new boots.

    If you are going to be getting into off-piste and ski touring, then rather than having a pair of downhill boots and a pair of ski touring boots, we strongly suggest that you opt for a good pair of ski touring boots. With advances made in plastics, moldings and materials in recent years you can now get a ‘hybrid’ touring boot that offers as much downhill performance and stiffness but they come with a walk mode and good flexibility for the uphill too. Many boots fall into the category "hike & ride" so a 3 or 4 buckle boot, walk mode, vibram/grippy sole and possible Pin binding compatible.
    It just makes more sense - not only are they much more comfortable to walk in compared to ordinary ski boots, they are great to ski in too.

    Scarpa have lead the way in touring boots for many years but they have been joined by other manufactures like Dynafit, Salomon, Scott, Black Diamond, Dalbello and K2; all producing their own versions of a ski touring boot.
    • Scarpa’s Freedom boots are their Hybrid offerings, great ski performance, a walk mode and vibram sole. Their Maestrale (men’s) and Gea (women’s) boots are also highly recommended.
    • The Scott Celeste and Cosmos boots have stood the test of time and are good all round choices.
    • Salomon’s Quest Max series offer boots with a walk mode in various flex’s with good downhill performance.
    • Dynafit offer the Mercury or Vulcan boots plus a range of lightweight options like the TLT6.
    The best of the rest are:
    Fischer - Transalp
    Black Diamond – Quadrant and Factor
    K2 – Pinnacle boot
    Dalbello – Lupo or Sherpa
    Langue – XT series offer a ski boot with a walk mode in various flex options

    Boot Liners
    These days many manufacturers offer ‘thermo-fit’ liners as standard equipment. You may also want to consider a custom liner. Heated and moulded to your foot and boot for a perfect fit, they can make all the difference especially if you have trouble finding really comfortable
    ‘off-the-shelf¹ boots. Zipfit liners are a great option for anyone seeking total customisation in fit and comfort. They will replace the original liner.

    Custom Footbeds
    Essential kit – to provide additional comfort and ski control. If you want to get footbeds made or a pair of new boots fitted then we suggest you visit somewhere like Profeet for a professional fitting. Don’t forget if you have footbeds in your downhill boots but need to rent touring boots then you can bring the footbeds with you and put them in the hire boots.

    Bindings
    We prefer you to have ski touring bindings on your skis for our adventure courses but if you have downhill bindings mounted on your skis then this is perfectly acceptable. The new touring bindings are every bit as safe for downhill as alpine bindings, yet you have the additional advantage of being able to walk uphill with them to access the real off-piste. Fritschi Diamir and Marker both have great bindings which can be used with ski touring boots and downhill boots. Many more people are seeing the advantage of the “pin” binding system now offered by a number of manufactures; they are light and offer ever improving security despite their minimalist looks!
  • Although our Off-Piste Adventure courses rely heavily on the lift systems in resorts, access to and egress from runs sometimes involve climbing and walking a short way and you may undertake 1 or 2 day ski tours, for this reason its best to have skis with ski touring bindings, skins and ski touring boots.

    • Ski Skins – these are skins which, now made of artificial fabric, stick to the bottom of your skis and allow you to walk up hill. They must be cut to fit your skis exactly, so if you are bringing your own skis you must provide your own skins.
    • Ski Crampons (aka Couteaux) - most ski touring bindings have ski crampons specifically designed for the binding. We always carry these just in case. Again if you are bringing your own skis and touring bindings you must provide your own ski crampons.
    • When skiing on glaciated terrain you will need a harness and occasionally boot crampons and possibly an ice axe. Your can guide can supply you with these items if you do not have your own.
Meribel 2015.JPG

Meribel

View map

Meribel is a ski resort in the Tarentaise Valley in the French Alps.  Meribel comprises of a number of villages, Les Allues, Meribel Village, Meribel Centre and Meribel Mottart which is the highest at 1,750m.  The resort has an extensive lift system linking to Courchevel and Val Thorens.  There is skiing above Mottart to 2,952m on Mont du Vallon.  Above Val Thorens, situated at 2,300m there is glacier skiing to over 3,000m.  Together the area has more than 200 lifts and over 600kms of piste suitable for everyone from first day novices to expert level. The off-piste terrain here is equally impressive with enough choice to satisfy the most demanding backcountry enthusiasts. The highest lifts take you to 3200m (on the Glacier de Peclet).

Meribel itself is at the heart of the Trois Vallée. It its own extensive ski area and easy access to the other 2 valleys.  There are many chalets and hotels in the resorts plus plenty of après ski and nightlife if you require it.  Shops, bard and restaurants are extensive the each of the villages.  

Our top reasons for visiting Meribel

  • unrivalled lift system and extensive on-piste skiing.
  • Lesser know but impressive off piste that is lightly skied and powder can be found days after snow, couloirs and tree skiing, its all available.
  • We start our beautiful Vanoise Haute Route Ski Tour from this resort. 
  • High quality accommodation in comfortable chalets with our accommodation provider.
  • Good links from Geneva and Chambery airport.

Resort Height: 1,500m

Highest Lift: 2,950m

Nearest Airport: Geneva or Chambery 

Transfer Options: Its best to fly to Geneva airport and then book a seat on one of a number of transfer services who offer shared seats to and from the resort.  Transfer time by road is typically around 2 - 2.5hrs.  You can also fly to Chambery airport and take a road transfer, this is slightly shorter at around 1hr 30 mins.  There are train services from Chambery to Moutiers.  From Moutiers you would need to take a taxi up to the resort.

For our week long trips to Meribel we have a fixed meeting time at Geneva airport (1430hrs) for joining a private transfer by minibus to the resort.  For the return journey we offer the same back to Geneva leaving resort around 0800-0830.

  • It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.

    For UK residents Ski Club Travel Insurance may be a suitable option.

    For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
    If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
     

  • We include in the price of the trip 1 shared, group airport transfer from and to Geneva airport. This is at set times so we ask you to arrange your flights accordingly. On the arrival day the transfer will depart Geneva airport at 1430, you should book a flight that arrives no later than about 1345 so you have time to collect your luggage and make your way to the meeting point. On the departure day the transfer will pick everyone up from the chalet at 0830, this means you will be dropped off at Geneva at approximately 1030; this should be suitable for flight departures from 12 noon onwards. So we ask you to book a flight back that leaves no earlier than 12 noon.
    If you have to arrive/depart outside of these times then you will need to make your own arrangements to get to and from Meribel.
  • Our Off-Piste Adventure courses are run by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks.

    The guide to skier ratio is 1:6 and we can run with a maximum of 2 groups on the same week.

  • For these courses our preferred chalet provider is GoSkiMeribel. They have a number of very comfortable catered chalets in Méribel where rooms are mostly ensuite, chalets have hot tub/jacuzzi, Wi-Fi, TV and plenty of space to relax and enjoy yourself after skiing. They serve daily breakfast, afternoon tea and a 3 or 4 course evening meal (on 6 nights of the week).
    Single room occupancy is subject to availability and will incur a supplement.
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