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Skiing into Spring - Lisa Tyrrell, Val Thorens
Thursday April 14, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

Val Thorens is the highest resort in the Alps and shuts the latest - May 8th this year. We have been out on its slopes enjoying great end of season conditions. So what's it like?

Spring skiing is always a bit of a gamble.

In the past I have managed a few hours on the piste in the morning before conditions turn to slush or lack of snow has meant skiing on a landing strip, dodging rocks and grassy patches.

With this in mind I chose Val Thorens, the highest resort in Europe for my ski trip in mid-April.

At 2300m altitude and the highest ski resort in Europe, Val Thorens is a savvy choice for late season skiing.

Open until May 8th 2016, the resort has its own snow guarantee for the whole season.

40% of its runs have snow cannons.

Spring skiing - Val ThorensSpring skiing - Val Thorens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was no need for snow cannons on my trip.

With 15cm of fresh snow on the day I arrived, it felt like February conditions - fresh powder and blue skies interspersed with poor visibility and whiteouts in the afternoon to keep me on my toes.

And the benefit of going late in the season is the slopes are empty.

There are no queues for the lifts or at the bar -  both of which are plentiful in Val Thorens.

The resort has changed since my last visit almost a decade ago.  

Val ThorensVal Thorens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Val ThorensVal Thorens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four 5* hotels have popped up in the Val Thorens as well as the two star Michelin Jean Sulpice restaurant attracting a new clientele to the resort. 

I stayed at the 5* Koh-I Nor, the highest hotel in the resort and enjoyed fantastic panoramic views of the slopes from my balcony, delicious food and the hotel's friendly, relaxed atmosphere.

But for me it isn't 5* luxury that excites me on a ski trip, it's the adrenaline activities on offer.

And Val Thorens certainly delivers.

In resort you can choose from a range of winter activities including paragliding, ice driving, Segway on snow and, for an altogether more "Zen" experience, yoga on the piste.

One activity that caught my eye was Downhill mountain biking or MTB.

MTB is for adrenalin junkies who love the thrill of hurtling down a 6km track on the blue slope at high speeds whilst avoiding the front brake, which when applied, will send you flying over the handle bars.

Exciting!

And whilst I have bungee jumped strapped to a bicycle in the mountains before, I have never tried downhill mountain biking and given more time in Val Thorens, I would have definitely given it a go. 

But with a limited time in resort we opted to try two of the most popular winter activities.

First up was the longest toboggan run in Europe - aptly named Le Toboggan.

The toboggan run starts at the foot of the Péclet glacier, at an altitude of 3,000m and should take 45 minutes.

However on the day we picked it took us much, much longer.

The whiteout conditions meant you literally couldn't see your hand in front of your face and I never really got the hang of controlling the luge.

Le TobogganLe Toboggan in the fog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Le TobogganLe Toboggan in the fog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Val ThorensThe Start on a blue sky day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So the whole experience felt a little dangerous, speeding round corners with no idea where I was going, while frantically trying to slow myself down before crashing into the side of the track and flipping out of the luge.

We were the last people of the mountain so felt a little safer with Ski Patrol hot on our heels to pick up the pieces and keep us on track.

We picked a blue sky day to test out The Tyrolienne, the world's highest zip wire.

Located at the top of the Funitel, the scariest moment was climbing onto the launch platform and dangling my feet over 3,230m drop, complete with skis.

Once airborne it's an amazing experience, flying at speeds of up to 105km/h with a bird's eye view of the stunning mountain landscape. 

ToboganAdrenaline junkie on the launch pad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My camera wasn't to hand as I was hanging on for dear life, but the You Tube video below shows what its really like.

I managed a smile for the camera.

And the scenery? Well, it was incredible.

The whole trip lasts just under two minutes, but the adrenaline rush last the whole day and the experience will stay with me forever.

 

Spring - Val ThorensSpring - Val Thorens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Val ThorensSpring skiing in Val Thorens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Val ThorensSpring skiing in Val Thorens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Tyrrell stayed at the 5* Koh-I-Nor hotel - www.hotel-kohinor.com

For more information about Val Thorens visit www.valthorens.com

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

For the spirit of the mountains

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