Chamonix Off-Piste Ski Clinic

This week I had the pleasure of joining Evolution 2 for their half day off-piste ski clinic. Although I’ve been skiing for a few years my off-piste experience was limited to the occasional foray off the side of the marked slopes, where I could easily bail into safer territory if my “sit back and hang on for dear life” technique wasn’t doing me any favours. I decided it was high time to take a proper lesson and iron out my bad habits – would four hours be long enough?!

Evolution 2 Off-Piste Ski Clinic at Les Grands Montets Argentiere

We met bright and early at Les Grands Montets and got on to the gondola before all the crowds arrived. Evolution 2 got off to a flying start with the choice of ski instructor – a handsome young chap by the name of Christophe who put everyone at ease with his friendly charms. He started by handing out avalanche transceivers in the gondola and asking everyone about their ski level to get an idea what he was working with. Our group was made of 5 skiers, all confident on-piste but with little or no off-piste experience.

Evolution 2 Off-Piste Ski Clinic at Les Grands Montets Argentiere

We started off with a few on-piste runs so that Christophe could check out our style (or lack of it) and give us some advice. It turns out that most of us were making the same mistakes – not keeping our upper bodies facing down the mountain and sitting back too much when we turn. Easy to identify but not so easy to correct, as it turns out.

Evolution 2 Off-Piste Ski Clinic at Les Grands Montets Argentiere

After a few exercises to give us an idea of the kind of stance we were aiming for we went up the Bochard and headed off piste in search of powder. It had snowed overnight but was a bit windblown and heavy, so it wasn’t the easiest conditions to learn in. The legs were working hard and within 5 minutes each of us had taken at least one tumble – into soft snow though so we all came up laughing. As Christophe pointed out, if we could learn to turn in these conditions then fresh light powder would be a breeze.

 

Evolution 2 Off-Piste Ski Clinic at Les Grands Montets Argentiere

Even with 5 of us in the group Christophe was great at identifying everyone’s weak spots and giving individual attention to help us correct them. Some people started the lesson feeling a bit nervous but by the time we stopped for a quick break halfway through everyone was relaxed and eager to get going again. This course isn’t just about floating effortlessly through perfect powder; we also learned how to attack moguls, turn on steeper terrain and control our skis in different types of snow – all without being able to see much through the clouds. After all that our first bluebird powder day will be a doddle!

 

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It turns out that one of my (many) bad habits is to use my skis independently of one another, stepping from one to the other kind of like I’m on a stairmaster machine. Having my skis wider apart makes me feel more stable but it also means that they’re far more likely to do their own thing and go off in different directions. It was Christophe’s mission to have me skiing more like an actual skier and less like an ice hockey goal keeper by the end of the session – and he managed it! Since the off-piste clinic I’ve been diligently practising my new skills; I’m not quite ready for the Freeride World Tour just yet, but I’m definitely more confident and skiing with more control than I was this time last week.

Evolution 2 Off-Piste Ski Clinic at Les Grands Montets Argentiere

At just 69€ the Evolution 2 Off-Piste Clinic is a great way to spend 4 hours having fun and improving your technique. If you get it done towards the start of your holiday you’ll have the rest of the week to enjoy practising your newfound skills – I wish I’d done it sooner!

If you would like to book a place on the Evolution 2 Off-Piste Clinic please contact us directly or visit this page for details on this and other ski lesson options.

 

Kandahar Men’s Alpine Skiing World Cup Comes to Chamonix

After a hiatus of 3 years, one of the fastest and most exciting ski races returns to the slopes of Les Houches in the Chamonix valley.

Kandahar World Cup Ski Race in Les Houches, Chamonix

Kandahar Ski World Cup race route and piste map Les HouchesBringing the best ski racers in the world to our little town, the Kandahar World Cup is more than just a race, it is a celebration that turns the quiet village of Les Houches into an outdoor festival.

The race takes place on the Piste Verte, starting at 1871m near the Prarion sector of the Les Houches ski area. The course plummets 870m in altitude and covers 3343m to finish near the base station of the Bellevue cable car – the best racers will manage this in under 2 minutes!

Today’s races take place at 10:30 (downhill) and 14:00 (slalom) with the prize-giving taking place in Chamonix town centre at 18:00.

Saturday’s race is the infamous Kandahar downhill, taking place at 12:15, with the prize giving taking place 14:30 at the finish line.

The finish line will be packed out with spectators, cheering and clanging their cowbells, as results and updates are posted live on big screens.

There are plenty of vantage points beside the race course that you can hike up to for a close-up view of the action as the racers speed by – they are the areas marked in green on this map. One of the most exciting place to watch from is the “Saut de la Route” just before the last big bend, where the skiers take off and fly through the air at high speed!

The pisteurs have been hard at work preparing the piste for several weeks now, smoothing it down to flat perfection and spraying it with water to cover it with a fine sheen of ice that will make the racers go even faster.

Chamonix ski champion Guillermo Fayed at the Kandahar World Cup ski race in Les HouchesSkiers to look out for include Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud from Norway, Alexis Pinturault and Victor Muffat Jeandet from France, Marcel Herscher from Austria, and Erik Guay from Canada. Alas, American ski star Ted Ligety is out of the running due to a recently torn ACL incurred during training in January.

We’ll be cheering for local boy Guillermo Fayed from Chamonix who has been doing really well in training, you can see him checking out the course here:

Getting to Les Houches is easy by public transport; just catch bus number 1 or 15 from Chamonix, free with your ski pass or carte d’hôte guest card – there will be extra buses laid on to deal with all the extra passengers. We do NOT recommend trying to drive there as you will struggle to find anywhere to park and some of the roads will be closed to traffic. You can find more information on accessing the race site here.

Kandahar World Cup Ski Race in Les Houches, Chamonix

If you can’t make it in person then you can follow the race live with the Vogo Sport app, you can even choose which camera angle you want to view and zoom in on your favourite racers, it’s as close as you can get to being on the race course alongside them. There will be live race results posted on the FIS website and the highlights will be shown on Ski Sunday.

Kitsch Inn restaurant and apres ski bar in Les Houches, ChamonixPerfectly located at the finish line, the Kitsch Inn will be getting the party going with live music from 4pm and as well as their usual scrummy menu they’ll also have the amazing Le Savoie Faire team outside serving burgers, sausages & chips as well as warming, homemade vin chaud & spiced apple juice, soft drinks and snacks from their funky van.

If you want to learn to ski like Guillermo and the rest of the team then ski lessons are a great place to start! Whether you’re looking for group or private ski or snowboard lessons we have a great team of instructors ready to get you flying down the slopes, just contact us for details and booking.

Our Favourite Places to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Chamonix

Do something a bit different than the usual fondue and wine this Valentine’s Day – treat your loved one (and yourself) to a magical experience in the mountains.

Sunset over the mountains from the restaurant terrace at Chalet Bachais in ComblouxSoirée Bachais
For the full Alpine experience you can ride up the ski slopes after dark on a snowcat or skidoo to the fabulous Chalet Bachais where you’ll be greeted with an aperitif on the terrace. Enjoy a traditional Savoyard meal with local cheeses, washed down with several glasses of wine, and then feel the wind in your hair as you sledge back down to the charming village of Combloux where your transport home awaits.
Book Soirée Bachais

 

Snowshoe hiking in ChamonixSnowshoe Under the Stars
Snowshoeing is a great activity for those who want to go off the beaten track and explore the valley away from the ski areas. Your snowshoe guide will take you on an evening adventure through the forests, finishing up at a cosy restaurant where you can wine and dine before hiking back with full bellies and rosy cheeks.
Book Snowshoe Under the Stars

 

The Italian Job, skidoos and mountain restaurant in CourmayeurThe Italian Job
If you like your romance with a bit of adventure then The Italian Job is the one for you – skidoo up to an Italian restaurant on the ski slopes of Courmayeur, enjoy a delicious meal and maybe end up dancing on the tables, then ski back down by moonlight. We take care of getting you there and back, so you can relax and enjoy a prosecco or two.
Book The Italian Job

 

Wine tasting at ChaChaCha in ChamonixWine Tasting
Start your night off with wine tasting at ChaChaCha, where the sommelier will guide you through 6 wines, explaining the differences between them as you sip. This friendly and informal experience usually costs 15€ but clients of Mountain Lifestyle get a special price of just 12€. You’ll then be able to navigate the wine list with confidence when you go for dinner!

 

Chamonix Restaurant L'ImpossibleChamonix Restaurants
Chamonix has a number of excellent restaurants, you can’t fail to impress if you take your date to any of our favourites including L’Impossible, Munchie, L’Atmosphere, Cap Horn or La Revola. Albert 1er, at the hotel of the same name, has 2 Michelin stars awarded for their gastronomic take on traditional Savoyard cuisine. Set menus start from 42€ for a two course lunch and if you go à la carte then the sky’s the limit!

Freeride World Tour Drops In to Chamonix – Happening Right Now!

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few days you’ll have noticed the build up of excitement going on in the centre of Chamonix as the town prepares for the arrival of the Freeride World Tour.

Some of the world’s best freeriders are right at this moment trekking up to the ridge of L’Aiguille Pourrie at La Flegere, ready to pick their line, drop in and give it their best shot – here’s a sneak peak at the conditions that they’ll be facing.

The first few skiers have already set off and heats will be running all morning, so get up there and bag yourself a spot near the top of the Index lift at La Flegere to watch world class shredders such as Drew Tabke, Eva Walkner, Sascha Hamm and Anne-Flore Marxer in action. The Aiguille Pourrie is a steep face packed with features and should throw up some interesting possibilities for the riders.

There are a few locals taking part as well, including reigning Freeride World Tour champion Jonathan Charlet, so expect there to be some partying in town tonight at the bars in Chamonix town. The freeride fun will continue through the weekend with ski and snowboard tests up at the Planpraz telecabine at Le Brevent.

If you can’t get up the mountain this morning then watch all the action live on the Freeride World Tour website, just click on the red Watch Now tab.

If freeriding looks like a whole lot of fun then try it for yourself with one of our Off-Piste & Freeride courses, starting from 69€ for a half day taster session up to 595€ for a whole week of shredding the pow in Chamonix.

In the meantime, it looks like we’re due some more fresh snow this weekend and towards the start of next week, so get out there and enjoy!