Hot and sunny with flurries of snow in Les Arcs
Monday was an absolutely glorious day of interrupted blue skies and warm sunshine, bringing the sunbathers out in force across the mountain bars.
This followed a weekend of mixed weather with snow falling at altitude on a couple of occasions. This has helped to keep the pistes in very good condition, particularly above 2000 metres, although some of the lower off-piste has begun to disappear. There are some more flurries of snow anticipated over the next two days, after which the sunshine will return.
Conditions on-piste vary according to altitude, shade cover and whether the slope faces the sun. Generally, the snow is slushier below 2000 metres, with a few runs giving the sensation of "catch and release" at the very end of the day. Above 2000 metres (which is the majority of the slopes in Les Arcs) the running is harder, faster but with enough of a soft top-layer to help you pick your turns.
Most people this week are heading to the Arc 2000 bowl and the pistes are certainly more consistent in that area. However, having spent seven hours traversing the resort throughout Monday, I found many excellent runs and none I would say were particularly unpleasant.
In Arc 2000 there is less variation in snow conditions, therefore the blue runs are typically easier to ride. Overall, they are very predictable, quite quick and well-groomed. Across all resorts and all levels of difficulty the slopes are being regularly "bashed" to ensure smooth riding and uniform coverage.
There are a few hard patches on Reservoir and the middle, oft-shaded, flatter part of Edelweiss, but the the blues in this sector are difficult to fault. The blue boardercross run (like its red counterpart) has become slightly more technical as the snow is less forgiving and the corners are "cutting in" where people are taking the same line.
On the Arc 1800 side, Belvedere is quite consistent although the intersection at the Arpette bar is now a little icy earlier in the day. Arpette is running nicely, but the lower section after the Cachette junction gets stickier as the day progresses.
Grand Melezes in now quite moguled in places, although the bumps are soft and slushy with practically no hardness between them. Despite regular attention, the final section of Grands Melezes towards the Transarc station quickly forms moguls and can be difficult for complete beginners.
Over 2000 metres, where the pistes are steeper they tend to be harder. There are usually some small drifts of snow (resulting from the top layer being scrubbed off) which can improve purchase on the icier sections and the margins usually have a little more playful snow than the centre of the run.
Plagnettes and Teppes from the Col de la Chal are good fun with any lumps relatively low-level and easy to avoid (or hit if you want to). Arandelieres is still icy from Vallee de l'Arc but is fast and relatively predictable below that.
Travelling back towards Arc 1800 the Grand Renard, after the Col of the same name, is a good laugh with a choice of moguled or hard, fast lines; the Petit Renard is closed and the very bottom section has slushier snow but that just makes it a more enjoyable and varied ride. Vagere is very quick and quite pleasant all the way down: even the short last section below the Belvedere juncture is open, slushy but good. Cachette above Arc 1600 can be icy, with conditions being most difficult in the morning.
In Peisey-Vallandry, the higher pistes are in very good nick but can be particularly slushy (and sometimes porridge-y) nearer the two resorts. Belette is still hard in places and beginning to show the contours of the ground beneath.
Les Arcs is busier because of the Easter crowds but queuing is still not an issue, even in the (currently) more popular Arc 2000 bowl. The snow underfoot is surprisingly good, even where it softens to the point of slushiness. The freezing level is hovering around the 2000 metre mark, dropping at night and ratcheting up during the day. Sunshine is on the way before the weekend, but there will be a few flurries of snow in the next couple of days.
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Location: Les Arcs Region