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A beautiful week in Les Arcs

We’ve had sunshine every day, but expect some changes this weekend

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Sam Birch | Les Arcs Reporter | Published: 31 Mar 2017


A beautiful week in Les Arcs

The weather over the past few days had been exceptional. Spring may have sprung, but it has felt more like summertime than the end of March.

It has been the perfect climate for snowboarding, skiing, going for a walk or just sitting out and enjoying a meal. The constant sunshine has taken a toll on a few pistes, but overall the snow conditions are very good.

Les Arcs

Following last weekend’s dump of snow, Les Arcs started the week with a fresh coating of powder from the very top all the way down into the valley. However, the warm temperatures soon burned off the purely decorative snow below around 1600 metres.

Since that point, the piste-bashers have groomed the majority of the slopes and consistent weather has ensured they stay smooth and true. The snow underfoot has tended to start off hard in the mornings, softening throughout the day, although the rate of change does really depend on the run’s aspect, tree-cover and incline.

Blue runs

Les Arcs

By the end of the week, it was the blue runs that were running most consistently and pleasantly. Generally less steep than the reds, the blues are often silky smooth (lubricated by a softer top layer) with little bumpiness or choppiness. The warm weather has created some stickiness on-piste below 1800 metres but above that the blue runs were an absolute joy, running quickly yet dependably. For a snowboarder who errs towards steeper inclines, it was a nice surprise to be drawn to the less-travelled blue runs.

The Arc 2000 bowl is filled with very ride-able slopes and, being higher and protected by the surrounding mountains, seems largely unaffected by the recent warm spell. Vallée de l’Arc, Plan, Plan des Eaux and Dents du Peigne are all running beautifully. I expect the other blue runs in this sector to be no different.

Les Arcs

On the other side of the Arpette/Col du Grand Renard ridge, there were even more cruise-y blue runs to enjoy. The Arpette run is a delight, although it does has some very (and I mean very) slight choppiness around the snow park with the snow starting to ”catch” around the intersection with the Cachette piste.

Belvédère is lovely from top to bottom, with the only unexpected part being a large wet patch (which is easily avoided) near the bottom of the Arpette lift. Renard is another delightful, albeit a bit bouncier, run and Forêt, from what I could find, was an unmitigated joy. Traversée above Arc 1800 was very pleasant, although there were a couple of (avoidable) sections which were beginning to thin.

Red runs

Les Arcs

In comparison to the blue runs, the reds were more of a mixed bag. By Thursday, steeper inclines had begun to get a bit hard and, in some places, icy. Like the blues above, most reds have been well groomed, making them largely smooth and predictable. However, where there is more precipitous incline there tends to be less grip.

A good example of this is Arandelières from the Varet gondola. It is very fast, relatively smooth (particularly on the most direct line) and a thoroughly enjoyable run except for initial “jump off” from Vallée de l’Arc which is justifiably marked out as “icy snow.” The Belette run towards Peisey-Vallandry is very similar, with a fairly icy initial drop followed by quite flat and consistent conditions thereafter; the only thing to avoid here is a thin patch across the middle of the piste (avoidable on both sides) as you approach the Rhodos turn-off.

Les Arcs

Cachette has become a little hard, particularly after the Arpette junction. The nearby Malgovert un-pisted run is now closed. Above Arc 1800 Vagère improved greatly after the last snowfall and has remained pretty good up until the Belvédère crossing (it is closed but navigable after that).

The adjacent Golf run is now closed. Grand Renard is nice and quick but, if you head left after the Col towards the Derby lift, getting a little sheer on the steep section. Above Peisey-Vallandry, Myrtilles, Blanchot and Perdix are pretty lovely.

Black runs

Les Arcs

When the pistes are particularly busy, I tend to go straight to the black runs to find a bit of space. At the moment, it is much quieter everywhere with almost no queuing at the lifts. The main exception to this is the Aiguille Rouge lift, where you can still wait around ten minutes to ascend. This is possibly due to the Aiguille Rouge run remaining open when many of the nearby black runs have begun to close.

Many of the expert-level runs from the Varet lift are now officially closed, with Lanches and Dou de l’Homme still running. Similarly, Comborcière and Muguet (leading to the bottom of the Arc 2000 bowl) are currently out of service. Again, with less traffic throughout the resorts and the steeper red runs becoming quicker and more technical, there is still plenty to amuse the most-proficient riders.

[Check which lifts & pistes are open in Les Arcs & La Plagne]

The Forecast

Les Arcs

The sun is going into hiding for a few days this weekend, bringing flurries of snow to Les Arcs. Predominantly at the upper echelons, overnight temperature drops may see a little fresh powder at every level. This should freshen up the pistes in the short-term. Cloud and snow will likely continue until Monday when the sunshine will begin to appear once again. 

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