After a spell of exceptionally mild late-season weather we don’t have high expectations for our visit to Combloux. How wrong could we be? Against all the odds, this modest-sounding resort delivers the kind of skiing experience which surprises us, prompting us to add a new star-rating category (for Mountain Scenery) to our resort reviews.
Skiers from Megève have access to skiing here (and several good return pistes) via the Jaillet gondola lift, which tops off at almost 1580m. Our day, though, begins at La Cry, which even at 1183m still has sufficient snow-cover to allow us to take the short Garrettes drag-lift to join those skiers electing to park higher up for direct access to the Beauregard 4-seat high-speed chairlift. The ensuing long ride, through the forest echoing with birdsong, sharpens the senses and hints at what is to come. As soon as we’re back on the snow we point our skis down the Blue-graded Papa piste to pick up the Pertuis chair-lift.
“The ensuing long ride, through the forest echoing with birdsong, sharpens the senses and hints at what is to come.”
Panoramic views and long cruises
The high-speed 6-seater hauls us smoothly up to 1755m, where the views across to Mont-Blanc are already spectacular. It’s also the point of departure for the exhilarating Red-graded Jorace piste, but we decide to save this for the following day and instead work our way over to La Giettaz. This means taking the gently-meandering Bel Ava Blue piste which brings us to the 6-seat Christomet high-speed chairlift for another scenic haul, this time to the 1855m summit of Le Christomet. Once again the panoramic views are mesmerising, and the ski area is starting to feel much more extensive than we ever imagined. Underlining this is the long onward Blue-graded cruise on the Tréffléannaise piste, which takes us 5km down through tracts of unspoilt forest as if we were ski-touring.
Away from it all skiing
Eventually the villages Covagne and Le Plan 1200 come into view, and show us just why La Giettaz sector appeals to away-from-it-all fans who believe that where skiing is concerned, small really is beautiful.
The long haul out, via the 4-seat Torraz chairlift when we visited but set to become much faster when this old fixed lift is replaced. As it is, the views from the 1930m summit more than repay the climb, and we tackle the return run to Le Christomet along the Blue-graded Contreverse piste (including the very gentlest of hauls on the near-horizontal Charmots drag-lift) in high spirits. The onward Blue-graded cruise on Chevreuil, followed by a run down through the tree-line on the Bouquetins Red brings us to the Coeur d’Or mountain restaurant.
After the definitive relaxed lunch-break we launch ourselves back down towards the Pertuis lift, at the top of which are a couple of nearby Reds (Jorace and Porrez) served by the Jouty chairlift. Although the afternoon sun is softening things,these North-facing pistes hold up well, unlike the lower sections of the return runs back to our starting-point at La Cry. But it’s skiable, and rounds off a day on the kind of high-note which inspires us to come back for more the following morning, before heading over, as planned, to explore the Saint-Gervais sector.
Make no mistake; Combloux is an absolute charmer, and well worth exploring in depth before looking elsewhere. Definitely one to be filed under ‘Favourites’…
Feature by Roger Moss, © 2017