Insight: Les Orres
Insight: Les Orres
A.fter driving by too many times while en-route to somewhere else, we finally leave the road near Embrun and make the long climb up to Les Orres. When we arrive the snow is already lying deep, there’s more expected overnight and we just know that we should have come much sooner.
Skiing with the locals
The following morning we leave our chalet in Bois-Méan and set off down to Les Orres 1650, getting a feel for things calmly before the arrival of local weekend skiers keen to make the most of perfect late-season conditions. From here we ride Prélongis, followed by Fontaines, two of the resort’s three new high-speed 6-seater chairlifts which take us smoothly up to 2430m. Once above the tree-line we see much of the area laid out before us, and spend some time skiing the central Red and Blue graded pistes back to the Fontaines loading area. While the snow remains firm we then drop right down to Pramouton and then Champ Lacas, which at 1550m are as low as it gets in Les Orres.
Having got that out of our system, we head right back up — all the way, this time. Our diagonal snakes-and-ladders route across the ski area eventually brings us to the steep Marmottes drag-lift, which deposits us at the highest lift-served point at 2703m. The views from the ridge alone would justify the climb, with the added bonus of a choice of bracing Red-graded runs. We opt for Genépi followed by Grand Cabane, which between them reward us with an epic descent which throws in just about everything along the way. For distance fans, it would be simple to continue all the way back to the Champ Lacas but we have other plans, which take us all the way back up.
Les Orres rewards us with panoramic views
By now a few hours’ sunshine have softened the ice which had delayed the opening of the Boussolenc drag-lift, (replaced by a 4-seater chairlift in 2011/12). For now, though, we’re among the first up the steep drag, which in early morning conditions is a tough one. We therefore get to the top (2660m) with a certain degree of achievement. Our reward, apart from more panoramic views, is an exhilarating Red run below Le Boussolenc (2822m) to join Myrtilles, which takes us through the forest and back to Les Orres 1650.
A well-earned lunch break
By now we’re ready for lunch, so stop off at the Chalet des Fontaines to recharge our batteries. When we emerge later than planned our legs remind us what a long morning’s skiing we’ve had, and how much distance we’ve managed to cover. So from now on we relax and take things much easier, just cruising gently around the mountain in the company of the locals up for the day. All things considered, we have to say that Les Orres really would be quite a place to have on your doorstep.
Feature by Roger Moss, © 2023