Napoleon Crossing the Alps - painting

Tales of the Alps – Napoleon’s unpaid bill

The story of a very longstanding debt owed to a very small village At the dawn of the 19th century, newly republican France was at war with much of Europe. In the south-west of the country, the Alps formed a natural barrier against invasion,…

Barry on display in museum

Tales of the Alps – Barry der Menschenretter

How a St. Bernard named Barry became a Swiss legend Although relatively unheard of outside his native Switzerland, Barry is known as the most famous dog in the country to the Swiss. In German, he is called Barry der Menschenretter, or “Barry the people…

Childrens navigation course

What to bring on our navigation courses

Covid-19 has led to a few changes in how we run our navigation courses, and this affects what you need to bring as well. As far as possible, we’d like you to bring your own materials rather than use stuff we give out, but…

Alchemilla alpina

Alpine flower notes: Alchemilla

Lady’s mantle Alchemilla A fascinating plant that is easy to overlook, lady’s mantle can be seen flowering across the Alps from spring through to autumn. There are many species worldwide, but the most common in the Western Alps are alpine lady’s mantle (Alchemilla alpina)…

Lynx

Alpine Wildlife Notes: Eurasian Lynx – Lynx Lynx

The Eurasian Lynx is a distinctive species of wild cat that was common in the Alps until the 19th century. Together with the grey wolf and the brown bear, it was one of the three big predators that were intentionally eradicated across much of…

Le Sapey and Pied Moutet

Le Sapey walk

An almost circular walk from Les Deux Alpes to Venosc via the delightful pastures in Le Sapey. Distance: 15km Ascent: 500m Descent: 1100m Sustenance: La Moliere early in the walk, and Venosc village at the end Once a thriving farming community, the isolated hamlet…

Female Wolf

Alpine Wildlife Notes: Grey Wolf – Canis Lupus

The grey wolf is one of the three large predators that disappeared from the French Alps towards the end of the 19th century, the other two being the lynx and the brown bear. However, in the past few years, small numbers of wolves have…

Italian Val Ferret

TMB or Haute Route?

Which long-distance hike is for you? Chamonix has long been a centre for mountain sports of all kinds, and this definitely includes long-distance trekking. Many hikes of all lengths pass through the valley, from a riverside stroll to a months-long traverse of the Alps….

Alpine Ibex

Alpine Wildlife Notes: Alpine Ibex –Capra Ibex

With its large curved horns and incredible climbing ability, the Alpine Ibex is one of the most instantly-recognisable animals in the Alps. Also known as the Steinbock or Bouquetin, this species of goat lives wild in the European Alps and can regularly be spotted…

Pont du Diable

Tales of the Alps – The Devil’s Bridge

This story recounts the legendary origins of the Pont du Diable, or Devil’s Bridge, in St. Christophe-en-Oisans.  Saint Christophe-en-Oisans is a sleepy alpine hamlet halfway up the Veneon Valley. The inhabitants keep livestock in the high pastures, or welcome the visitors who come for…

Painting of the battle

Tales of the Alps: L’Escalade, Geneva

How one old woman saved the city with a pot of vegetable soup… In this series, we look at some of the more interesting tales of the Alpine region. Some, like the battle of the ‘Escalade’, are true. Others have their origins in myths…

Alpine Wildlife Notes: Golden Eagle – Aquila Chrysaetos

The golden eagle is arguably the most famous of all raptors, and has been revered throughout history. In ancient Greece the golden eagle was Zeus’ messenger and animal companion. The Aquila was the symbol used by ancient Roman legions. It is currently the national…

Colchicum Autumnale

Alpine flower notes: Colchicum autumnale

Autumn crocus: Colchicum autumnale For the final Alpine flower article of the year we take a look at Colchicum autumnale. This is one of the few Alpine flowers you can still see flowering in mid-October. The delicate pink blooms flower across the Alps, and…

Bearded Vulture Close Up

Alpine Wildlife Notes: Bearded Vulture – Gypaetus Barbatus

In this post, we look at the Bearded Vulture, or Ossifrage (‘bone-breaker’ in Latin), the rarest in the Alps. This bird is known for its unique feeding strategy that helps it to survive in the harsh mountain environment. Description: The bearded vulture is the…

Flying Griffon Vulture

Alpine Wildlife Notes : Griffon Vulture – Gyps Fulvus

Following on from our series on Alpine Flower Notes, in this series we’ll be taking a look at some of the wildlife that can been seen in our region of the Alps, starting with the Griffon Vulture. One of the most impressive birds of…

Great Yellow Gentian

Alpine Flower Notes: Great Yellow Gentian

Great yellow gentian – Gentiana lutea From June until August, the great yellow gentian makes an impressive sight standing tall in alpine pastures. Many members of the gentian family are subtle and discreet, producing small, delicate, purple-blue flowers. Not this one! It grows over…

Alpine Flower Notes: Purple Saxifrage

Purple saxifrage Saxifraga oppositifolia I’ve been meaning to write up some notes on Alpine wildflowers for a while. Seeing clumps of purple saxifrage flowering well above the snowline prompted me to start with this remarkably hardy flower. Naturalists have found it flowering at 4505m…

Snowy road

Easiest Ways to Travel to Les Deux Alpes

Our first guest post from Alps2Alps If you’re planning your next ski holiday, why not try Les Deux Alpes? This beautiful resort is one of the biggest ski areas the Alps has to offer. It’s surrounded by picturesque scenery and a jaw-dropping mountainous landscape.If…

Avalanche risk 3

The Avalanche Risk Scale – Why 3 is a Dangerous Number

The International Avalanche Risk Scale is an important tool in off-piste decision making, but it is frequently misunderstood. If you have ever said, “It’s only three out of five, it’ll be fine,” you need to read this right now. I am not going to…

Alpe de Villar d'Arene

Col d’Arsine Walk

The Col d’Arsine is a beautiful hiking destination at any time of the year I have written a few posts about ski touring around the Col du Lauteret. There is also some great walking in the same area. In fact, many of the ski…

European Ski School Off-Piste Course 5th-9th March 2018

This archive post is about the 2018 Off-Piste course. Watch out for details of the 2020 course to be posted very soon, or send us an email to bookings@whitemarmotte.com to make an enquiry. After the success of our previous off-piste courses, we will be…

marmot

Nine things you didn’t know about marmots

  These large, ground-dwelling squirrels are a symbol of the Alps and other mountain ranges. They are easy to recognise from their cute, cuddly appearance, but how much do you know about everybody’s favourite mountain rodent? There are fourteen different living species of marmot…

Reblochon

Cheeselore in the Western Alps

We all know that France and Switzerland are famous for their cheese, from Camembert to Gruyere, and cheese dishes like Fondue or Raclette. Cheese forms a big part of the local culture in the Alpine regions. Consequently, countless stories surround the production and even…

La Cordée

Off-piste course 2017 – Looking back

In March 2017, we ran our first European Ski School Off-Piste course in conjunction with TipTop Ski Coaching. I had already taught plenty of off-piste lessons, including off-piste courses for the Ski Club of Great Britain in Deux Alpes, but it was nice to…

Glacier lake

New plans for snowmaking in Les Deux Alpes

Many ski resorts have felt the effects of recent poor winters. Investment in snowmaking is seen as a way to ensure good skiing conditions no matter what the weather does. Here is no exception. The biggest investment over the summer has been new snowmaking…

La Berarde Church

Village architecture in the high Dauphiné

This post is based on a talk I prepared for my recent International Mountain Leader summer assessment in Samöens. Candidates have to deliver two ten minute talks on topics related to the Alpine environment. I chose to use village architecture as a framework to…

Summit

Roche Château ski tour

This is another nice ski tour in the Mont Thabor range. We did it on the last day of the TipTop trip to the Drayères Refuge in April. This is slightly shorter than the previous route (Rocher de la Grande Tempête) and more southerly…

A break on the way up

Rocher de la Grande Tempête

The Refuge des Drayeres in the Mont Thabor range is a superb base for a few days ski touring, with plenty of routes suiting beginners to experts. The Rocher de la Grande Tempête is the first tour I did from the Refuge on a…

Alex Filming

TipTop Ski Coaching Family Week 14th-18th August 2017

This August will see the return of the TipTop Family week after the success of last year. Ski racing, piste performance and on-piste fun are on offer to adults and youngsters alike.   The week consists of concurrent courses for children and adults, running…

Les Deux Alpes Outdoor Festival

Featuring a slew of sports over four days with competitions, big names and a world record attempt, the Deux Alpes Outdoor Festival promises to kick start the summer season in style. The event is new for this summer, so it will be interesting to…

Jon climbing

Pic des Trois Evêchés

The Pic des Trois Evêchés from the Col du Lauteret runs parallel to the very popular Pic Blanc ski tour from the same start point. In many ways, it feels like a longer version of that route. Both tours take you north-east from the…

Tracks

How to ski La Grave – untracked

  Under normal conditions you need to get up really early after (or during) a snowstorm to ski La Grave on untracked snow. This is especially true on the more popular routes.  Getting to the top of your chosen itinerary first is not enough….

Clot de Chalance, Les Deux Alpes

I’ve written a few posts on the classic backcountry descents that start from Les Deux Alpes heading towards St. Christoph or La Grave. Up to now though, I have neglected to mention those routes closer to home, which both start and finish within the…

Halfway view

Mont de l’Arpille

Few ski tours are safe enough to do when the avalanche risk is a high four out of five. Mont de l’Arpille is one of those that can be a possibility. The mountain rises to a height of 2085 metres, which is quite modest…

Pic Blanc du Galibier

For my first day off since Christmas I was itching to get out and do some ski touring. It still hadn’t snowed for a while, meaning that the snow was safe but not the most pleasant to ski on, and you needed to head…

Christmas Day Snowshoeing – Lauteret and Galibier

Low level snow is a bit lacking at the moment in the Oisans, but from 2000m upwards there is decent coverage. Consequently ski touring and snowshoeing are still possible from the road at the Col du Lauteret, while most other popular spots in the…

La Meije

The Classic ‘Easy’ La Grave Itineraries

The Vallons de la Meije and Vallons de Chancel might not be everybody’s idea of easy skiing, but ease is relative. In La Grave these long off-piste runs provide the standard routes down for those who want to avoid extreme terrain, couloirs, crevasse zones…

Freeski

European Ski School Off-Piste Course 13th-17th March 2017

The European Ski School’s Off-Piste:Freeride Course is a new product this winter, taking advantage of the wonderful terrain Les Deux Alpes has to offer. We will cover the techniques, skills and safety aspects of off-piste skiing over five full days, whilst exploring the mountain…

Off-piste

Autumn Junior Freeride Camp with TipTop Ski Coaching

Every autumn, Les Deux Alpes opens for skiing for a week or more over October half-term. In conjunction with Tip-Top ski coaching I offer an under-16s Freeride course this week, running concurrently with TipTop’s adult piste performance course. The camp consists of five full…

Resort Profile – Chazelet

Chazelet has to be one of my favourite resorts for a day trip. A small, alpine village that retains a timeless charm – this is one place that truly deserves to be called ‘unspoilt’. The resort statistics are underwhelming on paper – there are…

Les 2 Alpes signpost

Resort profile – Les Deux Alpes

People I ski with in Deux Alpes often ask where my favourite ski resort is. They sometimes seem surprised when I tell them “here”. The fact is, I have chosen to live here, work here, ski here, and buy an apartment here. If some…

Col-du-Replat

Les Deux Alpes to La Berarde via the Col du Replat

My final ski tour of last winter was one that I had been wanting to do for some time. The Col du Replat connects the Selle and Etancons valleys which lead to St. Christoph and La Berarde respectively. The previous summer Jon and I…

Petite Buffe trig point

La Petite Buffe (2683m) – Chazelet

Chazelet is a tiny but beautiful little ski resort with south facing slopes across the valley from the La Grave lift. It has five lifts, five pistes, and one very nice mountain restaurant. A reasonable skier will exhaust the on-piste possibilities in a morning,…

Spring Snow

Aiguilles Rouges to St Christoph via Puy

The Aiguilles Rouges route from La Toura is one of the two classic descents from Les Deux Alpes to St. Christoph, the other being the Vallon de la Selle. Like the Selle, the run is mostly south facing, so it can be a fantastic…

Cime du Pied de Barry Walk

At the moment I am working through the International Mountain Leader (IML) award. Part of this means logging mountain walking days outside the UK, so it seems like a good idea to post some route descriptions of the better routes here for others to…

View

Col de Laurichard (2654m)

The Col de Laurichard from the north east is deservedly one of the most popular ski tours in the Combynot nature reserve. Like several routes on this site it starts from the Col du Lautaret giving you the advantage of being able to start…

Skiing the Bear Couloir

Couloir de l’Ours (Bear Couloir)

The Couloir de l’Ours in La Grave is one that I had often looked up at whilst skiing one of the common variations of the classic Vallons de la Meije in La Grave, both with friends and with clients. My favoured version of the…

Col du Galibier

One of the classic Alpine road biking cols in the summer, the Col du Galibier makes for wonderful ski touring in good spring conditions when approached from the south. The route starts on the Briancon side of the Col du Lautaret and takes a…

In front of Pic de la Grave

Vallon de la Selle

The Vallon de la Selle is one of the classic routes from Les Deux Alpes or La Grave to the village of St Christoph in the Veneon Valley. Despite the start point  at nearly 3600m and the high-mountain terrain it crosses the route is…

Ben Nevis – Number 4 Gully and Number 3 Gully

Although now based in the Alps, I did start my skiing career in Scotland. It is easy to overlook the fact that there is some great skiing in Scotland, both lift served and in the Scottish backcountry. There are some legendary pistes whose names…

Combeynot, Col du Lautaret

Just to the south of the Col du Lautaret, the Combeynot range offers a range of interesting ski tours of differing lengths and difficulties. The high starting point (2057m) at the Lautaret means that it is possible to ski back to the road on…