Our summer in the mountains – one week in Courmayeur.
Since I first went to Courmayeur, having stopped there for breakfast, on our way home from our annual ski week in Pila, driving through the scenic SS26, I fall in love with the place. When we were coming up, just after coming out the Mont Blanc tunnel, you see the gondolas and the tram on top of the route, plus the town with all its buildings very prettily aligned around the route and I knew I wanted to check it out! Being working in the ski biz for almost all my life, before moving to the UK (in the US/Canada and Argentina/Chile), I knew about Courmayeur as a name, but I have not visited many ski areas outside America.
Of all places in our first family ski holiday in Europe, we’ve finished in Ollomont – a small ski ‘field’ – I would say, in the end of the road where mountaineers go to ice climb – but I will write more of this in another post.
But back now to Courmayeur. Since our first breakfast there, we had a second one on the following trip with my friend Claudine from the Tourist Office of Courmayeur and her baby – and then again we’ve been up the Skyway coming back from Lago di Como, and finally we’ve stayed for some nights in winter for two years now – and managed to ski the mountain! First time only one day and the last time, for two (even though my knee was not up for skiing!).
But last summer, I’ve convinced my husband to go at least one week during our summer holidays. I would love to uproot my family there, (to the answers of my husband of what will I do, I don’t speak the language – and me telling him to just learn it!) I wanted to stay in the summer, to see how it is life in Courma in the summer. I’ve been in the fall, seeing at all the hotels – for my Must-Read Guide to Courmayeur. Even many hotels were closed, they’ve opened them to me, and I could see them while many of the maintenance and upgrades were taking place.
An ‘ephemeral lake’ appeared on the Mont Blanc massif due to warm record temperatures. The phenomenon, witnessed by a guide of the Società Guide Alpine Courmayeur has been reported by the “Montagna Sicura” foundation about the repercussions of the hot temperatures of these days. The training is near the Rochefort group.
Un lago blu dipinto quassù!!#laghi #laghialtamontagna @guidemontblanc #courmayeur #courmayeurmontblanc
From AostaSera.it, Montagna Sicura and Guides du Mont Blanc
The canicular temperatures of these days have shattered the primates of heat in the valley floor, but their effects in altitude still worry those who deal with climate. On the Mont Blanc, due to the effect of a zero thermal that reached a height of four thousand meters, in addition to having created the sporadic conditions for which at least 150 paragliders managed to land on the summit the other day, a lake was formed in recent hours due to of the rapid melting of snow .
Technically speaking, we are seeing an “ephemeral lake”. The “Montagna Sicura” foundation reports this on its Facebook profile , sharing a photograph of the guide of Courmayeur Gianluca Marra (author of a video), which reproduces the unusual phenomenon, testimony to the “many repercussions on the high mountains” of the “Record temperatures these days” .
In the post, the foundation remembers that it is “the same place” (in the Rochefort group, whose most significant peak is the Dente del Gigante) ” in which it had already been observed in 2016 , when our technicians carried out an inspection of land that had not highlighted any problems “. An effect certainly suggestive from the point of view of landscape, but which can only give to reflect on the climatic evolution.
”Mountains, People, Adventure“ Film Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary in St. Anton am Arlberg in late summer this year. The international mountaineering elite will convene in St. Anton am Arlberg from 28th to 31st August 2019 to offer an exciting insight into expeditions that have taken place around the globe.
A total of 20 screenings will be made, twelve of them premieres. St. Anton Film Festival has firmly established itself as a hot spot for the outdoor film scene over the past 25 years.
The atmosphere of a professional major event combined with a family atmosphere impresses guests and locals time and again, with the festival garnering record numbers of visitors last year. In addition to films with fascinating imagery, international endurance athletes, directors and impressive personalities talk live about their experiences and adventures and comment on their films. The entertainment begins each evening at 20 hrs.
Cliffhanging restaurant opens for the season in Switzerland: Äscher Mountain Restaurant
This summer the Äscher mountain restaurant had a weather delay that did not allow it to open in time. This restaurant is a bucket list place to go – nested by a cliff. One of the hiking routes up to the restaurant via the Blättli and Alp Bommen, are still closed due to high avalanche risk.
There are other paths to reach the restaurant that are still covered with snow. You should get the latest route information before venturing to the restaurant.
The restaurant is now under new management, because the people taking care of it until last year decided to cease their work there as the hotel had become victim of its own success, not being able to cope with soaring visitors’ numbers.
The hotel is an Instagram sensation, and you can see by watching the pictures why. But it also got very well-known thanks to be named one of the world’s five most
The Äscher came to prominence in 2014 when it was named one of the five most interesting restaurants in the world in the Huffington Post.
Also, National Geographic featured it in the “Destinations of a Lifetime’ special. To reach the restaurant, you need to take a cable car and a short walk from Wasserauen in the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden.
The foundation that owns the restaurant said last year that they were working on improving the establishment.
A Hike for your Bucket List: The Via Alpina crosses 14 of the most beautiful Alpine Passes in Switzerland.
The passes of the Via Alpina
The Via Alpina crosses 14 of the most beautiful Alpine passes and six cantons of Switzerland, with a great variety of cultures, geology and topography. Broad roads give way to exposed ridge paths. The variety of flora and fauna along the route is among the most diverse in the world.
The Via Alpina goes from Vaduz to Montreux in 20 stages, staying north of the Swiss Alps. Over 390 km, hikers enjoy the many highlights that Switzerland has to offer.
While the sections initially pass through relatively flat terrain in St. Gallen, the altitude being climbed increases quite steadily in the Glarnerland. When it comes to that Alpine feeling, the highlight of the route can be found in the Bernese Alps.
Day by day, hikers work their way through majestic mountain landscapes, with each pass crossed opening up a new world. This trail covers a total of 14 passes in six cantons and involves 23’600 m of ascent and 24’800 m of descent.
The route takes hikers to the secluded Surenen Pass, the famous Grindelwald, the Kleine Scheidegg pass with views of the Eiger, Mönch und Jungfrau mountains, the well-visited Blüemlisalp hut, perhaps one of Switzerland’s most beautiful lakes in Lake Oeschinen, the enchanting Bunderchrinde Pass and the sleepy Rochers de Naye mountains with unique views of Lake Geneva, to name but a few highlights.
Our family hike in Pila during the past summer holiday
Last season we’ve had a holiday in the mountains, staying in Courmayeur. We tend to go to the Aosta Valley every winter, and we’ve passed by Aosta coming back from Lake Como a couple of times, but we never went up the mountain up from Aosta. My kids are very keen of Pila, as it is the very first resort where my youngest learnt how to ski, and the first European resort where my oldest skied. Pila is just on top of the city of Aosta, the capital of the Aosta Valley, in the border of Italy with France to the West and Switzerland to the North.
This week we have chosen to stay in Courmayeur was a bit unsettled, you had nice weather in the morning and torrential rain in the afternoon, so we needed to choose the gap when to go up in order not to get soaked!
We went in the morning, Pila is 30’ through the motorway from Courmayeur, and 40-45’ if coming through the scenic national route. We went through the nice route and left the car in the parking lot of Pila by the train station in Aosta.
My kids were really excited, and so were my husband and myself, to get into the 18’ Leitner gondola ride up the mountain. It is weird to see all the mountain without snow, and weirder to see the landing of the gondola full of grass and nicely piquet fencing to direct the ‘pietons’ up or down the mountain.
We’ve started by going down to the start of the Chamolé chairlift. Walking down it seemed much shorter than going on skis – which I find weird, but I guess that not having to pass by all those ‘Interskiers’- (as we call the kids that come with Interski to Pila in the winter) who barricade the exit of the gondola, makes it a smoother walk down.
The Southern French Alps are the Best Part of the French Alps for Summer Activities.
As summer arrives in the Alps, the snow melts away revealing a spectacularly lush and colourful landscape with green pastures carpeted with alpine flowers teaming with butterflies, set against a backdrop of gnarly cliffs and glaciers with raging rivers and waterfalls cascading down to the valleys.
For outdoor lovers, the mountains also transform into a veritable adventure playground with everything from paragliding to rafting on offer!
Adrenalin junkies will love sliding down the natural toboggans, abseiling down waterfalls and jumping into clear alpine pools canyoning , testing out their head for heights on a via ferrata or even going underground caving or to do a via souterrata (underground via ferrata).
Nature lovers will adore walking in the mountains and staying in one of the many high mountain refuges amongst the chamois and marmots with the howls of wolves now a relatively common experience, especially in the Southern French Alps.
Families will have fun rafting together on the roller coaster rapids, rock climbing and swimming in the beautiful Alpine lakes.
Bikers will appreciate the summer lift access to well designed single track descents and roadies will get high on endorphins from summiting a Tour de France mountain pass!
Saalbach to Host 21st World Games of Mountain Biking
Saalbach’s World Games of Mountain Biking will be held on 05th – 08th September 2019.
New for this event: The Cross-Country category celebrates its comeback!
Over 1,000 athletes from over 20 nations will battle it out for the title of the World Games Champion between 05th and 08th September at Saalbach. Five marathon distances between 21 km and 80 km demand every effort from the athletes while pushing them to their limits.
A choice of five distances is offered again this year at the World Games of Mountain Biking. Marathon newcomers can try out the Marathon 21 with 891 metres altitude difference, while experienced marathon riders can pedal between 1,160 and 2,920 metres of altitude difference on distances 31, 42 and 58 over the grass mountains of Saalbach Hinterglemm. If you have underestimated your energy levels and would spontaneously like to attempt a longer distance, you have the option to do this at each junction during the race.
The summer holidays are coming upon us and I am counting the days to leave this hot city and have some days off. I have been planning this summer holiday for at least half an year and cannot believe it is finally coming! We will be going to the mountains and the beach in one trip, to please all the members of the family. Even though I will be having a couple of meetings here and there, it is still time to spend with the family and enjoy being and playing outside.
I love planning where we are going to go each year. For winter we always go to the Alps driving, and we have done already 5 years of going to Pila, just up from Aosta, one going to Madonna di Campiglio and one adding Courmayeur to the end of our stay in Aosta/Pila. We always travel by car, as we take all our equipment with us, and we are well positioned in SE London to get to Folkestone for the Eurotunnel station.
Summer is not different. I find that purchasing flights for the family during the kids’ school holidays is very expensive, plus I do love our road trips. So off we’ll be going soon to Folkestone to board the Eurotunnel and get into another adventure.
One thing to remember is to get the car lights stickers that are obligatory for UK cars driving in the Continent, so you do not blind the cars coming the other way, the yellow vests per each person in the car, a triangle and I am not sure if the breathalysers are still requested in France. It was the case, then I’ve read that it was not the case anymore – just check online before travelling just in case! Have all these things inside the car, reachable if you are stopped by the police, not in your car boot, as you could be fined if you need to get out to get them!
Verbier Summer News: Verbier is starting its summer season with lots of news for making your holiday unforgettable.
The Verbier Infinite Pass or VIP Pass comes with any lodging where you pay the tourist tax at Verbier or Val de Bagnes, and allows you access throughout the resort and surrounding areas. This pass is valid from 4th June till 28th October 2018.
What is new for Summer 2018:
Free mountain lifts (pedestrian pass) until the top of Mont-Fort, of 3,330 meters.
50% off bike lift pass for bikers
50% off the pitch and putt golf course and 30% off the course at Les Esserts (par 69)
50% off the aerial walkway
1 free admission to one of the secret concerts at the Verbier Festival
Free Indoor swimming pool in Mondzeu.
What is new in terms of lodging and restaurants.
Vie Montagne: located in the centre of the resort, it has a gourmet restaurant and also a new micro-brewery. The site also offers a magnificent view of the mountains. For groups of up to 20 people.