Category Archives: resort news

The Helbronner – New and Improved!

HelbronnerWondering what’s up with the new Helbronner station? Yeah me neither but Felix made me feel all slack for not posting the info already so I was forced to spend an unusually cruel length of time on the  Funivie Monte Bianco website so you don’t have to. Thanks Felix.

new lift

blue = new lift line, yellow house = current lift station

The new Funivie Monte Bianco looks like it will be, as we’d all hope, an architectural and engineering phenomenon that will sweep us from the Courmayeur valley to the top of Punta Helbronner in two segments. The new bottom tram will follow a totally new line from the base of the valley, Pontal d’Entréves, to a pimp new mid-station located looker’s left of the old one.

Spherical glass and steel cablecars will rotate as they ascend. According to the website, “The sphere is the shape with the lowest external surface compared to its volume. It has no edges or corners, and therefore can support its load equally on all sides. It has no structural defects and is the shape that requires less energy.” That and it looks like an old school NASA helmet, which should keep all the astronauts in the crowd happy.


Pontal d'Entréves

The 2-level, 3900 sqm base station at Pontal d’Entréves will be stainless steel, wood and glass with filtered natural light. The roof is designed to not only look all tech and futuristic but also to withstand high winds due to its sinusoidal construction, which, as we all know, is a curve described by the equation y  = a  sin x,  the ordinate being proportional to the sine of the abscissa. Did I mention the 336-space, 2-level underground parking?

HelbronnerPavillion du Mont Fréty will be three structures on two floors covering 2200 sqm that is designed to “fit elegantly amongst the alpine landscape” while fulfilling “the strict requirements of the cableway line.” To me it looks like a peaceful bed of snow clams. With giant killer teeth. But that’s just me. Time to cut back on the Adderall maybe.

Anyway, the upper station is 15 meters tall with large windowed surfaces featuring open scenic views. Shopping areas? Check. 97-seat Cinema? Duh. Restaurants and cafes? Naturalmente. The old restored station will serve as a museum that will remind everyone how we used to get to the top back in the olden days.

The new Pointe Helbronner will be 2250 sqm on four levels. Following is a condensed version of the website babble:

“Because of the extremely limited space available, the station will be constructed in a mostly vertical manner with cantilevered terraces, which emulate the natural elements of its environment. Structures are developed using high performance materials suited for their resistance to the elements and able to prevent the formation of snow and ice on their surface. Higher structures and external facings are in zinc titanium coated steel and thick glass windows designed to provide a specific scenic exposure. A circular scenic terrace of 14 meters in diameter will provide a 360˚ view of Mont Blanc, Dent du Géant, Grandes Jorasses and Vallée Blanche. A restaurant with a panoramic view and outdoor terrace will be located on the west side and a café with a panoramic terrace will be on the east.”

Punta Helbronner

Pointe Helbronner. Yellow = current station, green = new station.

And last but not least, Pointe Helbronner will be connected to the Torino Hut by a 70-meter elevator and 154-meter tunnel so that we can go from Courmayeur to the Torino Hut without taking off our flip flops. Now that’s what I call progress!

Torino Hut

The €75,000,000 project is planned to be finished in 2015, which in English means don’t hold your breath. Architects for the project are Carlo Cillara Rossi and Guido Incarbone. For more info and pictures of hard-working men with big tools, check out the website.


Fresh Tracks Fandango!

K2 store ChamonixAfter the crew over at K2 figured out a way for us Chamonerds to find Fresh Tracks every single day of the winter, their next mission, being K2 and all, was to throw a bit of a soirée.

Yep, the OG rockers over at Chamonix’s new Fresh Tracks shop are inviting everyone to swing by for the unveiling of their shiny new store this Friday, 16 December. And yes, that would be tomorrow.

They’ll start off be squeezing as many people as possible into the new shop between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m. before kicking us all out and herding us over to Chambre 9 for Chamonix’s official premiere of Seth Morrison’s season edit, The Ordinary Skier. As you probably know, Seth and the crew filmed a big part of the movie in Chamonix last spring and if you can get past the trailer’s overly dramatic soundtrack and completely ridiculous commentary (that makes playing in the snow sound as serious as hostage negotiations) you’ll be delighted to find the vid also features cameo appearances by extraordinary skiers like Chamonix locs Nate Wallace and ‘American Dave’ Rosenbarger.

It will also be interesting to see how long it takes Black to make it from K2 Europa HQ in Germany to Chamonix in his new 555-horsepower K2 mobile. Any guesses?

Black's got a new whip.

The New and Improved Y Bar Starring Canadian Matt

Famous hockey celebrity and nightclub impresario 'Canadian Matt' Sixt, Y Bar owner Leila Suzukawa, Y Bar pyrotechnics engineer Astrid.

Just got a press release in from the new Y Bar crew. I don’t normally like to regurgitate press releases but this one has a certain je ne sais quoi…

There’s a new bar in town you should visit. Y? Exactly.

This Friday, Dec 9th, the new and improved Y Bar opens its doors and kicks off the season with a grand opening – drink specials, live music, and a sexy new owner with a great rack (of wine glasses). And nice boobs. Rock up Friday night from 8pm for every ski bum’s favorites — free shots and nibbles! Not to mention €2 demis, €4 pints, €5 glasses of lovely champagne, FREE sushi, nibbles, and of course live music all night long…

Chamonix’s main drag hosts a few great bars and this one is no exception. It’s got every bar’s best bits rolled into one. Intimate corners allow for a quiet chat with friends, perfect for poignant discussions such as “Where’d you ski today?” or “20 bucks says it doesn’t snow for another three weeks.” The ground floor bar is good for gettin’ down with DJ decks and space to showcase your moves. The upstairs bar will sort you out with shots and wine tasting for those with a finer palate or those too lazy to walk downstairs from the massive outside balcony, which begs for aprés ski boot stomping sessions. No matter your taste, you’ll find something to like.

Y Bar’s recent revival is thanks to its new owner Leila, who has stripped down the former “is this a bar or a shop” bar and turned it into a “this is a bar” bar. Think “Cheers” meets “Coyote Ugly.” Think “Copacabana” meets “Roxbury.” Think “the bar on the Love Boat” meets “the bar on Gilligan’s Island.” Think it’s time to get a drink. Y? Y not.

Find Y Bar at 141 rue Paccard between Swarovski and Lacoste.

Relax Guys, It’s Only November

At least the sun's shining...

Man, some people will moan about anything. If there’s not enough snow, then there’s probably too much snow. For crying out loud, it’s only Movember! Shouldn’t we all be stoked out of our minds that the weather has been so good for so long?

And if you’re jonesing to ride, it ain’t that hard to find. Crew have been skiing untracked pow for the last few weekends within a couple of hours of Chamonix.

But for those who have been whinging about how the end of November has been looking a little too much like the end of September, fret not. Digital weather models indicate there is a cold front heading towards Europe.

In an article in today’s, noted Chamonix meteorologist Yann Giezendanner reports that digital models clearly indicate a low pressure system moving from Canada into the Atlantic. When it hits Europe, it will replace the ‘sweetness’ of the high-pressure system with which we have been blessed in the past weeks with precipitation, which means snow! There, you happy now?

And for the skeptics in the crowd, Giezendanner’s report is not simply ski station marketing tactics. His forecast is suported by Météo France’s own findings that anticipate a gradual deterioration of the blue skies and mild temperatures in the coming days. A Météo France forecaster told that we are moving towards a disturbance by the end of November and early December with “fortes chutes de neige pour lundi et mardi prochains”. Yessaiii!

MétéoNews Suisse also predicts cooler temperatures this weekend. The report goes on to say that the ‘confidence index’ for this forecast is high – level 4 on a scale of 5 – with French, European and U.S. models all showing the same data.

So while it’s still too early to say whether this season will beat the blower season of 1999/200, Mr Giezendanner assures us there should be enough snow to keep smiles on most people’s faces. At least until they start complaining about how they wish it would stop snowing and the sun would come out – waaaaaaahhhh.

How to Find Fresh Tracks in Chamonix

There are an overabundance of reasons to love Chamonix but day-after-day of skiing virgin untracked powder just ain’t one of ’em. Finding fresh tracks, regardless of how early you get out of bed or how long you stand in the rain waiting for the Grands Montets to open the damn door can be incredibly frustrating.

Fortunately for you, young slayer, your difficulties are over because I’m here to give you insider beta on where to find fresh tracks all winter long, regardless of how long it’s been since the last snowfall. But like any good secret stash it’s going to take some hiking. So gear up and take the high street up valley past the post office, past Super U and when you get to Bistrot des Sports turn left and voila! Fresh Tracks – whoop!

Yep, seems your fav-o-rite freeride shop, Otavalo, have put their heads together with the good crew over at K2 to bring us the answer to every big mountain rider’s dreams … Fresh Tracks.

And while Fresh Tracks in this case might not mean you’re nipple-deep in cold smoke, it does have everything you’ll need once you find yourself there. As in a rock solid selection of shred ready gear including, but not limited to, the full range of K2 Sports’ most hardcore brands.

Fresh Tracks manager, Manu Mourier, explained the reason behind this step in Otavalo’s evolution,

“We already carried K2 and there was so much demand for it that it only seemed natural to bring something new, a K2 pro shop, to Chamonix.

Of course we’ll be carrying the full range, for sale and for test, of K2 skis, snowboards, boots and bindings, Line skis, Full Tilt boots, Marker bindings, Marmot outerwear and Ride snowboards, boots and bindings.

We’ll also carry core freeride brands like Dynafit, Norrøna, Dainese, Lange, Tecnica, Salomon, Conformable, Ortovox, Dainese, Sweet, Giro, Smith, Coll-Tex, Smartwool and Sorel.”

Bootfitter Thomas Aubin

And as for you pinheads, there’s no need to get your wooly underpants in a bunch because Fresh Tracks will remain the epicenter of telemarking for Chamonix and beyond.

Longtime Otavalo kingpin and freeheel fanatic, Jeremy Fournier pointed out,

“There are several things that have come together to make it happen: we’re the only dedicated telemark shop between Grenoble and Switzerland; K2 is a brand that has always supported telemarking; and there are loads of passionate freeheelers who love Chamonix. So this new partnership gives us the opportunity to really step up the telemark side of the shop. In addition to K2 and Line skis, we’ll also carry Scarpa boots, Garmont boots, and G3 and Rottefella bindings. We’ll not only have tele skis for test but we’re also still the only store in Chamonix that rents telemark skis and boots.”

Jeremy Fournier, Manu Mourier

Joining Manu and Jeremy at Fresh Tracks will be Snell’s Thomas Aubin who will bring his four years of custom boot fitting to the store, and Julian Vessaire who will also be on hand a few days  a week to lend his extensive knowledge and expertise.

And for those of us who enjoyed hanging out downstairs in the Otavalo workshop, the lurking will now be even better. Jeremy told us,

“We’re re-modeling the workshop to make it more of a lounge with couches and music. It will be an even better place for everybody to come and chill out, talk about riding and find out where to find fresh tracks – haha!”

Head for the blue pin to find Fresh Tracks. (click to enlarge)

Got Yo’ Chamonix Season Pass Yet? Mysto Super Promo Ends Soon, Alledgedly. That, and Jake Blauvelt Reminds the City Jibbers What Snowboarding is All About

If this was the photo on Jake Blauvelt's season pass then 'Slingshot' Jez Wilson would have no problem using it.

Yo slackers, just a little reminder that you’ve got less than seven days to take advantage of Compagnie du Mont Blanc’s Super Promo season pass.

A source who may or may not wish to remain anonymous told us the deal may or may not only be available to those who may or may not have had a season pass last year and who may or may not have been sent the SCI security level email from Compagnie du Mont Blanc. Or maybe not, we’re not sure, denying everything, speak to our attorneys.

But hey, if the deal does hypothetically exist then big ol’ super stealth high five double chakas to the CMB for offering up a frequent flyer discount to your devoted hardcores. For all the rest of you we kindly ask you to skip straight down, without looking at the prices in the table below, to the inspiring video of shred master Jake Blauvelt whose style bears a remarkable resemblance to that of Jez ‘Suck It Up It Ain’t Broke’ Wilson, to a lesser degree, of course.

No peeking…

Dream Job Alert! Ski Less, Work More!

Hard-working, organized and articulate Swedish ripper, Martina Palm, on her lunch break.

Rules are made to be broken, right? Which is why I just defied the only rule I can think of at and that is to mention the ‘J’ word ( as seen in the title above) anywhere on this blog.

Anyway, I’m going to make an exception here because this is such a good opportunity for some lucky Swedish rider who:

– loves skiing

– speaks Swedish and English

– loves skiing

– wants to spend the winter in the Alps

– loves skiing

– wants to spread some Salomon love to the online community

My good buddies over at Salomon gave me a call to tell me about one of those ‘J’ things I keep hearing about and it seemed like a good opportunity for a Swedish shredder to get his boot wedged firmly in the ski industry door. If that’s you then click to open the PDF below to find out more. BTW, cute Swedish girls in Chamonix need not apply. Our current supplies of this valuable resource are running dangerously low and we need to protect what little we have. (Fortunately, some of the crew have taken matters into their own hands and have begun a systematic re-seeding program, however this latest crop won’t be fully flowering for years to come).

For everyone else, don’t blame me if you miss any powder days…


As for my own interest in this? Just trying to make the connection between good people and good brands so that we can all be one big, happy family.

That, and one less Swedish slayer on the mountain means more fresh tracks for me…