Just back from a very enjoyable week skiing in virgin territory for us, Champoluc in the beautiful Aosta valley in Italy.
A group of local friends went there last year and enjoyed the village and the skiing. So when old Kentish friends Nigel & Julie Cripps mentioned at a recent reunion that they were heading there in early January, it somehow seemed like fate that we should join them. Whether they wanted us to, or not.
Nigel & Julie are old Champoluc hands, lauding its quietness, beauty, friendliness and good value.
And now we’re converts too.
The skiing domain – even when fully open – is not vast. comprising 45 lifts, 95 slopes and 4 valleys in the total Monte Rosa area. And after the warm snow-free start to the season, hardly any of that capacity was accessible over the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Fortunately for us, the white stuff began to fall early in 2016….and at the moment, it just keeps on coming. So we went from the sublime – skiing on decent snow in bright sunshine and good conditions on our first day – to the frankly ridiculous. On our last day, so much fresh powder had fallen overnight that we had to push our way through a snowdrift as we jumped off the chairlift from the base of Frachey.
In a continuing blizzard, on-piste was off-piste and goggles fogged up faster than Sepp Blatter’s memory.
In decent conditions between those extremes, we loved the long intermediate red runs – and occasionally more challenging black ones – spread out above the Champoluc, Frachey and Gressoney villages
It’s hard to find words that capture the simple pleasure of skiing on a quiet mountain in such a beautiful area. Whatever the conditions.
It’s easier to describe the gluttony we indulged in, every night during our hotel’s challenging 4 course dinners and, during the day, at some buonissimi mountain restaurants. Enjoy a freshly baked pizza and a couple of glasses of local vino rosso for lunch, at 2,700 metres, whilst a blizzard rages outside, and somehow your senses feel sharper than the edges of an Italian suit.
And back in Champoluc, the village is a charming enclave of local artisan shops, traditional houses and friendly people, sitting happily alongside the tourist bars, hotels and ski lifts. Long may that comfortable marriage remain…it would be a shame if over-development spoiled the essence of this gentle place.