Monday, February 06, 2012

The les cascades run from Flaine to Sixt

The 14km long les cascades ski run from Flaine to Sixt is according to Wikipedia "a classic". I didn't know that at the time, just that it was a very, very long blue line that went all the way across the piste map, seemingly on and on forever.

The weather being bright but very, very cold I decided to give it a go, taking the gondola from Flaine up to Les Grandes Plateires, then down serpentine until I reached the start (above) before heading off into the wilds (below).


But is les cascades right for you? First lets consider its strong points:

  • Its great scenery, from Alpine peaks to deserted valleys, then down to wiggle through wild forests
  • It's less busy than the main slopes: for about two thirds of the way I was completely on my own, seeing no one at all. When I stopped all I could hear was a solitary bird singing and sometimes the sound of snow falling from a tree hidden in the wood
  • You get all types of runs in one, from cross-country, to green, blue and even a little bit of red
  • At the end you zoom along a track between trees, across narrow bridges and around the sort of corners that would make Jeremy Clarkson go "orch, orch, orch!"
  • You get a real sense of achievement by completing it
  • You can reward yourself at the end can get a chocolate chaud for €2.50 rather than the €3.90 at the bar at the top of Les Grandes Platiers
  • Afterwards you get to explore the rest of the Grand Massif by heading from Samoens over the top via Grands Vans back to Flaine

However:

  • There are four or five very flat bits where you have to walk
  • There are no opportunities to stop and escape the cold in a restaurant, you just have to keep going
  • The snow at the Sixt end isn't quite as good as in Flaine - a bit icy even, with chunks of ice scattered across the run
  • That bit of the run is also narrow with no edges and if you slide off you'd fall down a steep edge
  • You will have get a bus from Sixt to Samoens: it's pretty simple and regular (and free!) but that's 20 minutes you're not skiing
  • You need to buy a more expensive ski pass to cover both Massif and Flaine

In the end it took me about three and half hours from starting at the top of mountain to finally returning to Flaine the long way round, but that included half an hour or so for lunch.

All in all I'd certainly recommend it: it allows you to ski through amazing scenery along near empty runs and feel you've achieved something.

Les cascades is certainly not your average run: it is indeed a classic.

5 comments:

O Docker said...

Egads, 14 km?

Surprised someone hasn't opened a pub around the 8 km mark.

Sounds like a project for a certain gonzo sailing journo.

JP said...

Buff's more into apre-ski.... and pre-ski.

I'll post a pic of the mid-way facilities shortly.

Anonymous said...

BTW, we skied Cascade 2 weeks ago and although it's advertised as a 14Km run its only 12Km. GPS ski apps are useful.....
I would recommend only competent skiers use this run, the final couple of miles is VERY icy, narrow and as another advised, has steep drops at the side.
IT was good to do the run once, but I don't suppose anyone ever returns, as apart from the stunning scenery for the top few Km's the flat sections and lower down the mountain mean it's hard work to ski and slow.

JP said...

It is one problem with Cascade that there are both very flat bits and, as anon said and I found, the end can be icy with steep drops at the edges.

So there are drawbacks for both advanced skiers and beginners, but it is a good do-once experience.

Betty Rose said...

I love going to Residence L'Oxalys when I go on a ski holiday!