Nev’s lads trip
“The Jewels of the Imperial Crown”
We enjoyed a short lads holiday to the Jewels of The Imperial Crown cluster. We were based in Chalet Alba which was ideally located near Grimentz, right in the heart of the Jewel’s Cluster. The chalet was really good value so we had a room each and some privacy.
We actually self catered as one of the team was a good cook and happy to show off, which added to the beer money budget!. It was surprising how these smaller resorts do not fleece you for a beer or 2.
It was a short trip so we were squeezing every last drop of skiing out of it, and being able to access all the different resorts meant we could go wherever was optimum for the conditions on each given day. A different resort with a different character every day made this quite a unique experience.
Day 1 - Grimentz and Zinal
The biggest resorts in the area and ideal for our first day which was sunny and cold. Morning spent at Grimentz finding our skilegs. Then finished that by tackling the black back to the pretty village of Grimentz. No standing on ceremony, a quick sandwich and beer from the deli and then up the Gondola for skiing the other side, Zinal. A large open bowl with blues and reds galore. Paragliders over our heads in the sunshine. Unfortunately the freeride zone was not open. The final run of the day was the steeper black back to Grimentz, a real knee workout. Exhilarated at the end and in need of a beer. A lively bar at the base and a few laughs with the friendly locals.
Day 2 - St Luc and Chandolin
We selected the sunniest resort for the cloudiest day. A short drive in the other direction and then up the funicular to the base point. From there it was a case of zig zagging left and right across the west facing slopes. This time a sit-down for a proper lunch. The highlight was the final long red at the southernmost end. Hard work, especially after the long drag lift to the top. It did end at a sunny bar and a well deserved beer.
Day 3 - Grimentz and Vercorin
A second shot at Grimentz having got more into my stride as far as technique was concerned. An opportunity not to chase the km but to make the turns excellent. We took lunch in the car as we headed along to Vercorin; an unusual resort of 2 sides; one with a long gondola and a lovely uncrowded long blue run weaving through trees, the other a series of short runs with excellent snow served by drag lifts.
Final Day, Nax (Mount Noble) on the way to the airport
We took a morning session on the way back to the airport on a smallish resort with truly exceptional snow conditions. My heart dropped when we arrived at the inauspicious base. A tiny shed and a very slow chairlift. After we had trundled over the trees, however, this spectacular resort opened up to us and the day finished way too soon. The quality of the snow and the opportunity to play in it safe off-piste was unrivalled in my experience. Not surprising that the locals keep this one quiet.
It was the first time I’d strayed from the mega resorts and I have to say I’m now a firm advocate of skiing small and exploring some of the lesser known areas. Not only do you feel like you’re experiencing something usually only available to the locals but it offers tremendous value.