If you've been watching Wimbledon this summer then no doubt you have seen at least some of the ten hour marathon match that has spanned across two days between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut. If a game of tennis can last 11 hours with one set coming in two minutes shy of ten hours, I wondered how many resorts you could realistically ski in that time.
The sensible option for this challenge would surely be to grab some like minded friends, get a car big enough for four people and four boards (or sets of ski's) and head to the Tarantaise Valley in France. OK so maybe you could claim all the micro-resorts in the Paradiski or the villages and ski towns splattered across the Portes Du Soleil but the idea of skiing some of the biggest resorts in Europe and finishing in one the world's après ski mecca's, is what really appeals to me.
To me the obvious way of tackling this target of ten resorts is to begin the journey in Meribel, taking on the Three Valleys, burn some rubber down to Bourg St. Maurice and head up the Les Arcs and La Plagne and finish off with the drive up to the Espace Killy, dropping the car off in La Daille before riding over to Tignes and then onto the Saloon Bar in Val d'Isere for a celebration drink or two.
With an idea of where I need to go to succeed I grabbed a few piste maps, some local knowledge from my seasons and have come up with a planned description of how I'd attempt such a feat.
Meribel to Val d'Isere, Ten Hours and Counting
- 8:30 am - Start the day in Meribel, drop the car off at the Chaudanne car park, gear up and head over to the lift station.
- 9:00 am - Jump on the Roc De Fer chairlift as soon as it opens and the ten minute ride up to the Olympic Express chairlift, which takes you to the top of the ridge between the Meribel valley and the Valley de Belleville.
- 9:20 am - As we're here we may as well traverse along the top of the Verdet piste and drop over onto my favourite run of all time, Jerusalem, then a ten minute hoon straight down the St. Martin.
- 9:40 am - Stroll on to the usually queue-less St. Martin bubble followed by the St. Martin 2 chairlift back to the top of the valley. From here it's a short burst down the Gors Tougne piste to the Granges chairlift and another 5 minute ride to the top of the ridge. From here you can get some serious speed up cruising down the Allamands then Petit Creux pistes into Les Menuires.
- 10:15 am - With three resorts dialled in after 90 minutes on the mountain we're onto a pretty good start. Time to head over to the Menuires chairlift and then Mont De La Chambre chair which drops us off at the entry point to Val Thorens.
- 10:35 am - A quick phone call to one of my favourite resorts pubs, the Frog and Roast Beef to order some bacon and sausage sandwiches, then a blast down the short but steep Goitschel piste and Plan Sud all the way to the pub.
- 10:45 am - Arrive in the Frog for a refuel, mug of tea and a quick catch up with the Duncan (the owner and veritable piece of Val Thorens furniture).
- 11:15 am - Head over to the Plan Sud chairlift and then the Three Valleys 2 chair to the top of the valley. Tick resort number four off the list and then enjoy a ten minute cruise down the Lac de la Chamber piste whilst breakfast settles.
- 11:45 am - After fighting the lift queues it's time to board the ever busy Plan Des Mains chairlift which takes us back toward Meribel-Mottaret along the Rossignol and Marter pistes, giving us some gentle riding/skiing after a high speed morning.
- 12:00 pm - Time for the 20 minute ride on the Pas Du Lac bubble which takes you to the top of Saulire, on the Meribel/Courchevel border and with stunning views across the Three Valleys. One of my favourite spots to sit before heading down the wide open pistes into either resort.
- 12:25 pm - Head down the motorway piste that is the Combe Saulire into Courchevel 1850. On a good day you can hammer this run in one long swoop finishing off in the centre of Courchevel 1850.
- 12:40 pm - Get on the cosy Chenus bubble to the top of Col de la Loze, and then straight lining the Bouc Blanc all the way into La Tania, usually we'd stop in the Skilodge for a cheeky beer with Tim but today there's no time and it's straight to the cable car.
- 1:00 pm - Four and a half hours on the mountain and seven resorts covered time to take the La Tania bubble followed by the Dou Des Lanches chairlift toward Meribel. Here it's a good 15 minutes winding through the network of blue runs back to the car.
- 1:30 pm - With the kit thrown hastily into the back of the car its the 50 minute drive to Bourg St. Maurice.
- 2:30 pm - With the clock ticking it's straight to the funicular to Les Arcs and Arc 1600 and putting the kit on in the lift while inhaling some crisps and cans of coke.
- 2:40 pm - Straight to the Cachette chairlift and the Belvedere piste into Arc 1800. With time limited La Plagne is going to have to be sacrificed. Up the Vegere chairlift and back into Arc 1600 by 3:20pm.
- 3:30 pm - Run back to the car and a head to the far end of the Tarantaise Valley, the Espace Killy. After a good 45 minutes we pull the La Daille car park at the bottom of Val d'Isere.
- 4:30 pm - With an hour left until the lifts close the Folie Douce will have to wait for another day, we head up the Funival and from the Rocher de Bellevarde we ride down the 3i piste to the Tommeueses chairlift.
- 5:00 pm - At the top of the Toviere the only way down with our time limit is the long steep Trolles, flying down the black run and praying that we can stop at the bottom, this may not be the most extreme piste on the planet but you can accelerate as fast as you dare on this run.
- 5:10 pm - With minutes left to complete the challenge before the lifts close its up the Aeroski gondola, in Tignes Le Lac, then down the Edelweiss followed by the OK back down to La Daille. With time to spare it's paper scissor stone to see who's driving before popping into the Folie Douce for a beer. After a quick drink it back on the OK to La Daille, back into the car and a two minute drive into the centre of Val d'Isere.
- 6:28 pm - Drop the car off and head to Cafe Facé or the Saloon Bar for some celebratory drinks. Job done.
OK, so we would have to sacrifice the idea of heading to La Plagne, and counting Meribel-Mottaret as a resort is tenuous, but with the right skiers, some French style driving, and a whole lot of sugar based drinks in 9:58 you could just about squeeze in ten ski resorts opposed to 138 games of tennis.
Now, just to convince the boss to pay for the trip!
Written by Stephen Adam