Imagine cradled in a lounge chair as you sip a cup of tea, watching the endless sunrise as you admire the slowly dawning snow-capped peaks of the French Alps. Or maybe air-conditioning and a properly fitted pair of Nikes (the specific kind made for walking in the Alps – those rock shoes with huge buckles!) as you guide your dog on a thrilling mountain trail.
If you’re prepared to make an even bigger investment to buying a rig, or to renting one, then take a brainstormboarding holiday on the southern edge of the Chamonix Valley, set in the world’s first ski resort – La Thuile-Gfull.
That’s right. There is a ski resort in the Chamonix Valley, La Thuile-Gfull, and it is among the best. Located at the foot of Mont Blanc, near a popular ski resort in the French Alps, La Thuile-Gfull was THE ski resort of the 1970 Winter Olympics, and is still THE ski resort of the 1970 Winter Olympics. It boasts a ski course using white and black runs, a snowboard park, restaurants, bars, a hiring centre, ski guides, equipment hire, ski hardware and ski-inspiring schools.
But it’s the Vallorcet brothers who are responsible for the recent explosion in popularity of this apparently untapped region. These are the guys who made the Montreal Zoo happen, and they are essentially the reason that Walt Disney World is still a thing of the past. The ski resort village affords a glimpse of the larger whole of skiing in this country, and proof that the old adage about the two pounds a foot skier is indeed true.
The skiing is pretty good throughout the year, with a lot of new facilities being built, and heaps of nice facilities coming online, too. If you book well in advance, you can often guarantee that you’ll get a place with good snow conditions, friendly staff and a proper, well-equipped catered chalet. Places which have recently been reconfigured to incorporate air conditioning and hotel-like amenities will have luxurious restaurants and even more fancy ski-lounging rooms. Places without that progression have to rely on what they call The Meanwood Resort, a actual working farm that you can stay in with a group of lads from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Meanwood Resort is a lot like any other ski resort, complete with a restaurant and a lift ticket waiting for you. But don’t worry, your hotel is boardering next to a ski mountain, not in the middle of nowhere.
That brings us to the big question that faces any ski resort: Is it fun for people who don’t actually ski? The short answer is that it probably isn’t for you. Long slopes require a huge investment in time, money andinsula that just isn’t available to a lot of people. The second part is more debatable; after all, if you are not willing to spend the time or money, you are probably not going to hooked on winter sports. But the first point is probably the truth of the matter – skiing is like rock climbing. At the top of your mountain, it doesn’t matter if you are a climber or an ordinary rock climber, you just want to get out of the hotel room and into the powder. People who go skiing aren’t necessarily skiing is not everybody. People who go skiing are probably hiking, biking or traveling. Everybody wants to fit in and have fun, and once you get that goal achieved, you can move on to the next level.
This leads us to another popular sport that involves a lot of walking: hiking. Hiking is probably one of the easiest winter sports to learn – after all, it’s just a lot of sitting down. Nonetheless, it can be a lot of fun. A good way to work on your fitness while you are camping is to choose a specific trail and try to complete it during a few hours. If you are not good at hiking, do not worry – there are plenty of cross-country trails and nature trails waiting to be explored.
Exploring these trails can provide you with some valuable exercise, get you out of the house and provide you with some fun all while keeping you fit and Jonathan to your self. There are plenty of non-motorized ways to keep yourself and your friends and family active while you are camping, as well.