02/01/2020: Today's Updates... Day 22...
The skies are blue here in Chatel today - it really is another stunning day!
In terms of the weather, those who have been here over the holidays will have seen some near perfect weather for being on the mountain, with some mild or warm sunshine by day. 41/45 pistes are open today with every lift operating apart from the drag at the Stade at Linga. Snow cover is excellent above 1600m and adequate lower down, with the very lowest slopes still needing more snow.
There have been far worse New Years and probably far better ones, but in general, conditions could be described as being good / near normal, with some areas seeing near excellent conditions and others not so good or even poor, depending on the orientation and elevation of a particular piste.
What is not so good is the creaking of the infrastructure when the resort is at or near full capacity. As more apartment blocks are built, the peak week population appears to be growing and there will undoubtedly be more cars in the area too. It is difficult to gauge how many people are here, as only those who run the resort will have the figures, however, the roads seem particularly busy this week during the early morning period and also at the end of the day. Traffic queues create frustration, extra pollution and some silly driving antics from impatient drivers, with the road through Linga the obvious bottleneck. The queue from Chatel to Linga was huge this morning.
The buses take off some of the pressure and transport a large number of people very efficiently around the area, though these have issues when they are very busy, with people sometimes unable to get on due to a bus being full, however, most of the time the bus system works well.
The lift system is being upgraded year on year and the resort management should take a huge amount of credit for their forward thinking and continued huge investments, however, there are bottlenecks and the big issues occur when there is a technical problem. For example, the Linga telecabine saw some huge queues building earlier in the week due to a technical issue. There was also an issue at the old Conche chair at Super Chatel. As with the roads, this creates impatience, frustration and a non-perfect experience on what should be a most enjoyable holiday week. Whilst we hope that the majority of visitors have had a great holiday, we have heard more non complimentary comments about the area this week than ever before, probably because of the issues mentioned above.
Having been writing these snow reports for many years now, and living in an area that was easy to fall in love with, the first reaction is a partisan one and to attempt to defend the area. However, there is actually no defence for some of these issues. As this is an opinion piece, some people may disagree that there is an issue, however, the point of this site is to provide an honest view point on both snow conditions and the area. We are not in the business of over hyping snow conditions - a problem that has been historically rife in the snow industry and we are not in the business of ignoring some obvious issues.
Most of the season, Chatel has non of these over crowding issues, so the obvious advice is to avoid the peak weeks. Unfortunately life is not that simple and many people can only take holidays during the school holidays - not helped by the UK government's policy on taking kids out of school at term time.
So, what is the answer?
Having some knowledge of the area can result in better decision making as to where to start the day, park etc - however, this is also not always possible, as a starting point for the day can depend on other factors such as the meeting point for children's lessons etc.
Will further lift development help the situation, or will that just shift the problem to somewhere else in the system? eg The opening of the excellent Linga / Super Chatel link has made the Linga telecabine more of a bottleneck.
Can anything be done to help the congestion on the roads, or is this just going to get worse year on year at peak times?
Will we even have to worry about such things if Brexit decimates the UK ski industry in France - of which there is a real possibility!
Plenty of questions... but the answers are less than straightforward - but it will be interesting to see how the resort copes with these challenges in the seasons ahead, as it continues to grow.
Photo from an early morning excursion under crystal clear skies...
Bonjour from Chatel.
Temperatures are ranging between -1.5c and about -4c in the village and valley early this morning with a temperatures inversion in place and the skies are currently mostly clear.
...more info will be posted on today's forecast page at... http://www.chatelweb.com/chatel_snow_forecast.php - which is normally online around 8am or earlier, followed by further updates on this page today.
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