Monday, 28 December 2009

Raquetting in Chamonix

Immediately following Christmas we headed off to Chamonix in France. This was somewhat as the result of our holiday plans being thwarted by our malfunctioning car, but anyway we really enjoyed Chamonix last time we visited and were happy to go back.

The plan this time was to do some snow-shoeing; for the first time this season since the snow has been a bit disappointing so far in Switzerland, or at least it has been in the part where we live now. We bought car chains along the way, upon reading that the town had received heavy snowfalls recently (and anyway it is nice to have chains as a contingency against getting stuck in a snow-storm again!).

So we were a bit disappointed, on arriving in Chamonix, that the town was not a snow-covered winter wonderland, but actually a bit bare. Most of the Raquette paths listed were at about the same altitude of the town and so would be more of a slushy stroll than a snowy hike. To counter this, I found a listed snow-shoe track at around 2000m not far from Chamonix in Les Houches, where we were more likely to find some decent snow.

At the top of the lift station at Les Houches we couldn't readily identify the track, but spotted some others with Raquettes on and took this to be the starting point. Indeed, once we reached the spot where the others had been, we could see plenty of raquette tracks leading off into the forest and so we just followed them in.

This turned out to be a very good start to the walk, as it took us through snow-covered pine trees to the top of a few vantage points from which we could see all around us.

We continued our walk through the forest for some time, having snow fights and sliding down some of the steeper sections, before eventually making our way back to the starting point as the snow started to fall.

The snow continued into the night, finally turning Chamonix town white overnight. We had to race home, however, as we'd booked the car in to fix the heater so we can finally start our Christmas Holidays in earnest!

I'm sure we'll be back to Chamonix: it is not far from where we live, the town is really nice and french, and the Mont Blanc setting hard to resist!

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