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Tour of Avoriaz & Portes du Soleil, Avoriaz
How about tackling 'the Circuit', a trip around the whole of the Portes du Soleil starting and finishing in Avoriaz?
This is an all-day affair and although most of the runs are technically undemanding the quantity of skiing and the length of time involved make it unsuitable for the less experience and the less fit. This also applies to snowboarders who will not enjoy some of the shallow blue traverse runs. However, this loop is perfect for intermediates or advanced skiers wanting a big day or out on cruisey blues and reds. The other word of warning is you need to be able to cope with drag lifts and t-bar tows, as there are a few in the Swiss sector of this route.
Choose from the blues and reds available to drop down towards Linderets and the TS Chaux Fleurie. This will rapidly take you to the ridge of the Col du Bassachaux leaving you to descend down to Plain Dranse on the red Les Voraches piste. Take the TS de la Chaux-de-Rosées and descend towards Les Combes on either of two blue runs; Les Blanchots or Les Blattins. Both are wide and fast although not particularly steep. The TS des Combes will take you up above Linga leaving you to do a huge red Le Linga or the blue La Leiche all the way to the newly opened lift, Gabelou. The red is super steep but wide but does have a blue cat track to the side for those not wishing to get too carried away.
You ride the Gabelou around the edge of Chatel and then immediately hop on the Portes du Soleil lift which will take you into the Chatel Bowl at the top of the Chatel Bubble. You now need to get on the much longer TK Chalet-Neuf to the saddle of the Portes de Culet above Morgins. At this point, you are about to drop into Switzerland but do not worry you are unlikely to need your passport. Check out the view of the Dents du Midi something you’ll be seeing a lot of for the Swiss part of the journey and the best bit is that it gets more spectacular as the trip heads on to Champoussin and Les Crosets. Take the red Culet I but head off to skiers right at the first opportunity down the blue Sepaz all the way into Morgins.
Cross the road and take the old télésiège up the opposite side of the valley to La Foilleuse, this is maybe a good place for lunch, you’ll be hungry by now and the views of the Dents du Midi are spectacular. Follow the blue run in the sign posted direction of Champoussin. This will drop you all the way down to a t-bar lift TK Les Bochasses. Follow the blue all the way to the TS Aiguille des Champeys. For those more advanced skiers making good time early afternoon, you could drop down the black and take the same lift back up. For everyone else head down the blue in the direction signposted Les Crosets and take the TS Pointe de l’Au leaving you on the said point perched above Les Crosets. Follow the reds into the blue runs down the face of the Portes du Soleil.
If in Les Crosets you are running late and are in danger of getting stuck over in Switzerland as the lifts shut; so at about three thirty take the TS des Mossettes to get yourselves back into France. At worst, you will have to drop down through Linderets to Ardent and get the ski bus back to Morzine. For everyone else, you can move on to the TS Crosets. Follow the blue turning to a red run signposted direction Champery which will bring you to the Grand Paradis and the télésiège of the same name. Drop to the foot of the TS Planachaux a few meters away and from there take the blue to the foot of the TK Ripaille. Use the blue to descend to the TS Chavanette and watch as you ascend over the Swiss Wall. If you have time and are an expert skier of bumps and steeps then you could return to the foot of this lift and retrace your steps. Be warned this is the longest and most difficult run in the Portes du Soleil and puts many people into trouble and into hospital. That would be a very inaccessible hospital in Monthey making it unlikely your friends will come to visit.
Once you are at the top of the Swiss wall drop into the Chavanette Secteur above Avoriaz. Take the red Lanches run joining the blue Chavanette and onwards into Avoriaz via the blue Retour Chavanette by what will be the frozen Lac to the skier’s right. Hopefully, at this point, the lifts will still be running but it will be close whichever way you look at it. If they are running late take the Express du Stade cutting over to the Bleue de Arare in the direction of Morzine as you ascend in the lift. This will drop you down to the top of the Prodains téléphérique. If you missed the Express du Stade then make the short walk, ten minutes at the most, to Prodains. At this point, you will most definitely have very sore legs to show for your trip around the Portes Du Soleil. All that remains is to head into the heart of Avoriaz for some liquid refreshment.