Aber Snow head to Val Thorens

ABERYSTWYTH University’s snow sports club are heading to Val Thorens at the end of this term. The Courier chatted with Aber Snow’s President Daniel Fopma to discuss the trip to Val Thorens, in the French Alps, part of the Three Valleys resort.

How long have you been on snow for? Do you ski or snowboard?

I snowboard, and have been for 9 years. I’ve snowboarded in Les Arcs, Alpe d’Huez, Les Deux Alpes, and Tignes to name a few, but mainly in a resort called Tignes. I have been on one Aber Snow trip before when we went to Les Arcs last Christmas.

Who decided on Val Thorens as a destination? Is it an Aber Snow organised trip?

It was a joint decision between the whole committee. Personally I have never been before, but the rest of the committee went in their first year. We chose the resort because of the altitude , since we would definitely have snow at that time of the year. Luckily, the snow fall this season has been amazing already, so we should see most, if not all the runs open on the week we arrive. The company that takes us, and organises the trip including the social plan, is called NUCO travel, who specialise in student ski trips.

How many people are heading to the Three Valleys? Isn’t there another trip planned later in the year?

We wanted to keep the Christmas trip small, so we decided to just book 50 places. The main reason is because financially, the first term is by far more expensive, and so far fewer people would be willing to fork out on a skiing holiday. That’s why this year, we are going to be running a second ski trip at Easter, with a capacity of over double that of our Christmas trip.

Who are your sponsors for the year?

The best way to get involved is to sign up to our mailing list on www.abersnow.co.uk. In the emails will be information regarding our weekly socials, as well as information about our weekly dry slope sessions. To our paying members we offer discounts from our sponsors, which include Dirty Dog Goggles, OnePiece, Ski Bartlet, Freeze Pro Shop, Sno and Stormriders.

How do you guys train for the winter?

Our sponsorship by the dry slope also means paying members can receive a 75% discount at the dry slope at Llangrannog. (Gwersyll yr Urdd Llangrannog)

Val Thorens is part of the Three Valleys resort, which encompasses some world-renowned ski spots including resorts of Courchevel and Meribel-Mottaret. In Courchevel you will find the Saulire peak and in Meribel-Mottaret both freestyle DC Area 43Park and the Mont Vallon runs are found. This is on top of being centrally based in Val Thorens, (“VT” or “Val Tho” amongst the seasonnaires based there), Europe’s highest resort starting at 2300m.

The highest point reachable is the Cime Caron peak, at 3200m, reachable by a bus-sized lift with the same name as the peak. The Col chairlift can take you up to similar heights, but with high winds expected in mid December the chances of it being open are minimal.

The must-do pistes in Val Thorens are the red runs of Col de l’Audzin down from the afore mentioned Cime Caron and Douillet down from Col de La Chambre. In Meribel the beginner pistes are a plenty lower down in the Valley with the blue Faon slope from Tougnete a wide open piste, but make sure you hit it early in the day.

If you do get the Three Valleys pass a visit to Courchevel and all the way down to La Tania would be a very good day’s skiing. The Plan Fontaine green run all the way down to La Tania takes you through some trees. If tree-skiing is your cup of vin chaud then head towards Meribel Village at 1450 metres, and focus on the Doron run. This area improves tenfold after fresh snowfall with plenty of open space between trees to explore.

The top of the Meribel-Mottaret Area43 DC Park

The top of the Meribel-Mottaret Area43 DC Park

Onto the social aspect of things, VT has probably the best choice of après-ski and clubs within the French Alps. La Folie Douce, which also has branches in neighbouring Meribel and Val d’Isere further afield, is expensive, but with live acts and champagnes bottles popping, you do get what you pay for. Bar 360, which sits at the bottom of Moraine and Portette lifts, should not be missed either along with a burger at John’s American restaurant – a sibling to the larger John’s Scandinavian restaurant. Both Le Refuge and O’Connell’s Pub are good spots for a bière but La Grotte du Yeti is your best bet for a student atmosphere.

Val Thorens is one of the world’s best resorts to visit as a student – pints of peche beer aren’t too expensive whilst snow is fresh for the most of Winter. The resort is high in altitude and many other university ski trips head there too. So, party hard, ski harder. Bon vacances!

Aber Snow have organised another trip for the Easter break to a different resort, so make sure you’re connected with them to be in the know!