Have you ever wished you could possess your very own ski area? Do you long for perfectly groomed slopes for your own private use? Unless you possess the billions necessary to buy a ski resort, the only way of enjoying this particular skiers’ fantasy is to take part in Méribel-Mottaret’s First Tracks.
Every Wednesday, lift company S3V and restaurant les Pierres Plates, join together to allow a small number of skiers to breakfast on the summit of the Saulire and then enjoy the privilege of putting first tracks on perfect corduroy snow before the slopes open to the public.
This morning, I was in Mottaret centre at 8.00am with a group of around 20 people waiting for the Pas du Lac lift to open for our own private use. The snow was fresh and squeaky underfoot, the sky blue after days of snowfalls and the pistes were freshly groomed. There was even a sea of cloud below us in the valley floor, making us feel even more privileged.
After a short delay, we were being whisked to the summit of Saulire at 2,738m, emerging into sunshine at the top. Apart from the ski patrollers starting their work and the odd piste basher finishing its shift, we were the only people on the mountain.
We watched the sun rise over the peaks, spent a few minutes drinking in the silence and solitude and then were lured into les Pierre Plates restaurant by the irresistible smell of hot patisseries. Breakfast of hot drinks, fresh OJ, bread, patisseries and jams provided enough sugar to fuel a whole morning’s ski.
As soon as we had finished eating, everybody was keen to be on their skis and making the most of empty slopes.
The snow was sparkling in the early sunshine and groomed as smooth as a wedding cake. The sheer joy of putting first tracks down a perfectly prepared Aigle piste towards Mottaret made the early start all worthwhile. We sneakily jumped back onto the Pas du Lac 2 lift in order to gain an extra slope before the lifts officially opened at 9am. All too soon, the slopes began to fill with half term holidaymakers and the reverie was over.
Was it worth getting up early and paying 24 euros for the privilege of having the whole mountain to yourself? Yes, definitely. Though brief, it was a very special moment.
If you can’t manage to drag yourself out of bed for an 8.00am lift, instead you could enjoy the reverse experience, called “Last Tracks”. At the end of the day, you enjoy an aperitif at les Pierres Plates restaurant, watching the sun sink towards the horizon. Once all the other skiers have gone home, you ski down the now empty slopes with only the ski patrollers following you down.
First Tracks and Last Tracks can be booked directly with restaurant Les Pierres Plates on 0033 (0)4 79 00 42 38
First tracks costs 24 euros and is held on a Wednesday. In case of bad weather, it is postponed to Thursday or Friday.
Last Tracks costs 15 euros and takes place from mid-January onwards on a Tuesday and Thursday.
- Cross-Country Skiing
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