Busy busy La Clusaz

January is traditionally a quiet month on the slopes in the French Alps: school holidays are over and everyone is recovering financially from Christmas, leaving the mountain to the locals and the seasonnaires to play on as a result of all their hard work in December, when staff often get no days off for weeks or work very long days. To compare the two months quickly, the tailback of cars in La Clusaz at the end of the day can last for around two hours as the stream of traffic from La Balme meets the stream from l’Etale, and then they both hit town and meet more traffic, and the snake continues down through St Jean de Sixt. In January, it’s third gear all the way through with few cars on the road.

Radikal Mountain logoHowever, last weekend, La Clusaz went from quiet to car carnage due to three different events being held — each appealing to different audiences. Over at l’Etale, the Radikal Mountain event was being held, where freeride skiers bomb down cliff-faces, jumping metres of rock in the process, to a panel of judges below. Also at l’Etale, on the racing piste just next to the freeride event, were kids from all over the region competing in a slalom event. That meant parents and lots of cars in the already overflowing car park full of Radikal Mountain media vans. Meanwhile, no wonder the display for the La Balme car park said “FULL”: the lower car park had turned into a tent city with snowboard companies showing off their 2012 stock for industry workers to test as part of the Snow Avant Premiere event. Snow Avant Premiere logo

So, on the weekend, we had cool dude skiers, their fans and media people, plus a huge influx of kids and parents and all the staff required for a slalom event, as well as every snowboarder who works in a ski shop in a 200km or more radius! Also add in the usual weekend crowd from Annecy, bolstered by the sunny, spring-like weather. The result? A snake of cars from all directions trying to get out of La Clusaz at the end of the day.

If I saw any of the benefits of any of these events, I wouldn’t mind so much, but the Radikal Mountain day-time event is so distant it’s like watching an ant, the racing kids filled the snack bar I was in and made a racket, and the snowboard event is only open to shop workers. Radikal Mountain did also have a freestyle jib session in town on Saturday night, but it’s stupidly early at 7pm, so by the time we got there after dinner, the whole thing was over, and of course, the pub nearby, which was rammed, including a heated outdoor area, was only for invited people. The bouncer pointed us to the ‘bar’ (a black stand with a keg of beer and a man looking bored) for the public: apparently, we’re meant to enjoy drinking alone in the cold with no outdoor heaters and in full view of the cool dudes who are nice and warm. The four of us shrugged and walked away. La Clusaz, can you make things a bit more public — or at least spread out — next year?


I’m a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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One comment on “Busy busy La Clusaz
  1. Jayne says:

    Well I sympathise. Having left LGB at 15h30 yesterday to try to avoid the initial snarl up at St Jean and cutting up over the back – all was fine. Then decided to delay my departure from the chalet until later on to try to avoid the expected heavy traffic, I eventually left at 18h00 and drove straight into it!! Poor timing but cutting through the centre of Thones cut out a good 15mins wait…still one road up and the same one down… But it was glorious spring weather wasn’t it but uncanny in January…let it snow!!!

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About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by wendyhollands.com, my other site.

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