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Walking in Morzine: Col de la Golese

Definitely one of our favorite walks, this loop is a good day’s excursion from the Chalet.   Its hard work though so take some food and drink!  Like most of the walks, its a simple hike out the door and up the Vallee road.  Head across the first bridge onto the Chemin de Renard track along the side of the River Dranse.  Turn left and hike up the trail following signs initally for Chardonniere and Le Charny.  At the signpost below the trails splits, hang a right to start the long climb up to Golese.


If you find it hard going, at the Vigny farm you can skip the Col by heading direct for Bo Morand:



Once you get to the Col, and have admired the views down towards Samoens and Mont Blanc, head right up the trail for Cramots and the Point D’Angolon.

Cramots signpost

Cramots signpost

The Alpage is pretty spectacular:

Flowers 1

as are the views:

The trail turns into a ridge walk as you ascend up to Les Cretes:


You can pretty much walk this ridge all the way to Nyon, though i’d recommend coming over the other side back into the Vallee, and heading for the Alpage of Bon Morand.



The mountain chalet is in the centre of the photo:



At the Bo Morand signpost you should head down to Chardonniere, and from there walk down the Chemin back to the Chalet.


By |February 17th, 2014|Summer, Walking|Comments Off on Walking in Morzine: Col de la Golese

MTB in the Alps: the Morzine “Pass’Portes du Soleil”

The Pass’Portes du Soleil is a mountain bike trek ranging from 1,000 to 2,250m in altitude, traversing both France and Switzerland, which navigates the Portes du Soleil ski area and its grandiose scenery.


The 80 km circuit use 15 lifts, takes one day to complete, and you can choose whether to ride it on Friday, Saturday or Sunday (the 2014 Edition runs over the 27/28/29th June).  During the long weekend, the ski resorts on the route (e.g. Morzine, Les Gets, Avoriaz, Chatel,…)  throw festivals, parties and provide food and drink to make the trip a little bit different.

You can pick any day to ride.  In 2012 I did the Friday event as it was a typical last-minute decision and the weekend was booked up. To split the 6,000 entries across the circuit, and to prevent queues at the lifts, you have to select one of any of the ski resorts en-route to start off from, at about 8am until 10am. As i entered late, there was only one starting place free (Les Crozets) when i entered, and i later found this was way across a mountain range, a 2-hour drive to get there, which in my mind was not going to happen. Luckily i was able to grovel and persuade the organisers as they set the tents up on Thursday to swap me to a Morzine start, much to the annoyance of a lot of riders i met on the day who had been up at 5am to drive miles and miles to get to the other ski stations.  Lesson 1: enter before the week of the event!

Phew – they had heard of me at Morzine registration…

So, fit and eager at 7.30am, i grabbed my bag of freebies and headed for the Super-Morzine lift. i didn’t really have a clue, was togged up in all my DH arms and legs gear, and felt a bit overdressed to be honest!

Arriving almost at the Avoriaz resort, it was immediately obvious that everyone else was also overdressed, unfit, half asleep and so we all headed off on the first downhil towards Lindarets.

View from above Morzine

View from above Morzine

Initial signs were encouraging, the trail was typical mountain cross-country, not too challenging for a typical Sunday MTB rider, and i bounced along merrily while considering the sage advice i’d been given on the lift up by a friendly Frenchie… ‘its quite easy, so take all the trails marked ‘DH’. and here was my chance, half way down the trail a small sign points the way to DH and i drop off into a oh dear this is quite scary focus focus brakes bang ouch. ok so i wasn’t ready lets try again… i nurse my way through the assault course of berms and table tops – actually it wasn’t too tricky, just steep.

About to make some poor trail decisions….

About to make some poor trail decisions….

By now i’m starting to get an idea of the trail map, the signposting is pretty clear so, up the next lift and then its a long descent into Switzerland specifically Chatel. Not a great option actually, as we were directed on a long long (clearly a ski blue run, I think the Chaux Fleurie piste) descent which was mainly a firetrack covered in rocks. the Yeti took the constant battering really well but i wasn’t there for ride on rocks, i wanted fun and fields. this frustration heavily influenced me in some later poor and dangerous short cuts.

Nice trail, shame about the drop

Nice trail, shame about the drop

The way down…

The way down…

Now Chatel is really nice. I’ve checked this place out when the Criterium de Dauphine passed through in June, so knew they put on a pretty good table. Hence i was chuffed to bits to find a full sized banquet out, with band, big screen, lots of hot snacks and nice friendly people.  Being a bit tired already, i spent a good hour on breakfast and calorie take on. It was also great to find so many English people who’d literally driven over from the UK the night before and like me were a bit confused about the full scale of the event.

They make their bikes big over here

They make their bikes big over here

From Chatel there was the option to get an extra 15Km loop by heading off to Turgon, or carry on to Morgins. Now i was realising that despite about 3 hours elapsed i hadn’t actually covered much of the map, so i decided to press on to the Chatel gondola and headed up the hill.  The descent towards Morgins was fab, the classic sort of x-country descent we all love, you can’t really see what the ground is like through the grass, but the bike rides it really well. In fact i was having so much fun i realised i’d lost the trail and ended up back in Chatel!  Still it was worth it to do the trail again, which i duly did, attaching myself to some people who could read maps. Unluckily the trail to Morgins involved a couple of miles up a road which was a real pain – surely the skiers don’t do this! anyway there was another nice descent into Morgins, and — shock horror — another food stop. this time with wine and cold beer on tap.! now this is my sort of event. i spent an hour contemplating the next step and absorbing the vibe. and the vibe was telling me it was time to man-up and do some downhill.

As i progressed up the Morgins lift, i could see below some groups having a great time on the (what was heavily advertised as) the World Cup downhill course. Ah. I can do that. Otherwise whats the point of all this heavy duty gear.   Messing around in Morgins kept me busy for a couple of hours. The Yeti did a fab job as i dropped down the heavily rooted descents. However i soon realised to take this on properly you need a DH bike. If nothing else the chain is always thrown off and making a major racket, and so many rocks will leave the chainset, and me, with no teeth. Still all painful things must come to an end, and consulting the map i decided to press on for Champoussin and Les Crozets, the remote resort i should have been starting the day in.

Now this is the high Andes part of the circuit, a massive gondola taking you to the top of the mountain, followed by another painfully slow chair to the summit, where it was boody cold and exposed as we rode the crest and some fairly technical trail.

Riding the Crozets ridge

Riding the Crozets ridge

Its a bit wierd riding a bike at the top of the mountain, and there was some fantastic rock-strewn technical sections to really focus the mind. And the mind was beginning to struggle, a combination of fatigue, sun and too much free wine.  By this time i’m thinking of home, and the trail is a long series of tracks winding across and down the pass until, joy, another DH option. Feeling brave this is definitely on, and turns out to be a completely different challenge, as the trail drops fairly precipitously into woodland, with a narrow trail pitted with trees roots barely more than a footpath and pretty steep. And we’re loving it despite the pressure on the read end. At times the wood clears to show a horribly precipitous drop down, a bit like the Wall in Afan.

Completing this section in one piece was a real bonus. Out of the woods became another long descent to Champery made dangerous by water gulleys, each about 8 inches wide, in the track at various angles just to make it interesting. Still, homeward bound and feeling quite happy as i bundle into the Planachaux cable car and then a nice descent into Les Crozets. I can’t remember doing it, but its on the map so i must have. Next stop the Mossettes lift and a long technical section of rocky track to get to Les Lindarets. Where there was another band, another bar, and another 60 minute break.

Truth be told i’m now tired. Consulting the map i can see that this is last lift to Avoriaz,  so i head off ready to give it one last fling down the mountain. And this of course is where i come to grief, as a seemingly endless series of rooty woodland descents, too steep for tired hands to control and i collide into a fairly hard tree,  result: no gears, cable sheared through. Ah well, i got down one way or another, on my new singlespeed.

So, all in all, a great event and weekend. Superbly organised, loads of food and drink en route.  The size of the bike area is huge, even with only one or two lifts running in each area, the sheer number of trail options means you can lose yourself fairly easily.  Strava record


By |February 13th, 2014|Summer|Comments Off on MTB in the Alps: the Morzine “Pass’Portes du Soleil”