Skiing in Champery

The Champery-Les Crosets ski area has good slopes for all standards, except absolute beginners. But intermediate-level skiers and above will regard it as just a starting point, and a gateway to other Portes du Soleil resorts like Champoussin, Morgins, Avoriaz, Morzine, Chatel and Les Gets.

Champery Ski Area Overview

Champery is not a ski-in ski-out resort. The pistes are above it at Planachaux and to reach them it’s necessary to ride the Telepherique cable car up from the village in the morning or take a bus to the Grand Paradis fast Chairlift.

Apart from the two red runs descending to the bottom of the Grand Paradis chair, the local slopes are above the treeline and mostly between 2000m and 2300m. They tend to face East or South East so are at their best mid-morning.

Some of Champery’s blue pistes are actually quite steep, most notably the ones beside the Ripaille Drag Liift. Beginners and nervous intermediates who want a gentle start should initially stick to the area around the Planachaux, Louis and L’Echereuse lifts.

Those actively seeking out the toughest challenges should warm up on the short and sweet red run beside the Marcheuson drag lift. Then if they are brave enough, advanced skiers can head for the Swiss Wall under the Chavanette chair. This is a steep and usually heavily mogulled run, marked as an ungroomed itinerary on the map. If you lose your nerve when you’re at the top, you can ride the lift down.

Much gentler, much longer and much more beautiful, is the Grand Paradis red run which curves around the Pointe de Rapaille red run and descends all the way down to the bottom of the Grand Paradis lift. It’s a lovely and popular way to end the day but it’s even nicer in the morning when you may well have it all to yourself. There are also various off-piste variants that a guide can show you.

Champery-Les Crosets 

Les Crosets is reached from Champery either directly from the Champery-Croix de Culet cable car (red or blue routes down), or via the Pauvre Conche lift at L’Echereuse which accesses a blue piste. Again, just like in Champery, the blue runs here are steeper than in other resorts. For intermediate level skiers and above, that makes them more fun, but beginners might need some help.

From Les Crosets, lifts span outwards in a semi circle. At their top you either return to Les Crosets on North-East, East and South-East facing red or blue pistes, or you cross over the respective ridge and ski onto Planachaux, Ardent (a small valley, technically part of Morzine but with lifts connecting it to Chatel and Avoriaz), Champoussin or Morgins. Experts who want something more challenging than a red will probably want to explore between the pistes, on both sides of these ridges. There are some steep couloirs (and even steeper cliffs, so watch out) but they are not always skiable so hiring a guide is recommended.

Les Portes du Soleil

Champery is also a gateway into the wider Portes du Soleil area in France. including Avoriaz which is just over the Pas du Chavanette from Champery and often has the best snow. Advanced skiers will also relish it excellent black runs above Les Prodains. The Swiss side has less variety to it – it’s almost entirely composed of shortish blue runes above the tree line which are perfect for less confident intermediates. The Portes du Soleil can be skied clockwise and anticlockwise.

Avoriaz is  the first stop on the clockwise Portes du Soleil circuit which takes in Ardent, Pre la Joux and Linga (part of Chatel’s ski area), Chatel itself, Morgins and Champoussin, before returning to Les Crosets and Champery. It’s hard work completing it in a day, but certainly possible, and good fun for strong fit skiers.

The anticlockwise Portes du Soleil circuit is better for weaker intermediates because you can skip out all of Champoussin (instead take the lovely long blue run from the Col des Portes du Soleil all the way to Morgins) and all of Avoriaz (take the Mossettes lift from Ardent to Les Crosets). You also avoid the steep reds coming down from Tete de Linga, which are a highlight for more confident skiers. Advanced skiers doing the anticlockwise circuit who actually want tougher challenges should make a couple of small detours to include the ungroomed itinerary from Pointe de l’Au and the red and black runs from the top of Comebois.

Morzine and Les Gets

Most of the Morzine-Les Gets ski area is on a spur away from the main Portes du Soleil circuit, but it can all be reached from Champery or Les Crosets and returned from before the lifts close. As long as they keep an eye on the time, intermediates can just wander around, sampling the nearly endless array of short red and blue runs. Many of the pistes are tree-lined which makes a welcome change from the open bowls of Champery and Les Crosets.

Advanced skiers who want steeper slopes should head towards the Pointe de Nyon, Chamossier and the North face of Mont Chery on the far side of Les Gets.

Beginner Skiing in Champery

In Champery, it’s important to make the distinction between near and absolute beginner. If you’ve never skied before, Champery is not a good place to start; but for near novices comfortable on blue slopes, Champery, Les Crosets and the whole of the Swiss side of the Portes du Soleil are ideal.

There are plenty of blue runs in the Champery-Les Crosets area. Some are a little steeper than others, but this gives a bit of variety and scope for improvement for novices who want to progress. The gentlest area is around the the Planachaux, Louis and L’Echereuse lifts.

When you’re ready to start making longer journeys, the Swiss side of the Portes du Soleil is almost entirely composed of blue pistes. The long blue runs to the bottom of Sepaya in Champoussin is a good initial destination.

The next step must be the even longer (and slightly steeper, at least in places) blue run from Pointe de Mosette over the Col des Portes du Soleil and all the way to Morgins. If you accomplish that without incident, by the end of the week you might be ready for the lovely long Grand Paradis red at Champery. This is a red run and rightly so but its steepest section is at the start, so you can look at it and if you don’t like it, retreat and ski the blue runs beside the Ripaille drag lift.

There are also plenty of blue runs in Avoriaz and throughout the French side of the Portes du Soleil. But beginners should be very wary of trying to cover too much ground too quickly. The Portes du Soleil is a vast area and you need technical ability and strength to reach its furthest extremities and return in a day. Keep something back for your next trip.

In contrast to its appeal to near novices, Champery can not be recommended for absolute beginners. Even getting to the slopes is tricky for first timers. At the top of the Telepherique it’s necessary to descend a short but quite steep and narrow path to the pistes.  And it’s also expensive for absolute beginners, because you will have to buy a lift pass of some sorts. You would be better off in other resorts with free village-level nursery slopes.

Very occasional skiers might like to know that there is Swiss-side-only reduced price Porets du Soleil lift pass, sold by the day or part day. The discount is about 20% but as the main Portes du Soleil pass gets cheaper the more you use it, regular skiers will probably find it chaeper cheaper sticking to a multi-day pass.

Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in Champery 

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Intermediate Skiing in Champery

Intermediates can ski the Portes du Soleil for days without skiing the same run twice. Closer to home both Champery and neighbouring Les Crosets have interesting blue runs and some great reds such as Grand Paradis.

The network of red and blue pistes in the Swiss Portes du Soleil alone covers 100km. Add in the French side and you have hundreds of blue and red pistes all well graded and signed for the intermediate skier. There are virtually limitless choices.

But intermediate skiers based in Champery don’t have to travel far to find great runs. The South-facing, then East-facing, Grand Paradis red is a deservedly popular way to end the day but it’s even better mid-morning when you will have it all to yourself. And remember that the blue runs in Champery and Les Crosets are slightly more challenging than in many other resorts, which makes them more enjoyable for intermediates.

When you’re ready to start exploring further, from the Telepherique, ski down to the Mossettes Suisse and ride it to the top. Ski down to Les Lindarets and then ride the Chaux Fleune. From here work your way down to Linga on the outskirts of Chatel. Riding the lifts and skiing back to Les Lindarets will put you at the bottom of Lindarets chair lift which will take you into Avoriaz for lunch. A morning in a paragraph and still there’s the whole Portes du Soleil to explore.

Ultimately, the area is about size so why not try one of the “circuits” – well marked day long ski safaris taking you around the whole system. For stronger intermediates we prefer the clockwise circuit because it includes the red runs down from the Linga, whilst for weaker intermediates the anticlockwise one has the glorious long blue run from Col des Portes du Soleil down to Morgins.

Advanced & Off-Piste Skiing in Champery

Have you done the Swiss Wall? It’s not possible to have a conversation about tough skiing in the Portes du Soleil without Champery’s Swiss Wall being mentioned. The Wall is one of the steepest and bumpiest runs in Europe but there is also plenty of off-piste in the Portes du Soleil as well.

Champery / Planachaux

Before you attempt the Swiss Wall you will need a warm up. The small but quite steep bowl around the Mancheuson drag near the top of the cable car from Champery is a good place to start. Usually there is some good ‘beside-the-piste’ skiing’ here as well as the short and sweet red run.

Then it’s onto the Swiss Wall itself. Its French name is Le Pas de Chavanette which is a clue to it’s whereabouts in this vast area. From the Telepherique, keep left and work across to Ripaille 1&2. From here, the Chavanette chair will take you to the wall. As you ride the lift up, try to work out the best route down. As you view it from the lift, the left side is the most North facing, so is the best protected from the freeze-thaw cycle that transforms snow into ice, but sometimes the big moguls need a bit of sun on them to soften them up, in which case you should head off to the right from the lift (skiers’ left once you’re on The Wall). And if it’s all too complicated or you just lose your nerve at the top, you can take the lift down again. You won’t be the only one in the queue.

There are also off-piste routes from Chavanette that join the Grand Paradis red run. Some require a brief trudge uphill. They are wonderful after recent snow but predominantly face South so quickly turn to crud.

Les Crosets

The whole of the Les Crosets ski area is basically one big semi-circular bowl, with plenty of between-the-pistes freeriding potential for advanced skiers if they both know what they are doing and can see what they are doing. There are some good steep couloirs but take care (or better still, take a guide) because there are rocks, cliffs and hidden gullies here as well. When it’s time to leave the area, there is a good, North-facing ungroomed itinerary (sometimes shown on maps as a black piste) from Pointe de l’Au which joins the long blue from Col des Portes du Soleil, down to Morgins. 

Les Portes du Soleil

If you enjoy bumps, the drag lift track up from Les Lindarets is now a long run with a near perfect gradient. Watch out though, as once you’re halfway down, there’s no alternative but to continue.

But the Portes du Soleil is so much more than bumps. There are black and red pistes in abundance and plenty of off-piste. The obvious playgrounds for experts are the Les Hauts Forts sector in Avoriaz, the Tete de Linga and Cornebois area in Pre la Joux (part of Chatel), the Pointe de Nyon  and Chamossiere in the Morzine sector, and the North face of Mont Chery on the far side of Les Gets. All are within reach of Champery.

As always, it’s best to get a guide for off piste skiing. The Portes du Soleil is not without avalanche risk (read the signs) and a ski guide will also help you get far more out your off piste skiing experience.

Boarding & Freestyle in Champery

There are three snowparks on the Swiss side of the Portes du Soleil and seven parks in total in the region.

The largest is the Superpark underneath the TSD Crosets lift which has a wide variety of kickers, jibs and rails – The layout changes from year to year and the Freeride Company provides training in the park.

Other terrain parks in the Portes du Soleil worth a visit are the 600m park at Morgins, the 300m park at Champoussin which has two lines and the new 500m long SnowPark Freeridezone at Torgon.

Champery Mountain Restaurants

There are over 90 mountain restaurants in the Portes du Soleil – you’ll need a good three months to try them all. The first you’ll encounter is La Croix-de-Culet in the Telepherique complex and the furthest is Chanterelle way past Les Gets

The mountain restaurants in Portes du Soleil get busy so it’s usually a good idea to reseve in advance and plan your days route accordingly.

But there are plenty of self service establishments and you won’t go hungry.

A trip from Champery to Avoriaz is always a pleasant day and the choice in the main street of this space age resort is extensive. Try the small but excellent Salle de Manger perhaps.

Mountain Restaurants on the Swiss side of Portes du Soleil

Buvette des Clavets
+41 (0)24 479 30 65

Buvette Chez Lise
+41 (0)78 638 61 33

Cantine Lapisa
+41 (0)24 479 36 43

Cantine des Rives
+41 (0)24 479 11 71

Cantine sur Coux
+41 (0)24 479 10 44

Chez Coquoz
+41 (0)24 479 12 55

La Croix-de-Culet
+41 (0)24 479 23 34

Le Chaudron
+41 (0)79 436 32 48

Les Marmottes
+41 (0)79 691 07 00

Refuge Le Marcheuson
+41 (0)24 479 22 40

Hôtel Plein Ciel
+41 (0)24 479 28 38

Le Toupin
+41 (0)24 479 15 48


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