[Risoul/Vars] Snow by Airfield


Risoul – 1174m. Vars – 1320m. Not very high,

but what they lack in height, they make up for in width. Alpine skiing with American slope width? Hot damn.

As an advanced skiier, rarely ever away for longer than ten days, the challenge is always the same: ski as much terrain as possible. The whole point of the challenge is that it’s challenging – most of the time, we’re about 90% successful, and 100% exhausted. But when the terrain is smaller, you’re also looking for the spark that brings you back to the slopes long after completing them.
As a beginner to intermediate, Risoul and Vars are attractive: wide slopes, easy access to chairs, and the slopes are true to their colour key. While I can’t speak for off-pisters and park-rats, as an advanced-er (new word), the slopes lose their thrill within a couple of rounds. Then again, both sites are weekend holidays for locals, and I envy that. But then…

At the base of the Hautes-Alpes, over the bridge that crosses the Durance,

and down behind St Crepin’s aerodrome sits a warren of bungalow chalets with an incredible panoramic view – grounds backing onto an airfield, anyone?



“Let’s go for a walk”, they said. “Before it gets dark”.

“We’re about to go downhill – the soggy, slidey downhill – and out of the light“, I said.
“The sun’s gone, now”, I said. “This was a bad plan”.

Note to future Tarbert Castle visitors: 5pm in winter is not a good time to be halfway through a walk of the grounds.