Full Moon Parties: 3rd February and 3rd March – La Clusaz, Annecy Mountains

Full Moon Parties: 3rd February and 3rd March – La Clusaz, Annecy Mountains





This weekend and next month skiers can party under the Super Blue Moon!

Celebrating it’s 15th Year – The Full Moon Party in La Clusaz in Annecy Mountains kicks off with Djs and bands playing in the bars and restaurants of La Clusaz in the Crêt du Merle and Beauregard sectors. The resort stays open both Saturdays, 3rd February and 3rd March from 9pm to 1am.

The 4 locations on the le Crêt du Merle area hosting parties are: Chez Arthur; Chalet des Praz,  La Ferme and  le Salto.

The following lifts will be open:

– TSD Crêt du Merle : 9pm-1am

– TC Ice rink : 9pm-12.30

– TC Beauregard : 9pm to midnight,

– TK Louveteau to access a family ski run: 9pm to 12.30am

Adult from 17 €/ – Child from 10 €



For further info contact: Vanessa Fisher/vanessa@vanessafisher.com/07957 618525

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Inferno in the Snow

Inferno in the Snow

It was first organised by a group of ski-crazy brits in 1928, & today it’s the world’d largest amateur ski race. PlanetSKI partakes. 

Regular readers will know I’m no virgin Inferno racer.

Bbut this year I am taking part in the Inferno as part of the Super 3, the Inferno Is the second race in a series of three amateur ski races that take place across Switzerland.

The pretty village of Mürren, in the Jungfrau Region, is the Inferno host resort offering stunning views over to the Eiger, spotted only once when the weather cleared.

A brief clear spell and there's the Eiger











A brief clear spell and there’s the Eiger

There are fewer than 200 of the maximum 1850 Inferno entrants taking part in the Super 3 and it was great to see some familiar faces from last weekend’s visit to Belalp and the Hexe race – Postcard from Belalp / Hexe Race.

With oodles of snow we were looking forward to skiing a full course but strangely, whereas in Belalp we’d had the total 12km course, here in Mürren, rain had battered the lower slopes.

So the switch back section of the course down to Lauterbrunnen was clearly not skiable.

Arriving to huge snowfalls mid last week, and then violent winds gusting through the area whilst skiing on Thursday, we had a feeling that the top section of the resort would not be open.

As part of the 75th anniversary celebrations we had a new team event to take part in, the day before the main downhill event. Read more here on 75th Celebrations.

I had teamed up with my brother and two friends to make up our team of four.

Being a mass start, based on the original Inferno format of years ago, we lined up side by side at the top of the course.

Sadly this was only at Almendhubel as heavy snow and ongoing wind forced the organisers to choose a lower start point.

Rob Webb Team at the start with Vanessa in red










(C.Rob Webb) Team 108 at the start with Vanessa in Red

As the wooden board dropped away below our skis, we pushed out of the start gate with our team strategy in place.

Tuck in behind each other, send the fast ones first – one ex army para who is a super fit cross – country marathon skier, my brother, ex-army ski racer, then me and finally a friend and Kandahar Ski Club member Alex.

The course sent us up the ‘woodcutters’ path – an uphill section which also features in the main Inferno event.

Woodcutter uphill section - ©by INFERNO Rennen Mürren/Photographer: Bruno Petroni










Woodcutter uphill section – ©by INFERNO Rennen Mürren/Photographer: Bruno Petroni

The distance between our first two team-mates and Alex and I grew with each uphill strained movement!

No sooner had we reached the end of the long climb, we were careering around the corner past the chairlift and on to the ‘Palace Run’ back to Murren village centre.

Not everyone made it safely around these corners!

Corner Crash ©by INFERNO Rennen Mürren/Photographer: Bruno Petroni










Corner Crash ©by INFERNO Rennen Mürren/Photographer: Bruno Petroni

With my team safely down, our individual times were too different to break in to the top 100 teams, but we were far from the slowest!

Vanessa and her Team - Inferno 2018











Vanessa 108-1 and her Team – Inferno 2018

Excitement levels rose when the organisers announced a break in the weather, enabling the Inferno downhill start to be moved up to Birg, still a way below the usual Schilthorn start but long enough to give more than a 3 minute race.

Our friends the German team ‘Racing Team Blitztal’ were found waxing their skis in the workshop close to our hotel – the Germans spending 4 hours on their skis and apparently adding an extra layer for the fast schuss along the upper section.

I left my team in charge of my skis requesting just a bit of wax if time!

Servicing skis pre 75th Inferno











Servicing skis pre 75th Inferno

Four hours later, the winds had picked up and once again the start for the 2018 75th Inferno was moved back down to the lower start at the top of the Almendhubel funicular lift with the finish to be in Murren.

As Christoph Egger, Race Director, pointed out – despite being a short course it is still longer than the longest FIS race plus, to give an extra twist, a small jump was placed just above the village centre finish.

The Germans were back in the workshop reapplying different wax, whatsapp messages were flying around my groups of participating friends as to whether a GS ski or a Super G ski would be more beneficial for this short course.

The customary burning of the devil took place.

It is said to ward off any bad spirits the night before the main Inferno race event, and still it carried on snowing.

Burning the devil ©by INFERNO Rennen Mürren/Photographer: Bruno Petroni










Burning the devil ©by INFERNO Rennen Mürren/Photographer: Bruno Petroni

Race day, it was still snowing on and off and heavy winds picked up as the day progressed, confirming the right decision to move the start down by the race organisers.

1705 skiers participated this year, the fastest, Marcel Fassler, coming down at number 525 in 2 mins 46 seconds and with the jump just before a fast left bend in to the finish there was certainly some added excitement to the otherwise short, fast course.

Vanessa at the Jump - Team 108-1 Pic: Rob Webb










Vanessa at the Jump – Inferno 2018 – Pic: Rob Webb

Team 108-1 Vanessa in a racing tuck Pic: Rob Webb










Vanessa in a racing tuck Pic: Rob Webb

The route was running faster than the team event, I even knocked off over a minute off my time to earn a ‘bronze’ in my category and the 3rd fastest GB female in my category.

So with two races under my belt, it’s on to the third race in Saas Fee, the “Allalin-Rennen” in March.

We’ve had parading witches, burning cauldrons and devils…

I’m wondering what will come next…?

Vanessa in red flanked by Other Super-3 skiers after Inferno 2018










Vanessa in Red, flanked by Other Super-3 skiers after Inferno 2018

To get the feel for the Inferno have a quick look at the video below:


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Postcard from Belalp

Postcard from Belalp

In Belalp, above the village of Blatten, PlanetSKI’s Vanessa Fisher took part in the “Belalp Hexe” race, the first in the ‘Super 3’ series.

It’s the first of three amateur ski races.

A regular ‘Inferno’ skier  – 75 Years of Inferno – I was told about the Super 3 last season.

Looking to try something fun and different I grabbed the opportunity to take part with a small team of others, one of whom had taken part last season – then he was the only British person among 500+ skiers.

This season we initially had a team of five, me being the only British female to enter, then three other British skiers joined us, Cleeves Palmer, President of the Kandahar Ski Club and fellow Kandahar skiers Ed Killwick and Nick Kennett as well as one lively Aussie, Andrew.

We had two days in the resort to check out the course and surrounding the ski area at Belalp.

This looks small on the piste map with only six lifts but a tunnel at the top of the mountain opens up a huge off piste bowl below Belgrat at 3,334m.

Off piste bowl














Sadly we didn’t have the time (or the fat skis) to explore this off piste area but we skied over to the far side of the resort to see the old Belalp Hotel, built in the late 1850s  “to look after English Guests’.

English Naturalist and Alpinist John Tyndell visited for 44 consecutive summers and the black run down to the hotel is named after him.

The views from the hotel up to the Aletsch Glacier are stunning and the original tiny church above the hotel still sits like something out of a fairy tale.

Belalp hotel and church














The night before the Hexe race we watched a series of fire throwers dancing wildly around a towering ‘witches cauldron’ before setting this alight, followed by more wild witch dancing and Swiss oompah band joining in the ritual.

Legend has it a witch who could turn into a raven pooed in to the eyes of her cherry-picking husband (she had a more favoured lover).

The husband fell out of the tree and died…

This annual ski race and dressing up witch festival honours this poor man!

Back to race day and we soon realised that our race was just one of the highlights of the day.

The other and far more fun event is the witches’ race.

Costumes are worked on all year apparently and this was evident as the witches gently parade down the course.

Green witches

















This was a far cry from our race earlier in the morning, won by Valais local, Christoph Escher who smashed his own record with a time of 10 minutes flat becoming this year’s “Hexen Meister”.

My 14.25 time earnt me a ‘silver’ place – among our team we had 3 silvers and 5 bronzes between us.

The oldest participant was 81, and among the 478 total racers only 50 were women.















For race day we had perfect conditions, creamy pistes and bluebird skies.

We raced on the full course – the first time in over five years that the full course has been able to run – from the top of Hohstock at 3,118 m down the 12km course finishing in Blatten at 1,322m – 1,800m of descent.

The course starts on the black piste with a couple of scary tight hairpin bends in the steeper upper section with a compression to suck the air out of you and then moves on to a series of straight rollers where the best racers tuck the entire way.

Moving down the valley the track becomes a series of rutted switchbacks past ancient buildings and finishing down in Blatten village.


Course past















With all of our team safely down we took the lifts back up to enjoy the party on the slopes as the many wizards and witches entertain the crowds.

Later in the afternoon, the highly contested ‘best dressed witch group’ is awarded to pumping music and a huge crowd.

This years ‘Adams family’ were the stand out winners.

Winning witches










Winning witches – Adams Family

Vanessa with one of the best dressed winning witches











One of the best dressed winning witches rubs shoulders with Vanessa who won Silver:     Gold & Silver casting a Hex of their own!

Next up in the Super 3 series is the ‘Inferno in Murren’, taking place later this week.

Good Luck in the Inferno .. the word is loosly defined “as a large fire that is dangerously out of control” – could that be an apt description of the race?

Vanessa will report back next week!

PlanetSKI's Vanessa and Aletsch glacier











PlanetSKI’s Vanessa and Aletsch glacier

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Easter Skiing in the French Pyrenees

Easter Skiing in the French Pyrenees

Published on Planet Ski Website

We started with 30cm of fresh powder & ended touring the religious shrines of Lourdes on Good Friday. Plus had some great Spring skiing in between.

It’s been more than 15 years since I last skied in the resorts of Bareges and La Monjie that make up the 100km ski area of the Grand Tourmalet.

Much has changed. And yet little has changed.

There have been many new lifts with more to come as PlanetSKI reported earlier, but it still retains an authentic and original Pyrenees feeling.

There are good value flights to Lourdes and an equally well-priced apartment in the village of Bareges – I booked through the same tour operator I had travelled with 15 years ago, Borderline Holidays.

As the week progressed more of the slopes closed down under blazing sunshine and blue skies, but each day we had enough snow.

There was the short black run, Coupe du Monde, a challenge for our youngest son Zac aged 8.

From there we accessed the fast red runs above La Mongie – pit-stopping at the Igloo bar in the ski-in-out village for crepes and coffee mid morning.

French Pyrenees

We found a perfect picnic spot in the rocks to the side of the main piste on several of our days.

Perfect picnic spot on the rocks

A new restaurant opened in February, ‘Chalet des Pisteurs’ – playing funky but mellow dance music and with a huge terrace perched literally on a huge rock above the top of the Pourteilh chair.

Chalet des Pisteurs – perched on a rock


One morning we booked in for ‘premier traces’.

Our ski patroller, Bernard, told us sometimes they get to ski powder on these early starts but of course, at 8am in mid April, we had ear-deafening ice to screech down.

Early morning ski with our ski patroller, Bernard

Early start with the ski patollers

No matter as watching the sun kiss the top of the mountains as it rose, was beautiful.

A highlight of the trip.

Sun kissed mountain – French Pyrenees

The Espade blue slope in to the main bowl hitting perfection in terms of condition just after 9am.

French Pyrenees – April 2017

Yours Truly – French Pyrenees – April

All too soon our week of Easter family fun was over.

With only a 40 minute drive to Lourdes we decided to pay a visit to the religious shrine.

We took the 100 year old Pic du Jer funicular above Lourdes for the 360 panoramic views of the area.

We speed hiked to the summit with its huge cross, followed by a flying visit of the medieval castle.

Pic du Jer funicular above Lourdes

Climbing the 104 steps up the tower offers great views over to the main church.

Many spaces in the castle now feature museum-style rooms showing displays of the Pyrenean past.

We all loved the old ‘latrines’, simple slats high up in the rock and the ‘drop-box’ through which boiling oil or molten lead would be tipped on to the enemy below.

My daughter has been learning about Bernadette’s vision of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes at school, so a visit to the famous grotto was imperative.

Followed by a quick peek in to the huge underground basilica.

We must have watched 50+ wheel chairs process in for the Good Friday service.

Even if you are not religious the place feels serene and being out of the busy summer months, it was not too busy.

Lourdes, French Pyrenees – April 2017

Taking off from Tarbes-Lourdes airport after a week of skiing and a taste of culture, and skiing to almost to the last day of the winter season, felt all the sweeter for being booked so last minute.

We had managed to squeeze in one week skiing before the Grand Tourmalet closes on Easter Bank Holiday Monday.

I was hoping to ski the Pic du Midi on this visit.

It is a huge off piste and freeride area that the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove, has skied a few times and he highly recommends it.

It wasn’t an option for skiing on my previous visit in 2002/03, and it wasn’t an option this time with a young family in tow as the snow-free walk out at the top was too long to subject the family to.

But skiing the Pic du Midi is the one I’m coming back for.


With thanks to Intersport for ski rental.

Book Winter Breaks to the French Pyrenees with Erna Low >>

Book Winter Breaks to the French Pyrenees with Ski Weekends >>

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.


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Eddie ‘The Eagle’ out front in support of this excellent initiative in its second year

published on Maddogski website

National School Snowsports Week kicked off at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead today, Friday 21st April, with over 30 children from Yewtree Primary School having their first ever ski lesson.

national school snowsports week

After hearing inspiring Winter sports tales from ambassador Olympians Aimee Fuller, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards and Ski Sunday’s very own Graham Bell, the kids hit the slopes to give it a go themselves. We’re sure a few of them have caught the snow bug already.

The National School Snowsports Week rolls out across a total of 25 slopes around the UK with taster ski and snowboard sessions for as little as £1. Running from Monday April 23 – 30, school-aged kids can have a go at all sorts of mountain sports. As well as skiing and snowboarding there’s roller-skiing, luging and snow-tubing on offer.

Eddie the Eagle says, “I started skiing when I was 13 and have lived and breathed it for my whole life. I am proof that anyone – no matter what their age or background is – can get into snowsports. I am proud to support National Schools Snowsport Week and hope it brings lots of young people into our brilliant sport.”

To get involved and to find your nearest participating slopes, visit www.nssw.co.uk

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Wild Weather and Fun in Ax

Wild Weather and Fun in Ax

The gang of 7 arrived just as a huge storm set in over the French Pyrenees. With strong winds and inclement weather skiing plans needed urgent tweaking for family entertainment.

See Article on PlanetSki Website

Bad weather days often bring unexpected fun.

We arrived in Ax-les-Thermes in the Ariège region of the French Pyrenees the first weekend of the busy half term week, the night before a massive storm set in.

90mph winds closed almost all the lifts at Ax-3-Domaines on our first morning. The closest smaller ski area of Ascou was open but with rumours of 1hr 30 queues for each lift, we decided, after speaking to some locals, on an alternative.

We left Ax and headed for the Col du Chioula to find the cross-country ski area.

Day passes bought and kitted up, we spent a few minutes ‘clipping in’ and getting used to the very thin and lightweight skis.

Soon we were heading up the green route following the narrow tracks which you slide your skis in.

So far so good!

One loop around the easiest green track and a few tumbles along the way and we found ourselves on the long blue climb up towards the refuge at 1600m.

The cross country trails offered stunning views out over the Pyrenees and then we would turn in along beautiful, tree lined tracks through the woods.

Cross country through the woods

Cross country through the woods

Our little gang of seven had so much fun, the children (and me!) were really challenged and we all loved learning this sport.

I had tried it just once in Kimberley BC many years ago.

Cross country in Chioula

If the weather had not been so bad we would never have had this experience and seen the fantastic area at Chioula.

With the storm passing we finally made it up from the town of Ax-les-Thermes, where we were staying, to the start of the ski area at Bonascre at 1400m.

As we rode the fast Lièvre Blanc and Tute six man chairs higher up the resort we could see the fresh snow that the overnight storm (and rain in the valley) had brought.

Fresh tracks in Ax


All day we found fresh lines under increasingly blue skies.

In our two days we skied pretty much all the three ski areas – Bonascre, Saquet and Campels – which make up Ax-3-Domaines, and enjoyed lunch stops in our favourite restaurant, Le Louzat, tucked away between the poma lifts in the woods at Saquet.

View from restaurant Le Louzat


We loved the skiing ‘Indian’ Ax uses on its logo and branding – “3 areas, 1 territory, 1 tribe’.

“3 Areas, 1 Territory, 1 Tribe”

People who ski Ax –  93% French locals –  are proud of their ‘tribe’.

The town of Ax-les-Thermes, named after the naturally occurring sulphuric water, is full of history – the old hospital, chapel and old foot bath contrasting with the newer foot bath near the gondola and more modern recreational thermal spa.

The influences from its proximity to Spain and Andorra are seen in the mix of tapas restaurants along the main street.

Over the next three years more than 25 million Euros will be invested in new lifts to alleviate the bottle necks in the resort and bring the system up to date.

There are also ongoing discussions to re-build the gondola from the village of Merens-les-Vals where the original lift to the Ax ski area was built.

Ax isn’t huge, its locals love it and I can understand now why they are proud to be called a ‘tribe’.

See you again soon I hope!

Skiweekends.com offers short breaks to Ax-Les-Thermes.

Thanks to Intersport for ski rental.

For information on the Ax ski area visit  Ax-ski.

More information on the 2016 Pyrenees Ski Road Trip when PlanetSKI visited Font Romeu, Les Angles and Ax-3-Domaines.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports

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