Bourg St M Town Hall, Dec 2017. Has "Architecture of XX Century" status, alongside cinema & Arc 2000 cable car station. Click on photo for more

Saturday, 27 June 2015

VARET WORRYING: The Retreat of the Glaciers

The warm weather is here, and the few remaining resorts offering summer skiing are now open.  La Plagne is no longer among them....

A good time to reflect on the retreating features of the glaciers of the French Alps.  They have lost a quarter of their area over the last 40 years.

The greatest losses have been in the southern Alps: the decline in the Ecrins Massif is more than three times faster than the levels observed around Mont Blanc.  The Chamonix glaciers are aided somewhat by their higher snowfalls.  Having said that, Vincent et al (2014) found that the lowest 12% of the 12km Mer de Glace is now stagnant and now poised to melt away.  They predict a retreat of 1200m by 2040.

"95% of the world's glaciers that are monitored are retreating.  And it's happening so fast. Twenty times faster than any natural temperature change before human beings became so active", says glaciologist Atsumu Ohmura, quoted in this CNN article.

In Les Arcs, the pint-sized Varet glacier saw a protective sheet introduced in 2010 in a bid to ensure the top of the glacier was able to benefit from the winter snowfalls.  Apparently it has been quite successful, and the rate of retreat has slowed.

The Varet Glacier under cover.
Click here for more on the epic ski run from here
down to Villaroger

Still on the subject of the Varet glacier, some readers might like this account of a failed attempt to make it to the summit by mountain bike.

(Research by Holly Atkinson, University of Sussex)

Monday, 15 June 2015

JAMES BOND: Back on skis

Welove2Ski is celebrating the return of James Bond to the ski slopes by showcasing its recent filming in Soelden, an endeavour which involved up to 500 crew members in January and February this year.

They have also dug out seven classic scenes, alongside some useful facts - for example the Russians using Elan (i.e. then Yugoslav) skis in View To A Kill (1985).

For a more amateurish summary of 007 on skis, click here.


The best Les Arcs can manage is the visit of the former Top Gear crew to Arc 2000 some years ago.

With the ski season over, filming of Spectre has now moved to London.  It opens in November.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015


The Col du Petit Saint Bernard is now open, albeit after a bit of a delay.

Val d'Isere has opened its short summer skiing season.  Tignes will follow on June 27th.

Les Arcs is open for the weekends of 20/21 June and 27/28th.

Peisey-Vallandry's Facebook page is this blog's recommended social media site for the summer - lit comes complete with a good selection of local news, as well as various pictures of cows.

More on the coming summer here.

What's more of a concern is the return to our screens this Autumn of something scary: