Wanderings, travel, photographs and skiing…

Day 4: Christmas Eve – a day out to Pila, Italy

By on December 24, 2008 in France, Italy

So far I have had three days of skiing Courmayeur in nearly perfect condition, so on my third day of skiing (fourth day of the trip), I headed off to Pila which is another resort about 40 minutes away.

To get to the new ski required a 40-minute taxi ride.  The taxi costs €90 (£90 or $130) for the round trip, and it held eight passengers. The taxi driver was full of local information, and according to him, it was the best start to the skiing season in 10 years.  (But I have also been told it is the best start in 20, or even 30, years.)

Several of the party had problems with their lift tickets as although they covered Courmayeur and Chamonix they did not cover Pila.  Therefore, they had to buy a day pass. Luckily the Courmayeur ski pass I had bought covered skiing at Pila. Otherwise, it would be around €30 (£30 or $45) for the day.

We also had only one ski guide (who didn’t know the ski area so wasn’t much of a guide), so after a couple of runs, we split into a guided and unguided groups.

The snow conditions at Pila were not as good as in Courmayeur. Trail grooming was certainly not as good as in Courmayeur. And there were a lot of large lumps of ice on the runs. The mountain also more rounded and views not as dramatic as in Courmayeur.  The ski area is about twice the size of Courmayeur and has some good black runs, which seemed much more challenging than those in Courmayeur.

The mountain at Pila is also more rounded than at Courmayeur and the views not as dramatic.

The ski area at Pila is about twice the size of Courmayeur, and it has some good black runs, which seemed much more challenging than those in Courmayeur.

The lunch stop was in a great location. However, the food was very expensive and pretty awful.

At Pila, it is possible to ski from Italy into a resort in France.  However, it appears that not all lift tickets will work and enable you to get back to Italy!

I had no problems in getting back from France to Italy, but some of the others in the group did.  Why?  No idea, although it did appear to have something to do with either how far into France the person had skied, or the type of pass they had.  Seems to be silly to allow skiers to ski out of their valid area.

One other point, when skiing from Italy into France there is a sign saying you are entering France, but on the way back I saw no Italy sign.  Odd…. Am I still in France…..

Bottomline, I had a great day of skiing over at Pila. The snow wasn’t as good as in Courmayeur, but there were a lot more runs, some of which were much more challenging than anything I had found in Courmayeur.

When I returned to Courmayeur later that evening I was greeted with some good news about the cable car…  it had been confirmed it would be running on Christmas day which means no more nasty walk through towns (see Day 2: First day skiing Courmayeur, Italy).

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Nick's continued wanderings can be followed on Twitter: @nickswanderings.
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