Backcountry Skiing - Col du Fornet

Yesterday I skied one of the best, and most accessible, backcountry valleys the Portes du Soleil has to offer - the Fornet.

From the top of the Fornet chairlift in Avoriaz, a mere 50m walk takes you over the col and into a quiet valley of powder, unspoilt by ski lifts.

Rather than take the lifts up I decided to use my legs and walked up on 'randonnée' skis, which made the descent even more enjoyable. There is over 1000m of altitude difference between the top and the bottom with spectacular views over the Valée d'Aulps. On a clear day you can even see Lake Geneva to the North. With the excellent snow in the Portes du Soleil at the moment, the powder fields were a pure joy to ski, and seemingly never ending. Plenty of ski tracks indicate its popularity, especially after fresh snowfall, however its not hard to find virgin snow. Skiers and snowboarders alike tend to traverse around the valley a bit before dropping in to reach the unspoilt snow.

The Fornet valley feeds into the Valée de la Manche, from where an hourly bus service will take you back to Morzine. Alternatively, the scenic snowy track the other side of the river goes all the way to Morzine. With the soothing sound of the Dranse alongside, it makes a nice change from the pistes and ski lifts.

Before undertaking an outing like this its worth checking that your insurance covers you for off-piste skiing - many policies don't. As with any off-piste its essential to check the avalanche risk before hand, and to take a transceiver, probe, and shovel each. Words and photos by Hugo Hunt    

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