Our visit to Alpe d'Huez was before the incredible career of Lance Armstrong brought the Tour de France to the American consciousness so we had never heard of this small village and ski resort in the mountains outside Grenoble. Therefore we were not prepared for the hair-raising set of switchbacks up an almost-vertical face. Neither before nor since have I seen a road that was quite like this one.

Unfortunately the snow was really ratty this year because it was a good area with a lot of variety and interest. Nevertheless we had a grand time in spite of the lingering flu, mud and rocks. I've wanted to return but never have.


Alpe d'Huez Tram

One of the striking features of this resort were the variety of lifts. Of course there were the standard chair lifts and trams, including this one, but there were some unique ones pictured below.

In addition there was a chair that took us down into a gully where we could catch another chair back out the other side of the gully to reach another area. It was (and still is) called "Connexion Auris."


Trash can lift

As usual there were several villages: the resort, Alpe d'Huez, which had been purpose-built & dedicated to tourism, the old village Huez, further down the mountain, and some others scattered around. Most were reached by skiing, but Huez was reached via the "trash can" lift shown here.


5-car gondala, Alpe d'Huez

I no longer remember exactly which area was served by this five-pack gondola.


Huez, France

I have not been able to find anything online about the history of the ancient village of Huez, but we enjoyed visiting it and strolling through the narrow streets one morning.


L'Hermitage

For those who have heard the story of the origin of our farm and Internet domain name, it is set in the restaurant of our hotel in Alpe d'Huez.

It's too long to relate here in its entirety. Suffice it to say that it arose from a confusion between the French words finis and terminee. When we later chose terminee for the name of our little horse farm (because it was supposed to be our last home), the solution to the puzzle how of to get it pronounced correctly was to spell it "Termineigh." This had the added attraction of giving the horses the "last laugh" – especially appropriate since the farm was NOT our last home.


Eugenia

This picture of our friend Eugenia Ufholtz shows the beyond-marginal condition of the snow in spots.


MountainThe view over Huez across the valley of the La Românche river toward the Pregentil peak hidden in the clouds.


PVSers in Alpe d'Huez

One day we skied to the village of Villard Reculas for lunch. On the other side of the parking lot is a precipitous drop down into the La Românche valley.

L-R are Dina Drews, Jack Lilley & myself.


PVSersRelaxing in the sun are (L-R) Dina Drews, her dad, Sheldon Drews, Dick Commerford, Huey Roberts and Aase Berling. I don't recognize the back of the gentleman on the far left.


Monoskis

The hot new thing in this time before snowboards was the monoski. These super-wide skis had standard ski bindings side-by-side. Some of them, which as the one on the right, had split tails.

They never caught on – possibly because of the introduction of the snowboard a few years later.


Up & Down

The Connexion lift took us across to the Auris en Oisans area across this steep ravine. We spent a day there and then had an exciting trip back.

One part of the run back to the village was through a steep gully. It was mostly ice and rocks with an occasional patch of snow. Every patch of snow had a skier standing on it either trying to get up the nerve to proceed or waiting for the skier below who HAD gotten up the nerve, fallen, and skidded down to the next snow patch where he or she was assembling enough gear to proceed farther.

The folks using the Connexion to get back may have been aware of that nasty bit of excitement, but it was at Alpe d'Huez that I first learned that I was capable of skiing just about anything.

Jim and I both got new skis after that week, though.


The run back

One of the runs down from Signal d'Hommes.

All ski areas use colors to mark degrees of difficulty: green, blue and black in ascending difficulty. European areas add red, which is between blue & black. We think that is a great idea and wish the US would adopt it. Some European areas also use yellow, which generally indicates mountaineering trails.

The trail markers are numbered to aid in telling where you are on a trail. It helps if you need to summon help.


Alpe d'Huez

This is the view of Alpe d'Huez from Signal d'Hommes above Auris en Oisans.

After a second delightful week of skiing we had to head home to jobs and our daily lives. i don't recall if a stop in Paris was included on this trip, but since there aren't any slides I guess not.

Thanks to Bob & Margaret for yet another fabulous trip!

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