Glacier 3000

Glacier 3000 is a dysfunctional resort. It is halfway between Gstaad and Les Diablerets, and is claimed to be part of both their local ski systems; it reckons itself to be in Vaud but much of the ski area is in the Bernese Oberland and Valais; it promotes itself for it’s glacier skiing, but the more adventurous skiing is not on the glacier. In essence it is two areas, the north-facing area below the glacier with terrain down to Reusch, Col du Pillon and even Gstaad if the snow is good, and a glaciated plateau with dizzying views over Valais and beyond.

There is little to commend the glacier skiing. Flat blue runs, bitterly cold in Winter, inevitably serviced by t-bars and only accessible via a long schuss from the cable car – and most skiers and snowboarders will find they get insufficient speed from the very steep incline off Scex Rouge to make it across to the first lift (surely a case for a rope tow). However the glacier has a superb snow record and a long season, and there is some lovely, gentle off-piste, especially when there is fresh snow. If it has snowed overnight get to the top as soon as you can to make it to the off-piste outside and between the runs from Quille du Diable.

The runs away from the glacier are tough. The red run to Oldenegg would be a black at most resorts.There are also some trails and a range of demanding off-piste, including a devilish drop-off from the back of the eponymous Mario Botta-designed restaurant at Scex Rouge. Talking of eating, there are a good range of hostelries on the mountain, and the view from the terrace at Refuge L’Espace is one of the most breath-taking in the Alps. The Botta Restaurant sports Formula 1 images, reminding diners of Bernie Ecclestone’s investment in the resort.

Gstaad Mountain Rides classifies Glacier 3000 as sector 4 in that system, and it is priced for 2010/11 at CHf 60 for an adult for one day, only slightly cheaper than the main sector 1 area. There are a courtesy ski bus and a scheduled post bus linking Glacier 3000 with Gstaad and Les Diablerets. From the gondola station servicing Isenau in Les Diablerets it is possible to ski on a red run down to the Col du Pillon base station at Glacier 3000. The other lift system in Les Diablerets, Meilleret, which connects up with Villars and Gryon, is about a 15 minute walk from the Isenau base station, and the railway station in les Diablerets is equi-distant between the two lift systems.

Glacier 3000 is rarely crowded, even at weekends, although if you are driving it is worthwhile getting there early to get a good parking space. Parking is free.

Glacier 3000 is a bleak resort when it is cold, and would not be a destination I would normally choose over the nearby Rinderberg/Hornfluh, Videmanette/Eggli (both Gstaad Sector 1), Meilleret, Leysin or Chateau D’Oex slopes. However for early season excursions or on sunny Spring days it provides the best (or only) skiing and snowboarding in all the Vaud resorts, and on a clear day the views from the top make it worth a trip.

Details on the resort in Dutch are at the Swiss WinterSports web site.

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