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See some of the most important passages of the race
See the map for this beautiful ski marathon on the glaciers of Monte Rosa.
The organization of the classic race has decided to ostpone the start because of the very bad weather forecasts for this week-end. At the moment it is not yet decided when it will be possible to start. Hopefully the participants have to wait only for a couple of days. News on www.trofeomezzalama.org
See Carlos blog with very intersting pictures and information during his top tours and trekkings in the Spanish mountains and on Monte Rosa's Dufour Spitze 4643 meters peak.
Champoluc is a genuine alpine village in the Italian Alps (se www.thealps.com for more information). The heart of the village is made of an ancient part from the 1700th century, a main square and a main road with hotels, shops and apartment houses. It is a cozy village where people live all year round - not only a touristic resort - with a familiar and easy feeling.
The mountains around Champoluc and the valley are inviting with open views, a big ski system (Monterosa Ski), huge off pist and ski mountaineering in winter time, and a well developed trail system for all kind of hiking, trekking and top touring in summer.
The twenty 4000 meter peaks of the Monte Rosa with their glaciers and mountain huts are famous for mountaineers from all over the world.
There are some 30 hotels, B&B, and guesthouses in Champoluc, most of which are managed by the same family who ownes the house. Good Italian food tradition makes it worth to book hotels in Half Board service, breakfast and dinner included.
Charmant Petit Hotel (+39 0125 307566, mail email@example.com) is the best hotel in Champoluc, proved by the fact that the 13 rooms are often fully booked. The kindness and good mood of the people who manage the place make you feel at home around the inviting fireplace. The restaurant, Casa Nostra, is absolutely one of the best in the Valley.
Hotel Castor (+39 0125 307117, mail firstname.lastname@example.org) is the oldest hotel in town, founded at the beginning of the 1900. Now partly renovated, it preserves the charming character of the typical wooden mountain hotel. It is one of the places where both tourists and ”seasoners” go for a drink at night or take part in the very popular ”Music Nights” organized by the owners on Tuesdays.
Hotel Breithorn (+39 0125 308734, mail email@example.com) is also one of the old hotels in Champoluc, but has been completely rebuilt and is today a beautiful small four star, with charming mountain style atmosphere. The same owner has also set a trend of renovating old villages and rebuilt a few houses from 1600 in the tiny village of Mascognaz into a wonderful hotel Hotellerie de Mascognaz (firstname.lastname@example.org). Here you come only by private cat or jeep transfer. The place is enchanted and very romantic, or could be used for exclusive use by a small company for a special meeting.
You will also find other refuges of great charm and quality, few rooms but a feeling of being lost in the mountains far from cars and ”civilization”:
Vieux Crest (+39 0125 307983, mail email@example.com)
Frantze (+39 0125 941065, mail firstname.lastname@example.org)
Soussun (+39 348 6527222, mail email@example.com)
Are places you will barely find anywhere else in the Alps.
Many of the hotels in Champoluc have also good restaurants, but if you want to have a look at the town in the evening you can find some places with good Italian food mixed with the typical products of the Aosta Valley. Don’t forget to taste the local wines, especially Enfer for the red and for the white.
Pizzeria Churen (+39 0125.307518) is familiar and offers the best pizza in town, mixed with Italian and local food.
Le Sapin (+39 0125 307598): fine Italian cuisine with Champoluc's best ”tagliata”.
La Grange (+39 0125 307835), is very cozy and layed back with the best ”antipasto” of small dishes. Do not eat too much of it so you can even taste their pasta and the delicious meat of the two brothers, the chefs Chicco and Gio.
Crai is the supermarket where everyone goes after skiing, so avoid to be there around 5 pm. You will find a good choice of wines. If you want to go to a typical local shop you might go to the one on the right side after the church towards the lift station, with no name. Best fruits and vegetables in town! And fontina, the local cheese par excellence! Lucio is the butcher and is an experience you must have if you want a real gorgious steak melting in your mouth!
There are few places in the Alps with so many gorgeous restaurants on the slopes as Champoluc. No plastic and self service. Here is everything home made and genuine. Most of the restaurants arrange evenings with dinner and cat transfer to and from. Or why not stay after the closing of the lift system and enjoy the last rays of sunset? Campo Base (+39 347 3780565) is on top of the Mandria lift, and has an influence of the many travels to the Himalaya of the people in charge of the place. It is environment friendly and has Tibetan lunch every Tuesday. Try their special tea, when you are tired of ale and wine.Rifugio Ferraro (+39 0125 307612) is a bit away from the pist but it is worth the effort of coming back on track on the narrow trail in the woods that brings you from Resy to the lift. Also a place where people love the big mountains of Asia, which is prooved by the hundreds of small things coming from far east, mixed with old handicraft from the mountains around Monte Rosa. Their ”polenta dei vecchi” the elders polenta is delicious with salsiccia and cheese. Belvedere (+39 349 4915130) is the place to stop at the end of the day to drink a Bombardino (hot egg liquor with Brendy and cream), something you really appreciate only here! Good music to underline your feeling and beautiful dogs to play with.
Fraschey and Rent & Play (+39 0125 307469) have the best inventory of all what you need for skiing, apart from clothings (those bring you best with you from home!). All kinds of skis, from carving to telemark and ski mountaineering, mixed with the last fashion in helmets, poles, glasses and security kits (transceivers). The guys at the ski rent speak better Swedish than Italian (English will be fine). In summer you will also find bikes and climbing gears here.
When you want to do a top tour in the Monte Rosa you should stay at the Rifugio Guide d’Ayas, also called Lambronecca (+39 0125 308083, mail firstname.lastname@example.org). It is very clean and the food is great, with fresh vegetables even though it is so high up! People from all over meet here in a friendly atmosphere. Breakfast at 4 am is not so bad as it sounds. The people who like trekking have some of the nicest huts to stay at, and do not need to bringa ny heavy foods or gears for the night; you will find small guest houses on the trails for resting and enjoying the quiet near the stars and off the road.
Rifugio Tournalin (+39 338 5050545, mail email@example.com)
Rifugio Mezzalama (+39 0125 307226, mail firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rifugio Ferraro (+39 0125 307612, mail email@example.com) and
Fraschey (+39 0125.307468, mail firstname.lastname@example.org) at Resy
Rifugio Vieux Crest (+39 0125 307983, mail email@example.com)
Mountain Guide Organisation: www.guidechampoluc.com
Well, Champoluc is not the place where you could go out and party all night so easily, unless you know exactly where and when. There are 2 (!) pubs but they are not so hot every night. Golosone is for the old ski bums and seasoners or the ”connosseurs” after 12 pm. Not so much if the locals are not going out this evening. Best you ask at the ski hire what is going on that evening if you want to have some fun. Pachamama is more crowded in the afternoon for after ski or nights by kids on Saturdays. Remember the Hotel Castor’s famous ”Music Night” on Tuesday nights, where all the guests of the village join the owner Herman in a crazy sing a long party. Much better than it sounds!
We have selected a few excursions from Champoluc. Check them out and try them out for yourself.
Thanks Matt for submitting this thorough and great review of your stay in Champoluc!
The below is caveated by saying Dayna and I were after a quiet ski holiday (so no need for bars / apres etc) and we're both very good skiers (have skied most major resorts both in Europe and US / Canada) and a fair few smaller resorts too. We love our skiing. Overall I'd give Chompoluc 4 stars out of five. Resorts that get five stars are the likes of: Whistler, Val D'Isere, Ischgl, Jackson Hole, Verbier, Zermatt etc. So 4 is pretty damn good. We really liked the quaintness of the town and the fact that it isn't overrun with non italians (a few brits a few swedes but that's about it).
We didn't notice any of the hoards of budget English ski tourists you find in eg. Chamonix. The lack of nightlife keeps them away I guess, which was great! Just nice families enjoying the Xmas break. It's civilised! The biggest drawback is the road running through the centre of the resort. It get's really busy. And though it isn't fast moving traffic, it becomes a bit of a scrum at the end of the day (at NY anyway). Apparently they regularly discuss building another road but nothing has ever come of it. Locals agree it would be great to build another road. Shouldn't be tough to do!
The resort has seen some pretty impressive expenditure of late (last 3 years). The new lifts are great. There's a very good train / funicular that takes you up from Saint Jacques to one of the main hubs. From there you've easy access to ski over to Gressoney etc. And you can download on the funicular at the end of the day - you can't ski down which is annoying apart from on a cat track (don't do this at the end of the day as there are cats coming in the opposite direction! Then a 7 min bus ride from Saint Jacques back to Chompoluc. There are also 3 / 4 new high speed gondolas that have gone in recently.
These are 1st class. And really open up the ski area. There's sooo much skiing! For the good intermediate up. This is not a place for beginners at all in our view. There's another mountain nearby (can't remember the name) which is supposed to be better for beginners. But Monterosa is tough. Christmas / New Year especially so because Italians ski like they drive! The crowded pistes at the end of the day are seriously dangerous. I am told though that for most of the year, there aren't many people, so it's not a problem. But Xmas / NY is not for the faint hearted!
The off piste is just fabulous. There are steeps, bowls, tree runs galore. And you can access a lot of it from the lifts. There's an amazing lift that takes you 3000m+. Off piste all the way down - and pretty steep. For the off piste though you HAVE to go with a guide / a local. Very difficult to know where to go and nothing is marked. We had loads of sun but I imagine in white out it becomes extremely dangerous. There are plenty of great guides though, so v easy to arrange.
Another thing that is great in Chompoluc and you don't see so much of in other resorts is "skinning". We did this for a day with a guide (hired the equipment - v easy to do). It was FANTASTIC. You strap material to the bottom of your skis and hike up a mountain for a day / morning / whatever you're fit enough to do. Masses of terrain to cover, you ski down in powder and have a late lunch in a fantastic refugio! You can make it as hard or easy as you like. Really nice thing to do to get away from the crowds at Xmas! And to burn off the excess Xmas pudding from the 25th!
Apart from Courmayeur (undoubtedly the best food of any ski resort!), Chompoluc food is GREAT! The Refugios on the mountain are mostly fantastic! Local food, cheap and delicious. And the refugios are in beautiful locations. Had 2 amazing experiences. There is a refugio on the way down the off piste from the highest gondola in the resort. Just a beautiful setting. Amazing it's there at all. All the produce is local and organic. Just delicious.
The second is a snow shoe (again a v popular thing to do) from Saint Jacques up to a Tibetan style restaurant in a secluded medieval village. Probably the coolest place i've eaten at in any ski resort. Quiet, tranquil, amazing food with spectacular views. You can ski to it - which we did - but you must be an expert skier to do so. Much better to either skin or snow-shoe up to it. Amazing on a sunny day.
At night you HAVE to book restaurants to have a chance to get in over Xmas. You can't just turn up. But the restaurants are cheap and very good on the whole. The best is meant to be la grange in Saint Jacques. We couldn't get a table :(. And there are meant to be great places up on the piste for dinner but again, we couldn't get in and had the all inclusive hotel package, so made sense to eat there most of the time.
For the price, this place (Breithorn) was a great deal. I wouldn't spend an awful lot to stay there but it is definitely good. The best thing about it is the rooms are amazingly clean. And they give you fresh sheets / towels each day. They have a turn down service at night. The cleaners deserve some sort of award. The best of any hotel i've staid in i think. It makes a big difference.
They try VERY hard with the food. There's a lot of it. It is, however, not amazing. Much better to eat out actually. But it's a very nice setting. White table cloths each day. And a pretty good / reasonably priced wine list. Some very nice wines actually. The staff are mostly very friendly - especially the Italian staff. The spa is small but very welcome. And there are massages for 50 euros - not too bad.
2. The skiing
- provided you're competent. On a powder day, with a guide, there are probably few better places to ski in the world. - interestingly for really young children (3-5 year olds) i think the set up is probably pretty good. There are a lot of ski schools and the kids seem to have a great time.
There's a good area for them to learn at the top of the first gondola. - skiing over to Alagna takes a while - 2.5 hrs (and take note of the lift times as it's a 4.5hr drive back to Chompoluc if you get stuck there!), but is a nice day out. If you stick to the pistes, you can comfortably spend 4-5 days exploring if you're a decent skier. If you're good, you can ski here all season and not get bored! - heli-skiing. we couldn't do it as fully booked. But is meant to be excellent and affordable too for once!
Read "Marta's Monterosa Blog" where she shares her personal experience about the trips, the people and the environment of the Alps.
Read Marta's Monterosa Blog