News from the snow
Les Diablerets Switzerland
A village which has developed over the centuries, successfully walking the tightrope between modern over-development and maintaining its natural ambience, Les Diablerets today is one of the few resorts still able to offer a traditional, unique Swiss mountain resort holiday. Whilst many of the best known resorts in the world have grown to be more and more like one another, wherever they are, Les Diablerets has proudly maintained its character, expanding just enough to ensure visitors have all modern conveniences and requirements. Its location is perfect of course! There are the majestic mountain peaks of the Vaudois Alps, rich forested hillsides below running down to lush meadows, then across the valley stands the village itself. Winter sports fans need not fear that this is one of those pretty places with not much else going on however. The snow-capped mountains have lifts trundling along them year round, with the Diablerets glacier previously welcoming summer skiers and 'boarders) although in recent seasons the glacier lifts have not run in the summer and only cross country skiers have been able to enjoy the eternal snow outside the winter months. In the winter months the ski region extends to 125km (75 miles) with a lift link over to Villars and Gryon. If that's not enough the resort also participates in the Alpes Pass, which includes Les Mosses and Leysin. Passes of three days or more additionally entitle holders to unconditional use of the lifts of the neighbouring Gstaad regional pass for a further CHF 10. And in the peaceful village life or the endless piste kilometres are just too perfect for you there's the designer shopping mecca of Gstaad just down the road. Les Diableret's name perhaps hides a more turbulent past than the placid village of today. Translating to 'The Devils', old legends tell of gatherings of demons performing terrifying rites on dark and stormy nights. Some of this tradition occasionally still surfaces, especially in the Summer Festival of Devil's Day - although this is just a big party rather than some alarming black magic event! The resort's current attitude to its name is reflected in the cute little demon mascot now displayed on all its publicity material. In the end the name and the tradition just add to the sense that you are somewhere special, unique and historic.
A rather pretty old mountain resort, better known as a year round glacier skiing destination (the glacier itself is largely intended for summer skiing) There is a ski link to Villars however, so the winter ski area is over 100km without resorting to the glacier. Quite lively apres ski considering its size.
From the glacier itself there's a wonderfully long run of 10km (6 miles), the Combe d'Audon, with one unavoidable steep black mogul section which eventually takes you back to the ski bus stop at Reusch on the road to Gstaad. You will ski a 1650m (5414feet) vertical on this one descent. Incidentally, whether you take this route, or the cable car back down to Col du Pillon, you will then need to take the ski bus or some other transport back to the resorts as the lifts can get you from the village to the glacier, but not all the way back!
Les Diablerets' second and larger ski sector is accessed through a series of chair lifts up towards the Chaux des Conches area, above the tree line linking the resort to Villars since the mid '90s. This recent link means that skiers based at Les Diablerets have access to a huge area of largely intermediate standard skiing above Villars and over on to a third mountain area below Croix des Chaux with its long blues and shorter blacks. Beginners have nursery slopes by the village itself.
Apart from the on-piste expert options it's worth hiring one of the resort's dozen mountain guides to take you out on one of the high-mountain tours or off-piste descents; heli-skiing is also available. The Alpes Vaudoises Pass means that skiers can choose to take a combination of public transport options (bus and train) between resorts. A minimum four day pass must be purchased and a day is normally allowed in each area.
If you're looking for inspiration then the resort does boast two champions of its own including Lise-Marie Morerod, World Cup Downhill winner of 1977.
Telemark skiing is offered by the ski school and there are 30km of cross-country trails, including a 5km (3 mile) floodlit loop.
Snowli Parc, run by the ski school is the largest snow garden in the Vaudoises Alps (The Alps that are located in the Swiss canton of Vaud).
There's also a list of baby sitters available on request from the Tourist Office.
Les Diablerets' true village atmosphere is underlined by a program of events organised by the tourist office for all visitors. In recent years this includes evening toboggan runs every evening on request with the option of a fondue before the descent at a mountain restaurant at the top of the chair lift and a glass of mulled wine when you reach the bottom. Other options include farm visits, sightseeing tours in Diablerets and Vers L'Eglise, a snow shoe walk with an aperitif in a wood cutter's hut another day, and both Protestant and Catholic church services on Sunday.
Torch lit descents and sleigh rides are also organised on request.
The winter snowboard park is at Isenau above Diablerets with two others above lift-linked Villars (at Bretaye) and Gryon (on Les Chaux). In summer, the Glacier des Diablerets is THE meeting point for snowboarders from all over the world. Les Diablerets boasts the largest Summer Snowpark in Europe. The Park was designed by Nicolas Marduel, helped by Mitch "Buchanan", Lolo Besse & Berti Denervaud. The snowpark contains three half-pipes (shaped with a pipe-dragon), a boardercross and an obstacle park.
The summer camps have taken place from late June to late July in recent years. Past stars included Iker Fernandez, Lolo Besse, Berti, Denervaud, Cyrille Neri, Sergio Bartrina, "Baps" Charlet, Max Platzeneder, Guillaume, Chastagnol, Martina Tscharner, Valerie Bourdier, Cecile Plancherel, Stine Brun Kjeldaas, Anita Schwaller, etc...