After waiting an agonizing six months since the first mention of ‘Morzine’ in the pub on a grim winter’s evening, ten of Edinburgh University’s downhill riders descended upon Edinburgh Airport, bleary eyed in the small hours of the 27th July. Amongst the early morning chaos everyone passed through check-in and security without a hitch – spurred on only by the prospect of £1 Boots sandwiches in Duty Free.
Two and a half hours later we touched down in Geneva, Switzerland. We strolled across the tarmac to the waiting bus in the already unbearable, yet welcomed heat. No matter, we pressed on through the Airport wading through strange non-cycling folk in search of our bikes. All were thankfully intact.
After the most scenic of airport transfers we arrived at our ten man apartment right in the centre of Morzine. Views of the mountains and Avoriaz from our balcony welcomed us. Super Morzine telecabine, Le Pleney chairlifts and most importantly, L’Opera, only a stone’s throw away.
I have never seen 10 bikes built so fast in all my life. There were unparalleled/dangerous levels of stoke in the air as we bought lift passes and got our bearings about town.
We decided to head to Les Gets on day one to warm ourselves up. It was a crazy experience for most of us who hadn’t experienced chairlift or even uplift assisted riding before. The trails were so dusty and blown out since Les Gets probably has the most traffic of any bikepark in the region. It was still awesome nonetheless. We made the pilgrimage (disgusting push) that afternoon along the edge of the Le’Golf to the top of Le’Pleney – one of THE most fun and fast trails in the area. We ended the day sampling a few runs of SuperMorzine – the other side of the Morzine valley. That place was epic. Hero dirt berms, one after the other. With clean bikes we ended the day already shattered with ruined hands from braking bumps. Nevertheless, we had only scratched the surface of what the Portes Du Soleil had to offer.
The following twelve days of riding more than lived up to expectations.
We ventured over a couple of valleys to Chatel several times. That place had more berms and jumps that you could shake a stick at. Coupled with some top class technical trails, Chatel had us entertained every time. Many of us nailed some of the biggest gaps we’d ever hit and then doing them all over again for the camera! We had some pretty long EUCC trains down trails such as ‘People’, ‘Flow’ and ‘Komatrotrail’. A few of us braved some black graded trails including ‘Zugouloukata’, ‘Air-Voltage’, ‘Black Shore’ and the IXS track. ‘Zugouloukata’ is the one with the ‘boner’ log jump and crazy river gap you can see in the video! Shout out to Fraser Rae for hitting that line on his Trek Remedy! What a thug.
Super Morzine and Pleney provided the entertainment for many of the days. Since the main Pleney bubble car was closed this season, the only access to the top were the two slowest walkers chairlifts known to man. These were only open for bikes until 1030 too. This made us savor every run we had of the legendary trail. It was plain flat out speed the whole way down. Including the little cut off option over some physical and rooty drops, it felt like you had been assaulted after every run. We liked the trail so much that we pushed up to session when the chairs were closed for thunderstorms one morning.
Super provided many days of entertainment on its own. Numerous trails on the upper Zore chairlift kept us grinning all day. But once you were on the top half of the mountain you were forced to choose one of the unmarked, demanding and steep trails to get you home to Morzine below. These trails ate brake pads (search for ‘porridge’ and ‘best kept secrets’ on Pinkbike). Incredible fun in the dry but in the wet they were totally different. Just as fun, but slightly more stressful at the end of a long day.
The 1st of August was a pretty sweet day. Not just since it was my birthday but because we went to Morgins, Switzerland. Since it was also Swiss independence day, it seemed especially appropriate. The weather was crystal clear. This made the extra long French Mosette chairlift up to the swiss border the ride of a lifetime. With Mont Blanc in the distance and the rest of the alps towering around us in the most epic of panoramas, it made for quite a journey. Peeing with a view taken to a whole new level. We picked our way down ‘puncture alley’ on the upper ridge of the border and continued on a 20 minute fire road blast into Morgins. The sketchy little chairlift gave nothing away of the trail wizardry that lay below it. It had everything from ribbon berm trails to flat out technical including a sweet road gap. We rode so much but still didn’t cover the other black trails littered around the Morgins goldmine. We lasted most of the day before the heat got the better of us and the trail got the better of Craig’s mech. €80 later Craig was ready to roll and we hit the road home with the Chatel temperature gauge telling us 39. Some of us hit Lake Montriond on the way homefor a swim, which went down a treat. That night we hit up Mama’s for some phenomenal pizza. Go for BBQ Meat Feast if you ever get a chance!
Another day worth a mention would be the day that EUCC met ‘Slayer’. We decided to go exploring on Mt Chery in Les Gets since we found the main line rather uninteresting. We followed our noses down what began as a pretty tight and unridden trail with soft loamy dirt. Great. All was well until we crossed the bridle way. The trail began to get steeper and steeper. Steeper than any stuff we’d ridden so far. I turned a corner after getting down a ridiculously steep chute and, to my horror, saw an even steeper chute with a 90 degree turn at the bottom WITH NO DIRT ON THE BACK OF IT! Basically, it was a one-way ticket into the ravine below. We tried to stop before the death slide but there was no hope of getting started again to ride down it. There was no option but to take one on the chin and walk down. I say walk, we had to slide down on our backsides. Not pretty. We were an embarrassment to EUCC and are deeply sorry for our actions. After watching Fraser and Sam ride the sketchiest North Shore skinny south of Dunbar we carried on down the trail. That’s when Craig suddenly met his match on a MONSTER one and a half foot drop. Craig gave it the beans and performed a textbook tomahawk turning his front wheel into a pringle and his helmet into a colander. He took it all in his concussed and dazed stride and after another dent in his wallet sorted himself out for the rest of the trip.
The last couple of days were unfortunately pretty wet. We eased off the gas since we’d been riding every day of our trip. Super Morzine was a different beast in the wet and kept us entertained. On the second last day we managed to get some filming done and take some photos in the rain.
We packed up on Saturday 10th August and headed for Geneva Airport with all of our accommodation deposit returned. We spent 6 hours chilling in the sun on the outdoor terrace waiting for our flight reminiscing over the last 13 days. Unsurprisingly we agreed that we had an unforgettable time. Hopefully the first of many EUCC alps trips.
Cheers everyone for a fantastic trip.