This weekend 27th and 28th of December is one if not THE busiest weekend for many ski resorts. So many thousands of cars are trying to make their way up the mountain roads to the ski resorts.
This year however Mother Nature has decided to dump best part of a metre of snow at exactly the time these cars are in the area.
Mountain roads are generally a single lane road which wiggle their way up the hill and don’t have many places to overtake.
This weekend 15,000 vehicles are trying to get up to ski resorts like Val Thorens, Meribel and Tignes but due to amount of snow that has fallen in such a short amount of time the roads are completely jammed.
Ski resorts are very well equipped for clearing snow off roads and the staff can do it in their sleep, they are that good. The problem is if you stick thousands of cars on the same bit of tarmac they just can’t clear it.
But THE main problem why we have all these cars stuck around Albertville, Moutiers and up mountain roads is the drivers themselves. Every time there is snow of the mountain roads you will need to use snow chains except if you have a big 4×4 (and we have seen many BMW X5 and Land Cruisers have to put on chains too on some days).
Drivers often leave it too late to put on their snow chains, if they have them at all (it’s actually against French law not to have snow chains). What happens is they drive up as far as they can thinking they will make it all the way and get stuck. As it is a single lane they have little choice and have to start putting on the snow chains there and therefore hold up the hundreds of cars behind.
Another problem is that it is often the first time people have tried to put on snow chains, believe me some of them are a nightmare to put on!
It is also very often the case that it is dark when drivers tackle the mountain roads as they have more than likely travelled far, now they have to fit snow chains which they don’t know how to do in the dark!
With all this snow around the place the temperature is most likely quite cold so if you are outside of your car you will need to wear some gloves. Fortunately you have packed your thick ski gloves!
Now try putting on snow chains you don’t know how they work, in the dark, with snow falling getting in your eyes, in below freezing temperatures wearing thick ski gloves! Oh and whilst holding a torch (if you have one) in your mouth as there are not any road lights on these roads so you won’t be able to see without one.
It is easy pointing out the obvious if you live and work in a ski resort and see this day in day out, but come on people a little thought needed here!
I started writing this post to report on the state of the roads at the moment but it has kind of changed direction to point out what we all can do to stop this happening again in the future. There has been other unusual events happening at the same time which would not have helped, there was a fire in a tunnel around Chambery and Alberville as well as crashes by buses, which is rare and would have stopped traffic passing but that aside we can all help.
Things Skiers driving to a ski resort can do to help the traffic:
- Practise putting on your snow chains at home before you leave.
- Make sure you have a good torch, a head touch is ideal.
- Thin gloves will help instead of thick ski gloves.
- Don’t wait until it is too late to put the chains on, do it in one of the snow chain lay-bys.
- Make sure you have food and water as well as warm clothing (available not in suitcase).
- Fill up you car with fuel before going up the mountain (see saving money when skiing tips), you don’t want to run out of fuel whilst sitting in traffic.
- Pack lots of common sense and don’t forget to use plenty! 🙂