I hiked on snow shoes (that the French call raquettes) from the top of the Beauregard lift (1647 m.) up from La Clusaz in Haute-Savoie. The mountains are the Chaine des Aravis and the glaciers of the Mont Blanc massif. The skier is going down the cross-country black route down from the lift.
Me, this was the first time I have been to a ski report in winter, let alone getting up on to the snow. I was staying with Arno in Annecy and was trying out hiking using raquettes (Raquettes à neige) that I’d bought just the previous evening. Sure, hiking with raquettes is literally the most pedestrian of the Nordic winter sports, but having the equipment to get away from the crowds at the top of the télécabine and being able to enjoy the winter wonderland at 1450 or 1500 metres or so was a revelation, even without the adrenaline rush of downhill skiing. The clarity of the air, the sheer brightness of the fresh snow and the apparent proximity to big rocks and Europe’s highest mountains was fantastic.
Even with being limited to relatively manicured paths wasn’t objectionable in comparison with being able to stop, enjoy and move on; and the organisation gives the benefit of useful sign-posting and separation from faster traffic. Maybe it should have been obvious, but I was surprised that the culture on the paths was similar to hiking: greeting fellow hikers, quick chats with other solo hikers with one or two extended conversations that are enlightening in so many serendipitous ways.