Saturday mars 1 2014 – a meter of snow came down on Champoluc, Gressoney and Alagna. Our normally unstoppable Chevy 4-by-4 van could hardly make it down to the valley. It took me 3 ½ hours from Champoluc and down to Verres – a distance of 30 kilometers. There were deserted cars everywhere. Tourist busses and utility viechels. Gas stations where sold out for snow chains. Restaurant La Toretta opened for lunch which they normally don’t serve, in order to help all the stranded people. The road to Gressoney was closed all together for the duration of the day.
Good lesson from the day: When bad weather is forecasted. Add AMPLE time to your time plan if you’re going to the airport for instance. Good site for weather forecast and road conditions in English. Always keep the snow chains in your car. Saturday, the police stopped even 4-by-4 cars with winter tires that couldn’t show the chains. If you don’t have chains, most mechanics and larger gas stations have them. If you don’t know how to mount them, ask somebody the first time because it’s a little tricky.
I didn’t have chains but our car is big and strong and have good tires and it made its way. I got a good tip from Berto, the local mechanic in Champoluc: Let out some of the air in all tires and true – my grip was much better with 1.9 than 2.5 kg.
Apart from the inconvenience of really bad road conditions and a massive traffic jam, it is a great and beautiful experience with such a vicious snow storm. It reminds us – nature is big, strong and beautiful and we are sometimes all at the mercy of powers greater that ourselves.
Berto in Champoluc at the gas station +39 0125 308035
Mechanic in Brusson at the gas station +39 0125 300158
Tires in Verres Gervasoni Pneumatici +39 0125 921559
Help with towing in Champoluc: Sandro Favre +393470183842
Gas station in Aosta that have a larger assortment of chains and other stuff, Esso, +39 347 891 4668
And while we are at it – in Italy, they do not have winter diesel normally. You must either add a winter antifreeze to your tank, or make sure that you buy winter diesel. Normally you only get winter diesel in the mountains. If you rent a car at the airport that is full with diesel it is most likely not winter diesel. You drive the car up to you favorite ski resort and the tank is still full so you don’t take gas. On the day of your departure…….car doesn’t start and you miss the plane and have to pay for towing. Therefore –stop on your way up to the mountains and add a bottle of antifreeze to your tank.
Best of luck and drive safely!