Megève Mountain Guides Office
History of Val d’Arly mountain guides
To find out more about the long history of the Val d’Arly Guide Bureau, we turn to Luc Berthelot, its former president with 43 years of service. With meticulous attention to detail, he recounts the peregrinations, sporting exploits, anecdotes, mountain races, dramas and battles of ego of the great mountaineers.
Intimately linked to the local tourist economy, the story begins at the beginning of the 20th century, with the ski guides. You have to imagine a winter landscape where all the slopes are accessible from the village,” says Luc Berthelot. Every summit of today’s Evasion Mont Blanc is traversed by skiers, sealskins tied under their skis with strings.”
The funny tangerine trail
The best-known itinerary is the Mont d’Arbois Mandarin trail. A name so unlocal that it’s justified: “To quench their travelers’ thirst, the ski guides took mandarins out of their bags. The peels were thrown casually onto the snow. Baroness Noémie de Rothschild, a cross-country skier, took offense at this, and whenever a guide-skier was negligent, he was on clean-up duty,” explains Luc Berthelot. Two other classics of the era: the Olympique and the piste des Genevois. The latter would arrive in Sallanches by train, then take all day to make the round trip to the Col du Jaillet or even Croisse Baulet. In the spring, it was the Véry, Mont Joly and Saisies passes, the Espace Diamant almost a century ago.
This golden age for the ski guide company came to an end between 1933 and 1934 with the creation of the Rochebrune and Mont d’Arbois cable cars. The ski guides then become ski instructors. In 1969, Henri Perinet set up a guide office in Megève to create a summer offering. It quickly became part of the Saint Gervais company in 1971, and remained so until 2001.
Lady’s climbing crag is equipped. With their season limited to August, the guides supplement their activities at the UCPA centers in Les Contamines, Chamonix and Argentière.
In winter, they work as ski school instructors in Megève and Combloux.
From 1979 onwards, with the arrival of newly-qualified mountain guides, hiking became a collective program. The number of guides has also increased, and a branch has been set up in Combloux. The Praline guides then join the Megeve office. And business tourism is on the rise.
The climbing boom
In 1989, a new step was taken with the inauguration of the climbing wall at the Palais des Sports. From 1990 onwards, the business continued to diversify, with canyoning, paragliding with Megève Aventure, rafting with Session Raft, snowshoeing as a key winter activity and mountain biking, followed by the more accessible e-VTT.
In 2011, the climbing offer expands with a climbing school at Le Glapet, followed by the beautiful tool of the Salle du Palais.
Thierry Guinot, current president of the Val d’Arly guide bureau, confirms that our guides are constantly adapting to changing customer expectations, as well as to climatic constraints, snow conditions and high mountain conditions.
Workforce (excluding external reinforcements)
15 permanent mountain guides, 6 of whom are also downhill ski instructors, plus 5 as priority back-up.
12 guides, 5 of whom are alpine ski instructors and one cross-country ski instructor, with 7 guides as priority reinforcements
2 administrative and reception staff, open 7 days a week in season
Thanks to Luc Berthelot for his prose and his commitment.
Thanks to Sylvie Bessy for her summary.