FATMAP difficulty grade
Alpage Respect is the primary downhill trail in what’s referred to by some as the “Les Houches Bike Park.” Calling Les Houches a “bike park” is a disservice to bike parks everywhere, but there is at least one bike-optimized trail that you can ride from the top of the Prarion lift. While the official Chamonix marketing documents list three downhill trails in this area, based on my research and on the ground experience, it’s more likely that there used to be three line variants on this one trail.
Over time, the various alternate lines have fallen into extreme disrepair, so the downhill run basically offers one main line down the mountain with a few optional features.
Some of the optional features that are still standing are massive, such as one huge ladder drop that gaps over the easier trail, but most of the line down the mountain is simply a blown-out upper intermediate flow trail.
At points, the trail does dip into natural sections that are more technical—especially when wet—but overall, Alpage Respect is quite achievable by an upper intermediate rider. Adding to the difficulty is the lack of maintenance.
At the time of this writing, some sections of Alpage Respect are extremely blown out.
In one section, the trail has eroded into a rock-filled trench down the middle of the flow line.
Trying to navigate around wheel-sucking holes and rolling baby heads while still hitting tabletop jumps and setting up for the berms adds a new dimension to the ride—one that’s not entirely welcome. Negatives aside, some sections of Alpage Respect offer ripping flow with delightful back-to-back berms, and a few step down jumps that flow super smooth.
The tech sections are pretty entertaining as well, with delightful black dirt for loam blasting and dirt slashing.
After riding hiking trails all up and down the Chamonix Valley, getting to rip a bike-optimized trail—no matter what shape it’s in—can provide a welcome break from steep, awkward switchbacks.
So if you have some time to spare, be sure to check out Alpage Respect trail.