So, you think you’ve wild camped in the cold? This pic popped up on my timeline today - a two-week campervan trip to Valloire, a French ski resort just inside the border with Italy. With my wife I spent two weeks camping in the van in January, 2010. It was cold. This was January at 1400 metres elevation so it was well into negative degree centigrades at night and not much above during the day.
We chose this resort as we wanted to try a boarding holiday in the Campervan but wanted to a) camp as close to the lift as possible; and b) avoid the big Campervan parks you find in the larger ski resorts, which are generally a good hike from a ski lift. Our Campervan is the silver one in the front right of the picture. I think we succeeded on both counts.
So ok, the cat is out of the bag – we weren’t camping in a VW Campervan on this trip. A few years ago, we owned a T2 Bay Window which we drove over the Alps on our way down to Italy – It was the end of beginning of August but it still snowed in the mountains! Our current van is a T25, its engine converted to a Subaru 2.5 litre. It’s not really set up to cope with mountain roads in a snowstorm. But in a well-insulated van with a Propex heater, there’s no reason not to take your VW camping in a ski resort. Our old mechanic in Huddersfield, a well known T3 specialist, lived with his girlfriend in a VW T5 for a whole ski season. I’m not sure I’d fancy that, but it shows how capable these Campervans can be.
Your biggest issue is what will you do for a loo! That silver van did have a little loo compartment, which made life a lot easier. But in the building at the bottom of the ski lift in Valloire there was a toilet with running hot water, so if you’re hardy you’ll be alright. How are you going to charge your leisure battery? Solar panels or a quiet suitcase generator can do a job. Think about your fresh & waste water. If you have a tank, how exposed is it? Do some research to check what is available at ski resort base stations, there’s a massive community of ski-vanners out there who’ve ploughed the trail before you. Try it in the UK before-hand. Cairngorm mountain has a few camper van spots (I think with hook-up) right next to the base station.
Most of all, you need to be resourceful. Our Propex heater ran out of gas down after a week the in resort! We toughed it out running a fan heater off a genny in the evenings for a few days then retreated to a campsite with a hook-up. Yes, be resourceful – but don’t be a martyr!