Monday, 28 February 2011

Steep Vanoise 2011 (part 1)

What a week so far!

The first of this year's Steep Vanoise weeks got off to a powdery start on Monday, with perfect conditions in the head of the Mottaret valley:

On Tuesday we headed for Champagny/La Plagne and the North face of Bellecote. On arriving at the end of the Traversee chair no tracks were visible heading into the face so for the second year running we got to put first tracks in! Couloir Cairn was looking a bit thin, so we headed on over to Couloir Canadiens to find some good soft snow (if a bit variable in places):

Windy at the top!:

Ian somewhere down the 1000m of Couloir Canadiens:

Ripping up the easier bottom section:

Having made our way back through the lift system to Roche de Mio, a quick lap in the Rossets couloir followed before we went off in search of 'Couloir Mythique' - a line I have often looked at but never had the time to go and ski (let alone find the top of). As it turned out the entrance was easy to find, and gave good steep skiing with great snow:

More to come...

Friday, 25 February 2011

Petit Mont Blanc

No, not that one... this one is in the Vanoise...

Will approaches the summit, E Face of Aiguille du Fruit behind:

The snow was OK...!

Good turns to be had all the way down to Le Biol:

Another small top-up due on Sunday - looks like March could be quite good!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

What a day!

Wow! Where did that come from?? - Great day skiing powder with Will J-M, with barely another soul off-piste. First tracks in Panoramique, Sous le Tele right hand, Emile Allais, Curé, Col du Fruit (awesome) and just pipped to the post on the Equinox face at the end of the afternoon (still acres of room for freshies though).
Got to love half term weeks !!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Snow & other things...

I have just returned from a week in & around Samoens for the final assessment of the International Mountain Leader award.
Half-term madness has just begun here in the 3 Valleys, and the good news is that it was snowing today - thought only for a grand total of 10cm or so of fresh at resort level. Still, better than nothing, and it has certainly put a smile on a few folks faces!

As to snow conditions, well we have certainly seen better, though in the Tarentaise it is far from the catastrophe the press would have everyone believe. It is always interesting to hear people's interpretations of the snow conditions however - last weekend, having just finished a 6 day off-piste course in Chamonix where we spent 90% of our time off piste skiing some pleasant chalky snow and some great bumps, I chatted to a Geneva-based Brit who had been up in Chamonix where "obviously there was no off-piste at all"... no powder maybe, but more off-piste than you can shake a stick at! Each to their own...

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Off Piste Improvers (Part 2)

3 more days of sunshine to finish the week with the Off Piste Improvers group.
Wednesday we went back to Les Grands Montets, for some 'coaching on the move' on the chalky wind-buffed snow.
On Thursday we drove back through the tunnel to Courmayeur. A run from the Arp down to Val Veni gave some of the best snow for the last 2 weeks, with spindrift on a smooth base giving velvety smooth & super soft skiing!

Steve with Petit Mont Blanc and Aiguille des Glaciers behind:

John starts the section of great "spindrift powder" - 20 seconds after a skier had made tracks they were covered again!

Yesterday was a 'maximum mileage' day to give the team lots of time to put into action all the developments from the week with a full & varied tour of all that the Grands Montets has to offer with good snow off the top cable car, and even some softened spring snow in the Lavancher bowl!

The team ripping up some smooth chalkiness:

There are still spaces left on the remaining off-piste coaching courses this year, so don't hesitate to get in touch to book your spot...

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Off Piste Improvers

This week is the Off Piste Improvers course, based in Chamonix.

Conditions have been 'interesting', with some spring snow (and some 'mashed potato') at Le Tour, good chalky snow (and some amazing bumps) at the Grands Montets, and some adventure today in Courmayeur...

The team at the top of the Grands Montets:

Great sunsets!

Italy today:

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Off Piste Intro #2

Last week was this winter's second Off Piste Introduction week, based in brides-les-Bains and using the 3 Valleys ski area. Despite the doom & gloom in the press there was still some good skiing to be had both on & off piste (despite internet reports of "offpiste non-existent").

Through the week we skied all corners of the 3 Valleys, finding some powder, spring snow, chalky hard-pack as well as some trickier crust and windblown snow (all educational though!).

Spring snow in the top of Lac du Lou:

And some softer stuff lower down:

Firm windpack in the Combe des Chamois:

The team on the "non-existent" off-piste!:

Some surprise powder:

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Off Piste Adventures (Part 2)

Day 4 of last weeks Off Piste Adventures saw us heading for Champagny, and a trip down the petit face Nord on Bellecote - a great opportunity for the team to hone their steep skiing techniques, and put the previous 3 days work into practice!:

After lunch and the long flog back through the La Plagne lift system we headed for the Combe des Arriérés hoping to find some spring snow:

As it turned out the snow was more powder than spring!:

Friday was our last day and for something completely different we loaded up and set course for Areches-Beaufort. A quick stop in the village to stock up on Tartes au Beaufort and it was up into the lift system. A cold wind was blowing, but everyone was motivated for adventure, so we donned skins, and headed for the summit of the Grand Mont d'Areches:

On the summit of the Grand Mont, Mont Blanc behind:

Good chalky snow up high in the Combe Nord-Est:

Some "creme brulee" lower down - a wafer thin crust with heavy soft snow underneath:

Amazing hoar frost crystals by a rock:

On the ski out:

Thanks to all the team for a great week - hope to see you next year for more adventures!