Saturday, 9 February 2013

Happy days... and sad days...

Today I have my feet up resting after a very cold and very very powdery week in the Oisans running the Off Piste Perfection coaching week.

Despite some testing weather conditions with wind chill temperatures down to -35 Celsius we found great conditions in La Grave and at Alpe D'Huez. 2 groups alternated between coaching with myself and guiding with local IFMGA Guide Jerome Chancrin.

Early in the week and La Grave is full of light powder:

La Reine Meije looking good:

Dan puts his new-found skills to full effect in couloir Patou:


After 3 days in La Grave and a tick list including Patou, Banane, Lac and Voute we changed scenery to Alpe D'Huez on day 4 - only one word can describe the day - EPIC! Thigh deep, super-light powder and hardly another soul on the tree runs. So snowy in the morning that I left the camera in the car (and then regretted it...).

Day 5 saw us driving up to La Grave again with the promise of a powder day, the top lift having stayed shut the day before... we weren't dissapointed, with fresh powder everywhere, and a nice finish to the day in the Fréaux couloir.

Dan in Les Fréaux:

A happy team below the main Fréaux couloir:

On Friday we wraped up the week in style back at Alpe D'Huez. After some delay in the morning for mechanicals the DMC finally swung into action, only to deposit us in the teeth of an arctic gale. A quick change of plans and we headed for the Vaujany trees for some great boulder-hopping and meadow-skipping.

The wind finally relented at lunchtime so we headed up to Pic Blanc and slid over to the Combe du Loup for a last descent. Heavy powder at the top soon gave way to light and deep goodness lower down:

Last few turns before rejoining the Sarenne piste:

A huge thanks to Peter, Peter, Sue, Audrey, Nigel, Dan, Martin, Mike and Allan for coping with the cold, and also to Eric and Pauline at the Gite Les Petites Sources i Bourg D'Oisans who were excellent hosts as usual - see you next year!

On a sadder note I had heard through the day about an avalanche accident in Chamonix and woke this morning to find that it involved a friend of mine. I only skied with Martin a few times, he was a super-nice guy and very experienced in the mountains and will be sorely missed by many. I shared a memorable birthday a couple of years ago skiing fresh September powder off the Midi with Martin along with Cedric Bernardini and Tom Grant. RIP buddy...

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