I have just finished 4 days of steep ski coaching here in the Vanoise for IFMGA Mountain Guide Andy Perkins and his friends Jim & Pete. We struck lucky with 4 days of reasonable weather & visibility, with some variable snow to keep the team on their toes. The guys have all skied some steep terrain in the past including the NE face of Les Courtes, but were looking to build confidence and solid technique & tactics to handle steeper terrain with less stress.
Day 1 in Courchevel saw a cloudy start clearing to give blue skies and lots of fresh snow - perfect to warm the legs and get in to some easy steep ground:
Andy warming up on some lower angle powder:
Checking out the line:
Me (thanks to Andy for the photo!!):
On Day 2 we went back up to Courchevel again, with thechnical input for the team which we then took onto some 40º+ ground.
Andy P in action:
Opening up the curves below some steeper ground:
Mottaret was the venue of choice for Day 3 with technical input mixed with plenty of opportunity to put the skills into practise as before. Bad light put paid to any decent photos and a thin rain crust from the night before helped to focus the mind on steeper terrain!
On our last day we took the chance to put it all together on a longer descent, and headed for the North face of the Bellecote. Sadly strong winds during the night and morning restricted our choices somewhat, and we had to tone down our objectives but still found an interesting challenge in the Canadian couloir with a tricky mix of snow, particularly on the entry pitches which definitely feel steep & exposed when not in great conditions:
It was interesting to watch a lone skier rock up to the top of Cairn couloir (which we had decided against due to a very wind-loaded looking top cone) and jump in without even pausing to assess conditions - either I am getting old and boring or people are getting very risk-tolerant (is that a polite way of saying stupid??).
Off to Bourg D'Oisans this week for the Off Piste Perfection course - hopefully conditions will allow to make the most of the fantastic skiing down here with Alpe D'Huez, Deux Alpes and of course the one and only La Grave all on the agenda!