The Val D'Anniviers came up with the goods again!
Alex styling it up:
The last time I was here was 7 years ago, with very similar snow conditions to this year, but once again Grimentz and Zinal did not disappoint.
With a couple of small snowfalls but reasonable visibility through the week our Off Piste Improvers coaching course was topped off by 40cm of powder and blue skies on Friday (albeit with -17C temperatures and a biting wind!).
Peter puts his new skills into action:
Peter, Alex, Paul, Chas, Phil and Steve all made great progress through the week, and we ticked off a couple of classic descents on the way, with great snow all the way to the Moiry Dam from Zinal and perfect powder down the Orzival valley.
The Weisshorn watching over our skiing:
Cool tree on the exit from Orzival:
A word on conditions:
Much caution is still needed as shady slopes still have the weak depth hoar and buried surface hoar layers from early in the season. Additionally Thursday night's snowfall came with wind first from the North, then swinging round to West/South-West. On Friday many small slabs and sluffs were evident, some natural, some skier/boarder-triggered, and lots had gone with the morning's avalanche control work (they were still throwing charges into places at 3pm!). Grimentz being a bit of a rock garden some care is still needed as many rocks are only just buried, though the classic routes and gully lines are starting to fill in well.
Somebody got a fright on Friday!:
The new cable car linking Grimentz to Zinal was still under testing last week, though allegedly was going to open yesterday - shame about the current state of the architecture - harking back to the best days of French concrete block construction - one assumes (hopes) some cladding will be coming shortly!
Some more powdery shots - Friday was just incredible - even at 3pm we were putting first tracks into completely untouched bowls - the beauty of Grimentz early season is that there is lots of safe terrain (sub-30º) and very few people chasing the powder turns!
Hopefully it won't be another 7 years before I am back again...
Now its time for a couple of days off with the family, then back to work on Tuesday with a couple of IFMGA Mountain Guides and their friends for some steep coaching... bring it on!