One part of the winter is slowly drawing to a close, while another is just beginning.
Last week I was running a Freeride Briançon course for Jagged Globe and www.offpisteskiing.com. Based in Villeneuve, in the heart of the Serre Chevalier ski area we kept to a flexible brief, going wherever we thought might give the best skiing.
Day 1 was a local day, exploring the easily accessible off piste in Serre Chevalier, where conditions were OK but not great, but made for good coaching conditions to set up some common goals for the week.
Serre Che's tribute to the Happy Mondays?
On day 2 we headed over the Col du Lautaret for a quick pilgrimage to La Grave - again conditions were slightly underwhelming compared to the previous 2 weeks Vanoise powder frenzy, but again another great day ay a classic venue:
Days 3 and 4 came with mixed forecasts, so we stayed local as Serre Che has some great tree skiing - as it turned out the cover was not needed and we managed some good runs down the Balme couloir and a few other local classics:
The weather patterns had changed through the week, with (yet) another 'Retour d'Est' dumping snow on the Italian side of the range, so after a consultation with an old friend of mine who runs his family's ski shop in St Veran we set off for the Queyras to a little known ski area... where we hit a jackpot of waist deep powder, and faceshots from first turn to last... absolutely incredible!:
After such an incredible day it was always going to be a hard act to follow. The best of the snow had been skied at Resort X, so another Italian option was pulled out of the hat. This was my first time working in Sestriere but I will most definitely be back - great terrain, good coffee, and great food!:
Thanks to Gavin and Dave for the insider info, and thanks to Chas and Steve for a great week - here's to next year's course!
This pretty much wraps up my Alpine work for the winter - fast approaching are 2 weeks ski touring in the magical Lofoten Islands, before a brief break at home and then a 'mates trip' to Baffin Island for some Arctic couloir skiing!