Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy New Year! + Snow conditions report Savoie New Year 2017

As the last few hours of 2016 roll away and we welcome in 2017 its time to wish all offpisteskiing blog readers a Happy New Year! Here's hoping 2017 is full of cold powder and perfect spring snow...

Further to the last post, I have just finished 3 days in the Haute Tarentaise & Haute Maurienne working alongside IFMGA Guide Andy Nelson and BASI Instructor Dave Meyer with the assembled Chapatte/Schneider clans. With the weather set firmly to 'blue sky' we were able to maximise the potential available with a bit of skinning from Le Fornet, finding some great areas of creamy snow right down to 2200m.

Plenty of snow out towards the Col des Fours:

It was Sam's 30th birthday so we sneaked a bottle of champagne into my rucksack for a surprise party/picnic at the Fond des Fours hut, here Sam is attempting to 'sabre' the champagne with an ice axe - a more traditional opening was eventually used...

A fox hole (or possibly a fox had dug out a shallow marmot hole?) - first time I have seen one of these out in the middle of nowhere:

Good snow in the Montet valley:


Bird's eye view of the Haute Tarentaise:

To sum up current conditions for the French Alps - head for the border ridge, one or two valleys further in and you will find much less snow! Fingers are crossed that 2017 will bring a change to the current weather patterns...

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

A quick update from the French Alps

It has been quite quiet here at Offpisteskiing HQ - a busy week of work for the opening week of the 3 Valleys, but last week I had programmed in some family time over Christmas with some fun days skiing with Jr 1 and Jr 2 who both seem to have caught the bug now! Back to 'the office' today in St Foy, working with my good friends Dave Meyer and Andy Nelson - Dave and I go waaaaay back to my first season teaching skiing at Nevis Range back in 95/96!

Conditions are exceptionally lean (no news there) but there is still some fun skiing to be had. Today was our first day with a couple of families who are keen to do some touring, so we had a good 'shakedown' day skinning and skiing the South side of the Foglietta, going over some basic uphill technique tips, and building in a good transceiver/shovel/probe session.

Snow in St Foy is non-existant (barring man-made on the pistes) below 2000m, but up higher there is actually a reasonable covering (for early season) and some nice patches of wind-filled softness.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

...and we're off and running...

Despite a later start than usual due to other work commitments winter 2017 is now off and running!

Yesterday the lifts up in Courchevel opened for the winter so it was time to sneak in a run or two with 'offpisteskiing Jr'

Today I was skiing with Ali, Steve, Sue and Debbie. It is fair to say conditions are about as thin as they can be at this time of year - heading up the lifts from Mottaret the view was quite sobering:

There was a bit of fun stuff to ski up high in Val Thorens though:

It was eye-opening to see the number of skinning tracks all over the place, despite the lack of snow and very rocky terrain. Maybe I am getting old and cautious but given the current thin snowpack I would rate the chances of trashing my skis and/or myself quite highly at the moment (a la Schumacher and many others) - surely there are other ways to get an exercise fix whilst waiting for a base to build up?

Monday, 5 December 2016

2017 course dates and availability

A quick update with spaces available for our off piste coaching and adventure courses this coming winter:

Tarentaise Off Piste Performance 4 - 11 Feb 2017 - 2 spaces left.

Based in Bourg St Maurice, with easy access to the amazing off piste potential of Les Arcs, La Rosiere/La Thuile, St Foy, Espace Killy & La Plagne. This is a week of coaching and exploration, with our valley base allowing us the freedom to seek out the best snow and conditions.

Serre Chevalier Freeride 18 - 25 March 2017 - 2 spaces left

The Hautes Alpes area offers huge potential and variety for off piste skiers. This week is based in Serre Chevalier, with its huge linked lift system giving lots of great options including some amazing tree skiing. Within easy reach we also have the mecca that is La Grave, Montgenevre and the Italian Milky Way ski areas (Sestriere etc), Puy St Vincent, and slightly further away the Queyras ski areas - scene of possibly the best day of powder skiing I have had!

There is also still one space remaining on the legendary Steep Vanoise week running 13 - 17 March.

I will be sharing duties on this with IFMGA guide Dorian Labaeye who joined the team last year for an epic week:

Don't hesitate to get in touch for more details on these weeks