Wednesday, 30 December 2009

La Plagne Quiz

Sign spotted today on the Inversens red run in La Plagne:


Answers on a postcard please...

Monday, 28 December 2009

Powder in the mist

With a fast-lowering cloud-base today didn't look like a great day for being out & about off-piste, but turned into a great day...
In the morning we headed into Les Avals by the safe traverse option from Roc Merlet, avoiding the loaded slopes under the top of Pyramides button.. The top slopes needed a bit of 'braille skiing' but visibility soon improver and Keith & Claire enjoyed making first tracks all the way to the valley bottom.

After the usual efforts getting out of Les Avals and a bit of close-in playing in 1650 we headed back over towards Mottaret and dropped into the Petite Rosiere - again fresh tracks all the way, with 20cm of powder over a firm base giving good skiing right down to the road crossing:

With Claire's legs feeling the days activities she retired gracefully, while Keith & I headed up Olympique and along the ridge for the classic Raffort run from Roc de Fer - again care is currently needed on the approach - best to contour left of the Roc de Fer... our efforts were rewarded with first tracks all the way to the bottom again - its definitely thin lower down, but with a bit of care a smooth way through can be found.

High temperatures and lots of rain are predicted for the next few days sadly, which will seriously affect the snowpack, and leave some very unstable conditions..

Sunday, 27 December 2009

A quick tour was the order of the day today, after a lazy lie-in (for once) we decided a start should be made on working off the turkey excess of the last couple of days..
Blue skies and crisp temperatures greeted us up in resort (along with freshly arrived Parisians & others) and we headed up high for a wander out the back of Courchevel 1650.

A great day to be out:

A couple of bold tracks heading down the big canyon:

Mucho instability: depth hoar, a thin consolidated layer, more hoar, a 3cm crust layer, yet more super-sugary hoar then a big layer of heavy fresh... A quick pit didn't give the easy 'wumph' collapse I got 3 days ago with Keith, Claire & Pip, where a light press on the top of a block was enough to collapse the hoar layer, but with a fair pull the whole top layer moved - a good 40/50cm:

Care is most definitely required at the moment, steep slopes mostly to be avoided, so we worked a relatively safe way up to the shoulder over in to Les Avals:

The South facing slopes had a nice layer of fresh on top of a much harder crust layer underneath, giving pleasant skiing:

Unfortunately due to work commitments there was no time to call in & see Lionel at the Grand Plan refuge for an omelette, so we continued on down, linking nice fresh powder where it had remained unaffected by the wind:

More snow is due over the next week, along with some more 'weird' temperatures, so the off-piste is likely to remain unstable for some time - take care out there folks!!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Intro to Touring weekend

This weekend was an Introduction to Touring weekend based over in Chamonix. A couple of weather-related last minute drop outs saw a small team of 3 fit and ready for action on Saturday morning. Arctic conditions at Le Tour unfortunately meant we couldn't do much by way of the great mini-tours that are possible there, but we managed a short section of skinning for Ross to find his feet, which gave us some great powder. Transceiver practice and some technical coaching and a bit of hot chocolate drinking to rewarm frost-nipped body parts made for a full if slightly chilly day...
With a good forecast for the Sunday morning we headed slightly out of the valley to Les Contamines for the classic Col de la Fenetre Tour. This gives a relatively short skin to a good north/east facing descent, with a final bushwack/survival ski/walk down the route Romaine to Notre Dame de la Gorge, at the head of the valley.

L to R, Ross, Ian & Paul, at the start of the skin:

Ross through the narrows on the final slope:

Paul at the Col (R-hand variant)

With a good few bodies at the normal Col we headed right through a little notch which drops you out above a nice little couloir, with only a few tracks in it was in great condition, with 2 feet of fresh all the way...

Ian easing in:

Paul near the end of the couloir:

Ross sliding in to the top:

And into the first turn:

A split in energy levels meant a couple of the group blasted on up to the Col de Cicle for some extra powder fun, while the others enjoyed a bit of lunch in the valley below...

Paul enjoying the deep powder:

Once regrouped we headed down, with a couple of spectacular double-ejects due to hidden drops (no names!) to the long slide out of the valley.

Looking back at the head of the valley:

A slippy wander down the Chemin Romaine (Worth checking passability before launching down here - we had first hand reports from Saturday..) finally brought us out at Notre Dame de la Gorge, for a welcome hot chocolate and Tarte au Poires.

Thanks to Ross, Ian & Paul for a great weekend, and hats off to Ross for his first tour - a classic in the bag already!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Powder radar in full effect...

First days work in the 3 Valleys today, and despite the doom and gloom reports that have been coming out there was still some soft snow to be found.
Off-piste is definitely thin though, and extreme care needs to be taken as the rocks aren't far from the surface - my colleague Rob found one today and ended up with a broken femur! (Ouch!) Get well soon Rob.

Temperatures were down to around -20 again today, really cold in the shade, with surface hoar starting to form a fair layer in places.

I was skiing with Guy for the first time today, and he did a great job negotiating some of the tighter rocky sections to hit the good snow. On the whole east facing slopes around 2400 - 2800m are holding soft snow with a very thin crust on top - eminently skiable once you get the feel for it. North facing slopes were more crusted though so pick your aspects wisely.

Forecasts are for some more snow this weekend which would be most welcome!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

More soft snow...

More soft snow in the Espace Killy for my last day skiing with Rick, Sam & James. An awesome run down the Cairn in the morning, followed by perfect snow on the East Face of the Charvet followed by some trickier sections down the Deversoir Couloir, with more softness down to the Manchet Express. A slightly crusty Cugnai was skied in the afternoon, before a but of piste-bashing to round off a great 4 days.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Powder radar: On

Another cold cold day in the Espace Killy today. Despite the relative lack of snowfall recently we still managed to track down some soft powder for Rick, Sam & James to enjoy, along with a bit of crust and windblown snow for good measure!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Early season skiing _ December 2009

Last week I was in Verbier running a BASI Level 1 course; despite only 3 runs being open the snow available was of great quality, and congratulations go to Alice, Ella, Sammy, Anna, Jack, Ted, Ashley and Callum for passing this course.
Very mild temperatures over in the Valais were a gentle run in to 'proper' December conditions this week in Val D'Isere, with -15 C on offer, feeling particularly cold in the shade...! At least it is keeping the snow in great condition, and with Rick, Sam and James we have found some good powder around the area, with the odd section of crust thrown in to keep us honest..

Lets hope some more snow arrives soon to top things up for Christmas week!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Yesterdays video

A quick edit of some snatched footage from yesterdays warm-up tour:

First Day! from Simon Christy on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

First ski, first powder!

Went for a skin up the pistes in Courchevel today with Greg to have a close up look at how much snow there really is (or isn't)...
Clear & crisp this morning, with snowcannons going 10 to the dozen.
There's a fair bit of snow at the Croisette, but if you get away from the prepared (and artificially boosted)areas there are plenty of signs of the ground underneath!

Bottom of Biollay:

(Not looking too bad, but 100m further up there is a stream cutting most of the way across the Verdons piste!)

The new funpark, shame they have put it here - not only will it mean no more easy rollers (great with kids) without getting squahed by a backwards-riding freestyler, but they have also eaten into most of the 'skiers right' section of the Verdons piste proper, meaning this busy motorway will get even busier as skiers are forced through a narrower gap...:

Looking up from the bottom of the cable car:

Sous le Telepherique (wouyldn't fancy it even on rock skis just now...):

With the 'Powder-radar' now switched on for the winter we cut across to the Combe des Pylones, which had only 1 set of tracks down it, and were rewarded with knee-deep powder on a variable base (eh, Greg?).

A great way to start the season, though my legs were definitely feeling the effects of a lazy autumn...!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Here comes winter!

Well December is here, and so is the snow!
We woke yesterday to 10cm outside the house here in Bozel, and it has been snowing on & off for the last 36 hours.

Tomorrow the weather is due to clear so I may try to head out for a skin up the Courchevel ski area to see how things are shaping up.
Meanwhile work kicks off this weekend with a BASI course over in Verbier and then its all systems go for the winter...

There are still some spaces available on this winters off-piste courses so have a look here for more details.