Monday, 26 December 2011

Boxing Day exploration

With an unexpected (and very welcome) morning off, a quick call to Will set up the fun & games for the day. We had both looked at some local lines over the years which are only skiable round about the winter solstice when the sun doesn't get onto them much, but need a good heavy early snowfall to make viable. Current conditions pretty much ticked the boxes and we managed a couple of laps round despite some heavy trail-breaking on the skin out to get back around to the lift system.

Still good powder on the shadier aspects, even at lower elevations:

Time for some fun:

Good line - can't count how many times I have looked up at this, nice to ski it in good conditions!

Hmm, nice tracks!

There's quite a bit of snow about:

Hmm, maybe next time...:

Round 2:

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Snow, snow, snow.

Well, the snow justs keeps on coming.
Meteo France are reporting 130cm of snow in 48 hours at 1800m, and an estimated 230cm of snow at 2500m in 48 hours! Tomorrow is set to be clearer, then more snow is forecast for Tuesday & Wednesday at least.

Care needs to be taken off piste as the risk of avalanche is still very high, and it is worth bearing in mind as the posted risk level 'drops' that a huge percentage of avalanche accidents occur at level 3 (this is still 'considerable' risk!). The good news is that once all this snow settles down it is most likely going to form a good base without too much facetting at low level which might just increase stability not only in the short term but also for the end of season.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Courchevel news

Went up for a quick slide in Courchevel to test out new boots & skis today. I can safely say that snow conditions are above average for the time of year (it is only the 13th Dec after all) and with more snow forecast in the next 24 hours it looks like a reasonable base will be starting to form.

The new 6-seater Plantrey chair is up & running & should ease congestion at peak times, whereas the new Burgin Saulire 2 will make the small flat area at the top of the Saulire cable car even busier than it normally is!

Breaking news!

A family of large jelly babies appear to have taken up residence outside the Forum in 1850, and for the skiing car lover the top of Biolley is definitely the place to be!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Did someone say snow??

Well despite all the doom and gloom (including an interesting piece in a daily rag on how Switzerland was definitely not the place to be the day after I returned from some limited but rather good skiing in Zermatt) it has now been snowing continuously for the last 36 hours down here in Bozel at 845m and MeteoFrance have not surprisingly issued a High avalanche forecast for the next 24 hours...

Precipitation is set to ease up tonight but with cold temperatures forecast for the weekend this should allow alot of resorts to get some base sorted on piste, and might just start to form some natural base off piste.

A glimpse of the rare snow leopard in Bozel:

Monday, 5 December 2011

New snow, new boots and public speaking.

Well, winter finally seems to have decided to show up out here. Last night it was raining heavily down here at 800m, and webcams are showing a good covering of fresh snow above 1800m. With more unsettled weather forecast for this week this should finally get a base down for the winter!

It is a quiet week here at Offpisteskiing HQ, with a Wednesday trip to Chamonix to see Jules & Damien at the Boot Room for a pair of light weight touring boots to go alongside my Dynafit Titans.

I skied the Titans most of last winter and was extremely impressed. These boots seem to fit & hold my foot really well, and set up with a Palau 'Hard' thermo-formed inner boot I found the performance of these boots to be similar to a 110/120 flex alpine boot, and they were perfectly happy even driving a bigger ski like the Volkl Gotamas (191cm & 107mm under foot).

Dynafit Titans:

At approx 2 Kg per foot they are not the lightest boot around though and I am in the market for a lighter boot for longer days out & mountaineering, but still with good skiability for steep descents.

Obviously fit will be the priority, but on paper the Scarpa Maestrale is looking good, at 1.5 Kg per foot, and with a reputation for very good skiing response. Even lighter weight (approx 1.1 Kg) is the Dynafit TLT5, though the inability to use this with anything other than pin bindings is a slight drawback. I am keeping an open mind, so watch this space...

In other news, anyone in the UK next weekend and at a loose end could do worse than getting themselves to Plas-y-Brenin in North Wales for the 4th Annual Ski Mountaineering Symposium, organised by the Eagle Ski Club, Alpine Ski Club and Alpine Club this features a day of lectures (including yours truly) followed by a day of practical workshops including ski technique, transceiver use, mountain medicine, group management and much more. Should be a great weekend!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Street style

Came across this short clip from the Sherpas Cinema film All.I.Can - great to see old-school master and New Canadian Air Force veteran JP Auclair still geting creative and it just goes to show - its not how much snow there is, its what you make of it that counts...

Go full screen for best viewing!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Dry start to the winter...

Well, so far the winter has been noticeable by its absence in France, however this doesn't mean there is no snow anywhere in the Alps...

I am currently in Zermatt, and the snow on piste around the glacier area is good, and the Cervinia side definitely caught a bit more from the last storm 3 weeks ago...
2 days ago we went up the Breithorn (4164m) in perfect weather - great views of the Matterhorn, Dent Blanche, Weisshorn etc from the summit, and reasonable skiing if you stuck to the wind-buffed snow up high, with some softer snow to be found lower down!

Most areas are looking very lean however, but with snow forecast either side of this weekend hopefully this will all change!