Monday, 29 February 2016

Maurienne steep ski coaching & adventures

Last week I was back in the Maurienne valley running a "Steep Coaching & Adventures" week for the Eagle Ski Club.

We had a challenging week due to high temperatures in the first part of the week, but managed to find some good snow and challenging terrain every day. A huge thank you to Rob, Jude, Will, Adam and Nick for their great company throughout the week - lots of good skiing and some big improvements!

Val Cenis:


Les Karellis:


Orelle - what an amazing day to finish on!:

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Courchevel and 3 Valleys snow report - half term week 2016

It is THE big half term week here in the 3 Valleys, and it is fair to say conditions are about as good as they can be. With lots of snow over the last 10 days the weather is starting to ease off a bit and today we had a stunning day of blue skies and powder. I am coaching Alex and Dan this week, with an emphasis on powder, bumps and gaining confidence on steeper ground. As for last week Courchevel takes a lot of beating in conditions like this and we had a couloir session yesterday morning with only a handful of other skiers venturing along the Saulire ridge (one of the benefits of skiing at half-term week!).

Today we ventured further afield on some longer runs, with great powder still to be found, though sunny slopes are most definitely 'on the turn'...

Shady slopes will be the way to go for the next few days - the Aiguille du Fruit/Pointe Emilienne and similar all had great powder still today with relatively few tracks (considering the ease of access). We did a steep version of the Raffort run from Olympic Express this morning which was great, but most definitely worth searching out the most Northerly aspects possible as lower down the sunnier slopes were not as soft...

We still have the odd space on our March and April courses so have a look at our course calendar for some powdery fun!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Night skiing

A busy weekend with the family... great snow in sheltered spots... only one solution...

Night skiing from Simon Christy on Vimeo.

On a more serious note the wind was absolutely howling on Friday, there has been massive snow transport and already one fatality yesterday in Courchevel (Dou des Lanches sector) - there is some good skiing to be done, but extreme care needs to be exercised currently and very careful slope selection is a must.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Courchevel couloir happiness

Traveling and discovering new places is great, but there's no place like home!

The Courchevel couloirs on a powder day are a great playground:

I have just wrapped up a week coaching Ed, Zoë, Jenny & Tracy - tough conditions with lots of poor visibility, but the team all made great progress, so much that I was happy to take them to one of my secret stashes this morning:

Secret spot... again... from Simon Christy on Vimeo.

Happy team!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Japow? No, Courch-a-pow...!

Well, I didn't expect the snow to be as deep and light as it was today...!

After an initial hold-up due to protesters blocking the main road up to Courchevel this morning, and then poor visibility for most of the day, we hit the perfect window this afternoon in a brief clear spell and scored a classic 'all-time-great' Saulire run - waist deep, light and fluffy with barely a track in sight!!

Perfect conditions for playing on the super-floatiness of the MTN LABs!

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Courchevel off piste update - 9 Feb 2016

I have been in Courchevel the last few days running some off piste coaching for Ed, Zoe, Jenny and Tracy.

Conditions have been 'interesting' (seems to be a common theme the last few weeks), with intermittent heavy snow, but also high winds and a high freezing level.

Sunday afternoon we had an amazing 2 hours of skiing a lap, going back up the lift and finding a totally blank canvas again when we went back to the same slope!
Yesterday the wind picked up, and there was definitely a window to be found between the wind-affected snow up high and the heavy stuff down below - what was in between was quite acceptable though:

Today was more of the same, with a rain/snow limit hovering around 1700m, lots of high lifts shut due to the wind, but again a pleasant 'window' of snow before hitting the heavier stuff low down:

In summary, the Saulire couloirs were in good condition, though will be heavily wind-loaded after tonight's snowfall (up to 50cms predicted!), Rocher de l'Ombre bowl was very good on Monday, Disneyland and the 1650 tree runs all have some good soft snow on a variable base.

Caution will be needed in the next few days as there will be major instabilities in the snowpack...

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Maurienne magic (& conditions report)

Last week I spent 5 challenging but very enjoyable days in the Haute Maurienne coaching Phil, Ian, Perry and John.
The primary objective was steep-oriented coaching, but with rain to 2200m on the Sunday creating a high avalanche risk (and reducing the chances of finding good snow...) we gathered in Termignon and reset our objectives for the week.

On day 1 we skied the Val Cenis area - in a good few years of coming down this valley I have never seen so little snow! Nonetheless we still managed to find some interesting terrain to work in and there was actually a zone of skiable snow below the wind-damaged stuff up high and above the rain-rotten snow down below. All in all a good day setting up some technical and tactical bases for the rest of the week and also refreshing transceiver, probe and shovel skils.

On Tuesday we headed up to Bonneval and found some slightly better conditions (certainly more snow) with softness in the main bowl and some fun chalky snow in the gullies off the 3000 lift.

Snow was in the forecast on Wednesday but despite poor weather in Valfrejus the expected snow failed to materialise. A day for hiding in the trees and working on a series of technical challenges for the team...

On Thursday we went back up to Bonneval and found much better conditions:

In the afternoon the wind was picking up and the weather looked ominous so we spent the time lapping the lower 'storm gullies', putting first tracks into each one - brilliant!

Friday was a classic Plan B day. Our initial plan of going up into the 3 Valleys lift system from Orelle was scuppered by 2 monster queues - one for the ticket office, and another (even bigger one) for the lift itself. Instead we went off exploring to a resort I have been meaning to go to for a while. It shall remain nameless for now...

The day went mostly like this:

A fantastic way to end the week. A big 'thank you' to the random ESF instructor I met in the carpark who tipped me off to a couple of good descents.
Thanks also to David and Séverine at the Auberge La Turra in Termignon for their warm welcome and great hospitality.

Phil, John, Ian and Perry have already booked for next year so I am looking forward to our 'return match'!

**Conditions report:

Bonneval: Reasonable cover above the first chair. Chalencon and Vallonets well filled in but care needed with the snow currently. Access to Couloir Fontaine is thin but the couloir looks to have enough snow to ski. The pistes were in great shape. 3000 had some good conditions last week, though we didn't venture particularly far out onto the Pentes D'Andagne.

Val Cenis: Not sure I have ever seen it this thin - I think it has suffered the same drought as the Via Lattea (by the sounds of things) and is suffering due to its position on the border. From below the tree runs from Plan Cardinal look like they would involve a lot of bushwhacking lower down!

Valfrejus: Same as for Val Cenis - never seen it this thin! Only the main couloir under the 6 man looks passable, along with the couloir way out to lookers' right of this just before the black piste. Access to Couloir des Militaires etc looks very thin. Snow depths below the tree line are really not good - both black runs closed, though Souches was passable with care on either edge.