Mixed weather & great snow in Val d'Isere
After the most difficult three consecutive days on Friday, Saturday and Sunday that I can remember in a long time, we weren’t expecting too much this week. However, the snow conditions changed overnight and Monday was the start of some fantastic skiing.
The snow off-piste had been heavy and very difficult due to the extremely warm temperatures but, after a good re-freeze and some fresh snow on top, we were suddenly presented with some vastly improved powder on Monday morning.
The wind had been blowing from a northerly direction and there was more fresh snow towards Tignes so we skied the Borsat Nord from the top, the Chardonnet, the big North Face of the Grande Balme and the Funky Familial. The wonderful morning was as unexpectedly good as last Friday’s skiing was unexpectedly difficult. The light was flat and we couldn’t see very much but the quality of the snow meant we were back in business after a tough weekend.
On Tuesday, I headed towards Tignes again and, with some decent visibility, we skied the Campanules and the Chardonnet before the weather moved in and the visibility became difficult. In flat light, we then skied the Sache and the Familial but, when the snow quality is good, skiing in flat-light is so much easier. Tricky snow in flat light can be a nightmare when skiing first but the snow on Tuesday was excellent and made leading so much easier.
The sun shone all-day long on Wednesday and we enjoyed an absolutely brilliant day of non-stop powder skiing. After six or seven days in Tignes, it was time for a change and I headed up to the Fornet where we skied the Combe du Signal, the Grand Vallon, the Combe du Signal again en-route to the Pissaillas Glacier where we skied the Combe du 3300 before skiing the Col Pers. It was a ‘maximum-turn’ morning of exceptionally high-quality snow and, after so many grey days, it was a day of celebration for those who ski rain or shine.
Unfortunately, Thursday was cloudy and extremely windy, so windy that the Fornet sector was closed for most of the day. We skied in Tignes again and had some great skiing in the Little Lavachet followed by the Sache. For a very tricky day, we had some pretty good skiing.
The beauty of the Espace Killy (a name which is politically incorrect these days) is that every sector on the mountain has its time and place. I can ski at the Fornet for 7 days in a row followed by 3 days around the Crete du Genepy/Mont Roup/Charvet, and not go anywhere near Tignes. Then suddenly ski Tignes 7 days in a row because that is where the best snow is for various reasons. For my money, Val d’Isere & Tignes is the best resort in the world as there are always options, even when times are extremely difficult. That’s a big statement coming from a Canadian who grew up in the Rockies!
They’ve made a huge effort clearing some of the pavements but, in front of La Baraque and La Cave bars (which are side by side), they are absolutely shocking! If you’re walking by these two fine establishments, do pay attention because you’d get better traction on a skating rink. The problem besides being slippery is that the pavements are unbelievably uneven and it’s to the point of being criminal. If you’re used to North American skiing and safety be prepared, you’d never see this anywhere but here!
It looks as if we’ll have some sunshine on Friday morning to kickstart the weekend before clouds and moderate snow arrives on Saturday and Sunday. Have a fantastic weekend and look out for another update on Monday morning!
Follow more from Wayne on his Daily Diary.
Ski safely off-piste
Exploring beyond the ski resort boundaries is an amazing experience for anyone who's physically fit and has mastered the pistes well enough. There are, however, risks associated with venturing outside the safety of the marked/patrolled ski area, including awareness of your actions on those below you on the slopes. Mountain guides are professionally qualified and have extensive knowledge of the local terrain, to provide you with the safest and most enjoyable possible experience in the mountains; as a visitor here we highly recommend you hiring one. Many ski schools and also mountain guides provide instruction in off-piste skiing, avalanche safety and mountaineering techniques. Make your time in the mountains unforgettable for the right reasons, ski safe!
Location: Val d'Isere - Centre