A snowy week in Val d'Isere
We enjoyed a sunny day on Monday as everyone was anticipating a snowy week ahead.
I had the pleasure of skiing with one of my oldest clients Jean, who has skied 100-days a season with me for quite a few years but he has had injury problems and isn’t skiing off-piste with me very often these days.
Jean turns 76-years-of-age in a couple of weeks and is still an inspiration to younger and older skiers alike. We headed into Tignes on immaculate pistes before ‘skinning’ into the Sachette to ski some lovely creamy winter snow, and it was a great start to the week.
It didn’t snow at all Monday night and when I awoke on Monday morning and looked out the window it wasn’t very inspiring as the wind was blowing, it was overcast, and there was absolutely no new snow to work with. But, it started to snow quite heavily around 07:15 and by the time the lifts opened there was a nice cushion of fresh snow and I started again with the Face du Bellevarde that was perfectly smooth underfoot with 5cm’s on top.
It continued to snow throughout the day and by the afternoon the powder snow off-piste was significantly deeper and made for fantastic skiing.
On Wednesday morning Radio Val announced that the wind was blowing 108km/h at 07:30 on the summit of Solaise and I really thought that we’d have a delayed opening while the pisteurs secured the pistes. I even took some extra avalanche transceivers to do beeper training with my clients while we were waiting for the lifts to open but the resort was up and running by 09:05, which is quite incredible since about 50cm’s of fresh snow had fallen in the previous 24-hours!
And a big thank you for an incredibly job by the pisteurs and lift staff to get us skiing so quickly. It turned out to be one of the best powder mornings of the season and with 50cm’s at least of new snow combined with ferocious winds I was surprised at how stable the mountain felt and after feeling our way into the morning we ended up opening several sectors and skiing some impressive slopes.
I haven’t mentioned the avalanche risk too often this season because for the most part up until now it has been one of the most stable winters that I can remember. The risk has been 1 or 2 out-of-5 all season but the risk has been posted at 3/5.
On Wednesday we felt comfortable that the mountain was still stable but as it continues to snow the balance will eventually tip and a stable-feeling-3 will become a delicate 3 leaning towards 4, and the need to exercise extreme caution isn’t too far away!
On Thursday it was a very different day as another 15 to 20cm,s of fresh snow fell Wednesday night but it was much warmer. I skied a slope at 09:15 that we’d skied Wednesday at 11:30 and the snow was so much warmer than the day before.
That put me off returning to the Manchet sector and we headed straight up to the Fornet to get as high as we could and where there are more north-facing slopes. It was another fantastic morning but conditions had changed quite significantly from the day before.
The forecast for the weekend is for a mostly cloudy day on Friday, which means the visibility should be pretty good, and then a cold day with snow on Saturday, followed by a slightly warmer day with snow on Sunday. Get out there and have a fantastic weekend and look out for another report and photos on Monday.
I haven’t said too much about the piste skiing as Ollie is doing a couple of piste reports each week complete with video and commentary, so I’ll leave the piste part of the snow reports to Ollie.
Follow more from Wayne in his Daily Diary.
NB. Some of the areas Wayne has been skiing this week are off piste and not suitable to all skiers. Wayne has 35 years experience in these mountains. If you're considering going off piste you should always take a guide with you.
Location: Val d'Isere - Centre