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Christmas week in Val d'Isere

Featured in:

Wayne Watson | Val d'Isere Reporter | Published: 29th December 2017


Check out this Christmas week in Val d'Isere

Boxing Day started out sunny but it quickly clouded over and, by midday, we were skiing in flat-light with the odd snowflake floating about.

After a week of clear blue skies, we are now expecting snow over the next few days and we are in need of some fresh snow as the off-piste in general is very tracked-out. Crowds haven’t yet been an issue but starting Wednesday there will be more and more people arriving.

I skied the Sachette on Tuesday and, besides some very nice snow and ambience, we had the bonus of a great sighting of three gypaete, the biggest birds in Europe. They are beautiful animals with huge wing-spans and it’s rare to see them up so close. Besides the snow, the solitude, the camaraderie, and the excitement, wildlife sightings are a wonderful bonus when skiing off-piste and during the season we get to see many different types of animals such as the gypaete, chamois, bouquetin, perdrix blanc, eagles, white hares and marmots in the spring.

On Wednesday, it looked like we were in for a tough day as it didn’t snow overnight, which meant there was no new snow to work with. It was overcast with flat light, the wind was blowing, and there were definitely more people in town, which added up to difficult conditions off-piste and more crowds on piste. But it turned out to be a pretty good day all around as we had some good skiing off-piste and, because of the lack of fresh snow, the pistes didn’t become uncomfortably bumpy.

There is no doubt that the Christmas/New Year’s crowds have arrived and the quality of the pistes is much better in the morning, so get out early before the snow becomes hard and icy. Man-made snow becomes harder and harder and eventually icy as skiers and boarders slide over it and polish the snow to an extremely unpleasant surface.

We were expecting 35 cms of fresh snow on Wednesday night but, unfortunately, it only snowed about 5cms. On Thursday morning, it was -16ºC with a howling wind and grey skies. As an off-piste guide, I was a little disappointed as I was expecting a big powder day and a fresh ‘canvas’ to work with. With a strong northerly wind, the southern slopes did have a pretty good accumulation of fresh snow giving us some very good skiing but we still await a good snowfall.

Snow is still forecast off-and-on over the next few days so, hopefully, it will arrive sooner than later. Have a fantastic weekend, dress warmly, and stay tuned for another update on Monday!

Follow more from Wayne in his Daily Diary.