The cold weather is behind us for the moment although a sneaky-cold wind is still blowing and if your caught in it without enough layers or headwear it can be nasty.
On Wednesday a vicious and unexpected wind was blowing on the Pissaillas Glacier at the Fornet and I needed to borrow a hat from a client, which isn't supposed to happen as I should be the one with all the extra bits-and-bobs in my backpack!
On Monday we skied in Tignes and found some wonderful snow in the Sachette. We 'skinned' three times for about ten-minutes each climb and it was enough to open up some lovely 'clean' slopes, which are becoming few and far between after so long without top-ups of snow. On Tuesday we skied in the heart of the Val d'Isere area and again found some great soft snow to lay our tracks.
After a few days of skiing in Tignes and around the Charvet/Crete du Genepy areas it was time for a change of scenery so I took my clients up to the Fornet to go over the Col Pers and through the Gorge du Malpasset. The Col and the Gorge are always spectacular but we arrived to find 10 cm's of of totally unexpected snow that made our day! It made a massive difference visually, gave us a much welcome softer feel underfoot, and everyone's spirit was soaring as the Fornet has been a sector to avoid recently. We were very much alone, which always adds to the ambience.
To top it all off we had a great sighting of a herd of Bouquetin, which we haven't seen too many of so far this season. Thursday was overcast with a strong foehn wind blowing and my colleague Chris and I decided to head into the teeth of the wind and go over the Col Pers again and through the gorge for the adventure factor as we didn't have a lot of other options.
The piste skiing continues to be excellent and the pistes seem extremely quiet. Radio Val has announce that attendance in the resort is up 1.4% but I've no idea where they get their numbers from. I think they make it up sometimes, but the skiing is fantastic, the pistes are empty and I don't know why there aren't more people here? I know that people back in the UK have no idea how good the skiing is and how good it has been all season long, and I blame the press for that as it's usually negative!
There is a possibility of some snow coming next week, which would be extremely welcome. We've had very low avalanche risk this season although there have been a few accidents and deaths, but as soon as a substantial dump arrives the risk will be sky high. Because of such a prolonged period of cold weather without fresh snow the base is goblet, which is basically big-grained crystals that have no cohesion and will not support a load of fresh snow. There are slopes of souffle dur, which is rock hard and creates a slippery sliding surface that new snow will not adhere to, and so we will probably have a period of high alert on the avalanche front. That is assuming we can some serious snow because February is a traditional 'snow' month! We've seen lots of sunshine since the end of November but that could change very soon and I'm sure we'll see a lot of snow before the end of the season.
Have a great weekend and stay tuned for another update with photos on Monday!
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