Alpe D'huez, France 2-28-12

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Alpe D'huez, France 2-28-12

Postby EMSC » Wed Mar 14, 2012 5:36 pm

After discussions that we might head elsewhere for the 28th the evening prior, the rumor turned out to be true, but in the opposite direction than expected. instead of driving over to the Italian border area, we headed west to Alpe D'Huez. Avoiding the crowds at the main resort to start at least, we actually started in Auris which like many Euro resorts is connected in an 81 lift multi-town 'circus' worth of skiing.

With Pelle again leading the way and warm sun in the sky, we hopped on a lift that went up - and then down some dropping us with a few hundred verts of piste skiing to reach our next lift. The next lift was the odd Auris/Alpe connector lift that drops steeply over the ridge hits a one sided mid-station (headed to Alpe D'Huez) and then back up a rocky/cliffy slope, through a concrete tunnel (which is a runway overhead for ski equipped airplanes - no kidding), over several parking lots and into the main base area. Even using ski school lines in our guided group to go up Marmottes lifts 1, 2 and 3 was something of a cluster with the huge crowds and non-organized lift mazes. Despite the common naming, the lifts were a 6pack chair, gondola, and funitel respectively. With crowds, truly a circus.

Welcome to Alpe D'Huez!
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There are a couple of folks here today
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Finally near the top we skied under the ropes to skiers right trying out some moderately pitched south facing bowls which were not frozen but not quite yet corn either. Easy skiing, but with an odd crunchy sound in the air as things were just on the edge of warming up. Certainly better surface than the previous day though. Alpe has few lifts in the south facing sector we most wanted to ski so instead we wafted down the many Kilometers of flats back to the mid station on the AlpeAuris connector lift deep in the ravine.

Brother up top of first run
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Yours truly
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Almost ripe bowls
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Better than the previous day though
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For our second run, after following the multi-lift extravaganza, we added going up the Glacier lift to the true top of Alpe D'Huez. This time we exited skiers left early (way left of the Chateau Noir trail on the map). We then went on another multi-mile traverse that was alternately either soft or so solidly refrozen (mostly frozen) as to be one of the most difficult traverses I've probably ever done. It did leave us at the top of some beautiful south facing terrain. Unfortunately Pelle was having a hard time adjusting to the fact that much of it was somehow already over ripe despite our higher altitude and the previous run's not-quite-ready flavor. So partly soft to too deep a depth, though with sections of some really fun corn & soft snow skiing. Eventually things flattened out and we traversed back into the same long piste back down the ravine, though at a lower point than 1st run.

AlpeAuris lift mid station in the ravine
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Marmottes 3 lift
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Sweet looking lines after a difficult traverse
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Steep & Deep?
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Certainly not bad
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Guide in training Sarah
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We stopped for lunch near the Chalvet lift where my brother ordered 'the American' only to find out its a baguette with burger, fries and all shoved in and not really an American style burger on a bun :lol: . Given the traversing and big vertical runs lunch ended late and Pelle wanted all the Skiers Lodge groups to hit a specific run taking us into Vaujany on the opposite side of the resort from where we started. So up Marmottes 1 and a groomer down to the Troncon gondola (very big cars - probably 15 per), with a fast but mixed off piste and groomer down to the Alpette-Rousses tram which is also huge - probably 150+ per tram. The final run of the day was definitely the best with perfect corn for much of it. We skied what would be called lookers left of the tram line down a chute and series of open-ish bowl features before topping out at a cliff band. The desired chute through was filled with blue ice so we went down a different section over the couple hundered vert cliffs through wind slabbed and sugar snow pulling at your skis. Definitely exposed, though my pics don't show it. Pics from the group in front of us who watched from lower down were spectacular with snow water falling over the cliffs as we descended. Hope to get my hands on one of them in the future.

Eventually the run melded into the la Fare piste which runs down to Vaujany. Overall a pretty decent day. One thing I learned with Pelle is that I'm glad i bought a P&S ahead of this trip. The amount of waiting is minimal to none despite the low run count. I had my DSLR in my pack and it almost never came out in LaGrave... Just enough time to pull the P&S out and put it back in and even that seemed to take too long at times.
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Re: Alpe D'huez, France 2-28-12

Postby EMSC » Wed Mar 14, 2012 5:40 pm

Low angle corn is OK
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airport runway tunnel - really
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Final run scenics
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Pelle leads
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Vaujany Tram
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Back in la Grave
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