La Grave, France 3-1 & 2-12

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La Grave, France 3-1 & 2-12

Postby EMSC » Thu Mar 15, 2012 2:31 pm

I'm grouping our final 2 ski days in La Grave together since they were fairly similar in skiing, weather and the fact that we had a new guide each day. Pelle dropped off and essentially was guiding a 'private' with what turned out to be a hedge fund manager.

The weather was just as warm on March 1st as the previous day, if not warmer. Definite spring skiing on all but the upper mtn, shaded north facing areas and the glacier (which granted is a fair bit of the place). We started off with guide Rasmus from Sweden starting off with a 'warm-up' run down to the P1 station waiting for things to soften a bit. No real significant lines other than down the main gut of the front side. By our second run things were warming up quickly and we ran a slightly different route through the main gut on our way to the Bear Couloir. Just a short slightly zig-zag chute with a short bit of ice in the entry causing a rope to come out though not a true belay on harness (see pic). It was iffy as to if we needed it at all, but to be safe over the ice chunk Rasmus wanted us to drop in that way. Hitting the P1 station to go back up, lunch was again up at the P3 Les Ruillans station and Rasmus definitely had a slightly slower pace going than Pelle ever did.

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The infamous P1 station where you get to hike stairs to get on a moving gondola.
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Some of the 'classic' terrain in the main 'gut' of LaGrave (skiers right of gondola)
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Approaching the maw of the Bear couloir
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Minor rope to get over a ice slab that is not really visible in the pic. This is Alex from Britain... He & Admin share a habit...
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My brother in the mid portion of Bear
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The moon makes an appearance (barely)
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For our first run after lunch we headed up the poma and down the glacier de la Girose cutting over the cliffs above lac de Puyvachier where the snow remained very, very firm. Definitely some exposure if one fell and started to slide. The goal for the run was to hit the Patou Couloir. Due to the odd wind/snow of the previous month Patou required a down hike/slide entry through a sort of snow chute to access the real skiing which was nicely chalky and fun. After yet another run back to the P1 station we regrouped back up at P3 for a brief break before once again skiing the main 'classic lines' down all the way into town. Fortunately with more skiing and the warmer sun, even most, but not all the firm snow up top was skiing more chalky than earlier in the week and down low was spring conditions.

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Down hiking over some rock at the top of Patou.
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Looking down Patou.
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As the para-penters land on the lake below
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What we came for
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Day 2 and more pics coming up in a reply....
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Re: La Grave, France 3-1 & 2-12

Postby EMSC » Thu Mar 15, 2012 3:32 pm

A couple more pics of March 1st to start.

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P3 break
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A few scenics from late in the afternoon. We didn't start down until roughly 4:45pm.
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About 20 minutes later we are about 3/4 of the way to town here... so after 5pm.
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For March 2nd we had yet another different guide, this time Tim. He really decided to take it super slow to start and I actually skied off ahead on the final traverse to P1 which he didn't like (we had already skied it so many times there was no way to get lost or anything), but it did get him to move the group faster after that. The best part of Tim's guiding was that he took a couple of entirely different routes down the 'classic' lines on both sides of the gondola. We started off with a warm up lap on the groomer next to the poma for no real apparent reason (perhaps he was sorting out our skill levels), then shifted to skiing the glacier to skiers right of the poma for another lap which we hadn't done yet. Mostly chalky, but a little bit wind sastrugi too.

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Glacier skiers right of poma
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The snow capped peak in the background to the left is Mont Blanc over by Chamonix
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Next we did a run down the Girose glacier again taking a different route and cutting across the spine of rocks at the Breche Pacave point on our way to the P2 station - the only run we ever did that went back to the mid way station of the gondolas. Again nothing particularly memorable about the terrain skied, but a totally different route making it more interesting. Lunch for the final day was again up at P3 basking in the sunshine.

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On the rock outcrop to the left is the P3 station (if you can make it out)
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After lunch we did our final couloir of the week heading over to Banane which sits near Patou. Narrow entrance, but quickly opens up into a decent chute. Again the snow in the couloir itself was nice and chalky and soft. After skiing down to P1 to catch the lift, 2 of our group including my brother opted to download early since with the sun moving things back to shadow we would not hit any other major terrain for the final lap. Instead we decided to go 'derby' style down the final run, not skiing fast, but continuously from top to just above the final pitch in one long run. There is an annual 'derby' at La Grave for fastest top to bottom run any route you choose to take, no gates. basically we skied terrain we had already done a couple times during the week, but when am I going to be back here?

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Top of Banane
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Which opens up pretty quickly
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Final pitch into town on the final day
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Certainly there are a number of other routes that we had hope to get to do here but were too firm or had other dangers during our week. A run down into the town below La Grave (Freaux) was almost on the menu, but at 45 degrees and very narrow the guides were iffy on skiing it. A patron and his guide had died only 2 weeks prior (not a Skiers Lodge guide, but a french guide service) when the patron slid on a firm snow steep pitch and the guide tried to arrest the slide... Instead both ended up in rocks far below unable to self arrest.... Instead, we took what the mountain would allow and didn't take extreme risks.

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After a long trip with tough snow, the K2 sponsored bar under the hotel sounds like fun. How about we throw in a French band from Grenoble playing American cover tunes... Ah... just have a couple drinks.
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Re: La Grave, France 3-1 & 2-12

Postby CelticSkier » Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:57 am

EMSC, great La Grave trip reviews. Nice "to meet you" again...I skied with you & your brother a few days that week Feb 25th to March 3rd 2012 staying at the Skierslodge. Conditions were pretty firm due to no fresh snow and constant sun for two weeks prior, but I thought the Skierslodge guides did great work finding the best slopes that could be safely skied.

This is a link to video I shot that week. It's not the shortest video, but I wanted to show the variety of skiing available at La Grave. There is also some footage of the last run of the day when we went on a road trip to Alp d'Huez with the Skierslodge guides.

https://vimeo.com/38418537

https://vimeo.com/38418537

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Re: La Grave, France 3-1 & 2-12

Postby EMSC » Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:01 pm

Carl,

Good to hear from you. Wish that trip had had some good surface snow. It would have made such a difference - even if it wasn't powder (just anything soft!). You have to take what you can get though. I had a good time in spite of conditions perhaps with the exception of guide Tim. Didn't like his style or pace very much.
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Re: La Grave, France 3-1 & 2-12

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:22 pm

I've heard rumors the La Grave gondola is nearing the end of its lifespan. Unlike the JH tram I would have concerns about the economic viability of replacing it. Patrick had best get over there sooner rather than later, another good use of Ontario spring break.
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Re: La Grave, France 3-1 & 2-12

Postby Patrick » Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:39 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:I've heard rumors the La Grave gondola is nearing the end of its lifespan. Unlike the JH tram I would have concerns about the economic viability of replacing it. Patrick had best get over there sooner rather than later, another good use of Ontario spring break.


I've gotten over there in 2011, but it was the summer (see TR below). Due to the current climate economic instability over here, I don't think it would be wise to spend over 5G in planes tickets for 1-2 weeks off (Spring Break means 4 of us).
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Re: La Grave, France 3-1 & 2-12

Postby EMSC » Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:13 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:I've heard rumors the La Grave gondola is nearing the end of its lifespan.


Not sure on that, but I do know that if you jam your ski boot in the doors as the gondola tries to auto-close them you can keep the doors open :) . Turns out it was a necessary trick all the 'regulars' knew about to keep the cabin cool enough during our very warm days late that week. Just make sure to hand close the doors as best you can just as you approach the top stations... The lifties will give you a hard time - or more. Also it's certainly true that many of the cabins are quite beaten up at this point. Far more important would be the mechanical items (grips, cables, bullwheels and brakes, etc...).

I personally liked the chair lift built mid-way up the mountain (right under the gondola) for 1K or so of vert. The guy never got permission for it, but somehow got the towers and top & bottom stations built and cabled before being stopped. So a chairless chair that's been sitting there for a number of years. It speaks volumes to the probability of further work on the gondola. Worst case I guess its that you can get to the La Grave lines from the top of Les du Alpes with a little work (prob 20 min hike?).
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Re: La Grave, France 3-1 & 2-12

Postby CelticSkier » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:34 pm

I'd say the La Grave ski lift will be running for a good while longer. The lift towers seem to be in good shape and look well maintained. Apparently it's a very simple but efficient design which probably lends itself to having key components (motors, pulleys, cable etc) retrofitted in kind rather than complete replacement to extend it's useful life. But as long as it keeps running while I'm there March 2nd thru March 16th I'll be happy...that plus some nice powder (or at least soft snow !!).
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Re: La Grave, France 3-1 & 2-12

Postby EMSC » Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:45 pm

Everyone better get their trips in before 2017...

Paradise Lost
The lease on La Grave's Telepherique is up for renewal in three short years. Is this the end of La Grave as we know it?
http://www.powder.com/stories/end-la-grave-know/



(I've known about this for quite some time, but was reminded of it while talking with someone today).
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Re: La Grave, France 3-1 & 2-12

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue May 08, 2018 9:22 am

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Re: La Grave, France 3-1 & 2-12

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue May 08, 2018 12:27 pm

New lease articles in English:
https://www.powder.com/stories/news/la-grave-new-lease/
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/ski/ ... lt-appeal/
This happened about a year ago, a month before the former lease would have expired per those warning articles in 2014.

So Patrick still has time....
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