Grand Bornand, FR 02/01/16

Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in Europe and Asia, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.

Grand Bornand, FR 02/01/16

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Feb 02, 2016 11:03 am

The law of averages fully caught up with me on Day 2 of this visit. As mentioned in the Châtel report, in addition to a week of way-above-average temps and overnight freezes that created a scratchy base, a brutal half-day rain event punished the entire northern Alps on Sunday. It had been forecast for more than a week in advance and arrived exactly as predicted. Only the highest ski areas (Zermatt, Val d'Isère/Tignes, etc.) were allegedly spared, so Sunday was basically a lost day saved only by a great afternoon of conversation and beers with the team from Chatelweb, which has been a helpful weather/conditions site for the Portes du Soleil.

Early morning Monday, I had to head back to Geneva airport to pick up my wife and thanks to hideous rush-hour traffic, what would normally be a 45-minute drive turned into a two-hour death march. We zipped out of town and headed an hour south toward the Massif des Aravis, home to renowned La Clusaz and neighboring Grand Bornand. It's part of the larger Savoie Mont Blanc region, which is where we'll be for the next six days. But after exiting the Autoroute and turning into the mountains, we were met by rain and thick fog. You can imagine the ambiance in the car as I had to struggle not to go into drama-queen mode wondering how much more of this visit was going to be compromised by poor weather.

Luckily, by the time we pulled into the cute, traditional village of Grand Bornand ("Grand Bo" to locals) late morning, the low clouds lifted and an hour later the sun came out. We later learned that the clientele for both Grand Bornand and La Clusaz continues to be predominately French in contrast to many resorts that have been partially colonized by other countries.

Image


At the base area, we met Geoffrey, another instructor from the École du Ski Français (French Ski School), and boarded the gondola. Like a fair number of French people we've met on this trip, he has an English first name. He laughed when we mentioned that our son has a French first name.

Image


Grand Bornand got pounded by Sunday's non-crystalline precipitation just like the other low-elevation ski areas, but when we got a quarter up the mountain, things looked more than presentable. The snow had been transformed into beautiful velvety sugar; there was zero ice; it was soft as could be: early April two months early. Most of the trails are intermediate/upper-intermediate, so it's well known as a great teaching mountain, but there were all sorts of legitimate steep shots with a bit of hiking/bootpacking:

Image

Image


We opened with some sweet ungroomed runs from the top:
Image


Then hit a few groomers that were luscious -- by this point, my wife and I were laughing about how depressed we'd been a few hours earlier and now we were in ski heaven:
Image


Throughout, Geoffrey pointed out the sights:
Image

Image


We rode a few old-school Poma "teleski" platters:
Image

Image


Went down the backside and skied by an old chapel:
Image


And my wife made friends with the pooch at the mountain-top restaurant:
Image


We wrapped up with a dinner at this fantastic restaurant in La Clusaz called La Scierie (The Sawmill), which had a beautiful rustic ambiance and excellent cuisine:
Image

Image

Image
Vichyssoise Soup: spectacular

Image
Main Course

Image
Dessert: a Dame Blanche sundae and Café Liégeois


In short: a perfect payback for Sunday's weather mess.
User avatar
jamesdeluxe
 
Posts: 3319
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ

Re: Grand Bornand, FR 02/01/16

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Feb 02, 2016 11:56 am

So, did it rain all the way up these areas? Rain can sometimes compact the snow so you get a corn-like surface on an ensuing sunny day. So is that what this means?
jamesdeluxe wrote:it was soft as could be: early April two months early

Better hope it stays sunny, it will be ugly if it is gets cold. In 2008 we did not ski at La Grave the two non-sunny days.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9801
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Grand Bornand, FR 02/01/16

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:06 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:So, did it rain all the way up these areas? Rain can sometimes compact the snow so you get a corn-like surface on an ensuing sunny day.

Yep, that's pretty much what happened. Today at La Clusaz, the high top-shelf terrain in the La Balme sector didn't recover. More in the upcoming TR.
User avatar
jamesdeluxe
 
Posts: 3319
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ

Re: Grand Bornand, FR 02/01/16

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Feb 02, 2016 4:24 pm

La Balme goes up to 2,400 meters. It rained all the way up there?
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9801
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Grand Bornand, FR 02/01/16

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:17 am

Tony Crocker wrote:La Balme goes up to 2,400 meters. It rained all the way up there?

It was serious hardscrabble, which was a real shame. That is an amazing stretch of consistently pitched terrain. No wonder that it's Candide's personal snowpark.
User avatar
jamesdeluxe
 
Posts: 3319
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ

Re: Grand Bornand, FR 02/01/16

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:02 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:That is an amazing stretch of consistently pitched terrain.

Yes, it's looks great on Google Earth, also north facing. "Small", "under the radar," have a completely different meaning in the Alps than in North America.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9801
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Grand Bornand, FR 02/01/16

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:16 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:"Small", "under the radar," have a completely different meaning in the Alps than in North America.

Yes, 5,000 verts without a flat spot or saddle is hard to square with "small."

Thankfully, our luck has changed. We got half a foot at Megève today.
User avatar
jamesdeluxe
 
Posts: 3319
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ

Re: Grand Bornand, FR 02/01/16

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Feb 03, 2016 1:21 pm

I read this stuff and think, "Fly to Geneva for 2-3 weeks with no reservations and chase the snow." There are so many places within compact driving range, all with good scale and terrain. Any reason not to do that, outside the peak holiday periods of course?
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9801
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: Grand Bornand, FR 02/01/16

Postby jasoncapecod » Thu Feb 04, 2016 6:05 am

What I love about these reports. Is James always shows the cultural side of the Alps. More about the whole experience rather then just skiing.. One day I will park myself there for a month..
Can't wait for more..
User avatar
jasoncapecod
 
Posts: 1125
Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2006 9:30 am
Location: NEW YORK

Re: Grand Bornand, FR 02/01/16

Postby Marc_C » Thu Feb 04, 2016 11:55 am

jasoncapecod wrote:What I love about these reports. Is James always shows the cultural side of the Alps. More about the whole experience rather then just skiing..

+1
One of the few who include pics of beautiful food!
James: out of curiosity, are you fluent in French? Other languages?
-marc
User avatar
Marc_C
 
Posts: 3173
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2005 10:32 am
Location: A Sandy place south of a Great Lake

Re: Grand Bornand, FR 02/01/16

Postby jamesdeluxe » Thu Feb 04, 2016 12:54 pm

Marc_C wrote:One of the few who include pics of beautiful food! James: out of curiosity, are you fluent in French? Other languages?

Thanks. I speak French and German so that's part of why I try to go to France or Austria each season, in addition to the obvious skiing reasons.
User avatar
jamesdeluxe
 
Posts: 3319
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ

Re: Grand Bornand, FR 02/01/16

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Feb 04, 2016 6:09 pm

James and I have had this discussion. His fluency in the local languages definitely helps with the cultural side.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9801
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California


Return to Europe & Asia

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


All content herein copyright © 1999-2017 First Tracks!! Online Media

Forums Terms & Conditions of Use