Alagna/Grosseney, Italy, Jan. 24, 2018

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Alagna/Grosseney, Italy, Jan. 24, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:41 pm

After the massive storm the week before we flew to Geneva, we booked our first skiing in the Monterosa region of Italy.
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But then a storm was predicted for our first weekend, so we moved the Monterosa dates to Jan. 22-24 and went to the Dolomites first.

The nicest weather days, calm with spotless clear skies, were Tuesday and Wednesday, our last day in the Dolomites and first day in Monterosa. We stayed in Grosseney for its location in the central of the three valleys linked in the Monterosa ski network. The western valley Champoluc has the biggest lodging base and the best piste skiing. Alagna has the off piste reputation and is in fact the first of these areas Liz or I knew about, in my case because Extremely Canadian ran a trip there a few times.

So with a short visit we hired Stefan of Guide Alpine di Grosseney http://www.guidemonterosa.info/index_e.asp for our first day and headed for Alagna. Alagna as one can see from the map has a minimalist piste network of basically one per lift, though the vertical is huge, from 4,000 – 9,740 feet. We started with a long but gravity traverse overlooking a large summer refugio.
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Our objective was this shaded bowl skier’s right of the V3 piste.
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From the map you can see that there is a lot of sunny exposure in the Monterosa, but this bowl was completely shaded by the towering walls above.

The other issue up high was the extensive wind hammering over the prior weekend. There was a lot of sastrugi but Stefan knew where to traverse across it to smooth lines of windbuff. We worked several of these lines until the good snow ran out. This was due to the last storm raining to 6,500 feet. So we had to exit through some ugly rain crust, reaching the piste at 5,700.
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We finally reached the town of Alagna at 4,000.
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Alagna is the most rustic and least touristy of the 3 valleys. However most of the 30 mile long Grosseney Valley below the ski lifts is quite similar, with a lot of stone buildings hundreds of years old.

We rode 3 lifts up to 9,700 and took a short step-up to La Balma. Stefan and Liz skiing the top wide couloir entry:
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The wrap around mountains sheltered La Balma from the wind more than other areas we skied.
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This was 2,000 vertical of smooth windbuff.

The exit traverse was long with several step-up sections though.
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Ahead you can see the saddle we must cross over.
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You can see lift towers coming up from lower left to upper right. That lift has been gone for a decade and there is only vague talk about replacing it. It would allow fall line skiing to its loading station around 7,000 feet. The La Balma drainage goes all the way down to Alagna, but Stefan knew not to do that with that rain line at 6,500.

In the picture above is also the decommissioned original Indren tram station. It has been replaced by a better located new one that we rode for our next two runs.

From the Col d’Olen dividing the Alagna and Grosseney drainages, here’s the view down the gondola coming up from Grosseney.
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The Indren tram rises to 10,700 feet. All of its skiing is off-piste and you are required to use your transceiver to open the exit door. The upper part of Indren is wide open and mellow, easy to find the smooth lines. This is south facing but it was all winter snow as it’s January and not too steep.
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View back up of that section:
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Note that below the highest peak in view there is some glacial ice.

We next skied the Canale Grande couloir.
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This was steeper and SE facing so in ideal corn mode at 2:30PM.

View back up to Canale Grande:
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There’s a long but scenic exit trail back to the Gabiet gondola mid-station.
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Liz was fatigued and so did the last run on piste. Stefan and I returned to Indren to ski the narrower Canale dell’Aquila. The upper approach had smooth windbuff.
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Soon the entry comes into view.
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Stefan took pictures of me skiing Canale dell’Aquila.
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At 3:30PM this couloir was in the shade and a bit crunchy.

In this view from the gondola at 10:30AM both couloirs are in full sun.
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Canale Grande is at left and Canale dell’Aquila at right. From the pictures of me skiing you can tell the latter run is not as narrow as it looks from afar. Liz enjoyed it the next morning when she was better rested.

We regrouped at Gabiet and skied down to the Ellex Hotel where we were staying. Vertical was 17,800, some of it quite hard earned.

James tends to avoid the massive Euro complexes like the Dolomites where we had spent the prior 4 days. But the Monterosa is his kind of place.
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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
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Tony Crocker
 
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Re: Alagna/Grosseney, Italy, Jan. 24, 2018

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:37 am

Looks great and I'm taking notes. =D> to Tony for continuing to earn the Retirement Iron Man award. I can only hope to have that level of endurance.

Tony Crocker wrote:James tends to avoid the massive Euro complexes like the Dolomites.

Not completely true. Six weeks ago, I spent two days at Arosa/Lenzerheide with 225kms, which puts it in the "large" (although not "massive") category for the Alps, and I've spent time at the Portes du Soleil, Ischgl, Megève, Saalbach, Kitzbühel, the Ski Welt, and the Arlberg. That said; with Monterosa as Exhibit A (listed as 132km total), Tony can vouch for how the piste-length measurement system is often inadequate.
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Re: Alagna/Grosseney, Italy, Jan. 24, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:24 am

Piste length measurement is rather useless IMHO as it’s a horizontal measure while skiing is a vertical sport.

It’s almost impossible to figure out topography from a Euro trail map. You need to see it in person. I’m getting a better idea understanding of James’ desired off piste: moderate pitch, visible from lifts, often between pistes to avoid terrain traps. Champoluc is fairly good on that regard. Warth and Cervinia are excellent by my experience.

Zermatt’s 3,400 vertical Hohtalli tram is the gold standard, but Fraser says it’s closed for quite awhile due to the excessive snow this season and perhaps avalanche exposure. We are now in Cervinia for two days and have the Italy only lift tickets due to those closures in Zermatt.
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: 9715
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California


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