Cervinia, Italy, Jan. 27, 2018

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Cervinia, Italy, Jan. 27, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Jan 27, 2018 4:21 pm

We took Friday off after 7 days of skiing, which included two 6 hour drives. There was also a modest storm predicted. It snowed lightly but steadily all day as we relocated from Grosseney to Cervinia with a rain/snow line at 3,000 feet. Cervinia is at 6,700 feet and thus has received nearly all snow even during the warmer storms like last weekend. Snowbanks in town are piled as high as in Mammoth’s big years and the snowpack in the upper part of the ski area is 150+ inches.
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We had skied only half a day in Cervinia during our 2014 week in Zermatt, so we decided to give Cervinia two full days this time.
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While the Zermatt connection is open, we have read that Zermatt’s prime Hohtalli/Stockhorn ski terrain is closed due to excessive snow. Zermatt has no doubt been devoting most of its efforts to maintaining its rail connection to the rest of Switzerland, which has been cut off twice this month already.

There was thick cloud in the early morning but it started breaking up when we got on the hill at 10AM. There was about 8 inches new snow at the bottom of very high quality due to the low rain/snow line and little wind, and at least a foot up high. The subsurface was quite solid and compacted from the wind at high elevations and from the warm midweek weather lower down. Cervinia’s primary exposure is west, so some of those aspects got heavier in the afternoon which was mostly sunny. Our guide Stefan in the Monterosa had showed us the Aosta Valley avalanche report website, updated daily: http://appweb.regione.vda.it/DBWeb/boll ... ument&L=_e

But at 10AM on the lowest 1,500 feet of the mountain this is what we had for our first run.
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That run was from the chair near our hotel to get to the Plan Maison gondola.

We rode that, another gondola to Laghi Cime Blanche and finally the tram to Plateau Rosa at 11,400 feet.
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Liz is at Plateau Rosa with one of Zermatt’s glacier T-bars at far right.

We had the same view of Plateau Rosa untracked as in 2014.
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This time I decided to save that for later and ski the powder skier’s right of the piste. It did not flatten out enough to force me onto the piste until about 2,000 feet lower.
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From that piste I could reload the tram, but unfortunately it shut down for unknown reasons. It was clearly not weather as there was no wind and mostly clear by now. We skied to the Z chair which rises to Colle Cimi Blanche at 9,800 feet. This chair is used mainly as the connection to the long pistes to Valletournenche. However it’s a slow chair and directly north facing, which makes it an attractive option on a powder day. Here’s skier’s right of the Z chair.
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And here’s skier’s left.
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A lap takes 20 minutes so I got only one run on each side before I needed to head for our lunch reservation.

There’s also the view of the Matterhorn from the top of the Z chair.
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I had to ski to the bottom of the Plan Maison gondola first because the Plateau Rosa tram was still closed. But while riding the gondola I was too tempted by the view below.
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I knew the clock was ticking on the west facing snow at this elevation, so I went for it at 1:15.
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The gondola was fast enough but the chair above Plan Maison is very long so I got to Chalet Etoile at 1:45. View of Plateau Rosa with a few more tracks before the tram closed.
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Liz was on time at 1:30 and had already ordered a bottle of wine and our first dish, a local Aosta Valley dish of mountain goat stew, sausage and mushrooms with cheese polenta.
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To that I added the lobster and shrimp ravioli with burrata.
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We finished it off with this semifreddo dessert.
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Chalet Etoile had been touted as the finest on-mountain restaurant in the world at the time of our first visit in 2014, and we have no reason to believe its status has changed. It’s a bucket list stop if you’re in Zermatt or Cervinia. I made the reservation a day ahead. Liz in lounge chair on Chalet Etoile’s sundeck with Matterhorn behind.
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We were done just before 3 PM, and we were in luck because we saw the Plateau Rosa tram in motion. From the top of the tram here’s the view of Zermatt’s Klein Matterhorn at 12,700 feet.
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Here’s my Plateau Rosa run in a similar line as in 2014.
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But with this year’s deep snowpack lots of tracks continued below 9,000 feet.
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I had observed these tracks from the lower and middle gondolas.

Around 8,000 feet I arrived above this dam.
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View back up to the dam from 7,200.
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I soon arrived at the lower gondola about 4:10PM. The run from Plateau Rosa was 4,800 vertical, about 4,000 of it in powder.

Even the last run back to the hotel had some low angle untracked between the pistes. I finished with 20,400 vertical, 13K of powder, the most of any day I have skied in the Alps so far.
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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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Re: Cervinia, Italy, Jan. 27, 2018

Postby Sbooker » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:34 pm

Hi Tony
You mention the powder that lies between pistes. Is this generally controlled? Or do you need to have a guide to safely ski those 'in between' areas?

Please be sure to let me know which Euro resorts would suit my family considering our limited skiing ability. Your reports are making me look forward to this time next year!
Simon
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Re: Cervinia, Italy, Jan. 27, 2018

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Jan 27, 2018 6:18 pm

Now who's leading the "charmed life in the Alps"?
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Re: Cervinia, Italy, Jan. 27, 2018

Postby baldyskier » Sat Jan 27, 2018 8:15 pm

Nice report, as usual, Tony. Nice to see you're getting some powder. I see where all the good snow is going this season...
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Re: Cervinia, Italy, Jan. 27, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:00 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:Now who's leading the "charmed life in the Alps"?

One big powder day out of the first 8 of the trip is probably lower than James' track record. But the quality of this one was quite exceptional due to low rain/snow line and little wind.

Sbooker wrote:Hi Tony
You mention the powder that lies between pistes. Is this generally controlled? Or do you need to have a guide to safely ski those 'in between' areas?

Please be sure to let me know which Euro resorts would suit my family considering our limited skiing ability. Your reports are making me look forward to this time next year!
Simon

No direct control is done of anything off piste. Shallow areas and lurking rocks are not marked. Avalanche control needs to be done if pistes lie within a potential slide path.

As noted above our guide in the Monterosa gave us the link to Aosta region daily avalanche safety report. When we were there Wed/Thu everything up high was solidly packed by wind. The new snow Saturday at Cervinia was so light you could sometimes feel that subsurface on a steeper pitch.

You may want to defer to James on the Euro suggestions. His strategy is to ski lower profile areas with heavily intermediate orientation. This cuts down both the avalanche exposure and the competition for powder. Cervinia is a higher profile location, but it's definitely intermediate concentrated so there was plenty of powder to be shared Saturday, and even a few decent spots Sunday too.

I've read enough about erratic weather in the Alps plus the futility of skiing during storms above tree line in bad visibility that Liz and I have adopted a strategy of extreme flexibility. If we had chosen a resort near our gateway airport in Geneva well in advance, we would have been socked in with limited skiing over a stormy and windy weekend of Jan. 20-21. And if it had been low altitude we would have had rain to 2,000 meters.

James has chosen the late January timeframe for several of his trips, and Liz and I have followed suit the past two years with very positive results. We have not been forced to make full week reservations far in advance except at the Sandhof in Lech, a very desirable location in one of the most snow reliable sectors of the Alps. I think flexibility is easy anytime from the second week of January through the first week of February.
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
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Tony Crocker
 
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Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
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