Auron, FR: 02/05/18

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Auron, FR: 02/05/18

Postby jamesdeluxe » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:32 am

After 1.5 days at Isola's high-octane weekend ambiance, I headed 40 minutes directly west through the Tinée Valley to Auron, a more low-key traditional French ski town highly recommended by Fraser Wilkin.
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Entering the village -- even by Day 3, I still laughed seeing signs in the middle of winter directing you to nearby Nice:
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In yet another instance of "the trail map doesn't tell the whole story," Auron has 83 miles/135 kms of marked trails, 2,800 vertical feet, a lot of off-piste and legit black terrain, along with a north/northwest orientation that allows skiing into May -- shocking given how far south it is. While the surrounding landscape isn't as dramatic as Isola (it felt more LCC-ish), locals argue that it offers a better overall skiing package. Open as a ski area since 1937, Auron celebrated its 80th anniversary last year.
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I checked into my lodging for the next two days, the cute Hotel Écureuil (Squirrel) with a monstrous but affectionate house pooch:
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For the previous week, I'd been keeping my eye on a storm that had been forecast to drop ten inches the day I arrived and it came in just as advertised with a solid foot over most of the mountain and upwards of 16 near the top. Of course, I would've liked to experience Auron under sunny skies but don't argue with a powder day, especially one with bone-dry powder and this close to the Mediterranean. At the top, sightlines were tough but my local friend Pascal kept us moving toward lines near trees.

I'm often accused of not posting enough pix, especially on powder days, so here are a handful. The first is me, the rest are my Auron friend Pascal:
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We stopped for lunch at one. After a couple days of delicious but filling standard French winter fare (lots of cheese), I tried eating sensibly.
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As the day went on, we noticed that the storm was coming in upside-down. As mentioned, the accumulation until lunch was nice and dry, but was turning heavier by mid-afternoon, noticeable mainly when we ran into moguls skiing back to the lifts. Still, I was getting lots of nice knee-deep turns.
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By 3 pm, our legs were shot and we headed down to the village, but not before getting a couple de rigueur photo ops at the summit -- a shame that you can't see the gorgeous backdrop behind this sign:
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They also have this frame with a permanent camera where you take the photo, type in your e-mail address, and it's sent immediately (good for the ski area too as they can now send you resort information).
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For reference, here are a few pix from their website of how it looks on a clear day:
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But the day wasn't over. That evening, we went out for some nighttime slednecking with a bunch of locals, 45 minutes up the mountain. I hadn't ridden a snowmobile in decades but it all came back. Going up 2,000 verts with some steep sections was challenging.
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We stopped at the mid-mountain Grizzly restaurant for a fantastic meal:
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jamesdeluxe
 
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Re: Auron, FR: 02/05/18

Postby EMSC » Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:41 pm

I think the moral of this trip is: having a local guide ups the activities and fun by quite a bit!

I can't imagine trying to figure out the uphilling, slednecking, etc... on a standard trip somewhere new combined with days of skiing. It would be too much to understand, find out about,decide on, etc...

In Nice it was probably 70F the whole time too. Or you could always move to Monaco to avoid the French taxes :-D .
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Re: Auron, FR: 02/05/18

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:01 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:allows skiing into May -- shocking given how far south it is.

Not really. Isola/Auron's latitude of 44.2N is about the same as Mt. Bachelor or Mad River Glen, and they are slightly farther north than Niseko, Sun Valley and Jackson Hole. Isola's lift served elevation range is also very similar to Mt. Bachelor's. Auron is a bit lower.

We in SoCal are used to having the beaches and the mountain less than two hours apart. Of course it would be nice if it actually snowed in our mountains more. :twisted:
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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: Auron, FR: 02/05/18

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:11 am

Tony Crocker wrote:We in SoCal are used to having the beaches and the mountain less than two hours apart. Of course it would be nice if it actually snowed in our mountains more.

Yes, that ^^ seems to be the issue. I would love to ski Waterman and Baldy but until there's a serious reset on the SoCal winter weather trend, the Maritime Alps are a stronger bet for a beach/ski area combo that offers the possibility of natural snow. My upcoming TRs will be further proof of that.
:bow:
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Re: Auron, FR: 02/05/18

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:03 am

There's also Sierra Nevada in Spain, similar latitude and elevation range as Mammoth: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_Nevada_Ski_Station

And James' enviable luck continues, as his current region is the only part of the Alps with significant fresh snow this week.
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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Re: Auron, FR: 02/05/18

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:35 am

Tony Crocker wrote:There's also Sierra Nevada in Spain, similar latitude and elevation range as Mammoth: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_Nevada_Ski_Station" onclick="window.open(this.href)

Yes, I remember that Jason skied there a year or two ago; it has a big observatory at the top if I remember correctly. The Spanish Pyrenees are not on my hit list mainly for the language issue, but the French part definitely is.
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Re: Auron, FR: 02/05/18

Postby jasoncapecod » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:40 am

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