Val d'Isere / Tignes - Jan 27, 2018

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Val d'Isere / Tignes - Jan 27, 2018

Postby ChrisC » Thu Feb 15, 2018 5:54 pm

espace_killy_val_d_isere_and_tignes_piste_map__original.6122.jpg
Espace Killy


Is Val d'Isere the best resort for off-piste/powder skiing in the world?

Given the lack of snow in the US in winter 2017/18 - and Europe having a once in a generation snow year - my brother and I decided to forgo a lower Powder Highway Canada trip and instead fly across the pond to Europe. Canada will always be there, but Europe with a 240-400" mid-winter base will not. Easy decision. My brother had visited the Alps, but not skied them - so he picked a Euro itinerary of Val d'Isere, Chamonix and Zermatt. I had been to each previously years before in 2005 or 2006, but never with this much snow. Game on! (Truth known: Personally, I had liked Val d'Isere the best on early trips. Versus Chamonix, La Grave, Trois Vallees, Les Arcs, Verbier, Megeve, Zermatt, Courmayeur)

Given the massive storms enveloping the Alps in January 2018 - with 200 km/hr winds, avalanches, road closures, rockslides and huge snowfalls - I decided to have a guide show us around the first day at Val d'Isere. I had some ideas where I wanted to go, but local knowledge on what off-piste terrain had been accessible, what had been skied/not skied, slid, wind-scoured, .... and overall save our asses from an avalanche.

So Day 1 - Val d'Isere is a good almost hours from Geneva. However, walking around in village to get a late meal... Wow! These are Mount Baker 1998/99 or 99/00 snowbanks! Easily the same or better than the best years of Tahoe. It's a good year!

A few early morning Val d'Isere sunrise photos.

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Val d'Isere Village


A true 100"+ base in town.

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All of Val d'Isere under Google Earth

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Google Earth View of Espace Killy


Some of the best off-piste skiing in Val d'Isere is in the Fornet Zone - specifically the areas of Grand Vallon and Col Pers. These areas offer over 4000 vertical feet of north-facing powder skiing with valley after valley of untracked snow. We spent the entire day there doing lap after lap - moving further and further out as needed to seek fresh snow. The snow from previous storms had settled - so it was 4-12" in places - but it was equivalent to cat or heli skiing. The guide agreed since she was there the day before....and had the best snow.

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Col Pers and Grand Vallon


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We took about 5 runs over here with lunch and made our way back to Val d'Isere.

The glacier chair to get there....Val d'Isere summer ski area.

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Glacier de Pissaillas


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Top of Col Pers


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Bottom of Col Pers


Our guide was able to get us into a the very small bistro of 2-Michelin star restaurant for lunch at Restaurant l'Atelier d'Edmond. They had a very reasonable for quality/price 25 Euro 3-course lunch.

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Lunch


Excellent day.

I will need to break this into multiple posts since photo limits.
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Re: Val d'Isere / Tignes - Jan 27, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:15 pm

Jan. 27 was our big powder day in Cervinia. That storm came from the SW and in general did not get over to the northern side of the Alps. However, Fraser has often commented that Val d'Isere is close enough to the Italian border to get at least some snow from the southern storms. At any rate Val d'Isere was above the rain/snow line from the big storm a week earlier, so off piste powder could well have preserved on north facing slopes from that one too.
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Re: Val d'Isere / Tignes - Jan 27, 2018

Postby jamesdeluxe » Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:59 pm

Nice pic:
Image
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Re: Val d'Isere / Tignes - Jan 27, 2018

Postby ChrisC » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:03 am

Tony Crocker wrote:Jan. 27 was our big powder day in Cervinia. That storm came from the SW and in general did not get over to the northern side of the Alps. However, Fraser has often commented that Val d'Isere is close enough to the Italian border to get at least some snow from the southern storms. At any rate Val d'Isere was above the rain/snow line from the big storm a week earlier, so off piste powder could well have preserved on north facing slopes from that one too.


True. Our guide spoke of Italy ... and how the storms from the south hit Val d’sere. She actually spoke more highly of skiing/touring in Italy. Me? I thought Italy had no snow.

Val d’Isere gets the Southern Med storms .... but not everything from Northern Alps storms.

I love it! It’s my #1. We have a bunch of French ski instructors in Telluride from Val/Tignes. Even young shredders. It was necessary to show my brother why this place rocked!

I will say it’s expensive.



Its my favorite.
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Re: Val d'Isere / Tignes - Jan 27, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:03 pm

Who did you hire for guides? I presume you recommend them highly.
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: Val d'Isere / Tignes - Jan 27, 2018

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Feb 18, 2018 5:44 am

ChrisC wrote:Is Val d'Isere the best resort for off-piste/powder skiing in the world?

This ^^ made me think of the British "Where To Ski and Snowboard Worldwide" book, which made that verbatim claim as recently as 2013. I checked the website and they've now qualified it slightly in their current Val d'Isère listing as "one of the great resorts for lift-served off-piste runs." Still, the number of four- and five-star ratings on the left side of the page shows you that they still consider it one of their Top 3 all-around Alps ski resorts.

Fraser Wilkin is likewise effusive in his review of snow conditions, putting it in five of his Alps Top 10s at the bottom of the page.

I'll go to Val d'Isère eventually but I still have a lot of off-the-beaten-path places to visit over there. O:)
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Re: Val d'Isere / Tignes - Jan 27, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:56 pm

Given Fraser's emphasis on altitude/exposure as key factors for snow reliability, Val d'Isere trails only Zermatt in snow preservation. But Val d"isere gets more snow so overall it's probably #1 in the Alps for snow quality. There are several places in Austria in the Arlberg and especially north of there (Warth, Damuls, etc.) that get the most resort snow in the Alps but they are relatively low altitude and have mediocre snow preservation.

I'm convinced enough to be considering Val d'Isere this April.
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: Val d'Isere / Tignes - Jan 27, 2018

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:41 am

Tony Crocker wrote:I'm convinced enough to be considering Val d'Isere this April.

To get less of an industrial tourism vibe, to say nothing of what should be excellent conditions, that's when I would go there too. Val d'Isère's planned closing date is May 1, Tignes May 8 -- I'm sure those dates are due to lack of skiers more than lack of snow, especially this season.

A shame that Zurich isn't closer to Val d'Isère so you could take the Swiss Air nonstop from LAX with your United miles. That said; you save at least four hours by not changing planes AND are guaranteed not to lose your ski equipment en route, so something to consider! Or simply rent skis while there since you'll be at the same place the entire time.
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Re: Val d'Isere / Tignes - Jan 27, 2018

Postby Tignes » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:21 am

Clearly the closure of the resort of Tignes and Val d'Isere is more because of the lack of skier we could ski non-stop until July on the glacier Tignes especially with this huge amount of snow this year! There is even a lot of avalanche for those who stay on the spot right now it is a little dangerous anyway!
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