This trip has been different from our January ski safaris. We reserved a week here, leaving the last 5 days flexible. But we have added 4 more nights and will not leave until the day before we fly out of Geneva. This is due to the weather from the ongoing snow coming from the Mediterranean. While we sat out two days, it is snowing here, which it is not to the areas to our west, Les Arcs/La Plagne and Trois Vallees. So those areas probably have the cloudy skies but old spring snow. The forecasts have been variable, but we rated to get some decent powder days whenever the storms let up. And after clear weather recon last Friday-Sunday we should have a decent idea about promising sectors with new snow.
Round 1 of the new snow was the 4-7 inches during the day Tuesday, which left some powder but with wind exposed a lot of ice too. Round 2 was 6-8 inches Wednesday night, and we got lucky there was a break before round 3 started dumping around 5PM today Thursday. Round 2 covered up most of the off piste terrain, leaving ice only at the most wind exposed areas. The morning had intermittent clouds with some sunny breaks and thus adequate visibility. The clouds thickened in the afternoon but the light did not get that bad until about 3:45PM.
So it was indeed lucky that I was with iSKI guide Didier and Liz had an afternoon lesson with Wayne, our Alpine Experience guide from Sunday. I was with a group of 4 including Keira, iSKI’s booking agent, and a French regular client Bernard. Didier’s itinerary passed through the same sectors Liz and I had skied Wednesday, but of course he knew the precise lines to maximize the significantly improved conditions. Within the mellow area between Bellevarde and Borsat we knew right away how much better a day it would be. From Borsat we had a 10 minute bootpack to the top of Col de Fresse.
Bernard skiing from there:
We skied to the Tufs lift and rode up to Toviere. We traversed past the Envers to Comparibles skiroute and found soft windblown snow most of the way down to Val Claret. This sector faces southwest and looked like sold hardpack on Wednesday. We then took Les Lanches up 2,400 feet. Didier led us through the gaps in the rocks to get to the bowl skier’s right of the lift. At about 10:30AM we were the first to put tracks into this sector. Didier testing a steep rollover to start:
First tracks below there:
Next Didier set a traverse track across the large open bowl.
Now he demonstrates that he knew where the best snow would be.
No question that was the best powder of the day. Note the cluster of skiers about to traverse into the bowl lower down from the piste under the lift.
Bernard in an open section lower down:
Didier then cut back across the Cirse piste to give us a final pitch returning to Val Claret.
We went back up Les Lanches but continued up Vanoise to 10,000 feet. Didier started on Genepy but went off piste to the more expansive skier’s right vs. the cautious skier’s left Liz and I had tried Wednesday. As on Wednesday the upper part had much wind stripping. We linked a few sections of windblown snow, but then Didier stopped and decided we need to skin to improve conditions. We skinned maybe 20 minutes not too steep and went back to alpine mode at 9,400 feet. Here’s Bernard skiing from there down toward Genepy:
You can see the light is getting worse. I crashed at the bottom of that pitch when I couldn’t tell the terrain was flattening.
Lower down on Genepy we went skier’s left off piste in the area of the red line I drew on Wednesday’s report. Fortunately we got a break in the light there. It was past 12:30 so we needed to head back to the Val d’Isere side.
We took Tufs to Toviere, skied a short distance down the Creux piste to get out of the wind, then cut left off piste. This was another area that was icy Wednesday but the lower we went the more filled in it was today. There is a flat groomed path to get back to Tommeuses. But we continued past that into the upper part of Hidden valley. Eventually we reached tree line and traversed out to the Raye piste leading to La Daille.
The 4 guided hours concluded at 1PM with about 15k of skiing, over half of that untracked. FYI a 4 hour group off piste tour costs 65 Euros with iSKI or Alpine Experience. Add the 49.50 Euro (2-5 day rate) lift ticket to that and it’s in the ballpark with a lift ticket alone at many marquee US ski areas.
I rode the La Daille gondola up to La Folie Douce for a soup lunch and needed break. Coming out shortly before 2PM, I took Tommeuses up to la Toviere and skied a similar off piste line near Envers to Comparibles as I had been shown in the morning. From Val Claret I rode Tichot up to the Col de Ves sector we had skied Friday. I did a short lap on that lift first, dropping in here:
That was a very sweet but short section. I crossed the piste and skied the mellower section beyond before returning to Col de Ves.
Next time up I traversed out to the same pitch I had skied Friday, viewed from top of Tichot here:
View down from the traverse:
This time I angled skier’s right for a longer run. The snow was untracked but denser than most of today's powder. Looking back up after 1,000 vertical of skiing:
I still have 500+ to go to Val Claret.
After riding up Tufs to Toviere I tried to duplicate the guided last under Tommeuses but the light had deteriorated. I chose the cautious course of that last groomed path past the lift and skied on piste to La Daille, arriving at 4:10 PM.
Total vertical for the day was 7,300 in Val d’Isere and 16,800 in Tignes, about 12K of powder. This day was at least equal in quality to Jan. 27 in Cervinia and for lift service this season exceeded only by the big day in Fernie Feb. 25.