2021-22 Season Recap

ChrisC

Well-known member
I don't buy any pass product because it does not make sense for me. Unless you have a place/house/share, Tahoe is a difficult proposition from the Bay Area for multiple weekends. Instead, I am now seeking out more unique experiences versus maximizing skier days.

I did have the Mountain Collective for a couple of years when Telluride was a member (or received ski show pricing), but that is no longer the case.

Ski Days for Season 2021/22

Palisades Tahoe - 2
Sugar Bowl - 1
Aspen - 2
Aspen Highlands - 1
Snowmass -1
Telluride - 3
Revelstoke - 1
Big Red Catski - 1
Valhalla Powdercats - 1
Eagle Pass Heliski - 1
K3 Catski - 1
Stellar Heliski - 1


For Season 2022/23

Looks like I am going on a guy's trip with UK friends to Courmayeur, Italy. The ski resort proper of Courmayeur is about as interesting as Keystone, but there is a ton of free-riding readily available:

1. Youla/Arpa trams and their itineraries (Dolone, Vesses, Arp Vieille)
2. Helbronner Cable Car / Backside of Mont Blanc. At least from mid-station: Toula Glacier #1 , Toula #2 , Toula #3
3. Heli-skiing. You can do 3 to 5 runs. Prior report

We will hire a guide for a few days.

Also, Chamonix (Vallee Blanche variants, tramless Grands Montets), La Thuile, and Pila are nearby. And if there is really poor snow, lots of Italian food and wine.

I will add some days at the end of the week and go where there is the best snow: Monterosa (Gressoney/Alagna) is my first choice, but Verbier/Crans Montana/Gstaad or Avoriaz/Morzine are worthy candidates.

Courmayeur.jpg
 
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ChrisC

Well-known member

I should not be too negative.

There are some benefits to the core slopes of Courmayeur. They are cut through Larch forests that are skiable. So on storm days, you have plenty of terrain to ski: both tree-lined slopes and Larch glades (not always available in Europe)...especially on the slightly north-facing Val Veny side.

Also, saw that Keystone is getting a lift in their bowls for next year. This should improve the terrain diversity.
 
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Patrick

Active member
There are some benefits to the core slopes of Courmayeur. They are cut through Larch forests that are skiable. So on storm days, you have plenty of terrain to ski: both tree-lined slopes and Larch glades (not always available in Europe)...especially on the slightly north-facing Val Veny side.
I skied Courmayeur one day back in 1990 when I was at a training camp in France. Loved the terrain. One of the most scenic I've ever skied at, definitely in the top 5.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
Conditions were not great on my day at Courmayeur. You may say one day doesn't mean much, but conditions were very good at Vallee Blanche, Grands Montets and Verbier the same week. The exposure at the main part of Courmayeur is not great and for Point Helbronner it's worse. As most of you know, I'm averse to advance reserving in the Alps unless there's a compelling reason like a lodging deal, and even there I'd want an area with a strong long term track record. If I were to take my chances advance reserving in Aosta, I'd go with Cervinia or the Monterosa.

While our track record is great at Cervinia, loaded with fresh powder on both visits, it's probably too intermediate for ChrisC's taste. The Monterosa does have a heli option, though conditions weren't right for it when I was there so I'm not going to say it is as good as near Monte Bianco.

I reread ChrisC's heli day TR. It ended the same way as my not-so-great off piste guided day, with an awesome Italian meal. FYI I think ChrisC will find Xenforo's picture upload process more user friendly than the old FTO, so I encourage him to try it.
 
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ChrisC

Well-known member
Conditions were not great on my day at Courmayeur. You may say one day doesn't mean much, but conditions were very good at Vallee Blanche, Grands Montets and Verbier the same week. The exposure at the main part of Courmayeur is not great and for Point Helbronner it's worse. As most of you know, I'm averse to advance reserving in the Alps unless there's a compelling reason like a lodging deal, and even there I'd want an area with a strong long term track record. If I were to take my chances advance reserving in Aosta, I'd go with Cervinia or the Monterosa.

While our track record is great at Cervinia, loaded with fresh powder on both visits, it's probably too intermediate for ChrisC's taste. The Monterosa does have a heli option, though conditions weren't right for it when I was there so I'm not going to say it is as good as near Monte Bianco.

Your points are taken. Personally, I am a bit hesitant to book Alps (especially Italy) this far out. However, this is more of a guy's vacation versus a ski safari in search of the best conditions. Therefore, close airport proximity, fun village, and slopes of all types were priorities. Courmayeur checked those boxes. (15+ Years ago the choice was La Grave :):p) Friends have already booked their tickets via Milan Malpensa?!!

The other candidate was Lech, but it was voted down due to expense and travel time. While perhaps preferable, I spent many days on its slopes in January 2019 and skied its interesting lines on&off piste. So I am fine with a pass on the Arlberg - it won't compare to my previous trip of 3-4 meters of snow pre-arrival, cold temps (St. Anton maintained powder/packed-powder surfaces), and new snow 3 out of 7 days. You can cross Lech/St. Anton off my bucket list.

Our dates are February 1-5 (Wed-Sun) which is pretty optimal for a snow base to build, and still have sun lower on the horizon. We likely will do one heli day, one guided day, and 2 resort days. My previous experiences at Courmayeur have been snow positive:
  1. Courmayeur 12/30/04. The conditions were equivalent to Chamonix (powder/pack powder) - with maybe slightly lower bases. We skied powder in the north-side trees and in the Youla bowl days after the last snowfall. There likely was not enough coverage for off-piste itineraries, nor did we possess the navigation skills.
  2. HeliSki Courmayeur 1/30/18 We skied both north and south/southeast facing runs. The south/southeast facing runs off the Mont Blanc massif retained a powder surface about 4 days from the last storm. The only issue was wind compaction. The elevation range of those runs is 2000-3700 meters (6600 - 12100 ft).
Therefore, I think we will do alright. I like my chances enough. Again, this all goes to hell if you get weeks of sun and no snow.

Courmayeur Off-piste
North-facing in red / names highlighted - should be good. The Vesse area is equivalent to the north-facing heli runs. East-facing Dolonne and Col D'Arp itineraries are riskier for conditions.
CourmayeurOffPiste1_LI.jpg


Helbronner Off-piste.
Equivalent altitude/exposure to south-facing runs on my heli-day. Toula Glacier (7100-11100 ft) is in red. And if it sucks, we can drop off the backside to an all north-facing Vallee Blanche variant known as Vallee Noir and take the bus back to Courmayeur.

Note: Most of the Vallee Blanche routes of Chamonix face due southeast (orange)- and those don't really suffer.

CourmayeurHelbronner.png


CourmayeurHelbronner2.JPG


Looked at some YouTube videos to see some Courmayeur mid-winter conditions:

Anyways, roll the dice. Maybe we will get this......

ColDArp.jpg


Pre-Courmayeur (January 28-Feb 1):
  • Want to ski Monterosa for 3-4 days. And maybe a day at La Thuile/La Rosiere. But Monterosa can have erratic snowfall and faces mostly south, so I will wait and see.
  • Otherwise, I will ski north of Courmayeur - maybe 2 days at Portes du Soliel, and 2 days at either Verbier, Gstaad, or Crans Montana.
  • Or possibly St. Luc/Chandolin and Grimentz/Zinal?

Cervinia
Nice high-altitude mountain, but I've been there: July 2004 (better summer skiing than Zermatt), January 2018, and April 2018. Except for a few routes below the Plateau Rosa tram and the Goillet lift, there is not a lot of steep off-piste. And I have eaten at both the restaurant and self-serve of Chalet Etoile.


Future Europe Plans. I have 2 trips left:
  1. Cortina/Val Gardena/Arabba. This will be a last-minute week-long trip whenever they have snow. :icon-rolleyes:
  2. Austria. Some combination of: Solden, Obergrurgl, HIntertux/Mayrhofen, Kitzbuhel, Saalbach, Zell AmSee/Kitzsteinhorn, Garmisch/Partenkirchen.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
My dates for that first Euro trip to Chamonix with NASJA were 2/15-20/2004. Off piste in Grands Montets and Verbier bowls above Tortin were chalky packed powder. Most of that off piste run in Courmayeur was shaded and we were with a guide. I don't have an explanation why it was so bad, and I suspect the guide (who was from Chamonix) would not have taken us there if he knew.

Vallee Blanche is NE facing in terms of most of its vertical. The top is so flat and so high that its exposure is close to irrelevant.

Helbronner like some places in the Monterosa, should have south facing steep enough to create corn even midwinter. The local Euro guides are usually very good at timing aspect and location with the time of day. ChrisC's heli TR is good evidence of that.
Cortina/Val Gardena/Arabba. This will be a last-minute week-long trip whenever they have snow.
You might want to let us know about that. We are eager to return to the Dolomites sometime when those Sass Perdoi off piste routes are covered. We could perhaps even lure James and tseeb along with their spouses!
Austria. Some combination of: Solden, Obergrurgl, HIntertux/Mayrhofen, Kitzbuhel, Saalbach, Zell AmSee/Kitzsteinhorn, Garmisch/Partenkirchen.
There are multiple weeks of skiing involved there. Some of those places are 90+% on piste unless you are very lucky with timing though. By contrast, I think if the Dolomites get a big dump that fills in those off piste routes, the snow should preserve well for most of the season.
 
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ChrisC

Well-known member
By contrast, I think if the Dolomites get a big dump that fills in those off piste routes, the snow should preserve well for most of the season.


The wePowder Guide echoes the sentiment above. The authors also seem to indicate that a good season is "make or break" depending on late fall / early winter storms. Not just for the Dolomites, but for most Italian resorts. (They indicate that Courmayeur can still get westerly storms, so it's not quite in the same boat). However, once the base is set, snow preservation is great.

You really do not need powder to have fun in couloirs. In fact, I prefer cold grippy snow vs. powder to avoid sloughing/avy conditions.

Some excerpts:

1. Monterosa
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2. Dolomites - Sella Ronda

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ChrisC

Well-known member
You might want to let us know about that. We are eager to return to the Dolomites sometime when those Pass Perdoi off piste routes are covered. We could perhaps even lure James and tseeb along with their spouses!

Mentally, I kind of planned this trip out during Covid - try to hit the main resorts of Cortina (Faloria, Tofana, Cinque Torri) for each a day and add possibly an off-piste day. Then move to the Sella Ronda circuit and base likely in Arabba near Passo Pordoi tram. Try to ski a day each at the Sella Ronda, Marmolada Glacier, and Passo Pordoi off-piste.


Cortina Area
I believe Sci 18 itinerary in Faloria is doable on your own with good stability, but the Bus de Tofana (south-facing) and Vallon de Raola (north-facing) or Vallon de Comate (east-facing) require guides:
Guides seem to link two of the above for a day. However, this off-piste day could get dropped for the main event on Passo Pordoi.

CortinaOffPiste.JPG




Sass Pordoi / Sella Ronda Area
Here is the Sass Pordoi area highlighting a few of the main off-piste areas. I believe Val Lastis and Val Mezdi could be on your own since there are no glaciers or long couloirs.

SassPordoi.JPG


Val Mezdi - the Vallee Blanche of the Dolomites. A 30-45 minute traverse across the Sasso Plateau. Does not look too bad.

ValMesdi.JPG





What you would want to use the guide for is skiing the Holzer Couloir and Joel Coulior. It appears you can almost lap the Sass Pordoi tram with some of the itineraries: Val Lastis, Holzer Coulior, Forcella Pordoi, and Joel Coulior. There is almost no hiking involved for these.
Looks like you can group a bunch of couloirs together for a day here
SassPordoi2.JPG



Anyways, someday. Likely need to scale something back too. However, resort days will likely be more mellow groomers and off-piste daywill be low vertical days.
 

ChrisC

Well-known member
There's also the top of Marmolada down to Lake Fedaia, from where you can catch a bus to Canazei.

There is an entire chapter / 20 itineraries about the Marmolada Glacier free routes in the book below.

It might be better off-piste skiing than Cortina since the runs face north and have a higher elevation. Possibly swap out days.

FreerideInDolomiti_ENG-500x690.jpg
 

ChrisC

Well-known member
Austria. Some combination of: Solden, Obergrurgl, HIntertux/Mayrhofen, Kitzbuhel, Saalbach, Zell AmSee/Kitzsteinhorn, Garmisch/Partenkirchen.

There are multiple weeks of skiing involved there. Some of those places are 90+% on piste unless you are very lucky with timing though. By contrast, I think if the Dolomites get a big dump that fills in those off piste routes, the snow should preserve well for most of the season.

Austria

I was just going to do a full week flying in/out of Munich:
  1. Ski Garmisch-Partenkirchen / Zugspitze - either on the path to or from Munich.
  2. Solden - 3 days. Ski areas of interest: Solden, Obergrurgl, Pitztzal or Mayrhofen/Hintertux
  3. Kitzbuhel - 3 days. Ski areas of interest: Kitzbuhel, Saalbach, Zell Am See/Kaprun
Don't really expect much powder on the potential trip, but was interested in Kitzbuhel and Garmisch from a historical perspective, Obergurgl from friend's reports, and others for their lift systems/glaciers. It will likely just be covering as much piste mileage as possible.
 

Harvey

Administrator
Staff member
TBH I had been nursing a hamstring, and also had a hernia op in the fall. I spent the second half of the season trying to avoid a re-injury.

Work was a thing for sure, but also thought "I had an excellent season, capped off by an historic May 1 at Gore." Just seemed wise to call it.
 

EMSC

Well-known member
Tony, do you have a cut-off date for 21-22 vs 22-23?

Perhaps 'new' snow begins the new season - even if manmade? Not sure how to count indoor snow as to new or not though.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
I say rule of thumb is Oct. 1. It would be extremely rare to be skiing northern hemisphere new snow before then. It also conveniently puts nearly all of the southern winter within the same season. Patrick will be demonstrating an exception to that this year when he skis Australia in early October, as I did by skiing November 2011 in Antarctica. I put the Antarctica trip in 2011-12 for my records, though as noted in my signature that gave me 80 days within a 365-day period. I also skied northern new snow at Mammoth on Oct. 7, 2011 before the Antarctic trip.
 
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