Les Arcs 1/15/23 to 1/24/23

Sbooker

Active member
It was hard to write the dates like that.🙂

We checked in late yesterday after having lunch at a one (wo)man band restaurant in the old town of Bourg Saint Maurice. We all had a ‘formule’ for only 10 Euro. A (non alcoholic) drink, a main (sandwich, lasagne, pizza type stuff) and a desert (galette, crème brûlée, panacotta). Superb food and entertaining service.
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We’re in Arc 1800. The accommodation is typical French appartments built in the 70s/80s I would think. We’ve got two. One for myself and Kylie. The other for the teens. They’re small but pretty well designed. Ours has been renovated recently. The kids has not.🙂

My wife and the two girls got an early start to catch the train to Lyon for an overnight excursion. I am going to hang with the boys.

It was overcast early and started to graupel at about 11am (at 1600 metres). It quickly turned to snow and by noon it was snowing quite heavily. We checked out the higher elevations but visibility was not great.
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We spent the afternoon in the tree lined runs between 1800 and Vallandry. The visibility was much better.
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The snow conditions were contrasting. Above about 1900 metres it was quite nice and really good in places. There are some closed runs that we skied. They had really good patches of untracked snow. We weren’t the only ones skiing them but they certainly weren’t being hammered by most of the people on the hill. Perhaps someone who knows this stuff (someone with patrolling experience in Europe perhaps) can clarify but my interpretation of a closed piste is it is the same as skiing off piste. Or do I have that wrong? Should I not be skiing those areas?
Anyway below about 1900 it was either hard and icy, scraped out (despite recent snow) or obviously man made. Tom asked why it was like “a slushy” even though the temps were low.

Chilling in the unit with a biere and some cornachons at the moment. We’ll head out soon for dinner. Snow predicted for tonight and tomorrow. I was going to get a guide but I’m going to ski (they board) with the lads and I intend to get at as much of the new snow in between the pistes (and on the closed pistes) that I can.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
You were commenting favorably upon runs at Tignes down to at least 1,800 meters IIRC. Am I wrong about that? Are conditions worse at Les Arcs at comparable elevations?

Answer to Tom:
1) Most of the snow around base areas an at low elevation is manmade, thus high water content and more prone to melt/freeze.
2) Even the natural snowpack below 2,200 got rained on so it's very high water content too.
3) Pistes leading to base areas in the Alps have intense skier traffic that scrapes down the snow.
There is synergy among the above factors, not in a good way.

We thought dining in Bourg St. Maurice was high quality and a good value.
 

Sbooker

Active member
You were commenting favorably upon runs at Tignes down to at least 1,800 meters IIRC. Am I wrong about that? Are conditions worse at Les Arcs at comparable elevations?
You are correct. I would say conditions at lower elevations were a little better at Tignes.
 

Sbooker

Active member
We woke this morning to light snow but there was only a few inches accumulated overnight I would estimate. But the snow fall rate improved as the day went on.
Visibility was difficult above the tree line. We really are fortunate to be here during this period of snow as there is much more to go at than Tignes as far as tree lined runs goes. There are even some nicely spaced trees. As relative novices we are quite slow through the trees though. It’s very enjoyable though when the turns are soft.
I didn’t take many photos as there wasn’t much point. Above the trees was different shades of white while in and around the trees were well, mostly of trees. We had a ball though. The whole mountain is soft and to use a cliche it really is a playground - particularly for skiers that don’t get fresh snow that often. There were pockets of safe angle fresh snow when we called it a day at 4.15pm.
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I took the above at about 3.45pm while I was waiting for Tom who had taken a tumble. I don’t know why the majority of punters don’t have a go at the side and in between piste when it’s a choice of fresh snow or heavily trafficked groomer?
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Trees and snow. It’s amazing how good visibility is compared to above the tree line.
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It was snowing very heavily at 1800 metres when I went to get dinner ingredients at 5pm. Tomorrow should be good.

As an aside I am still on my 92mm waist skis as I was in Tignes when the guide had us skiing 12 plus inches of snow. (And a fair bit deeper in areas). Phillipe encouraged me not to go to wide skis. He said it would be much easier but with skiing skis I would learn to ski powder better. I must admit it fatigues my legs though. Having never skied anything wider than 95mm (I rented on a powder day at Snowmass when my skis went to Denver instead of Aspen) would my legs cope better with wider and a little longer skis on snow days. I’m thinking I may ditch Phillips’s advice.
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
I don’t know why the majority of punters don’t have a go at the side and in between piste when it’s a choice of fresh snow or heavily trafficked groomer?
We've discussed that here at length -- otherwise known as low powder competition! -- and conjectured that it may have something to do with a) the large percentage of casual skiers, especially at the megaplexes, and b) the much bigger racing culture in Europe.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
No question if you're getting fatigued in new snow, wider skis will help some. And since you're skiing multiple days without a break, I'd recommend that. OTOH I'd view 92mm as not that narrow, especially if it has a rockered tip. You definitely want that. Since the Alps are a mix of groomers and powder, with some of the groomers being firm, I personally want a versatile ski that handles both. I bought my first Bonafides in Dec. 2012 in anticipation of a week in the Arlberg. I'm now on my 3rd and 4th pairs.
 

Sbooker

Active member
No question if you're getting fatigued in new snow, wider skis will help some. And since you're skiing multiple days without a break, I'd recommend that. OTOH I'd view 92mm as not that narrow, especially if it has a rockered tip. You definitely want that. Since the Alps are a mix of groomers and powder, with some of the groomers being firm, I personally want a versatile ski that handles both. I bought my first Bonafides in Dec. 2012 in anticipation of a week in the Arlberg. I'm now on my 3rd and 4th pairs.
The skis are Blizzard Rustlers so they have tip and tail rocker. And yes they can get an edge on a hard groomer. Bonafides and Brahmas are heavier and more suited to advanced/expert skiers I’m told.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
I now share Phillipe's view. 92mm with both tip and tail rocker should be good for powder, and a less advanced/expert ski rates to be softer too.

Powder skiing becomes quite efficient once you get enough mileage. But intermediates unfamiliar with it exert way too much effort and get tired. That was me in Aspen/Snowmass in 1980 with 55 inches of new snow during the week. Every day I was relegated to the groomers after lunch because I was so exhausted. Of course ski design back then did not help.
 

Sbooker

Active member
I didn’t ski until Wednesday afternoon due to an upset stomach. More of the same snowy weather. Spent the time in the trees on the La Plagne side. I’m sure it’s been mentioned before but the Vanoise Express is some impressive engineering.

Today was bluebird with between 6 and 12 inches of powder depending on where I was on the mountain. Just a few pics. We skied between the pistes not far from the lifts and we’re still skiing soft snow at 4pm.
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The first lift and the first sign of blue sky since we’ve been in Les Arc.
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Lots of this stuff near the lifts.
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Arc 2000 bowl.
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Tom and Jye about 3pm.
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Still nice soft turns on the last lift.
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I’m quite sure this was a designated red piste. I could see no ‘closed’ signs but it was being used sparingly. Not groomed and quite steep for a red piste. Perhaps it was an area beside a red piste? Very nice skiing regardless.
The girls had a break today. They were shattered. They spent the day in Bourg doing some shopping. They’re cooking tonight. We will all ski tomorrow. With the girls in tow it will be a cruise day checking out the views as there is no snow and blue skies forecast. Will be chilly though.
I’m not skiing with a transceiver. I don’t know if this is irresponsible but as you can see I think I’m restricting things to very low angle slopes. What is the protocol when skiing side and in between piste in Europe. Should we have avalanche gear?
 

EMSC

Well-known member
I think I’m restricting things to very low angle slopes. What is the protocol when skiing side and in between piste in Europe. Should we have avalanche gear?
Probably, but it's hard to say depending on each slope. The reality is that many areas that are very near the formally designated pistes have to be avi controlled because any debris would end up on or crossing the 'secured/safe' piste slope. That said there are also many nearby spots where any avalanche would be short and not affect the pistes (only you) or the terrain is right next to, but angled just enough away from the piste. In those instances there is no work done by resort personnel. I've seen people without gear ski pretty far off piste in Europe, but I sure wouldn't recommend it - especially in a storm cycle.

The other item would be that not only do you have the gear, but know how to use it and also to ski with at least one other person, putting only one of you at risk at a time, etc... Gear is not worth much without full protocol and knowledge. Otherwise the beacon is nothing more than a body recovery tool.
 

Sbooker

Active member
We’ve moved on from Les Arcs. The last few days had no new snow and cold temps which was hard on the kids - particularly them newbies.
We did catch @Tony Crocker and Liz for dinner on Sunday evening and a few lifts on the Monday. I’ll let Tony report on the ski day.

As always the conversation with Tony and Liz was very interesting and informative. You’ve hit the jackpot with Liz Tony. She is so warm and friendly. I hope your time in Europe is fantastic.
 

Sbooker

Active member
@Sbooker, are you going to make an appearance at Serre Chevalier when Tony, Liz, and I are there (Sunday, Monday, possibly Tuesday)?
No unfortunately. The girls are meeting a school mate in Geneva on Saturday and we go to Milan for a couple of days on Monday. I’m back to reality shortly thereafter.
Skiing in a mixed ability group is hard. When I’m leading my crew of intermediates around I’m fine even when waiting for some of them to catch up but I feel a little uncomfortable when I’m skiing with experts. I don’t like to hold people back……
That said I’ve not mentioned this to either of @Tony Crocker or @tseeb but I’d love to line up dates for their yearly Canada trip.
 
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