Super Saint Bernard, Switzerland 4/4/00


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<I>(Note from the Administrator: This report was originally posted on 4/4/00. Due to our move to new servers, the date and time attributed to this post is incorrect.)</I> <BR> <BR>Spring skiing ain't so bad, that is if you like POWDER I mean. A week of snow pounded in the southern valley and there was plenty left by the time we got there this weekend. A MRG-esque place near Italy. Well I may have found it, but with one glaring difference. No trees. Oh well, you'll have to settle for 0 crowds, slow lifts, steep chutes, and powder, powder, powder. The place is called Super Saint Bernard and is at the base of the Swiss side of the Great Saint Bernard Pass. Italy is just over the back of the mountain. In fact there is a off piste run that will take over the Italian border where a bus is waiting to drive you 14km back to the Swiss side of the Saint Bernard Tunnel. <BR> <BR>This place is less a ski resort than a ski lift. There is only one, slow, old gondola lift for the 2 (That's right 2) main pistes and a poma to service the lower angle novice slope. Lift serviced elevation is around 1000 meters with a base at 1900 meters. The 2 pistes run down two distinct valleys. The first piste shares the same valley as the gondi. There are several chute choices to skiers left that very from around 35 deg. More steep terrain is accessed via a catwalk to skiers left which passes above the first few chutes. This short traverse gives access to the entire ridge line between the two valleys that make up the area. Without using the catwalk the other valley can be accessed via a tunnel which cuts a few hundred meters straight through the mountain. Snow is imported into the tunnel so that it's possible to ski the entire length. The view from the second valley is absolutely stunning. The Mount Blanc is clearly visible to the south west as well as the entire Col de Great Saint Bernard, including a large refuge which famous for being the origin of Saint Bernard dogs with the barrels of booze strapped to their neck. <BR> <BR>I skied several great chutes with slightly less than fresh tracks near the lift for a warm up around 8:30. The plan was to bag the really good stuff in the morning so there wasn't much time wait. By 9:00 I was crossing the catwalk to take a completely fresh line on the northern slope of the main ridge. Swooping arc turns in knee deep powder were in order and I made about 40 of them. One of the best runs of the season. Winds were a bit gusty in the afternoon. I took some excellent runs playing in the drifts on the lower angle slopes of the second valley. On the lower groomed pistes the wind would kick up the spin drift which would whip around 6 inches off the snow. I enjoyed building up some speed to turn fast swooping arcs through clouds that swirled around my ankles. I had almost <BR>the illusion of free fall. <BR> <BR>Those of you coming to Europe for some spring skiing should be pleasantly surprised. Winter is still putting up a good fight in the high mountains. There was more snow up there than there was 2 weeks ago and more snow is coming is coming this week.