Val d'Isere, France 2/6-11/00


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<I>(Note from the Administrator: This report was originally posted on 2/16/00. Due to our move to new servers, the date and time attributed to this post is incorrect.)</I> <BR> <BR>We started skiing on Sunday which was really sunny. After a few runs on the piste I found some nice north facing powder but then when I headed to the bottom I ended up survuval skiing through wicked crust. The aspects of the slope can change really quickly and with it the snow can change really quickly. <BR> <BR>On Monday we first got to find out why they stick the poles in the ground. When clouds come in, with no trees visibility is a dream at best. We couln't even find where we had skied on Sunday. We took the lift up and over a ridge to the Col D'Iseran (familiar to all fans of the Tour de France) and a thin break in the clouds gave us some sunshine and we made some more nice tracks under the trams and along the poma line in that area. <BR> <BR>On Tuesday we hired a guide for the day. it cost 1500 FF (about $235) but we were pretty much assured of fresh snow until by 4 we couldn;t turn any more. His name was Andre and he was probably 50 born and raised in Val D'Isere and right out of Ski instructor central casting with his full head of graying hair and perfect easy turns. (We were wondering if French ski instructors lose their jobs if they lose their hair or they stop looking good in their ski outfits. There were a lot of instructors well over 40 which is not something you see much in the states.) Even with Andre we found a mixed bag of snow and it began to snow a real wet snow late in the day. As Andre said he was our big tree to give us some perspective. <BR> <BR>Wednesday there was lots of wind and snow and not much visibility. Got some good shots off the Bellvarde lift (where they held the Olympic downhill in 1992) which was a little lower down. By this point I had developed a bit of a phobia about the lack of avalanche control and was really unsure where to ski in the bad visibility and with new wind blown snow all over the place. We did a few runs in the trees lower down but the snow was not that good. Pedro had the idea to look where guiides went and then go there, which I felt very bad doing and we got yelled at for following too close but it did give us good snow. <BR> <BR>By Thursday everything cleared and there was powder everywhere. You were able to see tracks (and also many small avalanches) so finuring if someone else has been there it is probably safe, so we had fresh snow every run and it was 3:30 before we tried to stop for lunch but the restaurant at the foot of the glacier with an amzing view was closed but we were still making fresh tracks when we missed the last lift back to Val d'isere at 4;45 and had to wait on a massive line for a bus back to town. Fresh tracks all day in many different places and there was still almost an infinite ammount left when we finished. <BR> <BR>Friday was almost no visibility all day and 5 days of skiing (after none all year) took its toll. We had about 1 good run through a gully in the morning and then just sort of lapsed into laziness complaining about our aches and pains, spent a lot of time at lunch and I finished up doing beater turns (those sort of get the skis around anyway you can) down the olympic downhill run to finsh up.