Saint Gervais & Apres Ski

Roslyn: Nice slushy pistes in the afternoon

Location: Saint Gervais
Snow: Perfect soft pistes, slushy low down in the afternoon
Weather: Sun & Cloud

My family’s last day of their visit to Chamonix today so we drove down the valley to Saint Gervais to enjoy some pistes (one free day with Chamonix’s MBU lift pass).  I’ve never skied the area before, only biked on the far side of Megeve in the summer, so wasn’t sure what to expect but it turned out to be really nice and a much larger area than I’d imagined.

Efficient lifts and very wide & well-groomed pistes made for a really nice day blasting around, with the best runs being in the Rochebrun area of Megeve in the afternoon in smooth, soft snow.  Pistes are of all grades so enough to keep everyone happy – I’ll definitely try to have a piste day here from now and there is a lot of touring potential too.

Back in Chamonix for 5pm we gathered at Rob’s place for a few drinks before heading to Chambre Neuf for a classic apres ski for Alex’s leaving night and Colin’s final apres ski for a while – really good to see almost all of our good friends making it along.

The band did their usual thing and we hit the pale blue shots hard as always.  Unfortunately my enthusiastic requests for some Eagle Eye Cherry to close the night were not appreciated by the band (sorry Colin, I really tried) and I ended up leaving.  I’m maintaining that I wasn’t thrown out this time; managing to grab my jacket before I left proves that surely!

Rob: Letting his hair down for the night

Home for a shower while everyone else finished off the night and made plans, then along to Terrasse for some more civilised drinks.

A good night for sure – thanks everyone!


Today's visibility

Location: Le Tour & Grands Montets
Snow: Perfect soft pistes in the morning, slushy in the afternoon
Weather: Overcast/whiteout

Very poor light everywhere mid-mountain today but we made it up Le Tour in the morning anyway then on to Grands Montets in the afternoon.

Pistes on Le Tour were in prime condition with a dusting of fresh snow since yesterday, skiing incredibly well but with about 30m visibility you had to either take things cautiously or just go for it anyway and hope for a smooth ride.  Still good fun.

A nice lunch at the bottom of Grands Montets gave us time to hopefully let the sun come out but no luck.  We headed up anyway for a couple of Plan Joran laps but the same visibility combined with slushy snow wasn’t too good.  The cloud looked quite thin at the top of Plan Joran so the top of the mountain was probably clear, but with at least a 45 minute queue we headed home to rest up for tomorrow.

Ian, Fiona & Roslyn Cameron: Making the most of conditions

Quick Tour

Col de Berard, solo

Location: Aiguilles Rouges
Snow: Mostly 10cm soft snow on a firm, choppy base
Weather: Sun & light cloud

Back on the Crochues-Berard solo today as the group plan didn’t work with my schedule, moving nice and quick on my own and timing things today just out of interest.

Top of Floria to Col des Crochues: 18 minutes up by bootpacking the whole way (definitely the quickest and easiest approach at the moment).

Traverse from Col des Crochues: Pretty firm but fine.

Climb to Col de Berard: 14 minutes on a firm, badly-placed track (couteaux were useful).

Main descent from Col de Berard: Nice soft snow but not quite deep enough to avoid feeling the firm, bumpy base; less-skied routes should be skiing nicely at the moment.

Exit track to Le Buet: Very fast, a couple of rocky sections to shuffle through and nasty branches lower down but OK; 5 minute walk near the bottom because I stuck too far right.

1h20 dead from the top of Floria to Le Buet, faster than I thought I would be.  Good timing for the extra 12:07 lunchtime train (all others are at 41 past the hour).  Not the most exciting route but I genuinely rate it for the very easy access, fair descent, relative safety and distance covered.  There’s a reason it’s so popular!

Today also reminded me of a some really good solo days on my mountain bike last summer where I would pick route variations as I went and wouldn’t take breaks until my braking fingers were ready to give up.  I’m definitely looking forward to summer already but let’s see what the next month and a bit have left for skiing before building up the new bike.

Family Day Out

Roslyn: Returning towards Verbier from Thyon

Location: Verbier
Snow: Good & firm then good & soft on piste
Weather: Sunny then light cloud

My mum, dad and sister are in town for the week, and as I’ve always said that Chamonix is pretty terrible for intermediate skiers we headed to Verbier for their first day’s skiing, somewhere I’ve always thought they would like for a holiday destination.

Wide, well-maintained pistes, efficient lifts, low crowds and good snow & weather conditions awaited us so it was a pretty good day just cruising around, across to Thyon by lunchtime then back.  My mum even managed the very moguled itinerary route down to Tortin, despite the most swearing I’ve ever heard come out of her mouth all the way down!  Good work.

Late Midi Lap

Martin: Finishing the walk down the Midi Arete

Location: Aiguille du Midi
Snow: Spring snow in the sun, refrozen crud in the shade
Weather: Mostly sunny

Still not feeling 100% today but I’m getting there, and couldn’t pass up Rob’s idea of a casual lap of the Midi starting at lunchtime, my first time up there this winter.  Perfect warm, sunny weather greeted us at the peak so we did the tourist thing for a while before heading down the arete and beginning our descent of the Moyen/Petit Envers at 2pm in mostly good spring corn.  In the shade things had already refrozen into pretty nasty, choppy crud but it was manageable.

Kathleen, Martin, Rob: Some words of wisdom before starting our descent

Still sunny as we approached the Requin Hut so a drinks break was in order while taking in the views, then on towards the Mer de Glace far-left in more refrozen snow and nasty moguls.  A nice, fast track took us down the glacier with good cover all the way to the steps then a packed train home.

Kathleen: Nice spring snow on the Moyen Envers

I won’t be rushing back up the Midi before a good bit of new snow (although the Rognon and Classic routes probably do have good spring snow all the way) but a nice, relaxed day like this was what I needed and a good opportunity to take in the views up high for the first time in a while.

More Slush

Alex: Slushy takeoff with a nice view

Location: Brevent/Flegere
Snow: Soft/slushy
Weather: Mostly sunny, warm

I’ve been suffering with a nasty bug for the past few days (my fault, it seems 48 hours isn’t enough time to give ill friends to recover before hanging out with them), but wanted to get up the mountain for some easy skiing anyway.

Up Brevent and across to Flegere at 12.30pm again for more of the same lovely soft/slushy conditions, with barely anyone else on the hill for some reason; don’t you like the slush?  Soft & smooth pistes at the top, getting nice and slushy/bumpy lower down, excellent.

Having barely eaten for the past two days I was really struggling to ski at 100% for more than about 60 seconds at a time and only got two big laps on Flegere but the skiing was good fun and that’s all that matters!

Pretty bad timing for what could be some very nice spring touring this week but there’s plenty time left this winter.

Slush, Glorious Slush

Martin: Slushy bumps

Location: Brevent/Flegere
Snow: Soft/slushy pistes, off-piste variable
Weather: Thickening cloud

Now this was a fun day on the hill.  No backpacks, ripping around as a group, plenty kickers & gaps forming and no crowds.

We skied around 12.30 to 3.30pm with the pistes starting nice and soft and ending up really slushy (we like slush).  Moguls were semi-forming on the steeper sections of pistes which I was loving (thank you Hot Dog Day 2014 for forcing me to learn) and the mellower sections staying pretty smooth.  Off-piste was still a little too firm & choppy in places but we did find a few smoother sections of spring snow – there’s definitely some good skiing out there still!

More Pistes

Martin: Nice soft pistes on our last run home

Location: Grands Montets
Snow: Firm pistes, softening in the afternoon
Weather: Hazy cloud

More sunny pistes.  A Courmayeur trip was on the cards but a fair queue was sitting at the tunnel going nowhere fast so we bailed to Grands Montets instead.  Pistes were a little too firm for my edges first thing but softened up nicely and stayed smooth, Pierre à Ric skiing nice and fast later on.

Days like this make me miss hitting park kickers but sadly there is nothing decent built this year; maybe later in the spring if snow levels allow.

Plan B: Slush

Martin, Alex: Ripping up the pistes off the back of Les Houches, overlooking the Arve Valley

Location: Les Houches
Snow: Soft pistes, slushy lower down
Weather: Bluebird, warm

I was up early this morning to head up Grands Montets with Alex for something off the Argentiere Basin, feeling ready for a big day, but it wasn’t to be as the Top Bin was announced as closed at 9.00am due to high winds.  Plan B took us in a completely opposite direction for some slushy pistes on Les Houches.

Things were pretty quiet so it was full speed ahead on excellent soft piste snow, a little firmer off the back side and nice and slushy lower down the front side with plenty gaps and hips to find at the sides all the way down.  Excellent fun, probably moreso than our original plan as it turned out!

And Again

Standard Col de Berard solo shot

Location: Aiguilles Rouges
Snow: Spring snow/windblown on the main descent
Weather: Sunny then light clouds

Back on the Crochues-Berard Traverse on my own once again.  A solo mission wasn’t the original plan; Martin was up for his first real ski tour but one third of the way up to the Col des Crochues his new knee injury was giving him a lot of grief so he decided to bail while I continued on.  A very good bootpack is in place for most of the route so I got my skis on my back and stomped up the rest in good time, even suffering from the dreaded Mutzig hangover.

Round to the Col de Berard quickly I was in time to watch a pair in front of me find pretty smooth, soft, windblown snow skier’s-right so I followed on for some good turns.  The rest of the route is now mostly tracked-out with some bumps forming but there was still plenty space in the meadowy section for more long turns in spring snow.

The exit is running very quickly due to the traffic this week but a lot of branches are poking through the snow most of the way and some rocks.  One section before the buvette will definitely need to be walked tomorrow so I’ll probably give anything in the Berard Valley a miss until new snow falls.

  • Lorne Cameron: Chamonix Ski Blog

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