Getting Better

Graham: Finding the good snow

Location: Grands Montets
Snow: 20-25cm powder on a variable base
Weather: Bright then cloudy, poor visibility

Yes, we’re getting there with the snow after a full afternoon/evening of snowfall in town yesterday.  I fancied Le Tour today to avoid most of the crowds but ended up at Grands Montets with surprisingly few queues except for Top Bin which opened early unexpectedly.  The top of the mountain surely had the best skiing but we were in no mood for the 1+ hour queue so lapped Bochard and the Herse instead through the Lavancher, Canadian and Italian Bowls.

The new snow was a decent depth but pretty light so the underlying surface dictated a lot to how things were skiing.  In high-traffic areas we were still essentially skiing the old moguls underneath with a nice soft covering; decent enough skiing but hard work.  On the right edges of Canadian and Italian Bowl things were much smoother and could be skied with a good bit of speed.  Past the Lognan Refuge most of the pillows and trees don’t quite have enough snow to be skied flat-out but they’re getting there.

Graham: Maybe a bit too deep on the refuge trees

New snow is incoming from Wednesday night onwards.  Let’s hope it settles in well for some good safe skiing for the rest of the winter.

More pistes

Martin: Good pistes overlooking the Chamonix valley

Location: Les Houches
Snow: Excellent pistes, soft enough off piste
Weather: Sun & cloud

Just a blast about Les Houches today to get out and avoid the crowds.  Pistes were in excellent condition but a little firm on the front side.  The back side was best with plenty big rollers, a small park now open and shallow but soft snow off piste.

Roadtrip To Powder

Kev, Colin: First run

Location: Monterosa
Snow: 30-40cm dry powder, some very slightly windpacked areas
Weather: Bluebird

Not much new snow round these parts lately but Colin had heard chat that Monterosa had gotten up to 70cm fresh snow yesterday so that was surely worth a trip today to finally get on my fat skis for the first time this winter.

Monterosa sits in Italy’s Aosta Valley (past Pila and the Cervinia exit, about an hour off the left side of the road) and is made up of the linked resorts of Gressoney, Alagna and Campuluc.  A 7am start got us to the Stefal parking (past Gressoney) at 9.30am for a bit of a queue for the first lift but once we were up the hill we were barely waiting all day.  “70cm powder” would be stretching the truth a bit but there was easily 40cm where it mattered and was pretty dry and light.

With only a quick look at the piste map plus a few tricky-to-decipher off piste guides last night we just followed our noses around Alagna’s “Freeride Paradise” lifts for most of the day, finding some nice easy-access untouched snow, a few short bootpacks and traverses and the best skiing of the day off the Indren cablecar which reportedly hadn’t opened yesterday.

The drive from Chamonix was 2-2.5 hours and lift tickets were €41 but totally worth it today to get our powder fix.  The pistes were excellent and the touring potential is huge.  Definitely one to return to which should reward us as we learn the terrain more.

Still Good

Stuart, Graham: Returning to midstation

Location: Le Tour
Snow: Excellent pistes, tracked but soft off-piste
Weather: Cloudy then sunny, windy, cold

A quick morning on Le Tour today with an old friend of my dad’s, Graham, plus his two sons while they are on a quick visit to Chamonix.  The pistes on the front side were amazing again first thing and the off-piste choppy but skiable.  Over on the Tete de Balme we took lines around the chairlift finding some surprisingly nice soft snow; plenty of rocks to dodge but I only clipped a couple under the surface and very few other skiers around.

Roadtripping to powder tomorrow, hopefully…

Quick Laps

Guillem, Graham: Cloudy but good today

Location: Le Tour
Snow: Excellent pistes; tracked but soft off-piste
Weather: Cloudy but bright

Not great weather today but I headed up Le Tour anyway for a few easy laps.  The pistes were near-perfect, definitely the best I’ve skied in the Chamonix valley this winter, and off-piste it was mostly tracked powder but still soft enough to cut through with little effort and easy to find sections of untouched snow.  No complaints!

Bruson

Rob: First run of the day

Location: Bruson
Snow: 25-30cm powder
Weather: Mostly sunny

Finally: a decent topup of snow yesterday daytime, so a good reason to hit Bruson today for the first time this winter.  The area is definitely seeing a bit more traffic than it did a few years ago so yesterday’s snow was a little tracked first thing this morning but we still got a few easy-access laps off the T-bar first thing in lovely smooth powder before it got too tracked-up, and even later in the day it was easy to find good untouched snow and a few small drops were on.

One quick bootpack got Graham and I up to an untouched face leading back towards the T-bar for the last run of the day but when I traversed in a wide but shallow slab collapsed around me, so a safe line out through mellower slopes amongst existing tracks was the right call.  Play safe in the new snow everyone!

Graham: Finding untouched snow overlooking Verbier

Just Blasting About

Graham: On the right skis today

Location: Les Houches
Snow: Wet & heavy but good
Weather: Overcast, warm

Clouds this morning meant that I wasn’t too in the mood for battling Grands Montets crowds for first lifts, so just a blast around Les Houches in a big group instead.  Mainly full speed on the pistes front & back side, popping off any rollers and side hits available.  The snow was a bit sticky everywhere but at least we had no problems with edge grip today.  Between us we had about every type of ski covered but Graham made the best call on his race skis although Colin was keeping up well on full rando race kit.

A fun day for sure, thanks guys.

Powdery

Rob: Finding good snow on the skier's right side of Lavancher Bowl

Location: Grands Montets
Snow: Mostly 20cm tracked powder, some wind-affected, some nice chalk; pistes good
Weather: Sun & cloud, windy, warm

A bit of new snow yesterday but very little overnight, so up Grands Montets a little later than planned today to avoid the crowds and let the sun come out.

With the top lift closed due to wind we pretty much just made big laps of Lavancher Bowl (skier’s left of Boachard), Herse chairlift (straight down, and down then right into Italian Bowl) plus one lap skier’s right of Bochard then into Canadian Bowl.  The snow was mostly good (20cm or so tracked powder) with some nasty wind-affected areas to avoid and a little sun crust but overall good fun skiing cutting through the soft bumps easily.  Not too busy at all, plenty rocks around still but easy enough to avoid them, and the pistes are in the best condition I’ve seen this winter.

The snow base still isn’t quite enough to be skiing untouched snow with no fear of clipping rocks, or to be dropping any serious height, but we’re getting there.  Let’s see what Friday night’s storm brings.

Lazy One

Martin: Heading off the back of Les Houches

Location: Les Houches
Snow: Good to firm on piste
Weather: Sun & cloud

An easy afternoon on the pistes today after I spent the morning waiting for a delivery while snow report requests to friends on the hill went unanswered (translation: rubbish snow).  So Les Houches was a decent shout for some lazy piste laps in better light than the other end of the valley and barely anyone else skiing.  Pistes were a little too firm in places for me today (should have taken sharper skis) but good fun anyway; no crowds, some nice rollers off the back side and a few side-hits scattered around.

Verbier

Rob: Dropping in off Chassoure

Location: Verbier
Snow: Pistes good to firm, off piste variable
Weather: Cloudy then sunny

Not much snow fell yesterday so we headed to Verbier today to make the most of what we could find, or just cruise around the pistes if there wasn’t much on offer.

The pistes were skiing pretty well, not too busy and in pretty good condition with a few icy sections to catch us out.  Off piste snow was very variable, from unbreakable crust to slight windpack to smooth chalk.  Off the Chassoure gondola (running from Tortin towards Lac des Vaux) we did find some better soft snow and got the best turns of the day down the couloir far skier’s-left off the top; another area bookmarked for a return visit in full snow coverage.

  • Lorne Cameron: Chamonix Ski Blog

    Daily photos, snow conditions and trip reports from in and around the Chamonix valley

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