One Of Those Days

Graham: Lovely snow on the lower front side of the mountain

Location: Le Tour/Vallorcine
Snow: 30-40cm slightly compressed powder, some wind-affected snow
Weather: Mostly sunny

Another tough decision for where to ski today.  Italy or Switzerland for good snow but a more expensive day or Grands Montets and hope that the high lifts open and the crowds aren’t too bad?  None of the above; Le Tour was the answer once we saw that the Tete de Balme lift was scheduled to open at 10am, an excellent decision as it turned out.

On the mountain for about 9.30am we had time for one run down the front side of the mountain from the top.  Nice enough smooth boot-top powder on mostly mellow angles at the top and better lower down to skier’s-right of the Vormaine Couloirs.  Back at the top just after 10am the online lift status confirmed that the Tete de Balme was running so we nipped round the back of the mountain to arrive at the lift just as the gates opened.  We were on.

As one of the first groups to drop in off the lift we took our first lap under the chairlift in completely untouched snow – a first for me and very fun.  The trees to skier’s-right and the clearings between them were skiing well with an easy exit back to the lift, while skier’s-left in the direction of the Vallorcine gondola the snow was a bit wind-affected as well as having some horrible patches of crunchy “coral reef” so not worth repeating.

The best of the day were the pillow areas I hit last week where the slightly settled or compressed snow gave the perfect platform for landings.  My favourite line from last week had filled in much more and wasn’t anywhere near as good but there were still a lot of good lines and single features to hit.

I triggered one small windslab today coming over a roll in an innocuous spot under the lift that wasn’t all that steep and someone else in our group said they had done something similar on the front side of the mountain too.  The avalanche danger has dropped to 3 for now but that’s still “Considerable risk” so stay smart and ski safe for the rest of the winter everyone!

Graham: Going big

Got a comment, question, or your own report from elsewhere in the Chamonix valley? Leave a comment below (Facebook login required).

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