Very cold with windblown powder. The snow depth was inconsistent making commitment difficult but still super enjoyable. Pistes are great and the resort was empty. Off piste below 2000 metres was unskiable crust. All in all a pretty good morning.
Snow started to fall late on Saturday evening and continued well into Monday. Unfortunately it was accompanied by extremely high winds.
I think that the upper end of the valley has had about a metre of fresh snow at 2000 metres with maybe 50/70 cms in Les Houches, Megeve and Contamines.
With few lifts likely to open early on Sunday Penny managed to catch first lift and enjoyed perfect conditions for the first hour and and a half. By the time I managed to join her at 1030 things weren’t as good with the majority of the fresh snow skied out. You have to be quick these days to catch the best conditions.
On Monday we headed for Grand Montets and found ourselves quite near the front of the lift line. In normal GM fashion we the waited for 75 minutes for the lift to open. As Bouchard wasn’t running I have no idea of the reason for the delay and again in true GM fashion no information was forthcoming. When the lift finally opened it was the usual rush/crush even though a queue had formed.
The snow was good, deep but compacted by the wind so a bit heavy. Impossible to stop to take any photos as limited lifts were open and it was pretty obvious that it would ski out quickly. We lapped the new Plan Joran chair in pretty good conditions and had a final run on Herse. It was pretty good but windblown. A final run through the trees gave up some exceptional powder.
The sky cleared on Tuesday for a freezing cold bluebird day at Les Contamines. The frontside was wind effected but Hauteluce side was exceptional- the best skiing of the season so far. The snow depth is limited with a number of areas not skiable and some bushwhacking necessary to escape others. Too much fun to take any photos.
We returned the next day hopefully to skin on the Hautluce side but found the snow to have been badly sun affected( it must have warmed considerably the previous afternoon) Nothing worse than a 2 inch crust ice crust over powder to show up my technique.
Penny then suggested the long traverse from the top of Aig Croche towards Mont Joly and then a descent towards the valley. The traverse was pretty horrible but the ski to the valley floor was good. Creamy boot top snow and pretty consistent. A good call. A brief boot pack took us back to the Grevattaz Poma.
Piste Conditions are great and the slopes are empty.
As soon as New Year week ended things began to improve. The crowds disappeared and we even had a little snow. The depth of the new snow varied throughout the valley with Le Tour receiving about 20cms – heavily windblown- and Les Houches perhaps 10cms. The weather then turned clear and exceedingly cold.
We ventured out to Le Tour pretty much for first lift on 10th January. It was -10C in the car park and with a very strong NE wind it must have been -30C at the top of Autannes Chair. There were pockets of good powder side piste but the overnight wind had ruined many of the faces. Nice to have some powder turns though. The pistes were in excellent condition, well covered and cold grippy snow. We only lasted about an hour and a half due to the extreme cold but went home pretty happy with the improvement in conditions.
Due to continuing freezing conditions we had a quick piste ski on 11/01 at Les Houches. Conditions pretty good with huge amounts of man made snow being pumped out.
Today we had a quick skin to ski an area which is pasture in the summer. 10cms of cold snow made it worthwhile.
Snow due to fall from tonight with reports of up to 75 cms in the next 48 hours.
The Xmas and New Year period is now over and the hordes have left the valley. Despite poor conditions at this time of year over the last few seasons the valley was incredibly busy. Snow conditions were pretty poor but perhaps better than in the last couple of years. We have existed on our last snowfall for the last three weeks so the pistes are hard and well scraped by the masses of skiers.
Thankfully Penny and I have been busy at work and haven’t had to subject ourselves to the poor conditions.
One blessing of the high pressure that has dominated the weather conditions is that it has remained very cold and we have not lost snow that has fallen.
The weather forecast seems to show the pressure system moving away and a return to our normal winter weather pattern. Hopefully the second half of January will bring significant snow.
We finally ventured out yesterday. A brief skin from the Ball Trap at Megeve towards Croisse Baulet was the order of the day. The snow in the forest was rock hard and the cloud didn’t lift. It was, nevertheless, a nice walk up. The temperature remained below freezing and we stopped early as it didn’t appear that we would break through the cloud.
We skied back via the piste which consisted of pretty good man made snow.
Ziggy loved it!