A GOOD FINISH

GRAND MONTETS 30th April 2018

CHALKY WINDBLOWN POWDER 15/25 cms

BECOMING CLOUDY

When will the Chamonix lifts open on time!

For the last few years Grand Montets has offered up a day or two of winter snow at the end of April. Cham Meteo told me last night that 30 to 50cms of fresh snow, heavily windblown, was expected with clear skies first thing today.   I wasn’t the only one to read the forecast and wasn’t quite at the front of the queue despite arriving at 08.10

There was a rush for the top bin so I headed for Bochard to be rewarded by 15cms of powder on piste and first tracks bar 2  pisteurs. Pendant Chair is closed for the season and the access to the bowl  was roped off. It must have put some skiers off as I had first tracks in Pendant Bowl on the next lap. The snow was windblown so the gullies provided great conditions and justified another lap.

First Tracks in Pendant Bowl

The high winds had scoured Herse and the Canadian Bowl. Clouds moved in. Time to go home.

The Season Draws to a Close

Its that time of year and the sun has been shining to close off the season in the Chamonix Valley. It has been a long season and looking back it is nearly 5 months since I first put on my skis. I am going  to try and make it a full 5 months and to do that I will need to ski on 2nd May. With Grand Montets closing on 1st May that may demand a short tour with no lift access being available other than the Midi. Continue reading “The Season Draws to a Close”

A Brief Glimpse of Spring

The weather has continued to be problematic. I was hoping that March/April would bring a settled high pressure period with cold nights, blue skies and warm days leading to spring snow and some touring possibilities. Alas no. As I sit here it is very warm, a bit overcast and the valley is suffering from a Föhn wind period. Not great for anything really. Continue reading “A Brief Glimpse of Spring”

Friday – searching for good snow

After a few days of cold, clear weather we headed off to try and find what was left of the off piste. It was a pleasant surprise to find some nice lines on northern and eastern aspects. This photo of Penny is taken from just below Tete de Balme. This line involves a skin out to Col de Balme (although we saw two guided groups heading all the way down to Trient where there must have arranged transport home). It looks like fresh snow on Tuesday/Wednesday with no real signs of Spring yet.


Chamonix-the last few weeks

Ski resorts throughout France have been  inundated with holidaymakers but, thankfully,the holiday season is over and the valley has returned to normality.  Those who have visited in the last four weeks have had a very mixed bag of weather varying from Sun to Siberian and  to pouring rain  to powder.

The Midi from Brevent summit with cloud to the valley floor

To be honest our skiing has been limited(mostly by weather)and when we ventured out conditions have varied from awful to sublime.

On 25th Feb we headed for Brevent with a view to touring in the large bowl towards Aguilletef des Houches but although sunny at Brevent Summit, a large cloud had enveloped everything below us and we were limited to a no visibility run home on hard pistes. Probably the worst ski of the year

The snow depth is greater than it has been for years promising great skiing in March and April.

A well laden hut in Hauteluce

Saturday 3rd March we skied perfect  empty pistes in Les Houches.

On the morning of Sunday 4th March Le Tour was blanketed with fresh snow. Unfortunately  the snow was heavily wind blown on the Vallorcine side and variable on the Le Tour side  so I headed home after a couple of hours. Two separate avalanches claimed two lives that day in this area – the avalanche risk was 4/5.

Monday 6th March we headed to Bettex and couldn’t get into the car park. Not to be put off we drove to St. Nicholas de Vorace and easily gained access to the area from this sleepy village. 90% good piste skiing with some powder turns still to be had on northern aspects.

Megeve Powder

Fresh snow on Tuesday and Wednesday provided  some great skiing in Les Contamines on 9th March. A cold sunny morning with  good fresh snow provided some great runs in the sun

 

Penny Hautluce side

 

Contamines side

After that work interfered with time on snow until a return trip to Les Contamines on Tuesday this week. Some restricted visibility but good powder. Hayley was thrown in at the deep end for her first day but enjoyed her first day on  snow for a year.

Wednesday back to Le Tour for a bluebird powder day and for Hayley to try out her new touring set up.

First time for H on her new touring set up with our tracks in the background

 

Le Tour side piste

 

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Niseko Delivers Smiles and back to Chamonix

Nito powder smile

Japan lived up to hopes/expectations. We arrived to significant, even by Japanese standards, new snow. I think about a metre and a half fell in the first seven days. It is not just the quantity of the snow but the quality.-10/10.The cold air and continuous light snow provides the best snow I have ever skied. It carried on day after day.  It was nice to have a couple of days of sunshine to see the mountains but to me  Japan is about skiing open tree glades whilst the snow falls. On one day skinning on the north side our skin track was almost filled in each 40 minute lap.

Ski, eat, sleep repeat. If you can it is a trip you must make. Some photos…..

 

Cal is in the white smoke. Goshiki Onsen is in the background. 20 minute skin back to resort or 50 euros in a taxi
GS turns on the North Face – only available to those who want to skin out
Mount Yotei
Sea of Japan from the summit
On the summer road at Nito. We spent a day here with Mattias lapping perfect powder.
Blower Powder
Not a blower day but ok…
Goodbye to the Lodge

A long trip back to Chamonix left me with man flu. Completely debilitating -couple of days in bed feeling very sorry for myself followed by 2 more on the couch (feeling equally as sorry for myself). Penny managed out for some good powder on a bluebird day – having to be on first lift with the English school holiday crowds and also a small tour with Ziggy .

It was this week before I ventured out.. surprisingly good snow on Tuesday on the Vallorcine side of Le Tour.  We returned the next day with the intention of doing a couple of short hikes to ski the last of the powder  but high winds and freezing temperatures sent us scuttling home by 11.  Next, a morning skinning in Les Contamines delivered some solitude and a nice walk but not the best skiing.

Despite the snow depth we could do with some fresh snow. The pistes are in great condition if a little hard. There is little by way of easily accessible off piste available.We are promised some of the coldest days on record for this time of year and hopefully some fresh snow

Penny skinning for some peace and quite
Private Valley

 

Japan – the snow is deep

Cal and I are currently in Japan and I intend to write a full report when I get back  to Chamonix. It is difficult to comprehend how much snow falls here

Nito Trailhead. The hardest thing about this area is trying to climb out of the area where you are dropped off by taxi.
We think this is an overhead road sign above the summer road at Nito
Another Road Sign
Mount Yotei

Chamonix January 2018 Week 3 Les Houches comes to the rescue in poor weather.

Col de Forclaz

Skiing has been very limited in the Valley in the last 7 days. A storm cycle has battered the Mont Blanc Massif and the first views of the mountains emerged yesterday for what seemed an age. For those of you who have not followed the weather all I can say is that it has been entirely different in the valley compared with at altitude. Wet snow, at best, or rain has been prevalent at lower altitudes and heavy snow, extremely wind blown, has been the norm at altitude. The authorities have been extremely concerned and have done all they can to keep people safe as the avalanche risk increased to 5 at all levels. Chalets have been evacuated at Route du Pont, Les Houches and Le Tour.( I am not sure of the present status)Col de Forclaz has been subject to a landslide taking away a large section of road. Anyone hoping to use their Verbier Pass will not make it through till March(at the earliest) when it is estimated that the road will be cleared. The top bin at Grand Montets is out of action after wind damage-mid February is the estimated repair date.

Les Houches has remained open and saved the day for holiday skiers whilst almost everything else has been closed till yesterday/today.

We went out yesterday for a quick ski to find enormous amounts of snow up high and evidence of widespread avalanches.

Today’s forecast is for very warm, spring like conditions returning to winter at he end of the week.

Quite a base for later……

Pistes in good condition and softening in the sun
What the rain has done to low level snow
Lots of high level snow

Chamonix Week 2 – 2018

The less said about week 1 the better. After a snowy and cold December the weather deteriorated with at least 3 days of torrential rain accompanied by substantial snowfalls at altitude and storm force winds. A few intrepid skiers ventured onto the mountains but I wasn’t one of them. It has been cold and clear for the most this week and it looks like a return to winter conditions next week with the promise of a metre of fresh snow. Continue reading “Chamonix Week 2 – 2018”