The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Let’s start with the ugly.  On Wednesday we skied the home run at Brevent. Don’t do it. The snow cover is so thin that it hasn’t been pisted. An uncomfortable ski down  punctuated with avoiding rocks. A week ago it was in great condition but unfortunately no longer. 

And the bad. On Tuesday we decided to try and catch Flegere off piste in good condition. After a decent fall of new snow on Sunday and a bit more on Monday Index and Floria didn’t open on those two days. With cold weather and sunshine forecast it seemed, and was, a rare opportunity to ski the south facing slopes of Flegere in good conditions. Mindful of the French holidays starting we were in the car park at 0815 and in the lift station for 0820. Probably on time for the second or third bin. A 40 minute wait we had counted on. Then, as usual, Index opening was delayed until 10.00. I appreciate that the fresh snow was accompanied by high winds but as is usual in Chamonix there seems to be no forward planning in these situations. So it was the best part of two hours to reach the top of Index. 

And the Good. In the end it was worth it with two quick laps of Lachenal bowl. The snow at high level was seriously wind affected but the lower down, skiers right , and in the trees, was exceptional. Floria wasn’t open at 1100 and the offpiste off Index wasn’t as great but not at all bad. The snow in the trees was consistent at lower levels. A couple of laps and home.  A very good day. 

On Wednesday we were again up early at Brevent. On the second Cornu chair and skinned to Col de Gliere to be rewarded by some great cold snow on the northern aspect all the way to the Liason. We were the only skiers in the bowl.  Then a quick ski off the top of Brévent towards Aguillete des Houches and a skin back out. The snow was a bit variable due to the wind but lovely to be on our own again. 

An empty bowl from Col de Gliere
Back of Brevent
Variable conditions

The weather is to be fine for a while and the resort is going to be super busy so it might be a lot more difficult to find some fresh snow although the pistes are in exceptional condition. 


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”

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”

Chamonix Ski Conditions 1st January 2018

New Years Day-no skiing for me

Below is a link to a short video of the run

NM Les Contamines

NM

The weather and snowfall in the last week has been very strange. It has been cold with loads of snow until a few days ago. On Saturday 30th December the weather changed when a violent storm hit the valley unfortunately coupled with high temperatures. It rained constantly  in the valley for 12 hours causing carnage on the roads. At higher levels significant snow has fallen accompanied by high winds. I haven’t skied since then but understand the the pistes are in good condition if a little hard lower down. The snow quality off piste is poor and at higher altitude the avalanche risk is high. This week promises more of the same and as I write this 15 cms has fallen this evening. It looks like a good day tomorrow! Unfortunately there is more rain to come on Wednesday and Thursday.  High winds at altitude are also promised.

Prior to the rain we enjoyed powder days on the 28th and 29th. Les Houches on Thursday, more or less first lift, allowed us to ski under Prarion Gondola for first run. If you havent skied this line there is only one essential- First Lift. Good conditions but skied out within the first hour. Second run on the same face through the trees. A bit of bushwhacking is required to find the glades.

Once you reach the first road cross over and ski to the rubbish bins on the second road. A five minute walk ( to your right) allows you to rejoin the piste back to the Prarion Gondola

Friday brought a return of sun, powder and a return to Les Contamines. It was -13 in the car park and a pretty epic morning. We were fortunate to ski a new line which I will call NM after the French guy ,with local  knowledge , who led us down, broke trail on the walk out and was generous to share the run.

Half way down NM

 

 

Flegere-the best laid plans and Les Contamines-The Best

 

Thursday 21/12/2017

Flegere

Sunny and cold

The best laid plans gang aft agley………..

After snow early in the week it has been cold and sunny in the valley and on Thursday we  headed to Flegere with touring gear. Continue reading “Flegere-the best laid plans and Les Contamines-The Best”