It’s a lot better

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.


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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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”

No Photos Today

I rely heavily on Chamonix Meteo for the local weather report. In general the report is accurate but mountain weather can be fickle and last night was a good example.   The forecast was for a minor fall of snow. That coupled with the prospect of some visibility and the recent snowfall led me to believe that opening day at Les Contamines was to be today’s destination. For those of you who haven’t skied Les Contamines it is well worth a visit. Easy piste skiing, great offpiste and touring. Anyway the best laid plans….

Cal last year

An early rise to walk the dogs found the best part of 25 cms on the car and poor visibility. That combined with a 40 minute drive to LC brought a change of plan and back for first lift at Les Houches which I knew,at least,would be open. (You will be thinking it is all we ski.)Yet again Les Houches delivered. A combination of boot top powder off piste and 4 inches of powder on perfectly groomed pistes. No stopping for photos and finished for lunch. Still a lack of lifts open

Friends from Argentiere reported powder on piste at Grand Montets but no report as yet on conditions in Pendant Bowl. The liason chair was closed but I am sure it was well skied today.

I have been working in Megeve the last 3 days and the snow cover is amazing if you can afford a coffee. Clients were staying in the Four Seasons Hotel,brand new, opulent, Ski in/out and I am sure pretty expensive.

Penny drove through Courmayeur on Friday and it had a great cover.

Anyone arriving for Xmas week has nailed it for a change.