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A little bit of fresh snow in the Espace Killy

Off-piste skiing in Val d'Isere & Tignes

Featured in:

Wayne Watson | Val d'Isere Reporter | Published: 20 Mar 2017


A little bit of fresh snow in the Espace Killy

On Thursday night we had clear skies and a really solid refreeze and with clear blue skies on Friday the weekend started off with another day of great spring snow. 

There weren’t a lot of options due to tracks and timing (meaning snow is too hard mid-to-late-morning on certain exposures) and in some places such as Mont Roup, the slopes we’d normally ski in spring snow have avalanched to the ground and there isn’t any snow left. We have been able to ski some Val d’Isere ‘classics’ though, such as the Face du Charvet, which is always impressive, and the steep slopes in the Tour du Charvet, which are equally fun and interesting.

I skied both on Friday morning before skiing the piste ‘L’ en-route to my first Kern of the season. The Kern, which is off the Bellevarde sector was surprisingly good considering it was 11:45 and the team was really pleased with that detour en-route to finishing in the Alti-port/Familial.

Val d'Isere

I awoke Saturday morning and was teased with some pretty decent light and patches of sunshine, but by the time the lifts opened it grey and overcast with a pretty punchy north-westerly wind blowing; it wasn’t the easiest of mornings.

Being Saturday the pistes were totally empty so we took advantage of the perfectly groomed runs into Tignes before heading into the Sachette for an atmospheric run with good snow, flat-light and the occasional foggy patches. The fog patches are pretty uncomfortable as it makes navigating incredibly difficult and between my colleague Chris and I, we had a couple of clients feeling nauseous and disorientated so we cut out early and headed back to the safety off the piste. 

Val d'Isere

Once back on-piste one of my clients managed to ski off the edge of a narrow track that had piste markers on either side twice! It was an adventurous morning and considering the conditions I really enjoyed it but everyone was happy to get down to lunch.

After all the wind with snowflakes in the air most of the day on Saturday I really thought we’d have a decent accumulation of fresh snow Sunday morning and with North-westerly winds, I thought I’d be heading up to Tignes’ Grande  Motte, which would have been in the lee.

There was a minimum freeze Saturday night in the village, but with fresh snow lying in the trees above 2200 metres, which meant it froze above that altitude I decided at the last moment to head up to the Fornet for the ambience and to stay away from other people. I was surprised at how little new snow fell but the skiing was excellent as we followed avenues of creamy snow blown in by the wind in the Pays Desert before heading over the Col Pers for a brilliant run. 

Val d'Isere

We skied chalky winter snow up high followed by clean and smooth spring slopes at the bottom and then headed out through the gorge where we had Chamois and Bouquetin above us at the entrance; it always adds to the occasion when we spot wildlife.

The final two snow-bridges in the gorge have been becoming more and more fragile and narrower by the day so at the moment of truth I left my team with my colleague Andreas and went down to check the exit. It was a good thing that I had, because the second to last snow-bridge has collapsed and you can no longer exit the gorge without getting your feet wet! I radioed back to Andreas and he started walking everyone up towards the summer path, which takes about ten minutes, while I skinned back up to meet them. Once out of the gorge there was a bonus ski back down towards the Pont St Charles in some lovely spring snow to finish off a fantastic morning.

Val d'Isere

The piste skiing has been very good all weekend, not only because of the snow quality and grooming but also because the resort seems to be fairly quiet, which is great news for holiday-makers if not for hotel owners, shop owners, restaurant owners, and anyone else who thrives off crowds of people.

Speaking of shop owners I’ve noticed a few ‘sales’ signs up in shop windows lately so do have a look around if you’re in town next week. Everyone sells quality items in Val d’Isere and although it’s expensive prices are dropped radically at the end of the season. We all like to shop on-line these days but it’s nice to be able to try things on, check yourself out in the mirror and if you like what you see be tempted to support the local shop owners when possible.

Val d'Isere

A sunny start to the week is forecast for Monday before a cloudy day on Tuesday, a partially sunny day on Wednesday, and then snow from Thursday on for a few days. Fingers crossed and have a fantastic week and stay tuned for another update with photos on Friday!

PS Don’t miss the Killer Beez at Le Petit Danois Tuesday from 5:30 until 7:30. See you there!

Follow more from Wayne in his Daily Diary.

NB. Some of the areas Wayne has been skiing this week are off piste and not suitable to all skiers. Wayne has 35 years experience in these mountains. If you're considering going off piste you should always take a guide with you.