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Some of the best powder days of the season

A very snowy week in the Espace Killy

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Wayne Watson | Val d'Isere Reporter | Published: 10 Mar 2017


Some of the best powder days of the season

As the snow continued to fall the avalanche risk, which has been low all season, was posted at a serious 4/5 on Monday morning. 

After another 50cm’s of fresh snow fell Sunday night I was very surprised at how quickly the resort opened and we were on our way up the Olympique by 9:05, and that marks a tremendous effort from the pisteurs and the lift company.

Although the avalanche risk was high we managed a superb morning of skiing starting on-piste and then moving slightly off-piste on safe slopes once the pistes were tracked out. I’d have to say that it might have been the best 4/5 day that I can remember in a long, long time as the snow was deep and light and we stayed away from other skiers all-morning long. (When I say ‘resort opened’ that means just a couple of lifts as everything up high was closed due to too much snow, high winds, and avalanche risk).

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It snowed 50cm’s again on Monday night and after two weeks of snow, and especially heavy snowfalls over the past couple of days we arrived at the tipping point on Tuesday morning when the road to the Fornet was closed to all traffic, as well as the road to the Chatelard. The school children who live in those areas had the day off school and all tourists and resort staff were also snowed in.

In Tignes there was a rumour of a huge avalanche on-piste with up to 30 people involved around 10am, but thankfully as it turned out no one was buried. News travels fast and my wife texted from the UK in a panic while I was in the Funival to find out if I was alright. Meanwhile, we had another absolutely stunning morning of high quality powder skiing without putting ourselves at risk, and it was the best 4/5 day I can remember since yesterday!

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On Tuesday evening I went to Le Petit Danois to see the band the Killer Beez for the first time. They were absolutely fantastic and I couldn’t recommend them more highly. They opened with Clapton, then Johnny Cash and made their way through Bowie, the Stones, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, the Eagles, Byran Adams, Don Henley, Jim McLean, the Beatles, and many, many more. There was a real mixture of ages of people in the bar and everyone was grooving and dancing and singing. It was a fantastic couple of hours. The Killer Beez play every Tuesday night at 5:30 and I’ll be there again next week! They play around the Alps so do look out for them if you like electric guitar, wicked drumming and great bass.

Wednesday was much sunnier than forecast and we savoured another day of outrageously great skiing. The avalanche risked remained at 4/5 and extreme caution was necessary but we had some fantastic knee-deep powder off the Epaule du Charvet without having to venture into dangerous areas and we then finished in the Manchet sector where we had it to ourselves.

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Late Wednesday afternoon a London bus driver who was skiing alone and totally unequipped found himself stuck above the cliffs between the Face du Charvet and the Couloir du Mont Blanc. It was a 4/5 day with extremely warm temperatures in the afternoon and this man was in a seriously dangerous place. He tried to walk back up but only made it 5 metres in 30 minutes so eventually the pisteurs had a helicopter come in and winch him away before it got dark, and all for the bargain price of 3000 Euros!

After four of the best powder days you’ll ever have Thursday had totally different conditions. It was extremely warm overnight and water was dripping from the terrace above this morning, indicating just how warm the night had been. It was no surprise that the avalanche risk below 2500 metres was still 4/5 and the warmth eliminated the lower half of the mountain from any off-piste plans. The risk above 2500m’s had been lowered to 3/5 and my colleagues and I all headed up to the Pissaillas Glacier at the Fornet and had fantastic morning skiing wind-compressed snow and warm powder. The wind and warmth had compressed what was knee-deep cold powder and we now have a totally different set of conditions, but it was still great skiing.

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My colleague Andreas is making a guest appearance at the Moris Pub Friday night to play a couple of songs with Mike and Ritchie. Mike and Ritchie play the Moris every Friday starting at 17:30 and they are fantastic, and Andreas should come on about 18:30. Do come along if you’re in the resort and like live music!

The weekend is looking bright with sunny skies forecast for Friday and Saturday with a partially cloudy day on Sunday. Have a tremendous weekend and stay tuned for another update on Monday!

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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.