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Sunny pistes in brilliant shape this week

A fun week both on and off piste

Featured in:

Wayne Watson | Val d'Isere Reporter | Published: 16 Feb 2017


Sunny pistes in brilliant shape this week

The sun has been shining this week and the skiing has been brilliant. 

My girls have come at a good time with the sun being high in the sky and as a result the pistes have been in brilliant condition. When it’s a busy week like this one it helps tremendously to have great visibility so that the crowds can spread themselves over the entire Val d’Isere/Tignes area, which doesn’t happen during a stormy week.

As for the off-piste, we’ve had another fantastic week even though a strong easterly wind had been blowing earlier in the week. On Monday we skied up at the Fornet and went over the Col Pers and skied the Tour du Lechoir before exiting through the Gorge du Malpasset. We had Chamois and Bouquetin above us on the way back to the Fornet and it’s always a nice bonus to view  a ‘wildlife show’ at the end of the morning. 

Val d'Isere

On Tuesday we ‘skinned’ to the Crete du Genepy with my thirteen-year-old daughter Millie in tow and skied some beautiful powder snow. Because of the wind, which has damaged a lot of slopes and the sun that is now putting a crust on the sunny exposures, we needed to play with exposures and ski the avenues of frisset laying between the plaque or sun-touch snow.

On Wednesday I took my team up to the Col des Fours, which was about a 1-hour-and-twenty minute ‘skin’ up. The views were sensational and we were the only ones in sight all morning long. The snow wasn’t as easy as I was hoping but my team skied brilliantly and we enjoyed a great day out. 

Val d'Isere

After a long walk on Wednesday I took it easy on my group on Thursday morning and we had a couple of short ‘skins’ in the Pays Desert before going over the Col Pers for a trip through the gorge. The gorge has been changing over the past few days and two days ago it was still relatively easy but getting more interesting, but today it had changed drastically and the snow-bridge at the exit has almost collapsed making for a hairy finish. I had three skiers today who had never been through the gorge before, including my 13-year-old daughter Millie, and they all loved it but sadly the gorge is now out of play. (But boy, it was fun while it lasted!)

Monday was marred by a tragic avalanche on the Lavachet in Tignes. A guide and three clients were killed when they were walking across the slope in their boots while carrying their snowboards. The Lavachet is one of the longest slopes in the entire resort and they were taken from the top all the way to the bottom where there is a man-made wall to protect the apartment blocks in the Lavachet village. The snow piled up against the wall so the victims were under a massive bulid-up of snow and never had a chance. The rescue services didn’t know how many people were involved and at one time thought there might have been nine. After the 4 victims were dug out they continued searching for hours in case other people were involved but eventually it surfaced that everyone they thought might be involved was safe and they could call off the search. 

It was one of the biggest search-and-rescue missions that the resort has seen in over a decade, and it was a shock to everyone to have four people killed in one accident. The news spread world-wide very quickly and I received emails, texts and phone calls from all over the world as people were checking to make sure that everyone they knew was safe.

It’s rather sad that people over-react to these tragic events and we’ve had people cancel their skiing because of Monday’s accident. This is a huge resort with so many safe options and a rare avalanche on an extremely steep and long slope shouldn’t scare people off the beautiful and fulfilling sport of off-piste skiing. It’s a little bit like the reaction after a terrorist attack when suddenly no one wants to travel anymore. Piste skiing and driving are both more dangerous activities than flying or off-piste skiing but people don’t stop driving because of a road accident or stop skiing because of a collision.

Val d'Isere

The weather is a bit mixed for the weekend with clouds forecast for Friday with a punchy north-westerly wind, full sunshine on Saturday and then partly cloudy on Sunday.

Whatever the weather have a great weekend and take advantage of the sunshine and quiet pistes on Saturday. Stay tuned for another update on Monday morning!

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