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The best off-piste week of the season in Val d'Isere

Another 50cm of snow & some fantastic skiing

Featured in:

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


The best off-piste week of the season in Val d'Isere

After an outstanding weekend the week started out just as good, or perhaps even better. We received 50 cm's over the weekend and on Monday the skies were overcast with flat-light and fog patches beckoning, but we managed to find holes in the cloud-cover and had excellent visibility for a jour blanc, and at times even saw some sunshine, resulting in a stunning morning of power skiing!

On Tuesday it was much of the same as the day started off grey with more clouds forecast to roll in, but we were blessed with enough light to enjoy what was probably the best day of the season. We opened up being first into the Tour du Charvet, which was stunning, then we skied three great runs around the Manchet and Arcelle and then savoured a wonderful run off the Epaule du Charvet to finish the morning.

a skier in powder in the espace killy

Wednesday was a tougher day with thicker cloud cover and fog, and it seemed more difficult to find bright patches or any sunshine, but we did have our moments. We found a little sunlight off the Grande Motte and when we circled back around for another run it was gone. It was a little like searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a little teasing but elusive! On Thursday it was much brighter and compared to what we'd been dealing with the visibility was fantastic and very much welcomed. We skied a great run on the Little Lavachet into Tignes, before skiing one of Tignes' classic off-piste runs, the Sache. All in all it has been by far the best off-piste week of the season, even with the poor visibility because the depth and quality of the powder has been superb!

a skier in the mountains with blue skies

I must say that the fresh snow hasn't done the piste skiing any favours because by mid-morning the pistes are bumpy and to be honest, horrible, especially with the lack of visibility. I even down-loaded with my team Tuesday morning to not waste time and get to the other side of the mountain as quickly as possible without wearing out our legs and to save our energy for the powder. The pistes are always at their best during high-pressure periods when they are groomed perfectly flat and are firm enough to stay that way throughout the day. The pistes did improve as the week went on as the fresh snow had a chance to firm up at little and the sun started to come back into play, and by Thursday the piste skiing was pretty good and considering it's the start of the French holidays it hasn't been too crowded.

a skier in deep snow

Thursday night's are 'animation' night in the streets of Val d'Isere and if you have children it's always a good option. There is usually some live music, dancers on stilts, people making ice sculptures and other acts, as well as free hot chocolate and mulled wine. The main road is closed to traffic so it's safe to walk around with small children. The festivities start a 18:00 and run until 19:30.

A little bit of snow is forecast for Thursday night but other than that it looks like a dry weekend. There is a punchy east wind starting to pick up, which means we may have a bit more snow fall up at the Fornet, but unfortunately the easterly wind may damage the snow on the eastern slopes where the best powder snow has been lying all this week. The wind won't be helping the off-piste conditions but brighter drier weather will definitely make for some excellent piste skiing.

two skiers off piste in tignes

Get out there on Saturday and make the most of the quietest day of the week because next week promises to be the busiest week of the season with the French holidays colliding with the British vacation. That adds up to a lot of people so get out there early before most of the big ski schools that start a 09:30 and get a step ahead of the crowds. Have a fantastic weekend and stay tuned for another update and photos on Monday!

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