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Fantastic conditions over the weekend in Val d'Isere

Plenty of fresh snow even if visibility was a little lacking..

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


Fantastic conditions over the weekend in Val d'Isere

The Friday-Saturday-Sunday weekend cycle was one of extremes this week. 

On Friday the resort was shut-down due to 25cm’s of fresh snow accompanied by incredibly ferocious winds. The wind on the summit of Bellevarde was clocked at 127km/h while on the Grande Motte in Tignes the wind was recorded at 220km/h! With the resort shut-down my colleague Chris and I decided to ‘skin’ up for 30-minutes as some of our clients were desperate to ski and more importantly we just wanted to experience the storm.

three skiers in fog in val disere

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it (see photos) and they all went home with a smile on their face. It reminds me of a time when my daughter Millie was about 5 years-old and I took her up the Funival to witness the serious storm that was raging at the summit. When we arrived and had a look everyone was turning back to come back down in the train when Millie said, "come on Dad, let’s go"! I could tell she was serious so I adjusted her neck-fleece and helmet and made sure that she didn’t have any exposed skin showing and off we went into a savage wind with driving snow. She loved it and still talks about it all these years later and I think our clients enjoyed their experience of the storm on Friday. (I remember thinking at the time with Millie that anyone who saw us must have thought, "what is that idiot doing with that child!")

a skier with his arms in the air

Saturday was kinder but after a couple of days of snow and wind it did take the resort some time to get up and running, and it was a limited opening. With that said I thought the Pisteurs and the lift company did a pretty good job and everyone was just happy to be out skiing after a day of ‘cabin-fever’. It was cold and windy but everyone just felt good about being outside and active again, and considering the wind that been blowing for 48-hours the snow quality was excellent, which gave us hope for a great day on Sunday.

On Sunday we awoke to -18C with clear blue skies, but most importantly the wind had dropped and wasn’t really a factor. The snow quality on the lee slopes was wonderful and we all had a stunning day of ‘soft-snow’ skiing, ranging from very good powder to beautifully creamy wind-compressed snow. If you stayed in the sun against the southern slopes the sun had a bit of warmth to it and it was one of the warmest -18C days that I can remember, but as soon as you dropped into the shade or skied at speed it chilled down immediately.

two skiers in powder

There was a serious internet problem in town on Friday and we all just think that it’s a pain because we can’t pick up our emails or Face-time our mates, but it does cause incredible problems as people can’t get money out of bank machines, pay for restaurant and bar bills with their cards, check in for flights, and so on. Our office was out of touch for 24-hours and couldn’t respond to bookings but fortunately it was all sorted out and hopefully it won’t happen again. Fortunately I wasn’t affected and it was nice to be able to carry on as usual!

Dress up warm this week as it is forecast to be cold (-16 to -18C) and sunny for the next five days at least. Monday is forecast to have a punchy northerly wind but after that it should calm down leaving us with some fantastic conditions for the week ahead.

Tips for cold weather skiing: Like in the spring follow the sun and stay on the sunny slopes as best as you can. Avoid northern slopes and sectors, such as the Fornet altogether and leave the western facing slopes until the afternoon when the sun has moved around in the sky and they are starting to warm up. And of course dress warmly with extra layers and don’t wait around outside if your mates are late!

Enjoy your week and stay tuned for another update on Friday.

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