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Grand Couloir, Courchevel

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Is this "classic" run EVER open?? I have been to the 3V several times now and it is ALWAYS shut. Am I just unlucky?

Has anyone out there ever skied it? What time of year was it? How long after the last snowfall?

Yours frustrated Mad
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Your unlucky. I skied the top half and fell the rest, quite an experience I can tell you (the falling I mean) Smile
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It's usually open later in the season in my experience, there's a lot of rock to cover over - it looks truly awful in Summer! Has always been well skied out by the time I've been up there and tend to be soft-ish snow rather than any ice about but the track in to it is scarier than the couloir itself.

Best to snowplough down the narrow track with sheer drops on either side until you get to the first drop which widens out a bit and then ski up to the top lip of the couloir. Once you've done 2 or 3 turns at the top it becomes less steep and opens up nice and wide - it's just the initial drop in that takes a bit of bottle...
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I have, and I like it snowHead

The approach is what 'thankfully' puts most people off. The undulations caused by people following the same line over and over become most intimidating: the track becomes too narrow to snowPlough effectively and too concave to parallel effectively so many people career down it accelarating all the way and then catch a fast stop at the end - not ideal.

I saw a guide/instructor ski it though, slowly, casually even: watching him totally changed the way I looked at tracks like that. That's when I was ready to check it out.
The couloir does feel rather grand but it's the bit u can't see from the top or the bottom that's the nicest; it feels like a beautiful secret Wink

When were u there last?
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Last week. I do ski more in january than any other month so maybe that is the problem. Perhaps going later in the season is the answer.
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Bod- Just so you are not on your own, I did exactly the same thing many years ago.
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second half of March is usually cheap.

Good Couloirs are always hard to catch right - if they're steep they don't get full cover easily but much new snow in one go and they're mostly a big avalanche risk rolling eyes

But yes, later in the season they've had a chance for the snow to drift and collect in them I suppose.

Thinking about it, I don't think I've skied it in Jan.
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I have skied the Grand Couloir a few times and in different conditions.

With fresh powder it's a great steep off piste run.

When it's hard packed and icy, it's a very steep black mogul field. At the top it's a "don't fall now" slope. If you fall at the top you could fall a long way. Looking up from the bottom the conditions can look OK but once you go up and get on it, things can be different.

I have often wondered why they call it a piste at all, but it may be because it makes it easier for the authorities to close it. I believe there have been some serious accidents there in the past which is probably a good reason why it so often closed.
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I found this page with good pics of the Grand Couloir
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/dennis.summerbell/skiing/saulire.html
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A chap I ski with occcaisionly who has skied for 35 years (since he was 5) went off on his own to ski the Grand Couloir we arranged a point at the 'bottom' of it to meet up with him we including his wife skied down by another route expecting to find him waiting. But he wasnt there. All eyes scanned the route he should come down on, thinking those thoughts that you seem to think when someone is 'missing' in the mountains! After 5 mins or so we could see him skiing down, his style is being very distinctive.
When he arrived he said that it was a very good run. Why had he taken so long? "Oh, I stopped to help a ski school class that were having problems getting down" rolling eyes as you do!
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My daughter did it last season and my son the season before so it is open.....fortunately they didn't tell us they had done it until after they were safely down!
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admin, I agree about the approach. I skied it at Easter last year, and the approach was really nasty. As you say it is impossible to either snow plough or parallell turn on it, so your only approach is to go forward (going over bumps) and hope you don't fall on the ridge (which I incidentally did, although I usefully managed to stay on the ridge rather than fall off it).

For those of you who don't know it, here is the ridge you need to cross on the approach to the slope (along the lines of the black poles):


As you can see there's a sheer drop off to the left (as shown in the photo) and it's even steeper to the right.

Various other photos for those interested at:
http://www.atwiss.com/gallery/Courcheval?page=1
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Don't show me any more...my poor stomach is doing loop the loops.......I've just emailed them both and said they have to promise never to do it again!
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Did at once in March with the rep. Not icy but quite mogully with a few rocks to avoid. The approach was the trickiest part and i did it very slowly. Then we tried the coulouir before the Grand couloir. The mist was thick and after two turns the rep was out of sight. I walked back to the piste.
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Humour me if I copy this from a recent post of mine:-

Quote:
clive ward, the one and only time I did it I thought the drop to the Meribel side was the worst - at least to the right (Courchevel) you're protected by the ridge line. When I got to the end of the track (is that a little too grandioise for such a rutted and bumpy route?), I gulped when I looked down the Gd Couloir. Unfortunately I lost a ski after the second turn. I hade it worse by letting the other drop down further when I got it of so I could climb back up (I'd fallen a fair way!) - I felt a real prat! Anywat some nice frenchman came along before I'd climed too far (it felt really steep and I was kicking steps - not a pleasant experince) and brought down the first ski - I eventually dropped back down to the second and another guy helped me get them both on - by this time I'd worked my self up a bit(!). After that I managed to ski down OK but it'll be a long time before I do that again, don;t mind any of the other blacks in the 3V so it must be a darn sight steeped than the rest. Worth having ticked it off though.


The time I did this - and yes I did fall nearly from the top, and yes that certainly counts as my worst ever skiing incident - was in early January, I did it foolishly on my own after having surveyed it from the bottom having just done M and thought "yes I can do that one now" - conditions then were excellent - smooth and no moguls, so soft (so soft I could kick steps in it), just a pity about the pr*t skiing it. Anyway I'm proud I tried and given a good stomach of courage might try it again. Having said all that I wouldn't tackle it at all if it had moguls on.
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It was open last February. At least if it's closed you can say "we went to do the coulour, but damn, it was closed"
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Courchevel's Grand Coulour officially opened at last yesterday Thu 23rd Feb 2006. In great condition, even the track at the top seemed smooth. I'm sure it's getting steeper though, must be an age/bottle thing....

Now every run open in the Courchevel Valley (and every lift - even the seldom used drag out of my beloved La Tania).
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That's great news kkev.

kamikaze, what a picture!
I believe the 'drop' on the left toward Meribel is known as 'The death couloir' Shocked
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Can snowboarders walk along the access track? Legally I mean.
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Great picture- I went down Gr Couloir in January approx 5/6 years ago. I was thinking of doing it again until I saw the photo. As has already been said the route down is worse than the couloir. I think I did it on a day when the bumps had softened slightly. I got down with 1 tumble, but with no style. I have however been made to promise by Ms Dan100 not to ski the Gr Couloir in light of my parental reponsibilities.

I must admit my view is this shouldn't be counted as a piste because of the lead in and the fact its probably never seen a piste basher
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meant to add its worth reading the maddogguide section to the couloirs at courchevel.

As to snowboarders walking think about an out of control skier picking up speed with very little room to turn
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dan100 wrote:


As to snowboarders walking think about an out of control skier picking up speed with very little room to turn


The stuff of nightmares!!!!
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kamikaze,

Thanks for the picture! I did it last march in the mist. The track was a mess so I slalomed the poles. At least I know what its meant to look like now! There was a lip at the end of the track and a 1-2 m drop into the top bowl of the couloir. I went over that in the mist, and picked myself up and skied down the moguls at the top to the powder filled couloir proper. Its a great feeling coming down on your own with knee deep easy powder to flatter you. Its a run I really enjoyed - must do more couloirs snowHead . It just takes a while to ski ( while everyone else waits on you on the saluire run) so I was only " allowed " to ski it once - better half wasn't so keen on it Sad
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All I can say is good job you didn't do a Bode Miller when slaloming the poles. Its a long way down to Mottaret.
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done it twice on seperate holidays, both in January, never seen it closed but only been to 3V 3 times and last time was 6 yrs ago.
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Quote:

Can snowboarders walk along the access track?
Just so long as they don't sit down in the middle of it Shocked
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admin wrote:
Quote:

Can snowboarders walk along the access track?
Just so long as they don't sit down in the middle of it Shocked


As opposed to traversing all the way across it. Let the games begin! NehNeh
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... or indeed, sideslipping it on one edge, polishing the snow off it NehNeh NehNeh

Erm... there's not exactly a great deal of room for traversing is there Puzzled
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I'm there next week. I'll let you know how much snow I manage to polish off!

Just got some new trousers with reinforced bum seat. Will make long 'middle of the piste' sits a lot more comfortable Little Angel
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I hope you're going with at least 3 mates then... After all, One boarder does not a piste blockage make (unless it's that Grand Couloir entrance of course)
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The Grand Couloir is rarely "officially" open as the authorities don't want to encourage skiers down any ski tour route. It is generally safe provided there is enough snow cover and the avalanche risk after recent snow falls has subsided.

The couloir itself is pretty good; quiite steep and narrow in part. It is also very "regardez-moi" as everybody in the cable car sees you!

For those wanting a really scary run you should try a different couloir down to the meribel valley. Turn left out of the Saulire lift (from the Meribel side) and you will see a rusty, metal ladder (it is quite scary climbing this in boots, carrying skis and poles). folow the rope at the top until you get to the couloir entrance. This is very steep and narrow to begin with but opens out to an amazing (and normally untouched) powder bowl back down to the piste in Meribel. One warning - half way down the couloir splits in two - take the LEFT option. The right option is a thirty foot drop onto rock and is why the couloir is referred to as "Death Couloir"!
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simo1234, welcome to snowHeads snowHead and thank you for that usful advice in "avoiding death"...

admin, how do you ski down the access to the couloir without snowploughing or parallel turning?
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Ian Hopkinson It depends a lot about what condition the access is in, and how bumpy it is. It's pretty shallow, so general tactic is to go straight and slowly. Even though it tends to undulate, it is better to go to slowly and risk stopping then to go to fast.
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simo1234, Death Couloir is certainly challenging, but I beleive that it can lead to lift-pass confiscation if you're caught, no ? Which is the LEFT option ?
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kamikaze wrote:

As you can see there's a sheer drop off to the left (as shown in the photo) and it's even steeper to the right.


The "sheer" drop to the left is the Couloir Tournier which leads to Mottaret, to the right are the Emile Allais and Sous le Tele.
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davidof, I liked the look of the couloir to the right of the Grand Couloir int he photos - which one was that? I'm not sure I could get along that ridge though! Shocked
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easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski, easiski,
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easiski wrote:
davidof, I liked the look of the couloir to the right of the Grand Couloir int he photos - which one was that? I'm not sure I could get along that ridge though! :shock:


Must be the Croix de Verdon couloir. The ridge is benign as it is pretty much flat and as you can see you don't risk much either side. The pylon on the right is at the top of the Tournier couloir which is probably 35 degrees and the hardest of the couloirs (excepting the couloir mentioned by simo1234 - I'm not sure where this is).



The photo was taken on the 7/8 Dec 2002. There was enough snow to ski all of the couloirs at that time.
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Quote:

The "sheer" drop to the left is the Couloir Tournier which leads to Mottaret, to the right are the Emile Allais and Sous le Tele.
Thanks for the correction davidof Embarassed
simo1234, Welcome to snowHeads snowHead and thanks for that excellent description.
Ian wrote:

admin, how do you ski down the access to the couloir without snowploughing or parallel turning?
Once a few people have chickened and snowploughed the track, it becomes very concave so it's just difficult to parallel while you're in that gully. The solution is to have the nerve to ski the ridge on one side of the erm, ridge. That way your skis have something to bite on.
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admin, I'll remember that for next time wink
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