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France 2016-2017 :Alpe d'Huez, Oz, Vaujany, Villard, Auris

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Very cold and windy today

But still great fun Very Happy
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Perfect piste skiing for two days in cold sunny weather. More to come.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Drove over to Auris and skied l'Alpe d'Huez today for a change. Had a great day, I thought the snow on piste was super and with the extra cannons probably the best conditions I've ever skied the Sarenne.
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Where was my invite Claude B!?
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Still cold enough for snow cannons to work even in the midday sun. Most pistes still in excellent condition but some remain closed.
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@howiet, was with a pal we only decided last night but sure could meet up sometime, PM me your contact details 😃
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@Claude B, Yes the Sarenne was a lifesaver the week before Christmas too. Am out at the weekend, Saturday lunchtime, hopefully, until Tuesday afternoon but should have plenty to do without popping over your way Very Happy Col d'Ornon in February ?
@howiet, If you are around any time between Saturday and Tuesday give me a shout. I can PM my mobile number to you if thats OK with you. Forecast is not for as much brilliant sun as when I booked the flights earlier this week but still looks pretty good, lot better than here anyway rolling eyes
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@skitow, probably better there tbh. Yes Col d'Ornon is still on my must do liste.
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Another lovely Sunday morning ski. Did the Sarenne which was great as always. Skied down to Oz, not that enjoyable as very icy in places. Not as cold this week.
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Ok, back from an excellent week in Alpe d'Huez (why did no one tell me you pronounce the Z at the end?!!), thought I would air my newfound knowledge!

Firstly, comparing with Tignes/Val d where we went from 13th to 17th Dec, I would say their snowmaking facilities were far better than Alpe d, I suspect Alpe d had run out of any lake/reservoir water supplies & won't/can't use mains water, there was no evidence of any snowmaking at all during the week despite snow cover being somewhat patchy & thin particularly lower down.

That said, most lifts & runs were open, although there were only 6 blacks available, all blacks from the top of Pic Blanc & top of Marmottes 3 at 3060m were open & in good condition with the exception of Chateau Noir which was shut all week, don't know why as all the others at that height were in reasonable to good condition & they kept nearly all of Sarenne pisted which I found unusual for France as I've found blacks rarely or never pisted elsewhere.
I've heard comments b4 that most of Sarenne is really a steep red or below rather than black & would agree with the exception of one mogul slope right near the top which we never saw pisted all week, if you don't like moguls you could take Cassini & avoid that slope joining Sarenne a little further down. The last few km are blue/green & you need to keep what speed you can to avoid poling. Tunnel was however on a totally different level & I would describe as a tough black particularly for the first 150m or so & a further steep mogul slope in the middle, definitely not for the faint hearted, we saw a no. of quite obviously competent skiers losing skis & falling over etc. in fact had to wait about 5 mins to do the first section as it was blocked with dead bodies all over the place! Toofy Grin As a note it is very easy to miss the actual entrance to the tunnel that leads onto the run - we skied straight past the entrance first time & had to come back up the chair for a second go - it's just a very bland looking building at the side of a path & we mistook the sign pointing into the tunnel as pointing straight on past it - lesson, should have slowed up a bit!
Rousses was in great condition & we all loved the run down Rousses onto Chalets & Les Travers to Montfrais, some lovely quiet little traditional mountain restaurants down there too & some nice schusses. The lower runs down to Vaujany 1250 & Oz 1350 were in surprisingly good condition considering how low they are, the red Poutrans from Alpette Rousses down to Oz had a tough icy mogul field in the middle of it that fazed our 2 beginner/low intermediate skiers as did Stadt from the top of Signal chair, Stadt is probably icy as it's the competition slalom area, so I'm guessing it's watered.
Probably the biggest disappointment was Auris, although the Alpe D app showed most of it as being open, there was in fact just one run from the Fontfroide chair which was a fairly nasty blue with loads of stones coming thro' & the Chalvet chair never opened all week so the only way back across was the Alpauris "scare chair", as it was so rough at the top of Fontfroide we never went down to Auris itself so can't comment accurately, but I would not have expected it to be good.
We particularly enjoyed the red & black off Marmottes 2 where our less able buddies were able to choose to do the black if conditions were good or use the red if not so good, the actual runs there appeared to bear no resemblance to the piste map whatsoever
All in all there was plenty to keep us busy for most of the week (& we cover quite a lot of km in a day - typically 40 to 50 according to Ski Tracks), tho' plenty of time to repeat enjoyable runs. The green runs around Rifnel & Jeux were actually mostly non-existent, as in most weren't posted, were closed or simply parted company with a main run like Jeux only to rejoin a few 100m below, snow cover on these less popular runs was particularly patchy, tho' useful to dodge the busy Jeux piste. It's a shame they haven't come up with a better way of crossing the town other than the slow & horrible "yoghourt pots", which we renamed the swinging b'stards! or the dreadfully slow Eclose & Bergers chairs, but, Hey, I guess you can't have everything - we never ventured down to Huez 1500 for the reason that the only way back into the main resort was the horribly slow routes aformentioned.
Would we go back - yes, probably, if a deal was to be had, but if you've got to pay top dollar then personally I'd rather go to Portes de Soleil, Espace Killy, 3 Valleys or, depending on transport available, Chamonix area.
I hope this is useful to anyone considering Alpe D as a destination!
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Next to the Ice Cave at the top of the Grands Rousses DMC is the artificial snow making facility with two lakes beside it. They are definitely not empty and have been in use. I had a ski yesterday and could tell that they had been making snow on some of the pistes.

Don't know what they could do with the yoghurt pots? They do have a pretty good shuttle bus service across town.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
The yoghurt pots are due for replacement, along with the Huez bubbles, Eclose and Bergers Lifts (over the ice track) as I understand it in the next few years by some new "urban transport system" that will have stops at Maona Village (Top of Huez Village), a split and stops at the bottom of Eclose (Tourist office / bottom of Yoghurt pots) and then 2 branches that follow the route of the Eclose and Icetrack chairs, as well as the Yoghurt pots in the other direction. There are new developments planned, and I understand with developers ready to start, for Bergers car Park, Car Park above the Ice Track and on the lower Eclose road ( where the parapenters take off from). The transport system is I understand intended to replace at least some of the resort buses, the existing surface car parks will be replaced with underground car parks, which will be paying. The resort is convinced that "cold beds" (private appartments that owners only use occasionally) are the source of all ills and the cure is to build more, for which they seem able to easily attract willing developers.



Regarding the review by Russbost. Don't write off Auris, there are some great unpisted slopes over there that are fantastic when you have had a heavy dump of snow. Sadly that was not the case last week. In Auris village itself there was snow and it would be OK for beginners but personally I do not like the way they have reorganised the lifts with no proper full length lift to replace the old 2 man chair (called piegut as I remember !).
I think the Sarenne has been the saviour for the resort this season so far to be honest, whatever the rights and wrongs of snowmaking, (and I used to like the Sarenne when the only access was from Pic BLanc and there was no pisteing / snow cannons), it has provided a lot of enjoyment for visitors this season.

I truth I was quite shocked when I arrived last week to see how little the area had gained from the snow storms earlier in the month, they seem to have suffered from less snow than other places and more wind scour.

I suspect they are saving the water in case there is no snow before the start of the February holidays. I noticed the La Fare black to Vaujany run had large piles of man made snow piled up on it but no attempt to level them and open it up last week. Same theory I suppose.

The Tunnel, yes I remember being on it on the last Friday of the British Universities Ski week a few years ago. There were, as you say, bodies and random equipment everywhere, lots of couples who's relationships had obviously reached a definite end point Laughing etc. It was very soft and fluffy that day though as heavy snow had fell in the week, so no damage done. I have to admit I have fell on there when it was icy, (not my fault of course rolling eyes ) and slid pretty well the whole length of the slope. although I had just about managed to slow myself before the rocks at the bottom. To add insult to injury 2 snowboarders carried my skis down for me Embarassed


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Mon 30-01-17 12:15; edited 1 time in total
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@skitow The slow lift at the bottom of La Fare is also due to be replaced although the run has not been open much in the last year or so. I think the Clos Giraud chair also.

Interesting problem with cold beds. Villard Reculas has the same problem, people only using their chalets a couple of times per year.

Will building more solve the problem? Will that just create more cold beds?.

I've heard the same for Les Bergers, they will build more accommodation and shops and move the parking underground.
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You know it makes sense.
howiet wrote:
@skitow The slow lift at the bottom of La Fare is also due to be replaced although the run has not been open much in the last year or so. I think the Clos Giraud chair also.

Interesting problem with cold beds. Villard Reculas has the same problem, people only using their chalets a couple of times per year.

Will building more solve the problem? Will that just create more cold beds?.

I've heard the same for Les Bergers, they will build more accommodation and shops and move the parking underground.


The La Fare "exit" lift and Clos Giraud are under OZ-Vaujany-Allemont so you would have thought they would be a priority for them, but I guess it depends if they are prepared / able to borrow money like Alpe d'Huez does / has in the past.

Yes, the "cold beds". I don't really know enough to say whether it will solve whatever problems it causes, if they really do. One of the consequences I can see is that peak times, basically February nowadays, will then become even busier, possibly reducing visitor satisfaction, but then you could say that although you might have a temporary problem, the extra income would enable more to be spent on improving facilities.

Yes Bergers car park is down for doing exactly that.

A few bad winters, ie no snow, could derail the lot though I guess.
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Was over yesterday with a couple of friends, sorry guys last minute again. What a difference a week makes, last time, Friday before last the snow was lovely, better than here. Yesterday there were some wickedly icy runs. Also extremely busy (was here too). We played mostly around the Vaujany area which was much quieter and softened nicely. We all desperately need more snow, let's hope this week-ends promised dump occurs.
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Re Auris, to clarify, I wasn't writing it off as an area, just saying that due to the lack of snow, it was really not very pleasant when we went over there so didn't repeat the experience.
We had hoped that the forecast snow for the week we were there would suffice to make off piste with a guide worthwhile, but whilst we were there no more than a few flakes fell & a few brief excursions off the side of the piste confirmed that the off piste was thoroughly compacted & lumpy, you bounced over & across it rather than skiing through any powder whatsoever, hence we didn't bother employing the services of a guide as he would have needed to be a magician to have found any powder!
Our intermediate friends did have a couple of private lessons with the ski school by the DMC, from their reports, the first lesson with a woman instructor called Pascalle was an absolute disaster, worst private lesson I've ever heard of, with her just leading them round like a typical group lesson, she taught them nothing more than "bend ze knees" - even I could have managed better education than that! Despite complaints from both our friends & Inghams who had organised the lesson their total compensation was a Gallic shrug! One of our group did have a further lesson later in the week (we vetoed Pascalle!) with a guy called Christian & the difference could not have been any greater, he watched her ski, gave advice, made sure she was then doing what had been said & gave further advice re posture/weight/carving etc etc - really improved her confidence, such that both her & our other intermediate friend were able to cope with skiing the full length of Sarenne on the last Friday afternoon - we had previously brought them down Sarenne via the Herpie lift route, where you can ski a red or blue from Herpie picking up Sarenne after the steepest slopes are out of the way.
It's good to hear that improvements re the yogurt pots & Bergers chair etc are planned, but one has to wonder whether being so far South in the Alps is a good thing given the climate change issues that now seem to present themselves more & more often, we've certainly had a very odd start to the season so far.
If the forecast snow for this week & particularly the coming w/e actually materialises, it could certainly transform the resort for the remainder of the season, but you have to wonder about adding loads more beds unless they are also going to add more lifts & runs - Marmottes lift was pretty busy on several mornings, particularly when ski schools were out in force (why do they all seem to use the same lift rather than spreading themselves about a bit?), I dread to imagine what it will be like once French half terms kick in, let alone the dreaded UK half term week Shocked
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Yes the Marmottes is busy ..... as will be a lot of other lifts in many other resorts!.

The queue usually goes quite quickly and there is a single line queue also.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Been snowing for the last couple of hours. Wasn't forecast so a nice surprise Smile
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@Russbost, Apologies. it was'nt meant as strong as that, you are right the snow situation on the Auris area was dire last week. You did pretty much what we did, went over there once and did not bother again. It really is good when there is plenty of snow though. unpisted reds and blacks to exercise you.
When you say the ski school by the DMC I take it you mean ESF ? They really do have a management problem in my opinion. We were watching one of their instructors with 2 or 3 clients last week and, to be honest, I do not know how the guy kept up that pace of teaching all day. He was constantly watching them ( I am sure his head was able to swivel more than is normal as he was constantly looking back at them:lol: ), giving masses of verbal encouragement, stopping and explaining / demonstrating. Everything you would want from a lesson. Then coming down the same piste you saw the prima-donna type you describe about 200m ahead of their group, not a single glance round, blissfully unaware that several of them have fallen over etc. Totally unfair to the guy who is doing his job properly Puzzled .
I hope the snow materialises, I am back out on the 13th. Feb Smile
Regarding the marmottes queues, like @howiet, says you can generally use the singles lane to good effect but you are right there are times when it is pretty clogged. I blame the Folie Douce, especially in the afternoons, as they have to slow the lift down to let off the people downloading from there Toofy Grin
Normally what we would do is shoot across to Auris when marmottes is busy but we have done that subject I think......
Half term, it is bad in the mornings but in the last couple of years, when I have been forced to go then because kids were in exam years, we found the crowds disappeared in the afternoons especially if the weather was "bad" (snowing for example rolling eyes ).
Plenty of time for everything to change yet, I hope Laughing
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Let it snow let it snow let it snow Smile
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Snowing at the moment?
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Dumping it down, road treacherous. Just seen a stationary car in front start to slide.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Wow.
We're out to Oz next weekend. Recent forecasts have been verging on the apocalyptic though today's seem to have dialled back a fair bit.
Sounds like the new snowtyres I ordered may be put to good use Very Happy (assumingreen@pharsight.com they arrive on time).
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Same old story of not putting chains on and busses becoming stuck on corners.

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Cars putting on chains in Bourg. Snow level seems to be about here(720m). Fingers crossed for a smooth changeover day
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Are you a (semi) permanent resident Howiet?
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Permanent Razz
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Lucky so and so. Always liked Bourget- especially in the summer.
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You know it makes sense.
Better conditions in later week. Still a bit sketchy on runs <1800m, but it was bunging it down with snow when we left early this morning and still falling as snow well below 1000m and all the way to the bottom of the climb up the mountain. Should be good for those going this week!
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From the webcams it looks as if it has been belting down today. Snowforecast was predicting half a metre or so - has this actually materialised ?
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Wow
Major dumpage over the weekend Smile Still snowing today although looks like the end of the storm.

Had a ski yesterday but kids had more urge to ski in the conditions than me! Some photos from yesterday and from a few mins ago when I arrived.









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@howiet, excellent. We're out in 3 weeks, so please keep the reports coming, and save some snow for us.
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howiet - that looks amazing. Thanks for the photos. Can`t wait.
Just discovered that the new winter tyres were not delivered to the garage I asked for them to be delivered to. G*d knows where they are. Tossers.
Excuse me - have just wasted an hour and half on the phone with a bunch of complete incompetents.
Enjoy the skiing !
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A quick ski of the Sarenne on my lunch break. Lots of happy smiling people.



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howiet wrote:
A quick ski of the Sarenne on my lunch break. Lots of happy smiling people.


Know how to rub it in don't you ? I got soaked walking to the butty shop in particularly cold, wet rain if that's of any interest to you Toofy Grin

Am out next Tuesday onwards so that should cheer me up a bit Very Happy Maybe join you one lunchtime ?
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Sounds good Smile
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The snow on the Sarenne looks in wonderful nick.

Is the bottom photo the turn off/entrance to La Combe Haute ?
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
The really slow Chalvet lift(wasn't on yesterday). Not a fan of the coffee at that restaurant.
Snowing again today Very Happy
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I like the food and ambience.

And I must confess to having a weakness for those leather outfits the waitresses wear Embarassed
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Leather outfits you say!!!!!!
I only went to the coffee window on the ground level. I must investigate!
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