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Latest on La Grave - Joe Vallone weighs in

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I know a fair few on here have heard of the American Guide living in La Grave, Joe Valllone.

He's rather passionate about the La Grave situation and a while back we had dinner with him and a couple of other LG stalwarts.

My OH sent Joe a series of questions, and that sort of between them developed into a more in depth feature, which has had a very positive response with Signal La Grave campaign getting behind it as well.

It's a very long, but worth a read, article here
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Weathercam, Interesting read, thanks for that.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Great article, very interesting. But a little sad too. As the man says La Grave has/had an opportunity to be something special but seems to be determined to take another (mainstream?) route. Shame.
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Really nice article.

He knows his way about the place too
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Interesting. Clearly not afraid to speak his mind and I can imagine that local tiny village politics are labyrinthine. Not sure that I totally agree with all his ideas like building out nice restaurants on the mountain and serving grande machiatos is the key to success, part of the charm of La Grave is the "please pis in the hole" homeliness. But I can totally accept I'm out of touch and a new market of big spending Norrona junkies could be attracted by a few more frills and a slicker website.
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very interesting. caught some of the local flavour on my trip there last week... it would be easy to dismiss Joe's comments as 'typical American'... but then, it _is_ in France, and the French do have their own culture. The locals I spoke to seemed very guarded about the future, and I got the feeling that the local politics will have a disproportionate impact on the solution chosen.
having said that, it's a great place to ski, with all it's foibles... would be interesting to get the views of some of the more experienced French riders who have skied the smaller 'resorts' (not that La Grave is really a resort - its more of a mountain with a lift), as I think there are quite a few small ski areas that have a lower profile but just as good riding...
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
I was also there last week and enjoyed some of the best conditions I have ever skied in La Grave (if you discount the rocks lurking 20 cm under the surface of the fresh snow). We skied in Serre Che one of the days and, at the end of the day, our guide hitched back to his home in Briancon. It turns out that the guy who picked him up was the mayor of La Grave. Our guide did grill him a bit but he didn't give too much away. He just said there would be an announcement on the La Grave website 'in the coming days'. This was Wednesday last week and nothing seems to have been put up.

It is a special place and one that I would love to return to year after year. I think its biggest chance of survival in its current (or similar) form is through a rich benefactor. I simply can't see the place becoming a commercially viable proposition without the investment that would remove what makes the place what it is. Who knows - I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Really really interesting read, and sobering re the glacier retreatment.
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Great read, thanks for sharing. Looking forward to my week in La Grave next week Smile
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A fantastic read. Disturbing how the glacier is being 'excavated'
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Heard about the background to this last week and now's been confirmed, sort of bears out what Joe was saying, whole thing way too political with old animosities curtailing any chance of moving forward rolling eyes

http://www.ledauphine.com/hautes-alpes/2017/03/13/telepherique-de-la-meije-la-compagnie-des-alpes-jette-l-eponge
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
We throw the towel in, the Frenchies throw the sponge!!!
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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
Decision made !!
http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=131838
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Good news, old news!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/ski/news/new-deal-la-grave-safeguards-french-ski-resort-cult-appeal/
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
La Grave will remain at least for a few more years one of those spots on my radar. Thoughts within the Vallone article, however, apply to a number of "indie" ski areas. My experience is with Mad River Glen, Alta, Taos, and ... most recently, Revelstoke. All of them share two common elements, being too steep for their own good (narrow little entries into hi quality chutes quickly get skied out), and a corporate inability to generate enough income to improve or add lifts or summer groom pistes. Problems get further exacerbated by the global warm. The indie ski areas need to form better pass alliances. I'm not going to come over to ski this area of France until there is a multipass that includes Les Arcs and 2 Alpes. I'm not that sold on Chamonix, but I'll ski there first because their pass offers more terrain access.
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Poster: A snowHead
@NickZ, if you buy one version of the Serre Chevalier season pass, it includes unlimited skiing at 2 Alpes, and discounts at La Grave, as well as 3 days at Alpe d'Huez and Puy St Vincent. No longer includes Milky way though.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@NickZ, Not sure that pass alliances work in Europe where most people ski one or two weeks holiday a year. Most immediate geographies offer some sort of reciprocity but I guess you are talking MCP type thing. That's a great product for North America if you're trying to capture the fly in long weekend destination skier or even now there are some sensible roadtrips.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
You can also get a Holiski/Ski Alacarte pass for a number of different resorts and pay by the day, with special rates for them. Les Arcs and Les Deux-Alpes are included .
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I will look at those pass plans. For a skier on a limited to zero budget, a season pass is the only reasonable answer when looking at pfennigs per mile. What has evolved in the last few years are co-operating regional ski lift networks. The Ski Amade group comes to mind, or a Tirol Card ... a Sankt Anton Pass includes a lot of peripheral lifts, Chamonix I have mentioned. Even Grimentz-Zinal is tying in to a few other areas.

In America, there are some very good regional deals. One can relocate for the winter to a spot that involves minimal driving to any one of the ... say, three or four co-operating ski areas and have great diversity. But not all ski areas group together even though they are in proximity to one another. The I-70 corridor of Colorado has the Vail resorts, then there's Copper and Winter Park ... and little Loveland Pass and Arapaho Basin. All of them have worthy skiing but there is no co-operation amongst all of them. Copper and Winter Park do co-operate with one another ... managed by different corporations that share a season pass option along with Steamboat (a very good deal, by the way). Canada is worst of all. Kicking Horse will have nothing to do with Revelstoke, its neighbor. Fernie will have nothing to do with Panorama, its neighbor, Red Mountain stands alone looking stupid. This is the real life consequence of what our guide/author mentioned in the article. The petty prejudices of small minded local people or investors create a less than optimal business environment.

The answer would be simple in the US or Canada (if anyone there had the nads to do it). I'm not sure how it works in Europe. 80 to 90 percent of ski resorts in N. Am.are on either government owned or government entrusted land. With one stroke of the pen, a ski area could find themselves under mandate to honor the pass of another ski area. I may not have a grasp on all of the repercussions of such legal action, but I think it might be ecologically sound and profitable at the same time.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@NickZ, Both Les Arcs and Les Deux Alpes are operated by the same company, they are not very close together though.

Individual French stations can be a fair bit bigger than Austrian ones, someone doing the whole winter typically just stays in one place.
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@NickZ, You're asking for the whole system to change to suit a few ski bums. If you want that sort of thing Austria is more than accommodating and Switzerland now has the very good value magic pass. Of course all of Colorado isn't going to cooperate on a single pass - there is a need for competition and Colorado skiers are pretty well served by Epic pass and RMSP with Loveland and Aspen able to compete on their own merits.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
NickZ, I'm curious as to why you think Red Mountain looks stupid ? The area works and has a great atmosphere - they are doing quite well atm, and probably will in years to come. Unfortunately they are having to grow, in so doing they will probably lose some of their charm and appeal.

They aren't actually on their own tho, being part of group of ski areas using a pass similar to the Mountain Collective - not heard of the LL Card, including Revelstoke and others ?

If we aren't careful all that will prevail wink will be Vail Resorts and that wont be good Sad
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
NickZ wrote:
The indie ski areas need to form better pass alliances..


^ Trust me : La Grave is probably not for you wink
A muddy walk back to P1 would make you far too grumpy....
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On Red ... any mountain that chooses to remain alone, no matter how wonderful the place is, is simply doing a disservice to their long time customers. I've been a part of the quaintness thing ... worshipped at the altars of ski tradition, drank magical potions at the ambiance hubs. But mother nature is handing the skier too much cool aid.

My thoughts do not run toward anything Vailish. In fact, the ski corporations would be aghast at Federally enforced co-operation. Dave is right that such a plan (which is not yet fleshed out yet ... kinda like Trumpcare) would be of greatest benefit to the ski bum, but the weekenders and skweekers would benefit as well. We all are caught in an increasingly complex cycle of chasing the snowflake, or making do with the manufacture of what was once a product of nature, and suddenly finding ourselves entirely too often in a completely unsatisfactory skiing environment.

The current ski business paradigm does not fit what has evolved over the last 20 years. The competition model that Dave mentions might have been a viable concept at some distant period in the past, but we are in an age of trying to access a very limited resource, a resource which almost always is on public lands. At the moment, there is a lot of re-thinking going on (admittedly somewhat right wing and whacked) with regard to the use of public land in los Estadios Unidos. Think of those Nevada nut cases occupying ... I think it was Bureau of Land Management land last year ... the anti-pipeline folks in N. Dakota. Sorry if I offended anybody so far.

We just don't have a lot of resources left for our ever growing population and the profit/competition thing isn't working. I look at Taos and Revelstoke ... two indies. Over 90 percent of the season the two mountains run empty chairs, empty gondolas. Then, a juxtaposition of events conspires to clog them with so many people that they cannot serve them. I've seen hour long liftlines recently at both areas. Sunshine Village is notorious for monumental clogs. The best areas for handling crowds are in Colorado ... but I get off message.

Tighter Fed control could be an absolute disaster, I admit. But the State of New Hampshire runs ski areas very well. Surprisingly well. It's like the Obamacare Trumpcare thing ... a tiny bit of co-operation and everything would just be sooo ducky.

And as for Haggis and his mud ... my God, I just bought these precious little neon yellow ski boots with contrasting sparkle gray liners. Mud ... My God, you heathen.
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