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All things Retour D'Est 2017 / 2018

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
As this is such an amazing weather phenomenon think it very much deserves it's own thread for this season.

I've been fortunate to ski various locations post Retour D'Est notably Prali, Val Maira, Limone Piemonte and in the Queyras which is nearer to us in Serre

Whilst here in Serre over the weekend we picked up all of 5mm 20km away in Ristolas / Abries in the Queyras they had nigh on 60cm

We're off on a road trip this morning to see for ourselves.

Link to webcams in the Queyras https://en.queyras-montagne.com/webcam-queyras.html

Pic from Gite 7 Degees Est Face Book



Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Mon 4-12-17 18:22; edited 1 time in total
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Also see previous dedicated thread
http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=120478
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@aceandy79, good call but a bit dated, time for a refresh Very Happy
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@aceandy79, did forget about that even though I posted in it. Though this thread is actually written by people that actually ski it Toofy Grin

So have amended the thread title and the intro.

From here in Serre it's 72km and 90mins drive, and 32km as the Crow flies to Abries.

Was surprised the OH was up for it and we picked KenX up enroute.

It really was depths of winter as we drove up the Guil gorge and from Chateau Queyras onwards it was distinctly wintery with temps dropping to -11.5 and ever increasing snow cover.

At Abries we parked up and I was expecting to see a lot more of vehicles as many skiers are in limbo at the moment before their seasonal work commences.

We skinned up the piste and was a good opportunity to test out new skis / bindings and skins and we soon found out that the skins I'd setup for the OH (from my old Cascade(s) were not ideal on the super steep piste for a variety of technical reasons.

Conditions were superb and we were soon stripping of layers.

As we started quite late there were quite a few skiers descending and all on the piste, mind you as you can see they were in glorious condition and the resort does not open for two weeks!

We however chose to ski lines in the trees and under the chair and whilst it was certainly not epic / awesome etc etc it was not too bad.

Looking down to Abries






Superb "Manchester"








The run out we found lower down


And a good Cafe for a well earned drink


Might have to go back on Wednesday ??
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@Weathercam, Very Happy
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Off to Sauze in a few weeks. It's my first time to that part of the Alps so please excuse my ignorance but; am I right in thinking that it is a resort that relishes this phenomenon Puzzled
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@esaw1, it can be possible, like all weather patterns in the mountains, sometimes a place benefits other-times it can miss out, and Sauze is just on the edge, though hope you get it, bit realistically tends to only happens a handful of times (if that) in a season.

And here's a vid of todays route


http://youtube.com/v/IkRR_rgilyE
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Check out the forecast for Abries - road trip next Tues or Wed me thinks - will be empty once the hordes leave, that's if they manage to Laughing

http://www.meteociel.fr/tendances/1750/abries.htm
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@Weathercam, any idea of typical snowfall in the Eastern Pyrenees with this weather pattern? Does it snow, or is all the action too far north?
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@rob@rar, not too sure as the Retour D'Est is very localised to quite a small area and will not affect Eastern Pyrenees if that's what you're asking - we're only 40km away and we'll be lucky to get any of it!
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Weathercam wrote:
@rob@rar, not too sure as the Retour D'Est is very localised to quite a small area and will not affect Eastern Pyrenees if that's what you're asking - we're only 40km away and we'll be lucky to get any of it!
Thanks. Am I getting confused with a Genoa Low, where the weather comes in from the Mediterranean?
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@rob@rar, no it is the same thing - a small area of low pressure stuck over Genoa, NW Italy / French border.
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Weathercam wrote:
@rob@rar, no it is the same thing - a small area of low pressure stuck over Genoa, NW Italy / French border.
OK, think I'll have to do some more homework for weather in the Pyrennees!
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Considering a brief trip to Sestriere to take advantage of the coming Retour D'Est early next week. I'd be driving up there Sunday afternoon, from Turin - anyone know how the road is typically when it's snowing? Looks like the snowline will be relatively high (1800m ish freezing level) so only the last section could be a problem. Most of the snow is due to fall Sunday evening - Tuesday.

I've heard the area is good for trees. Hopefully the snowline is not too high this time.
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@musehead, main road up from Cesana should be ok to Sestrierre as it's a major road with buses using it etc adn they try and keep the Col open as that's another route to Turin via Pinerello and snow on that side of the Col (Pragialato) can be better.

That said was with a guide a couple of days ago who we were meant to be skiing with and who lives in Turin and currently looks like this one could well stretch up to Aosta and Courmayer etc giving you other options
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 Poster: A snowHead
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I drove up it on the 27th in heavy snow (not like what is forecast in the next 48hrs though) and it was fine. The road gradient isnít too steep and the hairpins are wide with reasonable stretches between each turn. As weathercam said, itís a main route and the regional bus uses it.

On the Pragelato side, the road to Pragelato is good despite losing a fair bit of altitude and then the valley road to Pinerolo is a steady gradient. The only excitement I experienced in the holiday period was day-trippers who drove slowly in the snow, and others who were doing 3 times the speed and overtaking on the approach to bends. Holiday-driving wacky races, with the odd police check for good measure!
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@Weathercam, @Game of Snows, Thanks, I ended up going via Pragelato and it was fine despite snow covered roads. Loads of cars driving down but very few driving up. Some pretty crazy drivers overtaking me from time to time!

Snowline was lower than I expected coming up the valley. The rain turned to snow at approx. 900m and started settling on the ground around 1000m.
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I find the drive up the valley quite interesting. Not only is it pretty and authentic, but the weather/terrain seems to have distinct phases. At Fenestrelle, the valley turns east/west and is noticeably colder, with different flora. Below Fenestrelle and above Perosa Argentina, the valley is more sunny, but protected from the warmth of the Italian plains. I would have thought your observation of 900m snow level probably tallies with somewhere just up from Perosa Argentina. Driving down the valley at night you are met with the beauty of the Fenestrelle Fort stretching up the mountain, all lit up.

Anyway, getting back on topic, it seems that the retour typically deposits noticeably more on Pragelato than Sestriere. My guess is that the side south side of Mt Albergian would get yet more than Pragelato, but itís not very accessible and probably prone to a avalanches as the ridge is very steep - I have a ski mountaineering map which has routes on the south side for the careful/brave. Prali seems to get even more, possibly because the valley it siits at the end of opens to the east and funnels the weather up to Prali.

Have a great time and do report back!
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Thanks to RdE we may well be Avi 5/5 tomorrow according to MF Avi Report (by the ever reliable Thierry Arnou). Certainly honing down in Tignes, Le Fornet may disappear under the snow.
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AINEVA in Italy is going for 4/5 for the next two days in the Piedmont area - all aspects above 1800m. I hope they open the lifts tomorrow as it looks like it will be a faceshots on the piste kind of day. Very Happy
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And it did 5/5 in the EK today. A particularly intense RdE, between 60 and 80cm in Val and Tignes - not a lot in Les Arcs and a few cm in La Plagne.
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@Game of Snows, in the summer a stunning ride is from Susa over the Col de Finestrelle - last 6km is not tarmac (think it's on the Giro again this year) you then drop down to Finestrelle before climbing back up to Sestrierre via Pragelato and then a long descent back to Oulx.

More here at the bottom of the page.

Here in Serre we're missing out big time on this one as is so often the case even though forecast has us getting well over 30cm. (take note Noza Toofy Grin )

That said Montgenevre up the road looks like they're scoring well.

I've been looking at the Prali WebCam and they're going to be digging out the chair soon. I would not advise driving up there unless you have a serious 4x4 as there are some very gnarly chunks of road along with steep gradients. We once went up there on a very big day and snow levels were bonkers though almost too much and having to straight line steeps!

I'm sort of thinking about touring in some mellow terrain on Wed backside of Monty as this area should benefit well and you can see where the Italian border is - did around 5 spring ski tours in the same valley last season and should be even better this year with the deeper snow pack.

NB All those blue dashed lines are ski tour routes so you can see what a great valley it is and hardly anyone goes there!



Mind you as I'm typing this it's starting to puke down with heavy wet snow as temps are +2 though one minute it's rain the next snow
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Well Abries in the Queyras was meant to be getting a fair amount of snow on and off since the weekend so last night with more forecast a road trip was planned with Team Viking friends who are staying in La Grave for a couple of months.

It was a tough call as we were tempted to go back to where we were yesterday as that was so good (see Serre thread), and imagine our disappointment when we rocked up to find 30mm instead of 30cm even the pisteurs apologised, however as we took the high drag smiles began to appear as it was obvious there was a substantial amount of fresh to be had.

Rather than going off the back we skied one line on the South facing slope and secret was not to go too steep a gradient as that had more of a crust under the powder than a more mellow gradient which is not so sun affected due to this time of the year the sun still being low in the sky.

After that run it was off the back down the truly superb North facing tree runs that finish up in Le Roux where you have to get a navette back to Abries. In the end we did three runs dropping the van off to be sure of getting back on our last run should we have an "incident".

The final run was fantastic as we found a pitch with around 40cm of powder in well open spaced trees with us all saying as good as Japan!


http://youtube.com/v/aK7skFGfjqk
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Another Retour D'Est incoming? Combined with the deep cold could make for some amazing powder
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Most likely heading to Abries tomorrow and Saturday to take advantage of this storm. If anyone wants to meet up for a ski, let me know!
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We're here in Ristolas up the road from Abries and it's chucking it down while other valleys, St Veran and Aiguilles are missing out.

Uber light cold smoking snow. We're staying on tonight rather than go back and OH and friend planning on coming down Sat and hopefully we can find somewhere to stay with Les Chiens!
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Say no more, full report to follow from @Weathercam,

Untitled
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Not for a feckin while as we're staying here tomorrow night as well 😎

Tis feckin bonkers.........like Japan!
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@KenX, looks amaze-balls.
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I'm in there somewhere 😎

Been snowing all night.....

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 Poster: A snowHead
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@Weathercam, Very Happy
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70cm on the Pisaillas last night, 10cm in Tignes - classic R d'E.
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Almost too much and too dangerous to go steep.

But face shots a plenty. Though not as light as yesterday.

Then became heavy mid afternoon.

Just circa 25 free riders lapping. So empty.
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Me and Bettina enjoying the Ristolas pow (she's the cute one with the smile) Very Happy


http://youtube.com/v/XMHk8qxfc5c
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Pretty easy to get out of your depth I guess!! Well done Gavin, Ken & Co. Impressive.
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Opted out today of skiing as snow seemed heavier though am being very fussy.

Where we stayed has to be right up there on great places to stay in the mountains and I've been to quite a few!

Lovely walk with the Chiens but snow was so deep and heavy that they had problems which sort of confirmed what we thought snow might be like.

Abries seemed quite busy but we did drive through at probably the busiest time.

Then drove up to St Veran as my mate had not been there and Molines was not too bad.

Stunning difference between Abries and Molines in snow depth.

Driving back through Serre and just so many more people and cars made you really appreciate how superb it is down there and in hindsight not at all busy, positively tranquil!
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Some more Retour D'Est action Cool


http://youtube.com/v/lKNxeMs9C4o

And a couple more pics



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I've seen some truly epic vid from Prali - my Bro says waist deep with face shots when straight-lining. He reckoned the 'second biggest day of his life' and that from a bloke who lives out there! Enjoy, I have a serious case of FOMO snowHead
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The best snow of the season so far and quite possibly the best skiing day as well, pretty much perfect, the slightly dense powder made us seek steeper lines which are always more fun Very Happy
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@KenX, 👊
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