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All things Retour D'Est 2017 / 2018

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Sharkymark, yesterday I was having to resort to a bouncing technique I learnt from the Japanese CatSki dudes when the powder was uber deep and you needed more gradient.

And or ski down the piste a liitle to get speed up before hacking off back into the deep.

Plus they had great skill to create mega face shots by slashing their skis on the tails.

And to think this time last week we thought we might be Spring skiing looking at the forecasts!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Couple of clips of Saturday:
http://youtube.com/v/gzQmLl0xQaQ
http://youtube.com/v/a5tDEXcMwok

Super deep!
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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?
@JackSkier,
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Weathercam wrote:
And to think this time last week we thought we might be Spring skiing looking at the forecasts!




rolling eyes
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@nozawaonsen, sorry forgot you know weather patterns so much better than two very experienced guides!

It was they that were evaluating where to go with a forecast that was for ever changing as the week progressed!

Last Sunday conversations were being had that it could indeed be cold and sunny mid / end of the week and probably good enough for Spring snow as option would be to stay at altitude in a refuge (original plan was to stay in he Goleon refuge near to La Grave) which would provide more options, but looking a week ahead is never certain as most of us know!

Then there was the little matter of a Retour D'Est appearing on the scene but again you would not start planning six days ahead, but merely keep an eye on it.

Queyras road trip was not firmed up till they could be sure which I think was Tuesday.
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Things looking interesting at this stage for middle of next week, but as ever could well change.

This is for Abries - nigh on a meter in circa 36hrs.

Only issue is that all the resorts in the Queyras are now closed, but we do know some good safe ski tour routes in the trees on some old pistes of Ristolas which closed down some 15yrs ago and then we can always skin up the pistes of Abries which we did at the beginning of the season before it opened last year.

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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Still looking mildly bonkers for tomorrow onwards, but forecast not as crazy as above image.

http://www.meteociel.fr/previsions/1750/abries.htm

And cold as well - options are Abries (all lifts closed) skinning on the closed pistes and or in the forest in Ristolas, or take a chance on Sestrierre (again resort closed) but not so much of a drive.

I did just contact the Gite we've stayed in as they take dogs and had this response back rolling eyes

Désolé, nous sommes fermés depuis hier a cause du mauvais temps et le problème de route.
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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!
@Weathercam, I think I saw on the Dauphiné a few days ago that the road was collapsing around there somewhere, maybe where those concrete blocks were earlier in the season?
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Keeping an eye on this today with a view to a road trip tomorrow

http://vscom2012.viewsurf.com/univers/montagne/vue/11270-france-provence-alpes-cote-dazur-abries-panoramique-hd


@KenX, looking at inforoutes - there are a couple of diversions and works going on - but Abries / Ristolas not cut off as it were

Friday have to take OH to Turin so might well explore Sans Sicario / Sestrierre / Pragialeto ???
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Well not too much has been going on today from the looks of things in Abries itself and looking at the radar, just light snow in the village and wet roads so temps not that cold, so will probably hold off making a decision on whether to go down tomorrow till early tomorrow morning when should get a better idea of what fell overnight.
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Yeah, was looking at that Mad
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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.
Plans change again - although snow falling in Abries, elsewhere (the resort that can't be named) looks way better and snow forecast all day and then brighter tomorrow, so as I'm taking the OH to Turin airport tomorrow early it's a no brainer to meet Team Serre en route and then drive up together.

Plus they have lifts that are working!

Though as ever, how to make God laugh?

Make a plan in the mountains Toofy Grin

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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
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
Looks seriously snowy there today, right down to resort level - enjoy!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
It’s looking great! So, so jealous.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
So good when a plan comes together!

Left Serre with heavy snow falling at 06:30 en route for Turin and was not surprised to get the expected phone call from Team Serre bailing on the trip as quite rightly they said what's the point in going all that way when they probably had boot deep in Serre, plus avy risk in Prali was 4.

Driving up to Prali was just crazy, the snow line started at around 950m and Prali itself looked like it was still in the depths of winter, so much snow, and the drive up there is really gnarly.

Viz was not too bad with low cloud intermingled with brighter patches and the occasional glimpse of sunshine.

This was my third time there, and first without a guide, though last time with him we skied lines under the chair lift.

There could have only been around thirty people equally split between Freerider skiers and boarders, in the car park I saw a few French Reg cars from my part of the world.

First run I sort of stuck to what I knew but ventured away more into the trees as under the chair was quite chopped up, with nigh on 50cm deep tracks!

It was deep though has to be said we're nigh on in the middle of April and at 2,200 it was never going to be light cold powder but I did put my poles in to see just how much fresh and could not touch the layer below!



Back down at the lift I bumped into two La Grave veterans, both Swedes and one who use to cook at the skiers lodge back in 97.

Now when we were with the guide the first time, a Swede I saw them and said hello, and was sort of surprised at being blanked, and Christian explained that they had told him not to bring clients there and that they don't want the place becoming popular with the La Grave hordes and others etc etc a sort of secret spot Surf mentality and it's their special place rolling eyes

Hence we started calling it the Place that can't be named as a bit of a wee wee take Toofy Grin

Then a month or so ago whilst waiting for the drag to open up on the glacier in La Grave they were with us and I asked if he had been to that place in Italy and he shrugged his shoulders and said (I think jokingly) "I don't know where you mean". We then were nagging about how good Serre can be in the trees in Monetier when La Meije is shut, and I then said it's so great when the Col is shut as we then don't get the La Grave groups, he sort of smiled as he knew I was purposely making a point and it works both ways.

It's all rather stupid when sites like WePowder are bigging the place up all the time though!
https://wepowder.com/en/forum/topic/256672

At the top of the chair they got off the lift and skied down across to the restaurant and said they were going to have a drink, which immediately aroused my suspicions.

So next lift up I went down to the restaurant and what a surprise there was a path up from it on the other side with a nice little traverse running above the chair lift that they were digging out and there were numerous lines to be had!

There are not that many pistes and they sort of border the "freeride zones" in the forest, what was really good was that lower down as the snow became heavy you just traversed out and got back on the piste to ski back to the lift.

I really enjoy finding a line in new terrain that I don't know, it's a sort of sixth sense almost trying to recognize what might be good/work and more importantly where could be bad, and with that much fresh snow I was on the cautious side, and was packing skins in case I screwed up.

I was tempted to skin up the piste from the top of the chair lift to access more untracked terrain but could see that they were working on the drag lift and sure enough it eventually opened.

That then opened up more terrain and my last run as the weather started clearing was a big traverse and then I headed down in the trees, sniffing out a line, this time well away from the pistes.

This was a big route taking me all the way down to the valley bottom and then a fifteen minute walk back out, snow for the last 250m was classic spring sludge.

I'd parked my van with the dogs in the far end of the car park so I came straight to them, whilst I'd been up the hill I heard some big rumbles of slides and sure enough one had come down a big chute and finished about 150m from my van!

As I was packing up around nine or so skiers in three or so groups also came along the road, so I was quite chuffed to have worked that route out which must be a bit of a classic.

There is so much terrain there and with the second chair would open up even more and there's one whole section where I've never been, but I'll be back for sure!





And I'll probably be shot for this Toofy Grin but here's my Strava track
https://www.strava.com/activities/1505851826
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Nice looking tree skiing
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Great write-up, thank you. Regarding the conversations you’ve e been having I can see why some people don’t want these places to be overrun. At the same time I don’t know what it costs to hold Prali open till the end of the month, but I would have thought the economics are marginal (the lift doesn’t look packed!) and so a few tens of extra people in the week probably makes all the difference to the lift company.

Out of interest, was the drive up gnarly because of the weather, or is the road a bit challenging? I ask because google maps allows quite a long time to do a relatively short distance up the valley. I’ll be out in a few weeks (sadly after the lift will have closed) and I am determined to do a recce.

Thanks again for taking the time to post all this. We really appreciate it.
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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?
@Game of Snows, the road is quite narrow and steep in a few places, the road surface (with all the snow plough activity) is pretty bad too.

Then with a big fresh snow fall the sides of the road are full of snow piled high from the ploughs and trees broken with the weight of the snow so it all makes for a bit of a challenging drive especially with snow on the road too!

I think I can honestly say it's not your normal road to a ski station!

Just as well we did not go the Abries on Thursday
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Excellent report, thanks! Looks like a great place. Appreciate the Strava track too.

@Weathercam, Would you say the road is driveable in a normal car with summer tyres + snow chains? (as is usually supplied at Turin airport). Or would something more capable be needed - I expect the only time i'd be driving there is during or just before a heavy snowfall so would probably see similar conditions to what you experienced.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Musehead, just to report that Easter week we hired a car from Sixt at Turin Airport and all their cars I looked at booking had winter tyres and chains as standard and included in hire price. I was surprised because I expected summer tyres plus chains as you have experienced.

That said it was a FWD Citroen Cactus and even with winter tyres it was slipping a little on the climb into Sestriere from Pragelato during heavy snow - but didn’t need to get the chains on. Nowhere near as good as my little panda 4x4 with snow tyres though......
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