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Idiots without / who can't put on chains & think winter tyres will be ok

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Yesterday I had to drive my daughter up to a village above Briancon in foul weather just as the hordes were finishing for the day and joining the main road into Briancon.

Combine that with skiers walking aimlessly in the road and crossing said road instead of using the underpass and then cars pulling out of junctions and gridlock quickly ensues as many cars do not have winter tyres and decide they can make it without chains!

That was the journey down taking 30 mins instead of 15 the drive back was not too bad as I was going against the main flow of the hordes, however a really strong wind had kicked in and it was a real blizzard and the jam extended all the way down the valley.

Trouble was two hours later I had to go back to pick her up, the good thing was that the hordes factor would not be as bad as many would have made it back, so I thought!

Easy drive into Briancon though the roads were lethal as the wind had blown all the soft fresh snow off. I did see quite a few cars littered around the place presumably no chains?

I then turned off to start the small climb up and as I started a car came pass flashing me, I did think maybe an accident, however after one km I came up to a whole load of cars stuck and people out of the cars standing around. Luckily the car in front of me was a local and he was having none of it and drove past all the cars with me a 100m or so behind me as my fear was another car coming back down. As it happened we drove past them all and into the clear.

I could see a fair few trying to put chains on and others just not moving, and most were from outside the region.

Picked daughter up and a half hour had passed and started the drive down wondering what to expect and sure enough gridlock.

Even locals with snow tyres were stuck as people in front without them came to a halt unable to move on the black ice and then those with snow tyres were unable to move from a standing start.

We pushed quite a few cars to get them going up the hill but then there were a fair number of idiots trying to put chains on in the dark etc etc

Just as our side of the road was looking clear a feckin snow plough appeared on the way up behind all the cars blocking our way, so after 20 or so mins we cleared a few more and some got going with their chains.

For the French tourists it seemed for them this was all part of the holiday enjoyment experience with many standing around watching doing nothing to help, even using your phone flashlight to help an idiot trying to put his chains on is something.

I've seen this before in jams in France and never fails to amaze me!

Anyway as ever a few pics

The brightlights at the end of the road is the snowplough


Snowplough is on the bend with nigh on another 15 cars behind it!


I really don't think you can avoid this if having to travel in these conditions at busy periods it just comes with the territory.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Aaaand this is why I'm avoiding travelling on a Saturday out to resort Smile
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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?
Love this Sunday-Sunday places. wink
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I skied with an instructor from Serre Chevalier a couple of weeks ago. He doesn't have chains. Said he's never needed them.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Weathercam, drive up the mountain to val thorens last night and completely agree with you. lost count of the numpties who ran out of traction before thinking about putting on chains. also saw a few uk 4x4s stranded who only had summer tires on but thought they could go anywhere.

combination of 4x4 and winter tyres was fine as were most hatchbacks with just winter tyres. god knows what it would have been like on a saturday
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In Canada we get a ton of snow and no one carries chains! Mandatory winter tyres on the passes. But for cars no chains.

Does anyone know why the difference? I wonder if roads generally newer, with less gradient or they just plow more?
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@motdoc, In general, it's a different sort of snow. In Canada's dry cold temperatures, the snow stays loose and powdery, while in warmer Europe, it's more likely to compress down into a wet icy slush, which then freezes and causes havoc.
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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!
A Canadian friend once told me that on the odd occasion when Canada has warmer conditions, there's the same carnage on the roads.
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I've got chains, but never needed them (yet!) for my 4x4 Duster, there's been times when I've wished for studded tyres on some roads though Very Happy
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
My AWD as regular readers will know is counter advised for chains due to a weird transmission (well, thatís one excuse Iíve been told).

In 11 years of alpine life, most weekends in the mountains, I have never ever felt the lack of chains.

I have a little light that tells me whether the 4WD has activated, and itís come on around twice.

I have noticed a variation in winter tyre quality (from high end brands).

I have seen many ďlocalsĒ who patently donít understand that snow tyres are not a panacea for snow driving and that revving in low gear while stationary will have the same effect for winters as summers. Actually, the same (briefly) for chains until the chains break.

Itís not a question of idiots with winter tyres and no chains, itís just idiots.


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Thu 28-12-17 16:36; edited 1 time in total
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^this
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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.
motdoc wrote:
In Canada we get a ton of snow and no one carries chains! Mandatory winter tyres on the passes. But for cars no chains.

Does anyone know why the difference? I wonder if roads generally newer, with less gradient or they just plow more?
I'm not sure why - I drive a lot here on legal hire car M&S tyres and it's not a problem. The law is clear. Sure, you see people with vehicles overturned etc, but I've seen that in the Alps too, and some people are bad drivers irrespective. I've never seen anyone use chains (trucks aside), and I don't know any locals with them. I can drive cat roads in my measly rental with M&S - perhaps our snow is just easier. Or perhaps we have fewer French people here? The roads tend to be less twisty too, unless you count some hill access roads. There's less traffic per square meter here.

NB: I think there are already threads here where people argue the merits of their own approach to car safety. I'm not challenging their deeply held views, I'm just speculating as to why we seem perfectly safe (safer, even) here.

Personally I'n anti-numpty, nothing more. I'd rather have an intelligent person driving in front of me than someone with a lot of toys.
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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
Had my snow socks on yesterday so we could take dogs and kids up to leckhampton hill, just outside Cheltenham. 5 inches of fresh snow and unplowed roads. No issues at all and approx 20 seconds to get each sock on.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@philwig, I really think it must be the snow quality. Or, experience with it.

Below 1,000m in the Haute Savoie, fír instance, truly tricky heavy snow is not a daily experience across the whole winter. Unlike many parts of Canada.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Last night was classic - all the soft fresh snow blown away and whilst it had been just over zero it had melted then re froze very quickly - so a couple of cms of black ice, and gradient circa 7-8%.

Then as I said people who know how to drive with just snow tyres came to a halt with the idiots in front who were spinning and could get no where. So you had to wait for them to put chains on, and then we had to push the locals to get them going as their tyres could not get the all important initial traction.

Have seen many a site like this one today in car parks


Thing is that some accommodation in the valley is up steep little lanes circa 15 - 20 % so not at all friendly.

And @haigie, @Hyst, yesterday was a Wednesday I think Toofy Grin
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Whilst in this subject . . . We have hired a car from Turin airport to drive upto Pila mid January, we have booked snowchains. I wondered if it wise to buy a pair of snow socks over here to take with us just incase ( it's a windey -is that spelt right? Road upto Pila). As it's a hire car is there a standard sock that fits all? Hired a VW Polo or similar size.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Hils68 wrote:
is there a standard sock that fits all?



Nope. You need to get the ones that fit - each size covers a range of tyre sizes though.
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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?
Thanks for reply, annoying that!
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Weathercam wrote:


And @haigie, @Hyst, yesterday was a Wednesday I think Toofy Grin


Luckily I'll be taking the train/bus and staying in the valley then.. Wink
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
In my opinion (which is based on driving on my own in a heavy front wheel drive van in the Alps in winter conditions), most of the time you do not need snow chains or snow tyres. When you need snow chains, you often need them regardless of whether you have snow tyres or not. It is only on uphill or steep downhill sections with compacted ice or snow on the road that it is required. (but by law some areas require it regardless)

Therefore, snow tyres are nice to have, but chains essential. I have not seen snow socks in use, but suspect that they also have limitations compared to good fitting chains.

Getting practice putting on snow chains is a good idea, as when you need to use them it is usually not a good time to get out the instruction manual. You learn by trial and error, and best to do that on flat non snow covered road when there is no other traffic trying to get somewhere in a hurry. (it will just cause you stress and panic)

I have seen two Spanish men in Andorra trying to put snow chains on when they were driving through 2 foot of snow. They seemed to not have a clue how to put them on, and drove off with the chains getting tangled on the axle of both wheels. A right fine mess they were in. I did not offer to help, as there was two of them and best to let them work out how to make that into an even bigger problem (like torn brake pipes) My interference might have caused a bigger disaster. It may have been that the chains were the wrong size, but more likely inexperience in their use.

Putting on the chains in -20C in high wind, in the dark, on a steep icy road when it is snowing, and your fingers won't work because they are so cold, is not a situation you want to find yourself in. I found myself in that position on the road to Tignes once, just before the covered road area above Tignes les Boisses before Tignes le lac. You will also find your back gets done in putting on chains in such conditions, due to having to bend over. Your clothes will get dirty and wet. Brrr!

I was thinking of putting my snow chains on at this point, then decided to go for a sauna and get a good night sleep and spend a few more days in Val d'Isere!



Laughing
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Weathercam wrote:


And @haigie, @Hyst, yesterday was a Wednesday I think Toofy Grin


Yes, it can even snow on a Wednesday Toofy Grin Madeye-Smiley


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Thu 28-12-17 20:04; edited 2 times in total
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@Weathercam, excuse the ignorance but what's the issue with that last pic you posted?
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
kitenski wrote:
@Weathercam, excuse the ignorance but what's the issue with that last pic you posted?


Is the Volvo RWD maybe?
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@kitenski, I was also wondering about that pic. Wait to hear!
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Black ice can be really treacherous but usually find it on the flatter roads down the valley so you can just drive slowly. Iíve never used chains. Good snow tires and 4*4 have always sufficed - non?
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Volvo 4x4 XC90 I think circa £50k meant to be superb 4x4 yet snow chains are fitted to it even with a shedload of driving tech in the cockpit!
Just an example that also contradicts @under a new name, but in this case I suspect the numptie factor is at play.
In something like that should you need chains?
But maybe he had a black ice experience 😁


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Thu 28-12-17 20:28; edited 1 time in total
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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.
@Weathercam, 4x4 with summer tyres will need chains as much as any other car does! Volvos are "All wheel drive" not true 4x4, with about 90% of the drive on the front most of the time unless they start to lose traction.
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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
martinm wrote:
kitenski wrote:
@Weathercam, excuse the ignorance but what's the issue with that last pic you posted?


Is the Volvo RWD maybe?


It looks like a Volvo XC something and will probably have four wheel drive (some variants are/were front wheel drive). In any event, it doesnít matter because the Volvo instructions are to fit chains to the front wheels for both variants.

(and IIRC, in the case of the four wheel drive versions, to never fit chains to the rear wheels)
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Had an XC90 once, drove it once in the snow here, terrible. 20 years ago Jeep Grand Cherokee with mud and snow tyres coped with a foot of fresh snow on the way to Val D with no bother at all. Now I simply wouldn't go anywhere without winter tyres. Have a rear wheel drive merc, fine in the snow here, have chains for alps, but not needed them yet. May get a chance to try on some fresh stuff tomorrow if the forecast is correct, or may be sensible and walk to dog to the pub instead!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Hils68, there are some options that would suit all tyre sizes if you can find them:

Several here:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Snow-Chains/b?ie=UTF8&node=303626031&tag=amz07b-21

Spray On Grip (various manufs):
http://dev.bluecol.co.uk/nevonproducts/bluecol-snow-grip/

ZipGripGo:
https://zipgripgo.com/

Sunsky Anti-Skid:
https://www.sunsky-online.com/product/default!view.do?subject.itemNo=CMS7931Y

SM Industry Silent Chain:
https://smindustry.en.ec21.com/Snow-Chain--Silent-Spike--8900764_8900773.html

Mita Anti-Skid:
http://www.blumec.it/

or, when all else fails, take a length of rope:

http://youtube.com/v/NpJKU-zO4hk
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
The most important technique in winter driving is to remember to call everyone else a numptie/muppet on a regular basis
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I carried chains for a few years now thereíre in the loft now somewhere. Iíve a 4x4 Passat with snowtyres, Iíve had the same set up for 14 winters and never needed chains.
Going from cham to Argentiere today was a bit of a game. People stopped putting chains on etc. the thing that frightens me is seeing a sliding car coming downhill towards me.
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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?

It took nearly an hour to dig the car out of three foot of snow this morning.
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My car is essentially the same as @jbob's under the skin (Skoda Scout) and my experience the same. I've never fitted chains though I carry them.

Dug out from under about 18 inches of snow this morning (Cleared roof, bonnet, windows and space to open driver's door. Didn't bother with the 18 inches of snow on the road behind). Got in, started engine, reversed out, drove away. Simples!

Have a look at the vehicles you see parked in the small farms near your ski lift of choice - mostly 4x4 estates with winter tyres and no snow chains.

I'd fit chains if in my judgement the road was fit to drive on and the Gendamerie wouldn't let me proceed without them. If I couldn't make progress without chains in any other circumstances I'd probably park up and try the next day.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Oh - and agree with @under a new name about the little flashing light - seen it a couple of times, once when provoked by a heavy right foot the first time I used the car in winter and wanted to see where the limit was and once when I still had the summer tyres on and was caught out by a bit of November snow in the U.K.
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@jtr, @kitenski, I think and XC90 is a proper 4x4,not just AWD. Having said that they are really soft roaders. I wouldnít much want to take one into seriously gnarly stuff. I also canít see the problem with the pic. It looks like the driver has done exactly the right thing.


@kitenski, If the local drivers on winter tyres need a push to get going, then I canít help feeling that they actually donít have the traction that they ought to have. I dare say they are getting away with it, but itís hardly good practice.
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endoman wrote:
Had an XC90 once, drove it once in the snow here, terrible. 20 years ago Jeep Grand Cherokee with mud and snow tyres coped with a foot of fresh snow on the way to Val D with no bother at all. Now I simply wouldn't go anywhere without winter tyres. Have a rear wheel drive merc, fine in the snow here, have chains for alps, but not needed them yet. May get a chance to try on some fresh stuff tomorrow if the forecast is correct, or may be sensible and walk to dog to the pub instead!


A foot of fresh snow would be fine with m+s tyres. Itís when the snow gets compacted that you need winter rated tyres. In those conditions m+s can be pretty useless.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
foxtrotzulu wrote:
endoman wrote:
Had an XC90 once, drove it once in the snow here, terrible. 20 years ago Jeep Grand Cherokee with mud and snow tyres coped with a foot of fresh snow on the way to Val D with no bother at all. Now I simply wouldn't go anywhere without winter tyres. Have a rear wheel drive merc, fine in the snow here, have chains for alps, but not needed them yet. May get a chance to try on some fresh stuff tomorrow if the forecast is correct, or may be sensible and walk to dog to the pub instead!


A foot of fresh snow would be fine with m+s tyres. Itís when the snow gets compacted that you need winter rated tyres. In those conditions m+s can be pretty useless.


They were some fancy off roading tyre, BF Goodrich Mud Terrain, not winters I know, but they worked fine.
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I like the look of those zip ties. They look easy to put on and easy to pack in luggage. May raid the kids amazon vouchers - much more practical than Lego.... Although Lego stuck onto a zip tie may work too! Same principle, more hassle to make though! Smile
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
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Confession time, I completely forgot I got a new car this year & night before departure I found out old chains were wrong size
Iím in resort now but have to go to Geneva tomorrow night to pick friends up, not looking forward to it.
Will pop into large Carefour to try and pick up a set otherwise letís hope 850m is not high enough
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