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Savoie inconnu 2018

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Got out yesterday into the "unknown" skiing of the French department of Savoie . . . drove with Sharon to a mid-size ski station in the southeast near the frontier with Italy. The streets were overflowing with parked cars of French families migrated from distant lowlands for the official big school holiday week. Since Sunday was their first day of skiing, there was a long queue for each group to decide on which multi-day ticket "deal" for their week. When Sharon at last purchased our single-day lift passes, the line behind her was much longer.

Next we found a parking spot above the village, and skied down to the main lift. So we were well into the morning by the time we reached a top point which accessed lots of off-piste lines in various directions and aspects. The wind was much stronger than we expected. We started down a black run which was marked but not groomed. About halfway down I suggested we'd get better snow if we went off right past the warning sign to a mostly-untracked gully. Sharon said she was afraid she would miss a turn and die - (her way of saying that it was maybe 35 degrees steep). But she courageously made her first turn, and then another (and did not die).

Snow was not fluffy powder, because of the wind -- but still fun turns in ungroomed snow. Next time skied another line farther out from the black markers.

Sharon is not a fast skier, so it was after Noon as we rode the lift up again. However we found it easy to spot a wide untracked area reachable without any hiking -- because of course most visiting families with schoolchildren don't go off the groomed pistes (or not on their first day anyway). After this she was tired, so we skied a rather scenic groomed run, and finished with a very long + interesting + scenic groomed piste which brought us back to our parked car.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Of course the Savoie region also contains several famous giant ski-lift complexes - (and each already has its own discussion thread here on SnowHeads). Some days I do visit one of those to ski.

But there is so much more around the region, with several other mountain groups with backcountry parking trailheads, and medium-size (or only small-size) ski stations with lifts. Instead of choosing the "best", I make a central base in the low valley near Chambery, and each day decide which section (with or without lifts) of which mountain group to drive my car to ski. Usually I prefer some "unknown" backcountry trailhead or an "unknown" mid-size ski station. Thus the title for this thread "inconnu".
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Be glad to meet and hear ideas and stories from other skiers who want to get away from the mega-complexes sometimes.

Ken
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Today didn't start until after Noon. Cloudy most of the time and with snow surface likely not fun for turning in lower-avalanche-risk slopes, so drove to a (different) medium-size ski station in southeast Savoie. It was snowing when I arrived, so I decided to focus on just getting an _uphill_ skinning workout (which I and other skiers have done at this station).

Snow lower than altitude 2100 meters on southerly slopes was well transformed -- the old snow underlying the fresh surface stuff (about 10-15 cm) which had fallen in the last 24 hours.

Previous uphill routes had at least one long gentle section, so I've been looking for a route more sustained. So this time I tried going up directly under the cable of the main lift -- which got a bit "technical" in places. Lower down the moves requiring careful ski placement and pushing on my poles were getting up onto the level "easy descent" track which crossed under the lift cable line several times. Higher up the technical moves were getting around or over bumps / bosses created by downhill skiers.

About +575 meters vertical to the top of the steep, with much at steepness around 27 degrees more or less. Warm fresh snow mostly stuck well to the underlying hardpack under the pressure of my ski, but on the steepest patches (over 30 degrees?) would slide off getting pushed by my (non-gripping) ski edge.

On my way down tried some of the ungroomed not far from the pistes. The 10-15 cm of fresh was pretty skiable -- except of the frozen ski ruts in the underlying hardpack. Lower down on the pistes, fairly "hard" hardpack refrozen from previous days.

For future days I'm thinking the skiability of southerly aspects looks promising if can find a route with few old ski ruts and with low avalanche-risk.

Ken


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Tue 6-03-18 22:23; edited 1 time in total
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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?
Interesting, @kenr, but much more interesting if you weren't so secretive. There are quite a lot of Snowheads who are quite familiar with quite a few less well known ski resorts in Savoie. wink
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@pam w, the first post sounds very much like Valfrejus to me...
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Is there a prize, @offpisteskiing? wink
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Good for you.

I'm sharing something -- including out-on-the-ground findings about snow layers and skiability (which hopefully have wider relevance than just the specific station I visited today.

So far, you are sharing nothing.

Ken

P.S. I have posted two very detailed English-language backcountry ski tour descriptions with GPS tracks in Savoie to the public website of CampToCamp.org. How many ski tours or ski GPS tracks have you (or those "quite a lot of Snowheads") shared with the community?
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Quote:

So far, you are sharing nothing.

rolling eyes rolling eyes rolling eyes Laughing Laughing Laughing You've not been around very long, @kenr. Loads of Snowheads have shared loads of reports and some wonderful photographs on everything from how to take your 4 year old on their first holiday to reports of very exciting ski tours - everywhere from obscure central Italian resorts to the Lofoten Islands. Even lesser known parts of the Savoie.
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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!
@kenr, how condescending! If you took the time to look both @pam w and @offpisteskiing have shared huge amounts of knowledge to the community. Whether they feel the need to share GPS tracks...
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@kenr, i suggest you search posts by bobinch if you want to see the qualitu of ski tours that are shared.
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And reports from mike pow on south wales inconnu
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Earlier today I checked out rumors of a groomed-track ski connection in between Bonneval-sur-Arc and Bessans. And I found its NorthEast trailhead start at the edge of the ancient mountain village of Bonneval. So on some future date I can drop off Sharon in Bonneval and she can ski (gently mostly downhill) to Bessans (while I do some gentle skiing of my own around the wonderful groomed-track network of Bessans.

Trailhead (with parking nearby) is at GPS latitude longitude approx (N45.3710 E7.0443), at elevation just below 1800 meters. This on the GR5 summer trail, and I suspect the groomed winter route pretty much follows the GR5 -- not sure exactly how it connects with the complicated groomed-track network of Bessans. It's about 7 km from Bonneval to the Villaron trailhead (N45.3316 E7.0158) a bit NE from Bessans. Likely 9 km to the main cross-country ski center Carreley on the NE edge of Bessans village.

Earlier this year the Haute Maurienne Vanoise website said this connection was not open, then more recently that it was Open -- and now today I could see people skiing on it.

I had always thought of skiing from village-to-village as something to be done in Norway -- or perhaps the Jura -- but here it is in Savoie.
. . . (Yesterday I skied from Chamonix up thru Lavancher to Argentiere, and back - but that's not 73 Savoie, so I'll share specific details on a different website).

Lacking a friendly partner with a car, it is also possible to ride a shuttle bus from Bessans to the higher start in Bonneval for a one-way tour (but one website says might need to make a reservation the afternoon before).

Previously I have several times dropped off Sharon with her skis near one of the groomed tracks NE above Bessans, and she would ski one-way gentle down along the Arc River and I would have the car ready to pick her up near the big green-painted bridge far SW below Bessans. Now we have a much longer one-way downhill tour to try.

Ken


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Tue 6-03-18 23:39; edited 2 times 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.
@kenr, From Cham , via Lavancher to Argentiere. That's an interesting route. Isn't there a glaciated valley in the way?
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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
Lots of information available on ski touring from sites such as Skitour.fr and published guides such as the Toponeige series. There are probably similar resources for ski de fond afficionados but of that discipline I know nothing. And thankfully no real need for fluent French to make use of those resources. Snowheads, in my time as a member, provides other benefits and I would see little point in Snowheads trying to emulate such sites. But I'm sure some people would indeed welcome topo-guides so if you want to start it up @kenr, no reason not to do so.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
But I think (almost?) _no_ reports on Skitour.fr for Savoie in the last day or two.

Talking on this thread about previous good contributions of photos and routes from other years and other regions is good for a newcomer like me to hear about, but
... right now ....
for me and those of us in or near Savoie who love to ski ungroomed snow, it's pretty tricky to figure out where and what kind of skiing to try tomorrow (and the next day) -- likely to provide fun turns (perhaps a bit of sunshine?) _and_ avoid significant risk of getting caught in an avalanche.

The "official" sources for avalanche and snowpack info -- especially on Meteo France -- are rather general.

Pretty much the same avalanche forecast and snowpack description for every mountain group in Savoie.
Really?
. . . (or is it that MeteoFrance is under-staffed for this admittedly difficult task? and/or
. . . . has not been funded to place a higher density of outdoor sensors? or . . . ?)

Therefore contributing some "on the ground" reports -- which might help suggest where or what to try (or not try) in the next couple of days -- could be more helpful.

Ken
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@kenr, Why do you need avalanche forecasts ? You know better than the pisteurs which runs should be open.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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kenr wrote:
Good for you.

I'm sharing something -- including out-on-the-ground findings about snow layers and skiability (which hopefully have wider relevance than just the specific station I visited today.

So far, you are sharing nothing.

Ken

P.S. I have posted two very detailed English-language backcountry ski tour descriptions with GPS tracks in Savoie to the public website of CampToCamp.org. How many ski tours or ski GPS tracks have you (or those "quite a lot of Snowheads") shared with the community?


Hi kenr, the problem is what you are saying here doesn't square up - yes you are sharing information, but you don't say exactly where you were, which is crucial to others who may be looking to use that info - you complain a few posts down that there are no tour entries recently on skitour, and that it is hard to find 'on the ground' info to judge where to go, yet in your original posts on the thread you don't actually give the detail of where you were other than a very vague 'SE Savoie', which doesn't really help anyone in a similar boat to yourself (I know the Maurienne very well hence my ability to guess from your post where you were but I'm not sure how many others would necessarily have been able to jump to the same conclusion). If you have posted GPS tracks of where you were then possibly it would make sense to share the link to these in the original post?

re Avalanche bulletins yes the area forecasts can ressemble each other a lot, but that is because there is no substitute for 'on the ground' judgement, and that can only be had by getting out 'on the ground' - I have lost count of the number of days i have turned back from objectives because of the stability, that is simply part of the game, yes you make a best guess with all the info you can gather, but it is just a best guess...

Happy skiing! Good to know someone is out exploring the lesser known resorts...
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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offpisteskiing wrote:
I know the Maurienne very well hence my ability to guess from your post where you were

Good, sounds like you're the sort of person who I'm hoping can get some use from my reports.

And be glad if you've got other ideas about fun and interesting skiing things to do in the Maurienne area.
. . . (tho I also ski lots in the Beaufortain).
. . . (and do lots of cross country "ski de fond" and backcountry touring if you've got suggestions for those).

Ken
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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?
All seems a wee bit bizarre, maybe there's a bit of "lost in translation" ?

Think last season I set a thread up for reports on daily ski tours along with GPS tracks but twas only me that contributed Toofy Grin

Have not bothered this year.

@kenr, I might be wrong, but do you know that most ski tour routes are on IGN maps (large blue dashed lines) and not necessarily anywhere near ski stations, many in valleys in National Parks etc such as in the Queyras or Nevache to name but two

That said there are obviously others that are not.

Thing is weather this week is so volatile that it's quite complex to find decent touring snow unless you go high and go for North facing aspects, but then you have the little matter of avi risk, though things are settling down.

Sun and warm temps and over night freezing have produced a crust which is never good fun for skiing but it's the first part of the transformation process to Spring snow however there's no decent freeze thaw on the horizon from the looks of things.

Friends have decided on touring in Chazelet today (above La Grave they've had 5cm fresh) but I'm opting for XC trails here as I'm not too sure if it'll be worth it and I'm focused on XC at the moment.

And even if they have a good tour by tomorrow with the afternoon sunshine predicted that snow could well be crust tomorrow.

https://www.strava.com/athletes/398695


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Wed 7-03-18 8:29; edited 1 time in total
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Just double checked it was 2016 rolling eyes

http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=2839715&highlight=ski+tour#2839715

For the most part I don't mind sharing routes to the SnowHeads community as I know that there are not going to be that many that will actually ever do them, however I would not publish them on skitour.fr in much the same way that there are not that many actual GPS tracks on there compared to actual sorties.

Skiers can get very precious about their routes and I have been criticised for publishing routes even on FaceBook ????
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Just to be aware @kenr is getting called out on the avalanche thread

http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=134246&start=400
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@holidayloverxx, ???
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@Weathercam, 5 people, who i think are well thought of here, are asking if one one his posts is a wind up or calling him out for inappropriate behaviour off piste.
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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!
@holidayloverxx, fair point but like I said maybe with his posts there's an element of lost in translation, I ignored it as thought maybe he was referring to pistes as opposed to true off piste itinerary sectors.

And that is a whole different debate about closed pistes etc etc (let's not go there now please) there are two pistes where we ski that are never bashed as such and snow can be uber deep and after a fresh snowfall they have Orange netting and closed signs, mainly to deter recreational skiers - and they deliver some of the best on piste powder skiing you can get a la Japan, whilst at the same time claiming a few lost skis Toofy Grin


Exhibit A

Please don't dig the guy out too much as at least he's getting out there and trying to do stuff where as.......

Right I'm out of here on my skinny skis
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Quote:

at least he's getting out there and trying to do stuff where as.......


Indeed - and I much enjoy reading reports about stuff I couldn't possibly do myself. The reports on the Lofoten touring inspired me to do a sailing holiday up there, knowing I couldn't cope with the skiing. The problems only arise if people get arsey and critical about what others are up to - sneering at those less gnarly than themselves. There's no excuse for that.
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@pam w, know exactly what you mean Toofy Grin

But on the other hand there are plenty on here who get arsey and critical and don't actually do any stuff either rolling eyes
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Rather fun day skiing untracked soft snow, again at a mid-size station in the southeast. About 15-20 cm fresh a bit heavy accumulated in the past few days, over an older harder surface which my skis were hitting fairly often. What made it work was that was _consistent_ from turn to turn, since I was way out in snow not yet tracked - (and I just enjoy turns in heavy snow). And the emergence of sunshine.
Lots of sustained slopes at steepness 30 or 35 degrees.

Great thing about the mid-size family stations is there's no _hurry_ getting to the ungroomed. Didn't even start riding the lifts up until 10h, still got the first track on one of the main off-piste routes (though lower down where it funnels in, the "underlying layer" was in the form of substantial moguls, but still doable with a consistent layer of fresh to slow me and soften the hits). For later runs I had to get more creative to keep finding untracked, but even after 13h there was lots remaining.
. . . (which I suppose I could ski tomorrow, but I'd rather try something new).

Episodes along the way . . .
* riding up the lift I could see my skinng up-track from yesterday. Rather satisfying tho of course nobody else cared.

* near the bottom of my first run, I saw another track going lower, so I decided to follow it, learn a new interesting way back the station. But actually it was from some snowshoe / raquette hikers, and after some pleasant gentle downhill turns went into a steep gully. So there I was, below the return track. So dug into the bottom of my backpack and pulled out my climbing skins, followed the well-trodden snowshoe trail back to the ski track -- delightful little hike thru the woods in sunshine.

* next time riding up the lift I was next to a ski instructor and his younger client. Tried to start English conversation with the instructor, who replied without removing the cigarette stub from his lips, "I'm French". So instead he conversed with his client. Couple minutes later I understood that they were talking about the uphill skinning tracks. So I figured out to say something like, "Ma trace de montée d'hier". His client was rather interested and of course had no trouble speaking English asking how difficult that was and such. In that context the instructor with ciigarette demonstrated a remarkable improvement in his ability to speak English.

* Lots of skiers headed out off-piste after I made the first track on one of the main routes. What surprised me was that when I next set more creative tracks farther out into better untracked snow, that only one skier had followed when I made it back up to the top like an hour later (not how it happens at Les Trois Vallees). The others kept herding toward the ever-more-tracked main route (which could not have been any fun in the lower moguls once the fresh snow was disturbed).

Next the puzzle continues: Where and how to ski fun + safe tomorrow?

Ken
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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.
Chamcham wrote:
From Cham , via Lavancher to Argentiere. That's an interesting route. Isn't there a glaciated valley in the way?

I just posted a detailed description of the Chamonix - Argentiere tour to the "Chamonix 2017/2018" thread on the Snow Reports forum.
here:
http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3205525#3205525

That tour indeed crosses under the outlet of a "glaciated valley", namely the lower Mer de Glas. The groomed track crosses a bridge over the Arveyron River which emits from bottom of the glacier.
Turns out that's not the crux, indeed somehow it's rather gentle around there. Rather what comes next N from the outlet of the Mer de Glas: a sustained uphill (though the design of the track is well-engineered), and a narrow traverse roughly horizontal across a steep slope.

Ken
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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
rjs wrote:
@kenr, Why do you need avalanche forecasts ? You know better than the pisteurs which runs should be open.

Fair question, and my answer is that the "game" of finding ungroomed snow which is both fun to ski and avoids avalanche hazard is rather complicated and has a multi-stage decision-making process.
. . . (One unfortunate fact is that the slopes which many people find most fun for making downhill ski turns in fresh snow are also the ones most likely to avalanche).

So which of these stages are the pisteurs going to help me with?

Decision stage 1) Should I attempt to ski ungroomed snow at all tomorrow? Or instead enjoy ski-skating at one of several best-in-the-world cross-country ski piste networks which luckily are located right here in Savoie? Or rock-climbing low around the Lac du Bourget? Or drive south to the Sea for a few days?

2) Should I ski with assistance of mechanical lifts, or should I drive my car to some parking trailhead outside any ski station and start uphill using climbing skins? I own several guidebooks and maps for Randonnee ski tours in Savoie. I guess I've done so far about a hundred "pure" ski tours in Savoie with no aid from mechanical lifts: just hike up from my car and ski back down to my car. What guidance would I expect a pisteur to give me for that decision? Which station should I phone to ask?

3) If using assistance of mechanical lifts (since I am based in the main valley near Chambery with my car) ... Which ski station should I drive my car to in the morning? Should I choose a mega-complex or middle-size station? If a mega-complex, which entry point / parking?

4a) After I have chosen one specific mega-complex, now I can see how a pisteur could help me decide which off-piste routes are less dangerous or have better snow conditions. It's a kind of question that pisteurs get asked often, and they'd have a plausible answer. Next I run into the complication that their answer might depend on their assessment of _my_ experience and capabilities. And unless I keep going back to the same mega-complex to ask, they don't know me. So they might just say, "Hire a guide".

4b) If I have chosen a medium-size "family" ski station (like today), I sort of doubt that the pisteur there gets asked about off-piste options from seriously experienced skiers very often. Anyway they don't know _me_. So I bet that if I had asked this morning when I arrived, the pisteur would have said:
* "For safe and fun skiing, _you_ should ski only on the groomed marked pistes suitable for your ability level."

or perhaps . . .
* "You could try one of these three marked (but ungroomed) ski routes, if the sign at the top of the lift says it is currently open."

And if I then said that I wanted to ski really untracked slopes away from any marked off-piste route . . .
* "It is very dangerous to leave the marked routes. Do not do that."

or if I asked, Is there nice fun skiing on some of those really-untracked slopes way out away from the marked route . . .
* "How should I know? It's not my job to get way out there. If you believe you want that sort of thing, hire a certified professional mountain guide."

my Conclusion:
If I were waiting for advice from a pisteur (instead of consulting other sources for snowpack and avalanche info), I would missed out on a whole lot of really fun skiing today.

So . . . that's how the decision-making stages look to me. Be glad to hear about better strategies to achieve my twin (and sometimes contradictory) goals.

Ken
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
checked Skitour.fr and found a total of two backcountry tours for today and yesterday in Savoie. And I actually know both tours well.
Beaufortain tour today they said snow was OK but not great. The exact route they did is kind of boring, but the more interesting variations I love to add would have been dangerous in current avalanche situation.

Lauziere tour yesterday was one I was thinking of trying myself tomorrow -- but they reported that the skiing was not good at all, especially higher, so they stopped and turned back.

So here's a case where my decision-making was definitely improved by reading an "on the ground" report (in French). I'm not going to the Lauziere tomorrow (at least not that kind of slope).

And for today I'd say my skiing by using my reasoning and info sources for _not_ choosing the Beaufortain (which normally I love) was way better than what the French party found.

. . . (Sometimes it works) . . .

Ken
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Could well be Spring snow down in this part of the world tomorrow South facing slopes, hopefully like this, one of my favourites

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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
That does look great. Are those your tracks?

. . . (I found some rather fun southerly-exposure fresh snow today also, but it was at one of the mega-complex-lift-linkups, so not for this forum).

Too bad I don't get over to Serre Chevalier area in the winter and early spring. Sometimes I've done some ski mountaineering late April / early May. It would be fun to try some of the groomed-track cross-country ski de fond in winter (as well as off-piste and randonnee touring).

Late spring or early summer is different . . .
Sharon and I love to base around Monetier-les-Bains -- likely this year late June / early July. We like via ferrata, sport cragging, and road-cycling (and reliable dry weather).

Perhaps we can meet then.

Ken
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Les Saisies on light skinny cross-country skis was fun today. Mostly did skating up + down short hills and around curves, but also down two blue-difficulty alpine pistes, even a little bit of gentle off-piste.

The nordic groomed-track center has about the most interesting design anywhere, best surrounding mountain scenery, higher elevation than most others and northerly exposure for holding snow -- so Sharon and I are always glad to ski there.

Two new things for me this time:
* started from the lower entry "Lachat" (with ticket / ski pass purchase available) -- parking GPS lat long approx (N45.7806 E6.5267) . (elev 1545m) -- Therefore finish with more downhill tendency (100 vertical meters lower than the parking for the "Col des Saisies" entry).

* used the mechanical assistance of the "Gentianes" drag-lift to get up (+250 vertical meters) to higher view and more downhill without extra uphill work -- included in the price of the nordic / cross-country ski pass. Bottom station at (N45.7561 E6.5299) . (elev 1621m) about 300m south from the Col des Saisies entry.

details along the way:
* hills - the more difficult trails are rather hilly, but most of them are carefully designed to have little gentle or flat spots at intervals for relief, and lots of curves to keep it interesting.

* mountain views -- I was hoping for less clouds and some sun. Couldn't see Mont Blanc at all, and only briefly got a glint of sun on the Pointe Percee. On the other hand temperatures got so warm that the snow was getting rather slow even without sunshine.

* mostly-downhill finish to the lower parking was nice, especially as tired as I was by then.

* the nordic / cross-country descent from the top of the Gentianes mechanical lift is seriously steep (it's the southeast leg of the Montee des Champions nordic trail). There are also (at least) two alpine downhill pistes (difficulty "blue"), which are steeper -- especially the lowest segment of the trail that goes closest along the N side of the draglift. Sufficiently challenging for me on my light skinny skis with no metal edges on perfect packed powder snow - (would not want to try those pistes in real hardpack conditions).

waypoints:
- Col des Saisies entry (N45.7586 E6.5283) . (elev ~ 1633m)
- Parking (by monument) for Col des Saisies entry (N45.7602 E6.5331) . (elev ~ 1657m)
- Parking near Lachat entry (N45.7806 E6.5267) . (elev ~ 1545m)
. . . (NNW from Les Saisies on the side-road down to Crest-Voland).

Ken

P.S. oddly Sharon + I have never purchased an alpine downhill ski pass for Les Saisies. But getting up high in the Bisanne sector made me think it could be fun for us on a powder day.
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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?
Forecast for tomorrow Saturday looks like rain in most places I usually like to ski -- along with scary avalanche danger on many aspects and elevations. So far I am just not able to talk myself into fighting "change day" road traffic to reach a lift which might take me up to a high enough elevation to ski some fresh snow (if such lift even operates).
Hopefully Sunday will somehow be better.

Meanwhile if might want to join for some indoor climbing (rope or bouldering) at one of the gyms around Chambery or Grenoble, by all means get in touch.

Ken
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Quote:

There are also (at least) two alpine downhill pistes (difficulty "blue"), which are steeper -- especially the lowest segment of the trail that goes closest along the N side of the draglift. Sufficiently challenging for me on my light skinny skis with no metal edges on perfect packed powder snow - (would not want to try those pistes in real hardpack conditions).


I've been up that lift on skinny XC skis - with an instructor. We were all firmly told not to fall off, given that steep section at the bottom of the lift. At the top I think she took us the "wrong way" to avoid the steepest parts, which would have been beyond us. Beautiful area; shame you had no sunshine to see the views of Mont Blanc.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Yes I assume the poma-style draglift was no problem for you, but could be a shock first time for a pure cross-country skier -- and you're right the lift itself starts kind of steep. Tho what I noticed most was that initial jerk.

Sign at top of lift says to turn right for Domaine Nordique, and then another sign directs to the middle of three pistes for Nordique (cross country). But that designated "nordic" piste is rather steep by cross-country "ski de fond" standards -- I guess it could be "easy blue" if it were an alpine piste. Not a good idea for skis without metal edges in true hardpack conditions.

So for me the next puzzle is how Sharon could use that lift to get a funner start to a day of cross-country skiing, without needing to worry about the upper section being dangerous if true hardpack (especially cold early in the morning).

During my rides up the lift I saw two separate pairs of teenagers release from the Teleski des Gentianes lift well below before the top (possible because it's a draglift), and bear off to climber's right (North side). The first piste to the north is the alpine blue with rather steep low section. But if continue traversing farther N, presumable would hit one of the nordic / cross-country "ski de fond" pistes (below their top very-steep section) -- if release from the draglift in the correct place.

Not yet sure where that is, but I'll guess near the "table d'orientation" might work. Also not sure how to recognize that while riding up the Gentianes draglift.

Funny thing is that the bottom of the Gentianes lift is not easily reached from any of the named cross-country ski pistes or routes. The easy way is go on gentle south about 300 meters (groomed) from the Col des Saisies entry outside the "Domaine Nordique" cross-country ski domain.

The (rather steep + curvy) "descente technique" variant finish of the cross-country "Endurance" / "Raphael Poiree" loop is actually a more interesting + fun downhill than the steep low finish of the alpine blue piste (just N of the Gentianes lift) -- then after going down that on my light skinny skis, it seemed obvious to want to go to the bottom of the lift, but there's groomed connection. So that's where I cut across off-piste.
. . . (I guess the management thinks that if they make the connection obvious, many alpine skiers/snowboarders would use the nordic "descent technique")

Ken
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Quote:

So for me the next puzzle is how Sharon could use that lift to get a funner start to a day of cross-country skiing, without needing to worry about the upper section being dangerous if true hardpack

There was, in years past, a "dropping off" point for Nordique skiers, part way up the Gentianes lift but you're now not supposed to get off before the top. People do still "lacher" at the old spot, though unhelpfully that's now not marked. You could try that. You have to hike swiftly across the piste to the right of the lift (Rhodedendrons I think) so that might be why that's no longer possible - it's a very unbusy piste though sometimes used for kids' gates. There's a picnic table in the vicinity - landmark. There was, some years ago, a rather quaint sign welcoming "Messieurs les fondeurs" at the debarkation point. It was made more gender-neutral for a bit then the whole thing changed. Later still the Gentianes lift was extended - and a new short blue linking piste down to the bottom of the Ecureil piste was created. Nothing stays the same for long.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Les Saisies as alpine-downhill domain?
Any hints how Sharon and I could enjoy it on a Powder day with purchase of a lift ticket?

the Bisanne sector (adjoining the cross-country network) has lots of inviting space between the pistes, which could be fun for us for several runs. Likely then we'd want something steeper.

Purchase a full "Espace Diamant" ski pass for maximum flexibility?
. . . (we're already well acquanted with the off-piste options from the Hauteluce lifts,
. . . . so looking rather for something more + different from Les Saisies).
Worth going to the Crest-Voland sector?

Thanks for stories + ideas,

Ken
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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!
pam w wrote:
There was, in years past, a "dropping off" point for Nordique skiers, part way up the Gentianes lift but you're now not supposed to get off before the top. People do still "lacher" at the old spot, though unhelpfully that's now not marked . . .

Thanks much for those ideas -- and the colorful history.
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Tomorrow Monday seems like more snow coming, and one of my besetting flaws is that I do not usually enjoy making downhill turns in bad visibility. So I'm thinking to postpone my powder skiing to Tuesday, hoping for more sunlight (and deeper snow).

Cross-country "ski de fond" is what I'm thinking for Monday, and someplace which might get some sort of overnight re-freeze, because I love to skate, which is much less fun when the snow starts out mushy, and gets even slower later. My best guess for that is an early start at
Bessans
which I'm also liking because the scenery is more close and intimate (like ancient stone buildings) which still look pretty in reduced light. Arguably the best place in the French Alps for flat / gentle cross-country skiing nordic.

So if anyone might want to meet there around 9h Monday - (or knows another place with a similar offering), by all means get in touch. Or to just get together early afternoon for a drink/snack in some town in the Haute Maurienne (Modane or E above it) on my way driving back down (since I'll be well-tired-done skating at Bessans before 12h).

Tho if some afternoon sunshine emerges around there, might be interested to do some lift-assisted downhill skiing in the afternoon at one of the H M stations.

. . . (Tuesday guessing I'll go for dryer deeper snow at higher altitude by using the lifts at one of the Savoie mega-complexes).

Ken
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
you've got an interesting life Ken. have you took a year out from reality or is that your reality?
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