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The view from............ Val d'Isere and the Espace Killy

 Poster: A snowHead
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Can only mean the tunnel opening again. It's quite a short lift. Perhaps because of problems keeping the up and over operational in increasingly (?) strong winds ? It would be a one way trip however.
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Back in the fold

After getting back to Val later last night and getting myself sorted it was back awake this morning at first light and it was a beautiful morning once again. Since I have been away there has been a load more snow on Saturday night followed by Spring conditions and warmer temps with blue skies!

So I made my way to the meeting point and met my am lesson, a couple in their 40's who have never been to Val but pretty solid skiers. Anyway we worked our way up the Solaise and ultimately over to the Fornet and Val glacier working on some technique and it was a jolly good morning all in all! Working on some fundamentals and building things up from there it was a successful morning.

After dropping the clients off for lunch at the Signal restaurant I jumped in the bus back into town and met Clare for lunch at Tartine.

The afternoon I was back with the lady I have been teaching once a week on and off over much of the season and bearing in mind she only stared skiing at the start of the season she is doing so well. The plan was to work on moguls this afternoon but to try and find some nicer firmer snow so we headed up the Grand Motte and it was perfect up there.

All in all a really nice afternoon!

What I was surprised about today (and I am reliably told all this week) is that there seem to be hardly anyone around - there are no lift queus or anything - however that will change next week I am sure. Bearing in mind there are some school holidays on it is surprisingly quiet!

The weather is most likely to stay sunny and warm for a few more days yet a while although we might get a little cloud in the next couple of days but I dont think too much! The snow continues to be really good and if you work the slopes you get some excellent conditions but off piste is very much Spring snow still!

One piece of local news today was that the Fontaine Froid lift broke down this morning and whilst they borrowed the part from the Laisenant Express chair it in itself should be sorted by tomorrow too! And talking of lifties Paul who works on the Grand Pre lift and has been a liftie here for 40 years finally retired today at the age of 62 - good on him!

The traffic forecast for this weekend is actually not too bad - 22000 cars are forecast to come up the valley which is actually not too bad at all but as usual I suggest arriving nice and early or later in the day to avoid jams and the same for when it comes to leaving!


Lovely views atop the Grand Motte


Look carefully and you will see the final day of avalanche dog training going on near the Datcha lift!

Todays periscope:
https://www.periscope.tv/SteveAngusSnow/1yoKMeaOnjXKQ?autoplay&t=2

I think that is all for now.

TTFN
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
A day of 2 halves

After lacking in a freeze last night it was always going to be soft low down very early on. Anyway after dropping Olivia at creche I headed to the meeting point and I met a bright and bubbly 20 year old girl. She was on the last day of a weeks ski holiday (her first ski holiday) and had had a lesson each day of the week but due to availability she had had a few TDC coaches and today it was on me. That is cool as it is nice to see how far colleagues have progressed her... after a couple of warm up runs we did some technique on the Madelaine before heading towards the Glacier Express to develop things more.... she did really well and for her first week I was most impressed.

We finished with a little trip down to the Datcha lift and despite a couple of people skiing way too far and too close to her and almost upsetting the apple cart she did very well indeed!

There was no lunch break today as I was in charge of organising a mega heli trip and we wanted to get the best of the snow and weather and get going nice and early rather than wait until 1pm. Anyway there was 4 rotations of the chopper booked and the vagarities and 'flakeynees' sometimes of seasonnaires (whom this was aimed at) means that some seasonnaires were ill or dropped out (it is always a little bit of a pain in the butt organising these things sometimes). So we ended up with 13 of them but decided we could still run 4 rotations.

After sorting everything out and collecting monies etc it was off. When we got to the top of the hike from Tommeuse it became apparent that one of the seasonnaires skis was badly damaged (well broken really) as the binding was coming off. Anyway a plan 'b' meant that a colleague brought a spare ski to the flats before the hike to the point of no return above the Lac du Chevril - then he could jump in the chopper too having carried the broken ski down too.

Alls well that ends well and ultimately we got to the pick up point and the heli pick ups went really well although there was a stiff breeze at altitude which meant it was a little choppy the flight! A nice afternoon too!

I then quickly changed at home before Clare and I went for a drink with Kelly and Andy at Fall Line... nice to catch up with you guys!

Clare has gone out for dinner with some friends this evening which has left me i c Olivia and bed time etc so I was rather late doing my Periscope this evening - woops!

https://www.periscope.tv/SteveAngusSnow/1YqGoWQQAgZGv?autoplay&t=1

I think that is all for now - a busy one on the roads tomorrow before school holidays really kick in this coming week!


Wonderful views before we head down to the Lac du Chevril



TTFN
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The weather is coming back in again

It was a strange start to the day as I woke to the sound of Olivia making some fuss from her bedroom but also Clare out of the bed and saying goodbye to her friend.... I had forgotten that she was leaving first thing. So after a rushed and half asleep goodbye and Olivia settled down once again it was back to sleep again for a further hour!

When I got up for real I could see that the temperatures outside overnight had not dropped below zero and now we are into April (happy April fools day!) that becomes the norm more often than not down at resort level and that in turn means that the snow doesnt freeze so is soft from the outset and only gets softer and softer! Also there was a pesky breeze and clouds around and especially along the Italian border.

So off I went to meet the clients at the bottom of the Savonnettes nursery slope. No one can ever say that this job is the same day in day out - yes there is some repition and it is a varied in many respects but there are days when it is glamorous and day when it is less so.... yesterday afternoon I was running heli skiing trips and this morning I was teaching beginner children. Yes the school holidays really are here in abundance and my colleague Lina and I met at the Savonnettes to meet clients neither of us had taught before. It ended up being some team teaching going on to give the kids maximum ski time and they were 4 siblings... the oldest had done a weeks skiing last year but the 6 year old and twin 4 years olds had never skied before. First thing in the mornings it is rather firm out there (depiste the lack of freeze it had hardened up a little due to the moisture in the windy air last night) but they did very well. Little by little and despite missing their mum (one of the 4 year olds) they came on nicely. The demolished lots of treats at the break time too! All in all it was a successful morning!

Clare took Olivia skiing this morning and she is getting seriously good now... making turns and all sorts (more often than not with the help of an edgey wedgey but still for a 'not quite 3 yet' its pretty good) on the magic carpet run atop the Solaise! Anyway she was obviously rather knackered by the time she had finished as she ended up (I met them at the end of my lesson) falling asleep on the bus on the way home!

The afternoon was a rather relaxed affair; Olivia had a friend over and then another friend of Clares popped around for a cuppa.

So that pretty much brings you up to date.

The weather has continued to build all afternoon and the breeze has continued and brought thicker and thicker clouds with it. The forecast is still for a little snow overnight tonight and into tomorrow but we shall see to what altitude it falls as snow and what altitude it is as rain!

Of course we have now moved into school holidays and there will be lots of kids around but on the roads today it was apparently not as busy as forecast so im not sure why that was but there you go. With only a few weeks left of the season now there are a few last minute deals around and remember that the season here last into May so a month until the lifts close!



https://www.pscp.tv/SteveAngusSnow/1PlKQZNqzVNGE?autoplay&t=14

Back on the slopes tomorrow morning teaching so lets hope the weather is not too bad!

AND FINALLY BEFORE I GO.... just a little annoucement..... Clare is pregnant.... expecting the beginning of October.... we are both very excited.... so the last few weeks Clare has been suffering somewhat from morning sickness but is now feeling much better! Next season it looks like Clare will not be teaching full time (CERTAINLY NOT UNTIL WELL INTO THE NEW YEAR ANYWAY) and it will be a busy time for us but exciting times lie ahead. Hopefully by Feb / March time she might be feeling a little more like it but we shall see. However needless to say Olivia is rather excited!

TTFN
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Congratulations to you both!! My sister, Sophie (aka skikitten) and I have been conjecturing for a while now. Exciting times indeed.
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@Steve Angus, Congratulations to all three of you! Very Happy
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Well done Steve, many congrats!
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Congratulations to you all
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Congratulations, you clearly don't like sleep.
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Great news Steve and Clare.

And fresh snow this morning
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Congratulations Steve and Clare Very Happy
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Congratulations Steve and Clare (and Olivia, of course).
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Warm Congratulations to the Angus family.
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You know it makes sense.
...of course, congrats to Olivia too...though by sound of it she may be skiing so much next winter she may not be home much! Very Happy
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Back home now doing boring stuff and already missing the mountains.

Steve, great to catch up with the three of you on Friday afternoon and hear the exciting news. Kellie is already predicting a boy rolling eyes Very Happy
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Blizzard

Thanks everyone for your kind words to us all.... exciting times ahead indeed!

Well this morning we woke up to fat and massive snowflakes falling at a rate of knots from the sky and it must have been going for some time as there was already about 20cm in town. There also seemed a stiff wind (that never really materialized at altitude thank goodness) blowing.

I headed down to La Daille to meet my morning lesson (family members of a SH) and bumped into them at the bottom of the funi. As is often the case at the weekends Radio Val and my 'sources' are not as good at getting the info out there as they do on weekdays so it was a little tricky trying to get updates on what was likely to open and when and what we should expect up top.... however as it worked out things were nowhere near as bad up top as they could have been and I have certainly skied in MUCH worse that is for sure.

Anyway we headed off down the Verte and the vis was OK (just OK) but you had to stay on a fairly narrow strip that had been recently pisted otherwise you were in pretty deep, heavy snow. However the boys did well and we did some laps on the Verte before having a break and then doing a lap out to the Grand Pre area.... little legs certainly got tired and the last lap back down the Verte (by now the pistes were pretty lumpy and bumpy and not being able to see too well made it all the harder) was tougher and slower than planned but we got there.

The 3rd hour of the morning the temperatures were a little higher which meant the snow that was falling was rather wet so I was happy to get home to lunch and some warmth and for once I was glad that nothing got booked in for the afternoon!

The afternoon I had some chilled time with Olivia (who seemed very tired today) and we had a VERY VERY VERY rare doze together on the sofa for an hour or so. Clare had popped out to have coffee with a friend and Olivia and I watched a cartoon movie on tv together and it was a rather relaxing afternoon.

The day was finished off perfectly as I cooked Clare and I a nice steak and chips for dinner!


The OK Orange looked nice and powdery (when you could see!)


A Winter wonderland returns!

I did my Periscope from by the ice rink for a change this evening too:

https://www.pscp.tv/SteveAngusSnow/1OwxWPLkeaMKQ?autoplay&t=3

In local news the continued analysis by an independant company that is monitoring booking levels in the resort this year published their final report of the season and amongst other interesting things they note:

*The resort thinks visitor numbers (staying the night in resort) is up 4.3% on last season which is promising.
*The direct sell market (from how I understand it e.g. AirBnb etc) is DOWN -1.2%
*5 star hotel bookings are UP 18.2% which is incredible!

Hmm interesting reading.... anyway the week to week percentage occupancy of the resort as a whole (and therefore a direct indicator of how busy the resort is likely to be on the slopes for the purpose of lift queues etc etc etc etc) is revealed in the following graph!



So tomorrow marks the start of another week and apart from next Sunday I think I am working every single day now right through until the 22nd April eeeeek.... better go get some sleep.

TTFN
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Steve, can you please recommend a shop in Val or Tignes that sells quality knee braces.
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those occupancy levels are interesting. Going to be lovely and quiet when we are there.
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Lovely to hear your news of a new arrival @Steve.

Our weekend was superb and finishing by playing in the powder was a great treat. We kept doing the field below the Folie, thinking 'on this loop, it's going to be tracked out'. It never was. Playing in and out of the trees on the way day was an added bonus. A great afternoon.

Back at Easter and can't wait.
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@Steve Angus, @bar shaker, I'm not going to get the chance to service my skis myself before I come out on Sunday. Any recommendations for a place that you would trust?
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@RichClark, Snowberry at the Rond Point ... you can leave them with the guys at the shop on Sunday and pick them up on Monday AM. I'd book them in if I were you.
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@RichClark, if you are in the middle of town, Snowberry would be my choice.

I use the guys at Skimium (below my appt in La Daille). They are also good.
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@franga, @bar shaker, Thanks. I'm staying at Chalet Hotel Ducs de Savoie w. Esprit. I haven;t had a chance to look at maps yet, so not sure where the chalet is in relation to anything else yet.
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RichClark wrote:
@franga, @bar shaker, Thanks. I'm staying at Chalet Hotel Ducs de Savoie w. Esprit. I haven;t had a chance to look at maps yet, so not sure where the chalet is in relation to anything else yet.


Your hotel is in Le Cret so both places are a bus ride away.

Big tip - If heading to Rond Point in the morning, the prime time buses can arrive at Le Cret full of people from La Daille. It's often best to get on a bus and go the wrong way. It only adds 4-5 mins to the trip to Rond Point, as they loop round at La Daille before heading back in. You should be OK if not going until after Easter.
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bar shaker, RichClark, franga[b] - think you have tied that up nicely.
[b]Elliot S
- now that is an interesting question.... are you talking about really good ones that cost hundreds and hundreds of euros.... in which case I cant think of one I dont think.... to be honest i'd look online for something like that as its not necessarily skiing specific... sorry cant be more helpful!
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bar shaker wrote:
RichClark wrote:
@franga, @bar shaker, Thanks. I'm staying at Chalet Hotel Ducs de Savoie w. Esprit. I haven;t had a chance to look at maps yet, so not sure where the chalet is in relation to anything else yet.


Your hotel is in Le Cret so both places are a bus ride away.

Big tip - If heading to Rond Point in the morning, the prime time buses can arrive at Le Cret full of people from La Daille. It's often best to get on a bus and go the wrong way. It only adds 4-5 mins to the trip to Rond Point, as they loop round at La Daille before heading back in. You should be OK if not going until after Easter.


Thanks - how long is the walk? Trying to get a sense for the map i just found?

Cheers
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Many congrats on your wonderful news Steve!! Best wishes to you, Claire and Olivia.

ps - I predict a boy Wink


A colleague of mine is in Tignes this week, staying in Les Brev with friends. I'm SUPER jealous.
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Glorious

The first hour or so this morning felt more like Feb HT than Easter hols... the temps were quite low (below zero) the powder was waiting and sun shining but lots and lots and lots of (kids galore) people ready to eat it up.

I was at the meeting point for the start of the last chaotic run of the season, the Easter hols and boy it was busy! It was nice to see the two families and their kids that I teach at Easter each year. Despite the usual slightly chaotic start in situations like this we were off. Being the first morning I decided to play it safe and head up Solaise.... this worked well (although took the kids ages to get enough snow off the bottom of their boots before they could actually get their skis on!) apart from the fact that the up and over lift was not open for the first hour so everyone was rather penned in and of course Cugnai did not open either.... in fact it did not open all day in the end!

The snow was amazing up there it really was. The sun was shining brightly and it was a very pleasant morning.


Slightly wind affected but darn nice powder up there



Drinks were taken at the Ouillette and it is such a nice place to hang out for a bit of chill out time when the sun is shining.... and of course the food served there is very different to that served elsewhere on the mountain - it is all food from the award winning Chevallot bakery in town... prices (for eating up the mountain) are not too bad at all I dont think.



The afternoon was spent with a enthusiastic young chap and his father who ski with a colleague of mine regularly but said colleague was already booked up when they came to book their lessons for this trip! Anyway he is SO keen on skiing and determined to be a ski instructor himself when he is old enough! We worked on some technique and in the afternoon as the snow was softer it was moguls as the topic although he loved a couple of my tricks I like to throw in to lessons like this. More of the same tomorrow!

I picked Olivia up from creche and the rest of the evening was the normal run of things!

I think that pretty much brings you all up to date for now.

https://www.pscp.tv/SteveAngusSnow/1yoJMeAvEkoJQ?autoplay&t=1
My periscope for the day and as I mentioned in the broadcast today the PGHM were in town and as far as I can workout it was because someone got themselves stuck having taken a wrong turn on the way down Pisteurs Couloir and needed rescuing as they could not climb back out from there they were perched up high above cliffs.... I think that was the story anyway!

Finally I meant to share this photo yesterday..... one of the advantages of being a kid growing up here is you get exposed to lots of cool things such as a day with the pisteurs where you learn about lots of cool things they do - including probe line searches like this.



TTFN
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It was a great day (especially after yesterday)
The area did seem a lot busier than usual for this time of year and we have been coming roughly the same 2 weeks for the past 12 years.
Thanks for the reminder in a previous update about the "Train Jaune". We are staying near the school it has proved useful a few times.
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@RichClark, used to take us about 7 or 8 mins to Solaise chair from that Esprit hotel. That was slightly uphill with ski gear and with a 10 year old. It is quite central, but some may prefer bus.
There's more than one Duc de Savoie hotel in Val D I think.
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@Steve Angus, which run / lift is the Ouillette by?
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@NickyJ, bottom of the Madeleine Express chairlift in the Solaise sector.


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Tue 4-04-17 14:38; edited 1 time in total
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@moosepig, thanks so much.
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Better weather than anticipated

It was better weather by far (especially in the morning) than predicated which is nice (by this time of the year a bad weather day is a real slog for everyone and the body!).

I met my boys (only two of them this morning as one had conjunctivitis (apparently) and the other (girl) had a sore head or something) and we decided to have a maximum mileage sort of morning.... heading towards Tignes. I was pleased with myself as we managed to avoid pretty much all of the lift queues although they were once again pretty big (this school holiday seems to be busier than anticipated on the hill!)



The piste (Piste Henry) down to Val Claret was a nightmare after a solid refreeze last night and to be honest far too many people skiing and snowboarding just way too fast.... ive said it before and ill say it again but I have no idea why everyone is infatuated by speed. Anyway we got there in one piece.

The lift queue that was problematic but we had to take was the Marmottes lift.... in itself it was not too much of an issue IF the STVI had not decided to set up an EXTRA lift line for the Scara racing (the (unofficial) World Junior Champs we have here in Val each April for 12-15yr old budding racers from around the world). So basically what was happening was that coming in next to the lifties hut was a (wide) lane for the racers to get priority.... this was as well as ski school line and with the tons of little kids about it is certainly needed. As everyone was coming in from the same side it meant that it was 10 lanes into 6 all at the same time and chaos does not cover it. What really annoys me is that the little kids (and any members of regular ski school for that matter) effectively get wedged out. The lift was barely going up at perhaps 60% capacity which meant the queues were huge! Having worked all over the world (and yes some people will say it is better in Val than other resorts) I really despair at both Val d'Isere and the STVI at the lack of any sort of organisation and lack of foresight as to how this annoys people... the attitude is that the race comes first... that might be the case but organise the lift lines better in that case so that everyone gets a go!

The afternoon I was back with the same father son combo as yesterday afternoon and we had another fun afternoon developing (mainly the son) performance and throwing some pretty tough drills out there... there was also a few fun tricks like ollies and nollies thrown in.

One thing I did notice today was the HUGE PIDA heli work they carried out yesterday afternoon... after the sun, wind and snow that had fallen and as I talked about in my periscope yesterday the mountain was ready to come down (where it hadnt already done so).... so the work done last night was pretty impressive to see this afternoon...


That is the Cugnai lift and the whole mountain to the left as you can see came down in one foul swoop!


I still havent been in it but I got closer to it today... the magic numbered '91' VIP cabin on the Solaise!

In other news......

Sad to see the higher court in Paris has rejected the bid to overturn the ban on tour operator ski hosting in France brought by Le Ski... again I dont think banning on ski hosting does anything to benefit anyone... but instead makes the mountain less safe, creates more bad taste between holidaymaker and certain organizations out here and certainly doesnt do the intended benefit to anyone! But there you go. The plan (this ruling was expected) had been to take it up to Brussels for a further ruling but with Brexit I think Le Ski et al are dropping that plan now! So this will mean that ski hosting really will not come back I dont think!

The town have got a step further to getting permission to undertake the 5 years redevelopment plan for the town centre area from the 'first' roundabout where the main bus station is located. I reported on this about a month back with some artists impressions etc but it certainly looks exciting and one of the really impressive things they are planning is an underground magic carpet style lift to take you up to the bottom of the main lifts from the bus station area - not surely the exact details but it sounds interesting!

And finally my periscope from today:

https://www.pscp.tv/SteveAngusSnow/1mnGeVaVBEoJX?autoplay&t=6

TTFN
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@Steve Angus,
Quote:

ive said it before and ill say it again but I have no idea why everyone is infatuated by speed


Glad i'm not the only one who feels this. I started to question maybe I was just a grumpy git. As I'm working through the BASI system I'm constantly working on technique when I get out to the mountains.

Carving - I will only do this on very quiet runs and make sure its safe to do so (being on a board with that blind spot can be a killer)

Short radius turns - Now this is the one where most "speed freaks / bad technique" people get on my nerves. They don't allow people the space to close turns off or even look at the turn shape a controlled rider has to give them the space they require. Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad

Rant over.

Hoping to get out to EK on the 16th.
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Hi Steve, been following this thread all season and really enjoyed your updates. Having booked in August I'll finally be arriving in Tignes (Lavachet) this Sunday with my girlfriend. We are both at different levels so are taking morning group lessons with evo2. She is still very nervous after two unsuccessful holidays and only ventured off the nursery slopes once (our last holiday to Norway xmas 2015 there was virtually no snow and only a couple of very busy icy slopes open). Where would you recommend we venture in the afternoons? She is worried about being hit by an out of control person so I would like to stick to the quietest possible slopes. Are the blue slopes in Tignes a better bet than the greens in bellevarde?
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@stephap,
I am in Tignes and know it well. It is busy and will be busy next week due to Easter.
The nursery slope by the paquis lift will be a good place to start. The palafour area can be very busy so avoid first and last thing.
A quiet area is up the chaudannes and down towards the aiguille rouge lift on the blue.
Do not go low in either resort unless it gets colder. Stodge and will no nothing for her confidence. Download on lifts.
In Val the area around grand Pre is often less busy than other areas.
Staying in Lavachet next week so do not hesitate to seek further help
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@stephap, is your girlfriend comfortable with the steepness of a blue? A big factor in where you can go is whether you can ski there or not. If she's only worried about being hit, and is OK skiing a blue, then the whole Espace Killy is your oyster. If she is freaked by steeps or bumps, then your options are going to be a lot more limited. Snow conditions on the day will be a factor too, so I'd be inclined to discuss it with her instructor when you both finish your first morning's lessons.
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@Mark1863, thank you for the advice. What do you think to the area around Aiguille percee and grand Huit lifts, looks quite nice on youtube vids I've seen whereas rhododendron appears to be a steeper blue in places. Laps of grand pre could be a good start to the week if this is a quieter plac. I would go up and down in toviere, skied val on a uni trip in 2011 so I remember the home runs not being pleasant.
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@moosepig, I will try to encourage her to get advice from the instructor, she will be embarrassed if I ask. It will definitely need to be a gentle start as she has only skied blue once and found it to be traumatic, I didn't enjoy it either. Thankfully I managed to persuade her to give skiing another go and promised that Tignes will be much better... She is still in snowplough so a lot depends on whether she can get parallel to cope with steeper/bumpier. I want her to feel she is able to explore more area and enjoy the beauty of it.
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