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Les Deux Alpes | An Easiski Experience | My Trip Report

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Some background for the trip:


Me and (occasional poster) Heulwen_Haf (that's us in the picture above, me on the right) decided that the time had come for some more lessons. After having had ESF lessons on our first two ski holidays, we had gone maverick on our next 4 ski trips and "taught ourselves". Last year, we went to St Anton and got shown up pretty quickly on the itinerary runs. We realised our skiing had hit a plateau and that blindly chucking ourselves down anything that looked fun was a recipe for disaster. So... we decided on more lessons.

Off we went to Les Deux Alpes for a week with Charlotte Swift (Easiski). It was the first time I hadn't actually chosen my ski resort (something that normally takes me weeks of research was this time dictated by where my chosen instructor happened to be based!).

Anyway, here is my (long overdue) trip report (I sort of nicked the standard format from Review A-Z as it helped give me a nudge about what to include!).

Resort : Les Deux Alpes (with a day in La Grave Very Happy )
Country : France
Date : 16th - 23rd January 2010

Accommodation : Neilson's Chalet Charteuse. Link To Chalet

Holiday Costs : Holiday Package (Flights, transfers, ski carriage and accommodation) - £500. Plus other usual ski costs (lift pass, lessons, apres drinks, mountain hot chocolates etc).

The Chalet : Very good. Typcial day - Eggs Benedict and fruit smoothie for breakfast, Mulled wine and cakes for Afternoon Tea, Hot Tub for a quick relax, 5 course Dinner and unlimited wine.

The Resort :

Les Deux Alpes (panoramic resort shot above) appears to be a bit of a Marmite place - people seem to either love it or hate it. I was unsure which camp I would fall into, but needn't have worried - just like with Marmite, I'm definitely in the “love it” camp. I thought the town itself was perfectly pleasant. It's bigger than most places I have stayed for skiing, but I quite liked this. It's a real place - not a purpose built ski resort. I didn't find it too busy and enjoyed my walks through the town every evening for my apres ski drinks in the Lutins bar! The buildings are all sympathetically built (I didn't see any Flaine style concrete monstrosities) and the whole town had a nice, friendly feel about it.

The Skiing :

I was impressed by the skiing available in LDA. We were pretty lucky with the weather (5 blue sky days) and the snow was in good condition (it snowed quite a bit the day we arrived and the snow held well all week). The pistes were impeccably pisted all week, the lifts are pretty modern and quick and I didn't find the queues to be a problem. In fact, once you are up the mountain, queues were pretty none existent. Apart from the T bar on the glacier - which can’t be avoided - I didn't use a single drag lift all week Smile. There is something for everyone here, from beginners right through to people who want more of a challenge. People like my friend Gill who just want to tick off pistes all week and never ski the same one twice might not be too happy, but for everybody else Les Deux Alpes would make for a fantastic trip (your lift pass also covers a day each in La Grave (if the link is open), Serre Chevalier and Alpe D'Huez, so if you are like Gill, there are other places you can visit if you want to). Many of the pistes were really quiet (see pics above and below) - nowhere seemed really busy and some of the pistes were almost completely empty. Bliss.


The Lessons : I started the week with 6 weeks of skiing experience. I think i would have described my skiing ability as "will try and get down anything, but style and technique are pretty much non-existent, specially on steep or bumpy stuff". I was starting to get itchy feet on the pistes and wanted to start to head off piste (it was either this, or learn to snowboard wink), but i also wanted to improve my on piste technique (which i understood is crucial once you start heading into the deep and fluffy stuff). I did a stack of research (on here and on the interweb) and Charlotte seemed perfect for what i wanted, and will tailor her groups to your requirements.

The lessons turned out to be exactly what I was after. Charlotte matched us with Andy, who turned out to be a good company and a good addition to our group. She is very keen on getting your basic technique right (as this is obviously the root of all things good and bad), so some of our lesson time was spent on the piste practising (not so) simple skills and drills (e.g. Braquage, One Legged Turns, Falling Leaf, Short Radius Turns etc). I'd never done most of these before, so struggled with some of them (especially rolling the skis from edge to edge - I'm pretty sure that even if i practice this every day until i am 90, I still won't be able to do it!). However, most of them improved as the week wore on and i even found myself having a go at them in the afternoons after lessons had finished.

The rest of lesson time was mostly spent off piste: working on how to spot good off piste snow, how to turn in it, how to handle it when it gets bumpy, and how to "stop and turn, stop and turn". Last year, I went down tricky or narrow stuff on my backside or by side slipping or by falling on my face - none of that any more.

I liked Charlotte's approach to teaching - she watches you intently and tells it exactly like it is. In larger groups, you can easily get away with doing things wrong sometimes and even huge mistakes might not get noticed. Even when they do see you getting it wrong, they don't always say anything and seem to pander to their clients a bit. There was none of this. Charlotte seemed to spot even little mistakes; a leg out of place, or a bum slightly too low. If you mucked it up, she would tell you. I got far more out of this method of teaching than i did from my esf courses.

We had a few video sessions as well, where we would be recorded performing an exercise or turns and watch it later in the pub with a beer. These were nowhere near as bad as i thought they would be, and were actually pretty beneficial.

The Pistes / Off Pistes

Les Deux Alpes is a classic example of why piste gradings are not something you should rely on 100% as they are different in every resort. There are a couple of challenging blues (that would be red in most other places) and at least one red that is most definitely black (especially at the top). That said, there is still plenty for everyone - beginners and advanced skiers should all be fine here. Some of the runs are stunning (e.g. Gours - a long blue that has some flat sections Sad but is also amazingly beautiful and quiet and well worth it) and the blacks are enjoyably challenging (e.g. Diable and Sapins).
The off piste was fantastic (see above for one of our routes) and there seemed to plenty of options - I don't really know the names of most of the places we skied, but could have a crack at pointing them out on a piste map if i had to! It didn't really snow while I was there, so there wasn't really any powder, but the off piste snow seemed to have held well and in some places it was lovely to ski. La Grave aside, the most memorable for me (for various reasons) were the "Hidden Valley" run (which i think runs from the Serre Pallas piste under the lift and down to Gours- see pic below), the "Grande Ponte" descent back to town (not sure if i have spelt that right, but I think it's basically a route back to town between Valentin and Sapin), and the route off to the left from Le Diable that takes you through some trees, round the back of some more trees and then down to join Diable at the end.


La Grave :

Oh my god. That's probably all i need to say about La Grave (pic above is of the La Grave cable cars). I've been obsessed with La Grave since i read about it years ago in my copy of Where To Ski And Snowboard 2006. Even when i was nowhere near good enough to ski it, I knew that one day i would have to try it. As soon as I booked the trip to LDA, I was hoping and praying that a) the snow would be good enough to ski La Grave and b) that i would be good enough to ski La Grave and c) that Charlotte would have the time and the inclination to take us to ski La Grave. Unfortunately, the link between Les Deux Alpes and La Grave was shut, but Charlotte took us anyway (by road!) - for this I shall be eternally grateful. It was marvelous - stunningly beautiful, incredibly quiet and fantastic to ski. I think we took the easiest route down (even stopping for a picnic, where i learnt the super handy skill of making ski chairs - picture evidence below!), but the place is vast with plenty of options left to choose from for my next visit.


Chalet Mounier - Le P't1t Polyte : For the chalet staff night out, I went here for my dinner – Restaurant . It has a Michelin star (regained in 2009). Food is my hobby and if i happen to be somewhere that has a top restaurant, I always try and fit it in to my stay. This one was excellent and was good value for somewhere of this standard. Excellent food, well worth it.

The People : Having never been on a bash, I haven't really met that many Snowheads before - and this holiday doubled my tally in one go! We shared lessons with andytb, got taken all over the shop by paulmck on a fantastic afternoon tour of some of his favourite LDA off-piste hot spots and saw pollyperks in the Lutins bar most evenings. Not forgetting easiski. Everyone was lovely and made the holiday even better than it would have been anyway. Thank You.

Conclusion :

I always enjoy my skiing hols (see happy smiley pic above) and have never had a bad one, but this one is definitely among my top trips. I liked everything about it and had a fantastic time - but more than that, I genuinely feel that I am a better skier (both on and off the piste). I have historically been a bit of a "have a go" idiot and have done damage to myself on a number of occasions by attempting things that I didn't have the ability to attempt. I think that not only has my ability increased, but so has my awareness of how difficult/safe things probably are and whether I should be trying them in the first place. I liked and would recommend everything about this trip - the resort, the chalet, the lessons, everything. I'm off to Mayrhofen next month and am looking forward to putting my new found skills into practice.

PS: Selina (Heulwen_Haf) would like to thank Charlotte and Andy for putting up with her hissy fits and her mini tantrum in La Grave when she was making a right meal of some bumps.
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magic_hat, well done, better late than never! Great report and pictures. That picnic looks chilly! snowHead
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Cheers pam w.

I've read it back and it all seems a bit licky (this is great, that is great etc etc) - I almost feel like I should force myself to think of a few not so good things, just to balance it out a bit!

And yes, it was pretty nippy at the picnic and i hadn't got my flask with me!
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Excellent report.

Quote:
I liked Charlotte's approach to teaching - she watches you intently and tells it exactly like it is


You can say that again. And watch it when you are not having lessons and think you are off the hook. That woman has eyes all over the mountain - and you are likely to get a sharply-shouted 'watch the shoulder' (or whatever) from any overhead lift, at any time. Does you good Madeye-Smiley

I can feel another LDA trip coming on.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
magic_hat, great trip report. Very Happy And that's exactly how I felt about La Grave - I'm so glad I skied it with Charlotte because she gives you the confidence to just ski. Sounds like you had a fantastic time, and it's good to see the old Burning Luvs being used as a deckchair again! Very Happy
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One of the best reports I have ever read! So pleased you enjoyed L2A so much and was good to meet up with your group in Lutins most evenings. - my regards to all. I look forward to the same kind of week (same course name anyway) with Easiski in march. Very Happy
Perhaps we'll see you again in L2A another year?
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magic_hat, Brilliant report!! Cant wait to get out there in March with Pollyperks, can feel the thigh burn coming on already Shocked Very Happy
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
magic_hat, nice one. I love La Grave, one of my favourite places in the world.
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magic_hat, 'licky' - great word Laughing

Which is the 'red that is black' ? Something down to La Fee?
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red 27, I'd guess whichever is the red out of Fioc/Anemone. The red is the steeper of the two with the other being black.
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Swirly, can't place it... I need to refresh my memory with a quick look at the piste map
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red 27, on the Pied Moutet side, they drop off the ridge from near the top of the old Bons chair.
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red 27, I suspect she meant l'envers du Signal, but Anemone is deffo steeper than black fioc next door - tried to capture it in today's photo, but you can't tell, although clear as anything 'live'.

Magic Hat Great report, well worth waiting for! it would be a shame if you had to find something you didn't like on purpose!! Glad you enjoyed yourslef, and hopefully Mayerhofen will also be good. (+India)
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easiski, oh yeah the top pitch on that is pretty steep for a red. Classic case of taking the average gradient I think.
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I like that about France, the little catch you out if you're daydreaming black bits on an otherwise red run, likewise the reddy blues.
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glad you enjoyed Les Deux Alpes...................great place I think but maybe i'm slightly biased!!! Very Happy
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Swirly, Exactly

alexchapman, Are we biased or just truthful? wink wink wink
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magic_hat,

Super trip report - sounds like you had a great week. And if you feel more capable now than before that's a huge plus IMV.
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achilles, Definitely does you good! It made for a refreshing change - if I do something wrong, i want to be told it was wrong!

RachelQ, I did have a fantastic time and the did a fine job (both skiing and chairmaking). They need some tlc before the next trip though as there were a couple of incidents with stones!

Pollyperks, I'm sure you and fragy will have a fantastic time in March, and yes, I will return to LDA at some point. Probably in a couple of years for some more lessons!

Swirly & red 27, the actual one i had in mind when i wrote that was the one that Charlotte mentioned - l'envers du Signal. The very top bit is incredibly steep for a red. I saw quite a few people get caught out by the steepness - in fact, we saw 2 boarders fall almost instantly and then abandon it completely, choosing to shuffle down on their bums instead!

alexchapman & easiski, Both - biased and truthful!
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Red Leon, Yes - exactly. I'm hoping/expecting to really reap the benefits of it on my next trip - then i should really see just how I have improved.
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Quote:

I saw quite a few people get caught out by the steepness - in fact, we saw 2 boarders fall almost instantly and then abandon it completely, choosing to shuffle down on their bums instead!



Yeah, I always thought there was a risk of someone taking you our from above, especially as it tends to get scraped by people who are a bit scared so if you fell you'd probably go to the bottom. I used to wait for a gap and do it as fast as possible (not hard on that gradient).

Quote:

I will return to LDA at some point


Go away, improve, come back and all this can be yours! I'd recommend the Col de Lauze route, pretty sure it's not glaciated (looking at the photos we didn't have glacier gear) so can be done with an instructior rather than a guide and ignore the 37 degree bit, it's no steeper than an normal black at the top and very mellow below (also all the stuff about couloirs etc on the route, there are none if you follow the easiest, most obvious (and it is really really obvious) line). Begging to explore off piste was the most exciting time for me, only thing is you want to explore further and further Laughing
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magic_hat, oh yes - I remember. Quite a short steep pitch - best to bomb str8 down it I thought, plenty of room to take off some speed as the piste curves round to the left lower down. There was a black run up on the right as you look up to the mountain that had a steep section too - not one of the home runs - it had an old slow chair trundling above it which was a good place to watch various people making a ski-less face-down descent to the lovely restaurant at the bottom. Was that Diable?
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red 27, super diable, diable is the black below the restaurant going down to town under the red eggs.
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Swirly, ah yes, saw some huge falls there last xmas including one Dutch geezer who attempted the run racing-snowplough stylee, had a huge off and snapped his ski. There were a lot of skiers in L2A whose attitude could be described as 'fearless' Shocked
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I hope it's not just me that noticed irony in the fact all the 'super' chairs are patently not so.
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red 27, andytb, the SuperDiable chair is relatively new - you should have seen the old one! It's not detachable though, but TBH with the use it gets it doesn't need to be. Very good lunchtime entertainment from the terrace of the restaurant. Very Happy
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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.
magic_hat,

Hi

I am hoping you can help me out I am new to the website and I have booked a catered chalet in les deux alpes(Chalet L'icheve) for February 2012 and would be interested in any tips and advice you may have. We are beginners trying out the catered chalet rather than a
hotel as we thought it would be a great experience but I have not been able to find any reviews about it anywhere Very Happy

This is our first ski holiday so anything you can tell us would be appreciated
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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
Appletot, this thread is over a year old so you may not get the info you want. you could start a new thread, also do a search adn you should find loads of info
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You know it makes sense.
holidayloverxx,

Hi

Please can you help me out and point me in the right direction as I am new to the site - I did post something in the Resorts and Reviews forum but have had no replys with any info so I am not sure if I have put my request in the best place or even if I did it corrrectly Puzzled
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Appletot, hi, & welcome to Snowheads. It can be a bit quiet at this time of year, so that's probably the reason why you havn't had any replies so far.

I'm afraid I can't give you any specific information about your chalet, but I had a look at it online, & it really does look pretty nice, so I don't think you need to worry Smile Les Deux Alpes is a great resort for beginners - well, it's a great resort in general, IMO (we love it) but it's fairly unusual in that it has beginner slopes up on the glacier as well as at resort level and just above, so you'll be able to ski (& see) quite a lot of the area.

Catered chalets are lovely, in my experience Very Happy We've stayed in many, & we're in still in touch with lots of friends that we made there. After all, you're all there in pursuit of a common interest, so it's not hard to strike up conversation! And we've never met the 'guests-from-hell' (although it could be us, of course... statistically speaking, it's possible Toofy Grin ).

I'm sure you'll have a great time snowHead
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Appletot, I see you have a reply now on your other thread. As Jo225 says, it;s a bit quiet at the mo'
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Thanks so much for your reply I am so excited to get there and get started. Hopefully this will be the first of many ski holidays Very Happy
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Appletot, hopefully so, indeed! A very rewarding bug to be bitten by snowHead
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