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La Norma live report

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Journey down to the tunnel was middling. Was perhaps an hour or so early for crossing but no bumping up as they were full. The busyness was confirmed by the huge queue at Burger King. Strangely the "other" hot food counter had closed at about 9pm. They gave us a free pizza though so that worked out OK! Car briefly frisked on the way in and a minor delay to departure time. Journey was smooth. On the approach we dived into Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to visit the Casino supermarket. We discovered later there was one much more conveniently situated in Modane. So much for my research!! There is also an Intermarche in Forneaux. The usual shop - meat, bit of fresh fruit & veg, lots of cheese, madelaine, biscuits, beer & wine. Then onwards up to La Norma which is not much of a pull up the mountain once you leave the A43.

The place was bathed in sunshine, was bone dry and stinking hot. Very reminiscent of last years trip to Les Coches!! We had some minor shenanigans checking in and getting the keys to the apartment. And there was a request for 500 Euros cash or cheque deposit. The wife had forgotten her Euro cheque book and we only had 250 Euros. They accepted it obviously figuring we weren't going to do much partying being middle aged with two nippers in tow. Can I do a cash free week?

The apartment is much bigger than we normally score for the money. Downstairs one open living/dining/kitchen area, upstairs two bedrooms, toilet and bathroom. It's got a slim balcony hardly worthy of the name but is broadly south facing. Ski locker comprises a lockable "ski rack slot" in another building. Rubbish. I think we'll end up leaving them in the roofbox as it's just as convenient. It is only 300 Euros for the week mind.

Here's a view from the balcony looking at the home slopes..



After several luggage runs and a cup of char it was about 2ish. So we went for a wander. Every shop was selling stuff at huge discounts. I bought a pair of orange shorts for 5 Euros!! We eventually ended up at the lift pass office. After the apartment value for money this was one of the other big attractions. Due in part to a special deal that meant the 6yo got a free pass we payed 265 Euros for 6 days. This compared with 820, maybe more, for 7 days Paradiski in April. Now I know they are not directly comparable. But the theory with the kids the age they are it makes much more sense.

Here's a view back into town centre from the bottom of the home run in between the two main lifts out.


My son the decided to invent snowsledging...


But we then reverted to the more conventional sledging:




Had a bit of a play on the park, which was pretty decent and headed back to the apartment. La Norma is a bit different but I can't quite put my finger on what it is. There are quite a few restaurant options though I doubt we'll be trying any on this trip. Our apartment "complex" is a bit weird because in the middle there is large expanse of decking! Still quite good for playing a bit of footy!

Just as the day was winding down after a wonderful spag bol, there was a high drama as my 6yo son got locked in the bathroom! The handle had jammed in a foreign position and seemed immovable. We had the handle apart, investigated various means of getting it open. We phoned the agency and left a message but it was looking a bit dicey. In the end a Dutch neighbour came round and managed to wrench the handle to open.

Looking at the forecast the next couple of days look a bit grim but there is various smatterings of snow forecast later in the week so things may pick up. Anyway as the photos below show we are delighted to be in here in La Norma, Villarodin-Bourget, France.. more tomorrow...





Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Mon 17-09-18 15:16; edited 1 time in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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No report last night on account it was a long family social evening and it was kip or write a report. Kip won. So, catching up a little bit: There are two ways out of town.. the "Melezet" bubble and the "Repose" chair lift. These service the upper lifts of the two sectors of the ski area, two faces if you will of the same mountain. Yesterday we opted to start by going up the bubble and up the sector under the La Norma peak. Top height here is 2750m reached by two chair lifts - "Carrelet" and "Norma II". From the top there is a fairly innocuous looking black run called "Norma 2" or a red 'track' alternative "Perdrix". They both soon join up to become "Norma 1". Norma 2 is wide, it is a bit steepish.. and on this morning it required some decent edging.. but it is a very doable bit of black. We headed back up Norma II for another run down and then continued down into the red run "Carrelet" which already had a slushy feel to it despite it being only being late morning. We then did the two lifts back up again. This time we took Perdrix down and joined "Piste des Cretes" which again is a track that skirts round the mountain to take you over to the Repose sector which peaks out at 2500m. At the end of Cretes you merge into "Clot", an excellent name for a piste IMO! We passed the entrance to the black run "Arcosses", which was surprisingly closed (more later), and on to "Arlette". This is a long, and very pleasant, red run. At first open, and then through the trees. We then stopped for our picnic lunch at the Plateau de la Repose. Here there is a restaurant, outdoor picnic tables, an indoor picnic hut and toilets. Despite the busyness of the place a pleasant spot. Again there are two chair lifts serving this part of the hill, "Arlette" and "Clot". I can't remember what combination of lifts and runs we did. I do remember that later in the afternoon we took the blue run "Piniers" back across to the Melezet sector. Reason being the red run that runs a tight line close to the Repose chair lift has no snow cannons and so is closed. The only alternative is what I can only assume is a long and tortious green run called "Ste Anne" whose main purpose seems to allow skiers to reach the Chapelle Ste Anne. To say their snow prayers no doubt. The resort run from the Melezet sector is the called "Foret". There is a bit of a jumble of runs coming into it but once on it, it's actually quite a pleasant way home, even in the very slushy conditions currently prevailing. So definitely no need to download in the bubble IMO. It remained sunny and warm all day. After a 10 minute rest we took the short stroll back to the apartment and sank a cold drink each. Mine was a beer inevitably. I'll be honest and say after day one I was a bit luke warm on La Norma.

After a good nights rest, and obviously a little more organised, we were out a little earlier today. Could still have been earlier for me but then it's not a bad idea to let the sun cut in a little. We decided to take Repose out of the town. There is quirky little chair lift or rope tow to connect you to the Arlette chair. We definitely found this sector to hold much better skiing both on piste and off piste, with the latter offering up lots of fun options close to the lifts to mess about with. Avalance risk is 1 at the moment by the way. We did a bit of filming, took a few jumps pictures. We all skied down Arlette once and then headed back up Arlette and Clot chairs. Off piste you can ski left or right of Clot, doubling back as soon as you get off the chair, and it's fun either way. We explored weaving in and out of boulders and finding little ledges and bumps to fly over. If you go down the Clot piste and just keep going straight you end up above what could a be a great powder field. I think there is also potentially to down a couloir, probably from the top of Norma II at the top of the other sector. There were a number of tracks coming in from it. The Clot piste itself is lovely bit of red motorway and in very good condition still. Later in the day we skied down off piste before joining up with closed Arcosses. The run itself had some pretty big moguls further down. There is also a very narrow bit, although it's not difficult to avoid it. It is you might say though your definitive black run and not to be sniffed at. Me and my son found it pleasant enough though, with the moguls having softened and there was one particular spot of the side which was great fun, through some widely sparsed trees. The reason the run was closed was because the exit out at the bottom was a 20 metre strip of mud with no easy alternative. We side slipped about 10 metres down the side where there was a good strip of snow and it was fine after, as you enter into a blue run serviced by the "Granges" drag lifts. Eventually we all made the obligatory cruise across on the Piniers piste to join the Foret home run. After day two on the slopes I have to say I'm a lot more enamoured with this ski area. It's clearly going to have it's limitations. But I am sure we can have more fun with it. There was some cloud about as the day progressed. And the forecast continues to show smatterings of fresh snow over the next couple of days. Unfortunately they are forecasting a slightly bigger dump Saturday night when we'll be long gone. But we'll see. Will get some more piccies up tomorrow.
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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?
glad you are enjoying yourself. I appreciate it may be a bit too easy for you, but further along the ste anne from repose is the 'myrtles' drag lift, which has some lovely tree skiing.

We loved la foret run, and clot (although i cannot find a translation anywhere).

Is the 'espace freeride' still skiable?
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Yesterday was a fairly easy day. We headed up the Repose sector again. It was still pretty sunny for the most part. We did some cruising down the red runs, doing some filming, a few jumps, working on technique a little bit with the older one. We had lunch at the Plateau de Repose. It's hard not to, it's such a good spot. The 6yo who had previously was adamant he didn't want to go up the drag lift (Granges), suddenly decided he would do it by himself while we finished our lunch. He went up twice. We then joined him. There were some young racers practicing slalom on half the piste and we watched them a little. Getting the 6yo especially to look at their technique. Eventually we headed back up top for a run or two and then eventually home via Piniers/Foret. As the day had worn on it had become more cloudy and this morning we awoke to lots of cloud and rain down in the town. We were a bit slow out the blocks. We headed up Repose/Arlette to discover it was quite snowy and misty up top. Indeed the top lift Clot was shut at this point. We headed skied down Arlette a couple of times with a couple of spins up the Granges in between before trying out the Picnic hut, which was excellent. Even had an "avalanche exhibition" inside. When we headed back up Clot was now open. I did a couple of solo off piste runs down the left hand side of the Clot chair and the snow was superb with a few cm's of powder now in place. There's a couple of nice little mini bowls to get a good series of turns in, plus some nice little ridges to get some air and a few rocks an trees to break up the terrain. I then rejoined the wife and kids to ski off the side of the Clot run where again the shallow moguls had been filled over a little with the fresh snow. Wife and daughter then headed home, while me and my son did one last spin down to join Pinier and the way home.

This evening it was raining a lot in the town in it looked very cloudy up top so hopefully there's been more fresh. You really have to get above 2000m to get the decent snow but nevertheless it's brightening the week up. The 6yo's doing some pretty decent parallel skiing mum and dad reckon. And he is certainly fearless. He's had a few tellings off this week though for lack of control and safety. And for skiing on to the bloody road at the end of the run home yesterday!

I bought some new salopettes and jacket from Surfanic before I came out. No complaints at all. The jacket especially has a lot of nice features and I am chuffed with it. Cheap as chips aswell really.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
In no particular order:

View north up the Maurienne valley.


The little un:


Look at those puffed cheeks..


Is it a bird, is it a plane...


Who says you can't take it with you:


Bit of brotherly love:


Aussois the next ski area along the valley, looking completely bombed out.


Not that I'm likely to this week but these are some couloirs that can be skied as viewed from the bottom of the Clot chairlift:


Lunch at that Plateau de Repose:


La Norma


The extensive decking surrounding our apartment building!



Eyeing up his next cliff jump


Relaxing after a days skiing..
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nice pictures. aussois does look somewhat diminished. at the moment i think la norma are doing a 'buy a lift pass get accommodation very cheap deal' (my french isn't that good).

the snow at the top seems to be holding out very well!
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
I've had a few eventful days skiing in my time and today was definitely up there with em. It was still very cloudy first thing and it was a good bet up top there was powder to be had. As usual though it wasn't easy getting the kids fed, togged up and away. Once we were up there though the fresh was looking nice, maybe 10-15cm to my untrained eye. We did a warm up run down Arlette which to be honest the new snow wasn't holding on to much. And then we headed back up and then up the Clot lift to 2500m. I decided that the off piste to the side of the chair was too tempting not to miss. It's not avalanche prone and visible from the chair. The big worry is there a quite a few rocks which of course would now be hidden. But as I'd skied it earlier in the week I had a fair idea of the worst bits. And to be honest I could live with a bit of damage to the ski's. They were only a ton and a bit of ebay. Sure enough it was a lovely ski down. I clipped a piccie of my tracks:



Shortly after that though a minor disaster struck. I can only assume I snagged a rock or somesuch and took a tumble. Not massively high speed, the slope was not steep. Anyhow on rising I realised my right thigh was seriously painful. I've twanged a thigh muscle before but this was quite a bad twang. Anyhow I got my ski's back on and limped back to the piste. Often with these things the pain starts to wear off and you can soldier on but I coudn't put any weight on the leg. Every move was painful. Not only that but I suddenly very cold, maybe blood rushing to the torn muscle or mild shock. On top of that I was suddenly in desparate need of a pee! As I was slightly too low to get back to the Clot lift I decided to ski down Arlette to hole out in the picnic hut until the wife and kids stopped for lunch. Bloody hell it was a painful experience. It was clear my days skiing had to be curtailed. So after lunch it was a laboured ski (practicing my one legged technique) down the Ste Anne green run/track back down to town. Tea and ibuprofen the order of the day.

Anyhow that was only the half of it. At the top of the Clot chair lift the piste starts off as track that traverses across the mountain. Just before the main wide piste it splits into two. The upper track goes across the very top of the piste and then onwards before forming a zig-zag track down to eventually join up with the blue run Piniers (I guess to allow beginners to cross to the Melezet sector). The upper track is quite exposed. And yesterday afternoon they had closed it off for avalanche risk. The first run my wife did this morning it was open, though she/we always take the lower track and ski on or to the side of the piste. By the time she was back on the lift she'd noticed it had avalanced. When she skied down the track, the upper was now closed again but more alarmingly the avalanche had travelled, in her words, a third of the way down the piste. It was only later that it really dawned her what danger she and the children had been in. It's puzzling why the lift and run weren't completely closed, as it seems unlikely that avalanche would halt at the upper track and not continue onto the piste. The top is moderately steep. Unless they thought the exposure was further along. Norma II was closed and the wife said they were lots of avalanches on the other side of the valley. The ava number was up to 3 today and it would seem it should have been higher. Problem is the temp just isn't getting low enough even at night and even at altitude.

Anyway here are a few randow piccies of the kids in the powder.












The little spec down the bottom is my 6 soon to be 7yo son, and those are his tracks on the right. He didn't twang a muscle either







And here is one from earlier in the week that I missed, of the wife and kids.



All in all a fascinating days play. We all survived our tribulations. My thigh seems to be making a miraculous recovery, or maybe that's the wine. If nothing else it would be nice to get out and about tomorrow. Even if I have to take it easy. When I got back to the apartment this afternoon I was almost writing tomorrow off. I've never actually sustained an injury skiing that kept me off the piste and I don't want to make a habit of it.

Weather wise they seem to be predicting more cloud and maybe snow showers tomorrow. The sun was out later today. Who knows whether the top lift will be open. The wife has already but the kybosh (sp?) on skiing Saturday. She hates the slush which the mountain still is for the most part.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Layne, Great TR - really nice to see you and the kids enjoying yourselves - they should now be addicts for life.

Don't stress too much about a bit of avalanche debris - after all it could have been worse -
http://youtube.com/v/og5h-E-Ntsk
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grey, sorry for not replying to your previous posts. Unfortunately yes both Myrtles and the freeride area are closed. Skiing down St Anne I did see where Myrtles was and yes it is nice down there in the forest. Lovely fresh pine smell today! Yesterday they removed the piste markers for the Arcosses black run, although ironically it would have skied lovely today. I was intending to before my twang.

Yeah, Aussois looks terribly exposed to the sun. La Norma has a better exposure. They are predicting lower temps over the weekend and that would make for some nice skiing if it were to happen. Unfortunately our lot is almost up.
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Nice report and pics.
If you are looking north you are looking down valley (where the Arc river flows) , towards St Jean de Maurienne and ultimately Pont Royal, the end of the Maurienne and the begining of Combe de Savoie. South is upvalley towards verrou de l'Esseillon, Haute-Maurienne and Italy.
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Well, I did ski Friday in the end. Took it easy with pootling around with the little ones. No heroics! We headed up the Melezet sector first thing. We declined the Norma 2 run first thing as it looked very hard and shiny. We took a look at the couloir down into the Repose sector - will post piccies later - and then skied down Perdrix and down Norma 1 onto Carrelet and then repeated. The missus commented later than the Norma 1 & 2 combined runs are pretty boring and I'd have to agree. It's simply that they are wide without much variation in gradient or direction. One thing it does offer is a nice view up the Maurienne valley. Nevertheless we did another loop and then took Cretes round the mountain to ski into the Repose sector. I was then able to see the extent of the avalanche debris onto Clot. Again, I will post piccies later. I don't like to big things up or overstate dangers.. but I do think it very fortunate no one was caught in it. Naturally Clot was closed. We skied Arlette, had lunch and then did a couple more loops. And then headed back home via Norma 1/Foret. It was a mixed cloud and sunny day. A little rain came down, later, in the town - so maybe a tad more snow up top.

We stuck to our decision not to ski on Saturday but instead to start our "weekend in France" early. This proved to be the right one after we took a wander down to town after checking out our apartment.. the board showed aswell as Clot, the whole of the Melezes sector was closed. The bubble out of town wasn't even running. Time to leave.

Reflections on La Norma. In terms of the town, it's pretty good. There is a nice bar/shop/restaurant area to wander around. Not picture postcard but definitely not ugly. it easily accessible with only a short drive up from the valley road. If you are self catering, you can easily drive to a proper supermarket. You can access other small resorts for day trips. The skiing is actually very good when fully open. Arlette and Foret are good challenging pistes that can be done again and again. Arcosses is a proper black piste. The "natural freeride" area (whatever that really means) looks very good. Apologies to grey btw for saying it was closed. I was unsure of where the area was. The top lifts give access to some very good and fairly challenging off piste. There are good options lower down too. There are some good snow making facilities though late season unless the mercury stays low.. I would like a bit more altitude. Maybe the last two springs have been unusually warm. To be fair, I've skied slush on plenty of resort runs in March. But with sector high points of 2500 and 2750m, you're always going to be struggling a bit even at mid station. The other worry might be how the lift system copes at busier weeks. Nothing looks even vaguely new here and is a bit 'basic'. There are 3 or 4 good drag lifts slopes for beginners to really practice on and the green run to town if at the end of the day for anyone whose legs are shot!

Our weekend in France consisted of Château de Miolans (highly recommended), Avallon (OK - we drove through Beaune which looked nicer) and Reims (good). Tunnel mid-evening yesterday was busy but fairly efficient, including UK customs.
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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.
There is some wonderful off-piste at La Norma, both in the valley off to skiers' left of the pistes and more varied stuff off to the right as well. Worth taking a bus to do a day at Val Cenis/ Termignon a short way up the valley which has a bigger ski area.
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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
Picture of the couloir from the top of Norma II down into the bowl accessed by the Clot lift...



and a view from the bottom:



Would loved to have skied it... oh well, maybe next time...


And here are a couple of pictures of the avalanche spill onto the Clot piste. The first one is taken from the side. If you follow the traverse from the left hand side (where the Clot chair lift arrives) where you can see the main avalanche debris, that is the start of the piste proper.



This image is taken from below. As you can hopefully see the avalanche is slap down the middle of the piste and travels a fair distance in.




On another matter here is a zoom in on Aussois from the top of Norma II



And here is my son doing a quality landing from a little tumble:

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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
None of the photos mentioned are showing on my computer. Is anyone else getting them?
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
snowball, mine don't show at work (IE8) but they never do, as they throttle the bandwith or something. But they were showing fine at home last night (Pale Moon).

bertie bassett, yeah I've watched that clip a number of times. Incredible. Whilst mine wasn't in the same league, my wife and kids weren't sitting on that chairlift. But they were skiing the Clot piste wink

snowball, we talked about doing a day trip. Obviously we wrote Aussois of quite quick as we could see it was in bad shape. To me it looked an open and barren landscape. I quite fancied a gander at Val Frejus. Val Cenis seems bigger and yes, I wouldn't have minded going up there aswell. Maybe next time, if there is one. We'll probably start planning christmas in late summer. Though La Norma may well be a better half term choice. We haven't been at half term because the wife can't get time off work. But she may change jobs.

volklwaffen, thanks for summing the locale up nicely. You do get good views up and down the valleys from here for sure.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Yes, the other good one is Val Frjus. Also some good off-piste there if you walk up a bit on either side (but you really need a guide).
We were in the Haute Maurienne in late January and they had just had 150kph winds which stripped Aussois. However we did a bit of a walk from their top lifts and did a great off piste run to Termignon.
Layne, I can see everyone else's photos so I'm wondering what is wrong. I assume you put them on the snowMedia area and then use the codes to put them on here?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
snowball, yes - that's how I did the photos.
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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?
lol and the picture of the orange shorts.....?
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snowball wrote:
There is some wonderful off-piste at La Norma, both in the valley off to skiers' left of the pistes and more varied stuff off to the right as well. Worth taking a bus to do a day at Val Cenis/ Termignon a short way up the valley which has a bigger ski area.

Val Cenis/Termignon are well worth a day trip... if not more.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Layne wrote:
snowball, we talked about doing a day trip. Obviously we wrote Aussois of quite quick as we could see it was in bad shape. To me it looked an open and barren landscape. I quite fancied a gander at Val Frejus. Val Cenis seems bigger and yes, I wouldn't have minded going up there aswell. Maybe next time, if there is one. We'll probably start planning christmas in late summer. Though La Norma may well be a better half term choice. We haven't been at half term because the wife can't get time off work. But she may change jobs.

volklwaffen, thanks for summing the locale up nicely. You do get good views up and down the valleys from here for sure.


Thanks, you're welcome. At this time of the year you might need to push it all the way to Bonneval to pick up some snow. It is a fair bit of a drive from la Norma/Modane, though.
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They are some great pictures ... do you mind if I use some of the text I am trying to write resort guides for our site?
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
KSNOWZ, be my guest.
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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!
My thigh is now going some lovely colours. The bruising is all over, down the front side, beyond and above the knee.
It's still a bizarre accident to me. I'm not sure quite what or how it happened.



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