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3 Valleys 'easier' black runs

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
New to the forum but always searched through past topics for what I needed.

I am going to the 3 Valleys in the first week of Feb 2020 with a group of varying abilities (seasons to complete beginners), this will be my second season snowboarding, but although indoors I have racked up many hours at the snow centre.

I would like to attempt a black run on this trip, possibly later on in the week away after spending most of the week on reds (which I am fine with at the moment), and looking for some advice on some 'easier' black runs to get started on. Every search I do for this on google I just end up with the most difficult runs instead.

We will be staying in Les Menuires, and I have found one possibility of 'Goitschel' as seems to be fairly wide and not many moguls, well based on youtube haha.

Any advice people can share it would be greatly appreciated, thanks all.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Goitschel is moguled but not that long and gives several opportunities to bail out by switch to red Chardons. So, worth trying depending on your mogul technique and conditions.
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Great, thanks for the input. You can only see so well from YouTube Haha.

I could always get the more experienced people to go down first whilst I took the red and see what they think as a last resort. But great to be able to narrow down.
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@WD88, don't obsess with gradings. Apart from the fact that the gradings themselves are given subjectively and unscientifically by the domain, the snow conditions, the weather conditions, time of day, your physical conditions, etc. all play a part in making a piste more or less challenging.

That said take a look at "m" and "Jockeys" in the Courcheval valley.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Bosses, which runs down to join the blue Lievre run about 400m above the Chaudanne is one I've done a few times. One time though, it was heavily mogulled and awful! So ride up from on the Legends lift from the Chaudanne first to have a look. Goes right over it to the top.

CG
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@WD88, if you've already identified "the most difficult" (such as Grand Couloir and Go Pro Couloir from the top of Saulire), then you know which ones to avoid: by definition the rest are "easier".

As Layne says, any run will vary significantly according to conditions on the day. Goitschel can get very busy, as together with Chardons it is the main route into VT from the Meribel valley, so can quickly build a lot of moguls.

And it also depends on what you find "difficult". Some people dislike long steep straight pitches, because they might slide a long way on piste if they lose control, so feel more comfortable on a mogul slope. Others are the opposite.
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Adjacent to the Saulire, on the Courchevel side is a smaller peak, 'Vizelle' (I think). Anyway, it's the top of the Vizelle bubble that comes up from the Courchevel direction, also top of Les Suisses chair.
Doubling back, between the 2 lifts takes you to The 'M' which isn't too mean.It's pretty steep but quite wide and as it doesn't get skied loads is often less mogulled than some. As you take off towards it, you pass, on your right the steep moguls that lead onto Les Suisses and give it its ominous reputation. However, left off Les Suisses lift takes you down past the top of the Marmottes chair and a lower, less scary entrance to Les Suisses. I'd say that's still properly black but rather more accessible than many. And it's nice to be able to say U skied 'Les Suisses' as it's quite a well known piste Wink

The main elements that are used to classify a run's difficulty are it's steepness, wideness and how its aspect relates to its direction; essentially 'camber'.
If you want to prepare in 'safety' for skiing blacks, simply ski reds but try to limit yourself to only using 1/2 or 1/3 or even 1/4 of the piste. Start out by saying, "I will attempt to stay left of centre all the way down" and progress to trying to stick to a corridor down one side of the piste. (The same can be done on blues when preparing to progress to 'scary' reds)
Frankly, once you can do red runs in control using less than 50% of the slope, you're probably ready for the majority of blacks.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
From Les Menuires the obvious easy black for me would be Lac Noir over on Masse. A bit narrow in places but not particularly steep. Dame Blanche is also pretty easy, although it's only reachable by a very nasty tow. On the Meribel side Bartavelle is a little steeper but a straightforward enough piste.
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Sometimes black runs are easier than reds-coming back from Courchevel into Mottaret, we often turn onto Grande Rosiere which is steep but less skied out than the red run in mid afternoon. Goitschel is a good option first thing and dead easy to get to from Les Menuires. It's steep, but wide and usually well bashed first thing in the morning. No so nice later in the day, but thankfully that wouldn't be when you would be on it.
Over in Courchevel-Suisses is also nice-that is regularly groomed and not to steep. TBH-I think it's more of a red run unless it's been allowed to go mogully. Also Face off the Olympic chair in Meribel-ansd you can check out the condition of the piste on the way up the chair and, if it looks a bit iffy, come down the blue instead.
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Suisses.

A personal favourite, the Suisses run goes from the top of the Vizelle gondola above Courchevel 1850. If you follow the marked run then it’s a good entry level black run as it’s wide, not too steep, and the snow tends to be in good condition. Sound a little too dull for you? To step it up a gear, turn right as you get off the Suisses chair, as though you’re heading down M, rather than the usual approach towards Park City. You can then drop off this shoulder to the right to do an off piste mogul run than brings you down to join the Suisses run. This is a good option for any show offs amongst you, as it is steep, technical, and brings you down directly under the Suisses chair lift, so you can be sure of a jeering audience should you stack it!

http://www.amenagement-montagne.net/t418-tsd4-suisse-a-courchevel-73



http://youtube.com/v/Dph8CHiK5jE
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Mr Mogulski and I have skied the 3V over 40 times in the last 30 years. The difficulty of the black runs (and all the runs) depends on the snow and weather. You can ski a particular black one day with soft fresh snow, find it easy and come back later to find it is sheet ice! Moguls don't bother me but I understand that on a board they are something else. As others have said you can check out many of the runs from a chairlift first.
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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.
Quote:

Suisses chair lift, so you can be sure of a jeering audience should you stack it!


Been there, done that. Embarassed
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ansta1 wrote:
Quote:

Suisses chair lift, so you can be sure of a jeering audience should you stack it!


Been there, done that. Embarassed


Although not as embarrassing as chasing my 18 and 13 year old daughters down the Loze red back to 1850 earlier in the this year when I highsided and slid for about 300 yards on my face trying to get into a sensible position to try and stop said slide.
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You know it makes sense.
Suisses

It was epic. Especially as we timed it just right and got on it just as it opened up later in the afternoon. Fresh powder tracks down an empty run. It was epic.

We also enjoyed Jean Blanc down beneath Courchevel. It does have one very steep section however it is very wide and it was deserted as we hit it mid afternoon on a bluebird day so most people went higher. It was still corduroy in some places.

These were our first ever blacks we tackled on our own outside or lessons or with a guide. So they sound like they could fit what you are looking for!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@WD88, the 'easier' black runs on the whole will be the ones that have been pisted overnight, as a good surface will knock 5º off any slope... The Courchevel app and the info points at the bottom of resort will have a list of what has been pisted overnight. Get on these relatively early and you will have a good time.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Just curious how the blacks referred to (particularly the couloirs) compare in difficulty to the ‘well known’ blacks in North America like the Big Couloir at Big Sky, Spankeys on Blackcomb, the bowl at Aspen Highlands for example.
I’ve not skied the big French domains but plan to change that soon.
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Wow, I didn't expect this many helpful responses so fast. Thanks all for the tips and help.

I did think about the weather having a huge impact so would only look to first try these suggestions on the right day, but useful to know about some of the runs visible from the lifts.

Personally I don't mind about sleepiness just as long as it's not so narrow, although may regret that when you are on the slope looking down. I always felt that's not steep when looking at the gradients online before ever trying snowboarding but that quickly changed when I was looking down a slope Haha.

As corny as it sounds end of the day it is just a goal rather than being set on must do it, will be done if conditions are right only. As I mainly just want to improve and enjoy it, so if that means sticking to blues and reds then that's fine.
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sbooker wrote:
Just curious how the blacks referred to (particularly the couloirs) compare in difficulty to the ‘well known’ blacks in North America like the Big Couloir at Big Sky, Spankeys on Blackcomb, the bowl at Aspen Highlands for example.
I’ve not skied the big French domains but plan to change that soon.

I've never skied North America but I've skied the GC in Courcheval years ago and then in April the GC and Emile Allais with the wife and kids (see my TR). Looking at pics of some the slopes you mentioned above the Courcheval couloirs seem on a par, no better, no worse. The couloirs have been designated as off piste, itenaries and pistes over the years which I guess reflects their status of being very accessible (save the ridge) but unpisteable. Personally I think it's easy to overhype this stuff. And a lot depends on conditions.
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@sbooker, I think generally speaking, European blacks are roughly equivalent in difficulty to American single diamonds.

Within Europe there's lots of variation though, both within and between countries. I've generally found that French blacks are more likely to be unpisted, narrow or with an awkward camber than those in Austria or Italy, for example. Which for most people means that the French blacks are more difficult. Grand Couloir in Courchevel is generally regarded as one of the more difficult European blacks.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
The missus in the Emile Allais couloir in Courcheval...

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@Layne, looks nice.
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@sbooker, must confess, and I don’t recall that clearly but pretty sure we did Spanky’s in BC in “firm”conditions and it wasn’t that tough.

I am only, however, pretty sure we skied it in that we as a group are reasonably keen and I think we skied everything that was marked and some that wasn’t (over two trips).

I might be mistaken, has to be said, in which case I’d be disappointed.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Goitschel has been the first black run for 3/4 of my children. There's the hectic mogully bit at the top (which I bail out on as you can take the red down the side) and the rest can be fantastic in the right conditions! You can check out the conditions (look for the body count..!) from the lift as you go over. So it is probably a good bet. Has a nice run off at the end too.
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I'd not worry much about the grades and instead look at the conditions. If there's no one on a slope, ask yourself why that is. Usually it's because it's out of condition - too hard in the morning, typically. Snowboards are easier on sloppy stuff, so there are opportunities at the other end of the day which skiers may avoid. You probably don't want to start on couloirs, or runs with patchy snow, or with lots of "wannabe" beginners sitting in your path.

I can't tell much difference between North American and European grading systems, although I've read the definitions and they're technically a little different in emphasis. I think you may be more likely to find near-beginners on "expert terrain" in Europe.

I seem to remember the whole La Masse mountain was wide easily cruised soft bumps, I'd take a peek over there, ride the easy alternatives until you're sure that the snow's soft enough then switch.
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Dou Des Lanches above la tania hasn't been mentioned yet, can get some great turns in on that one.

Jockeys - Always brings up the memory of the day I was shadowing my daughters lesson a couple of years ago, it was the first run of the lesson and the instructor says "Right lets set off 1 legged skiing", which they'd been doing a lot of over the lessons that week, I was asked to demonstrate... Not a usual drill I'd try to do on a black to start a lesson Shocked
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@under a new name,
@Layne, @denfinella,
Thanks all.
My brief glimpse of the western end of the Alps impressed me. I imagined there would be plenty of pitchy lines on offer.
I won’t get a chance to check them out for a while but I’m looking forward to it.
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How could I forget Jockeys!! Fantastic steep black into Le Praz, and the Foret lift back up is so speedy, if it’s good, then another whizz round take minutes.
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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
It all depends on the snow conditions. I can smash any black run in good snow but i was in les m a couple of years ago and most red and black runs from mid mountain were sheet ice. The bumps were the only snow and you had to slide from bump to bump. It softened a little in the afternoons. So don't get too hung up on piste map gradings as the mountain changes throughout the day and season. Spring slush bumps can be great fun... on skis
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You know it makes sense.
There are no terror blacks in the 3Vs.

Just take it steady.

Ski 2 a day.

By the end of the week, they will feel like reds.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@WD88;

There's a short black conveniently close to Menuires.

Go down to the Masse 1 lift, then up Masse 2.

It's all quite quick.

As the lift gets near the top, you can look ahead/under/left to see the whole of black 'Masse' run from end to end.

So at least you can assess it a bit from looking at what others are up to on it, whether you like the look of it etc. before committing.

It's not too long, and it's not too short either.

When you get to the top, the views are great and there's a restaurant with a balcony.

You can stand at the top and get a good look down it from there too.

So possibly a coffee and a chat - do I/we fancy it or not?

And if not, you can duck out down some reds/blues.

As others have said, like other runs, how you find it depends on how beat up it is, the conditions, and even the quarter hour, particularly the sun: of course it is very variable.

I once did it three times running last time I was there and it was different every time - very different.

'Lac Noir' nearby is a bit more challenging, and longer.

As it sounds like you're relatively new to this game: when you're there, it's also a good idea to assess first whether the sun is likely to have softened these blacks up.

And later on in the day, that the sun hasn't been off them for so long that they've re-frozen.

Unless you like concrete!


Regards,
George
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