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Courchevel reds

 Poster: A snowHead
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I went to Tignes in April this year having only skied once before 20 years previously. it went better than expected and I could cope with all blues i tried (just about). We have now booked to go to Courchevel next march and looking at the piste map it looks like the top part of the mountain is only reds and blacks.

My question is whether the reds in courchevel are much more difficult than the blues in tignes and would i be better off sticking to the blues and avoiding going higher up? (obviously difficult to answer without knowing my level of skiing but i can parallel ski ungracefully and am just a bit slow).
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Might I be impertinent and suggest that you have some lessons that will improve your skiing and allow you to go to the next level, ie red runs.
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The colour of the poles at the side of the pistes, and line on the map, is not always a good reflection of the difficulty of the slope which will vary with snow conditions, visibility, other people, etc. and is rarely consistent along a whole run. There is a lot of overlap between red runs and blue runs as you probably found in Tignes. Going higher up and skiing a nominally more difficult slope with better snow might be more enjoyable than sticking to a blue run lower down that has become icy.

Skiing slowly shouldn't affect which runs you choose: if you're happy skiing slowly on a steeper run then you'll be fine.

In Courchevel there is I think a really good progression of slopes at different abilities, so I'm sure you'll find plenty you like even if you avoid the steeper red runs. All the pistes down from the top of Solaise do have some initially steep (definitely not blue) sections, but they are then noticeably less steep for the rest. Creux is I think now marked as blue on the map despite that steeper section. The Solaise piste has a track that zigzags to the side of the main piste to avoid the steep part. You also have the option of skiing down the Meribel side and then getting the lifts back up to the peak from there, though personally I prefer the Couchevel side of that ridge.
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@ktj_sbs, simple answer is that, broadly speaking, red pistes in Courchevel are comparable to red pistes in Tignes.

A good place to start on blues, then gradually progress onto reds that are not too daunting, is Courchevel 1650.

You can clearly see most pistes there from lifts and get a rough idea of gradient, width, bumpiness, etc.

Some of the reds above Courchevel 1850, eg Combe de Saulire, can be quite challenging. Much more so than a typical blue piste in Tignes.

Gradual progression is the key I think.
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LOTA wrote:
Might I be impertinent and suggest that you have some lessons that will improve your skiing and allow you to go to the next level, ie red runs.


Actually..that was the plan for the first few mornings (so happy for you to be impertinent). I guess I was just curious to know if piste gradings in one resort were, as a rule of thumb, same as another resort (in particular the 2 resorts i mentioned).
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Glad to read that you are considering lessons. Transitioning from one colour to another is always a little nerve wracking..you will inadvertently find yourself on a more difficult red than you hoped for/expected (even if it is only one steep pitch it can still knock you if you don't feel you can control yourself!) so it is good to have instructor's 'tips' fresh in your ears. Creux is busy (don't know what you are like with other people in your proximity) and you might find that a quite red is actually more pleasurable than that motorway blue (and the steep pitch can be a surprise in poor visibility).
But, as everyone above has said, the two ski areas are broadly comparable with respect to how they grade.
Have fun Very Happy
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Quote:

I guess I was just curious to know if piste gradings in one resort were, as a rule of thumb, same as another resort (in particular the 2 resorts i mentioned).

Yes, to some extent, but I would suggest that if you struggle on reds you keep off Claire Blanc and Malgovert in Les Arcs. They tend to vary from country to country a bit as well. For example Italy tends to bash all blacks billiard table smooth so they feel like slightly steeper reds whereas in France they are usually allowed to develop bumps.
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ktj_sbs wrote:
I went to Tignes in April this year having only skied once before 20 years previously. it went better than expected and I could cope with all blues i tried (just about). We have now booked to go to Courchevel next march and looking at the piste map it looks like the top part of the mountain is only reds and blacks.

My question is whether the reds in courchevel are much more difficult than the blues in tignes and would i be better off sticking to the blues and avoiding going higher up? (obviously difficult to answer without knowing my level of skiing but i can parallel ski ungracefully and am just a bit slow).


Agreeing with previous comments about lessons etc don't be too perturbed by the piste map confusion at the top - You can go blue from he top of 1650 and 1850 (Saluire) all the way back to resort(s) - The blue Creux run in particular is one of my all-time favourite runs. Turning right from the top you can go blue all the way in to Meribel too and back over from Meribel to La Tania to Courcheval all on blues. The view from the top (Saluire) is spectacular too - and once there, if you don't fancy it you can take the cable car back down to mid-station
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In general, Courchevel's reds are not particularly tough and the snow on the higher runs is often the best in the whole of the 3V's. Brigues into Le Praz is probably the hardest red - the altitude often means it's frozen. Better to go down Murettes from La Tania if you want to go to Le Praz.

A few tips:
In March, Creux will be much easier to ski in the morning than the afternoon. Although it got downgraded from red to blue, the only difference is that the first section is wider than it used to be - the gradient is the same. It's a lovely run first thing but will be chopped up by lunchtime.

The very top section of blue directly below the Pas du Lac lift (towards Creux) is intimidating for inexperienced skiers. You can avoid this by going up Vizelle rather than the Saulire cable car which will put you on the lower path to the top of Creux and/or Meribel. You can also access this path from Pas du Lac and Saulire but it's not obvious where the entrance is (you need to go towards the Saulire run and then break right).

Saulire can be very good late in the day in Spring. Once it goes into shadow it tends to go to a smooth surface with sugar on top and is much easier to ski than when its chopped up in the sun. Again, there is a path into this that avoids the steep entrances and is most easily accessed from Vizelle (turn right straight after the parapente hut). Like Creux, it's also excellent first thing.

The red into Mottaret (Aigle) is an icy, tough run at all times of year that is best avoided. If you want to go to Mottaret, take Marcassin to the Pas du Lac midstation and download to avoid Aigle (or download from the top). You could also ski into Meribel and take Tougnete one. There's a green off this to Mottaret but it's not a pleasant run if you're slow - you'll end up poling. Better to use Pas du Lac.

Courchevel 1650 is ideal for aspiring skiers and you can avoid Creux to access it by taking the Biollay chair and then Pralong/Prameruel past the altiport. Avoid Roc Mugnier when you're returning to 1850. Take Gravelles off the top of the Petite Bosse drag instead.

In general, I would recommend skiing the top of 1850 to about 11am and then move on to 1650 or La Tania/Meribel. You can return to ski Saulire around 4pm if you fancy one last top to bottom run back to your accommodation.
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@Raceplate, great advice.
I think, in decent snow conditions, the reds served by the Chapelets chairlift, to the left of Courchevel 1650 (looking up from base station) are good to progress onto from nearby blue pistes.
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RobJsy wrote:
..... The blue Creux run in particular is one of my all-time favourite runs......

+1. As is Dou de Midi down the back of 1850 to the Plantrey chair.
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PeakyB wrote:
@Raceplate, great advice.
I think, in decent snow conditions, the reds served by the Chapelets chairlift, to the left of Courchevel 1650 (looking up from base station) are good to progress onto from nearby blue pistes.
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+1 some of the first reds my daughter did at age 7.
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@ktj_sbs, were you happy skiing the bottom section of Carline, the blue piste into Tignes Val Claret from the bottom of the Grattalu chair? As this has a gradient that would be fairly average for a red run and I suspect that the reason it is graded blue is to make the piste map less intimidating. Either way, the runs at the top of Courchevel generally hold their snow well due to their aspect, and, in my experience, are well pisted, and therefore should be ideal for progressing onto red runs
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May have been unlucky or timed our runs down Creux badly last season.

The twice I was there, early Feb and mid March, the Creux piste was uncomfortably busy and crowded. Also lots of people struggling to cope, taking very unpredictable lines and falling. Add to that those bombing down and it became a piste to avoid for us.

Shame, as when not crowded it is very enjoyable. In average conditions it may be under graded as a blue I think.
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PeakyB,

I agree. We often find Creux to be a bit of an endurance test/test of nerve, with too many high speed crackerjacks. Shocked

Our preference is to ski it just outside the piste markers, to avoid the nutters. It has become a lot worse since they downgraded it to a blue. Once round the left bend towards the bottom, however, it becomes far less crowded and a lot more fun. Very Happy
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@Bergmeister,
Quote:

It has become a lot worse since they downgraded it to a blue

Absolutely. It used to be one of favourite 3V runs. No longer.
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@ktj_sbs, Courchevel is a blue and red skiers paradise. Can’t be many better piste resorts in the alps. Get across to Mont Vallon as well if you can
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Be alert to the area served by the Chanrossa lift. There is no easy blue down just great red runs.
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ktj_sbs wrote:
...My question is whether the reds in courchevel are much more difficult than the blues in tignes ...?

@ktj_sbs. In general blues and reds in Courchevel are similar to blues and reds in Tignes. But the point to remember is that each colour represents a range. Blue pistes in France might be graded say 10-25% (for the hardest part of the run), and Red say 25-40%, where 100% represents a 45 degree slope. So some Red pistes are only slightly more difficult than the hardest Blue, but some are significantly harder. And to start with you probably don't know if the Blues you could (just about) ski in Tignes were towards the easier or more difficult end of the range. It would be helpful if resorts indicated the easier pistes of each colour, to help improvers, but most don't bother, and as others have said, it can vary with snow conditions anyway. So if you pick a Red run at random it could be close to Blue, but equally it could be almost Black.

I suggest you start by checking out some of the more difficult Blues in Courchevel: perhaps Creux, Tovets, Lac Bleu. All are wide enough that you can significantly reduce the gradient by making long traverses if you get into difficulty. If you can cope with these (without needing significant traverses), then move on some of the easier Reds: perhaps Combe Saulire (using the easier entrance mentioned above), Chapelets, Roc Merlet, Lose, Deviation 1550. The Reds that you want to avoid at first include perhaps Roc Mugnier, Tetras, Jean Pachod, Brigues and Murettes. If you are nervous of "exposure" to long straight steep slopes, perhaps also avoid Bel Air and Dou du Midi.
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Not to derail, but how do French Blues and Reds compare to Austrian Blues and Reds?
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Broadly similar perhaps, but some significant variances, depending on grading policy of each area and village.

Each area tends to prefer a nice proportion of blue/red/black pistes. To an extent, a mix between real difficulty and how marketable it makes the area look.
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PeakyB wrote:
Broadly similar perhaps, but some significant variances, depending on grading policy of each area and village....

Can that be right? I thought Austria doesn't have green slopes? So either Austria Blue = roughly France Green+Blue, or Blue/Red ought to be slightly easier in Austria because the whole range is covered in three colours rather than four.
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The grading system is broadly similar. (however, over in Val D'Isere I think they have irresponsibly undergraded their pistes so as not to put off the first timer section of the market-no way is that mini half pipe at the far end a blue!)

Courchevel 1650 (Moriond) is great for clocking up some miles on cruisy blues but La Tania is where you'll find the best blue, Folyeres, which is a glorious long piste winding through the forests down to resort. The only thing which might trouble you is other skiers who will fly past at mach 3.
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@Ryunis, agreed. I think you are referring to "Santons" in Val which used to be blue but now appears on Piste Maps as red. I've always opted for the Black adjacent to it which although technically more challenging has fewer idiots.


Reds in Courchevel, I echo the above, specifically Rochers, Chapelet and Bel Air. All are usually quieter than 1850 side, in fact despite staying in 1850 the last 3 times I nearly always venture over there first thing.

Also I noticed last season how bad Creux has got, absolutely packed out with people who definitely thought it would be an easier blue, horrible.
Almost certainly done for marketing reasons as previously there was no blue from the top of Saulire/Vizelle back into the Courchevel valley.
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@Ryunis, agreed. I think you are referring to "Santons" in Val which used to be blue but now appears on Piste Maps as red. I've always opted for the Black adjacent to it which although technically more challenging has fewer idiots.


Reds in Courchevel, I echo the above, specifically Rochers, Chapelet and Bel Air. All are usually quieter than 1850 side, in fact despite staying in 1850 the last 3 times I nearly always venture over there first thing.

Also I noticed last season how bad Creux has got, absolutely packed out with people who definitely thought it would be an easier blue, horrible.
Almost certainly done for marketing reasons as previously there was no blue from the top of Saulire/Vizelle back into the Courchevel valley.
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