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TR: Annual pilgrimage to La Grave and surroundings (lots of photos)

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Poster: A snowHead
Last year we were blessed with lots of powder (and I still didn't post the TR!). This year we had to go looking for it.

So we started with a little tour and climb on the back side of Alpe d'Huez (photo by Pierre, our guide):


And found a bit of unexpected powder on the Glacier de Quirlies...here's Paul enjoying it (again photo by Pierre):


Then the weather started closing in:


....while we kept touring:


...to be continued on Day 2:
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Day 2 started with a wonderful view from / of the La Grave Telepherique:


...and then a portrait pose of the coolest dog ever, at the bottom of the glacier draglift:


Of course, we then went up a bit more, this time on the Glacier de la Selle (further, higher and steeper than it seems in the photo - the last bit towards the saddle on the left took us another hour):


which then Pierre skied in style:


and so did Richard:
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
great photos! more please!!
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Wildsmith wrote:
great photos! more please!!


Thanks! I have 6 more days to cover and lots of pics, just need to find the time to process and post them.
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@horizon, great pics as usual. Sopi bash were there yesterday.
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following Smile always love your pics@horizon,
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None of me kipping on the glacier Laughing
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kitenski wrote:
following Smile always love your pics@horizon,
+1
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Wonderful stuff. snowHead
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Fab. Encore
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Fantastic, can't wait to read more.
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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.
Wow.
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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
Wonderful photos, as ever.
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You know it makes sense.
Great pics and good to meet you all in LG last Friday Very Happy
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Thanks everyone for the comments - and @KenX, great to have met you.

Back to business for Day 3, which saw a return to Alpe d'Huez for a taste of Grand Sablat. On the menu we had fog and crust, then about eight turns in powder, as Arno said. He makes it look cool:


After a somewhat long and snowless traverse, Pierre looks for new routes:


We keep going as the clouds roll in:


We spend the afternoon in the Canyon de la Fare (photo of me by irbis):


On a tricky passage where we were roped, Arno throws his poles across a blind lip straight into a hole. Pierre gets them back:
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@horizon, Laughing Laughing
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Day 4 was a big one. Tour des Trois Évêchés, 1500 m vertical including an extra climb, sunny but windy as we went up. Looked beautiful:


...and then we skied this face (ok, it looks a bit more gnarly than it was, telephoto compression effect):


irbis made it look easy (and flatter):



Movie title needed here:


On the other side of the mountain, the light and shadow look good and Pierre goes for it:


irbis enjoys it too:
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Stunning shots! Movie title: « the Rainbow warriors » Toofy Grin
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Fantastic
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Looks great what camera are you using?
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@kitenski, my big camera is a Sony A7Riii, but only a few of the pics are taken with that one, for instance the last three above (two different lenses). Most others are taken with a Panasonic TZ100, and of course a few taken with smartphones.
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I'm still giggling at Pierre looking for new routes and behaving like Pooh stuck in Rabbit's front door. Superb shots, as of course are all the others. Very Happy
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@horizon, cheers, I was wondering as the last 3 seemed much better quality and depth of field to my untrained eye!
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Envious!
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BobinCH wrote:
Stunning shots! Movie title: « the Rainbow warriors » Toofy Grin


"The Good, the Bad and the Hairband"
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If I buy some blue pants, can I come too?
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@horizon, One thing I've always wondered about touring/off-piste: What level of skier do you need to be to get started? For example, I'm pretty comfortable on any red or black, maybe not as stylish as I'd like, but I haven't done a lot of powder skiing. Would I be OK on a guided trip like this on La Grave, or it that a level or two above where I'm at? (I describe myself as "aspiring beginning advanced intermediate," as "expert" to me connotates that you can handle all conditions/all terrain with aplomb...)
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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
@Pasigal, I have two very different answers to your question. The second is the positive one, so read on Happy

First of all, based on your description above I would say that the trip we did would definitely be a level or two above where you are. Most lines we skied had some level of objective difficulty and danger (steepness, crevasses, difficult snow, narrow passages, ice, etc - or in most cases several of the above). There was one easier day in Chazelet but even that had a couple of trickier moments, maybe not dangerous but hard to ski without falling repeatedly if you're not used to such conditions (well, actually that can be dangerous, it's easy to tear a ligament when skiing in liquid glue).

I'm not making it up, four years ago one of the guys in the group did have a very bad fall on our warm-up day (pre-guided week). He's now fully reestablished physically, but not yet mentally back to skiing tough offpiste.

(Of course, you might be extremely modest in your self-rating and actually be fine. But I'm going on what you wrote).

That said, on this trip we are a group of people who have skied for a long time together and are comfortable with these conditions. So, second answer - you don't need to do any of the above stuff if you want to get started. My fiancée, kolkie, has skied a total of about 10 weeks in total (all in the last 3 seasons) and I took her on her first easy tours on 31 Dec / 1 Jan this year. I am quite comfortable going with her offpiste in good to decent snow conditions, on slopes that aren't excessively steep (or, more importantly, where you can stop if you fall). That's a lot of stuff to tour and ski, and a guide could easily find things to do for a group of confident black run skiers who want do do an offpiste / touring week. I wouldn't suggest starting in La Grave, though!
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@horizon, Thanks for the assessment. I'm getting more and more interested in touring. It's hard to tell from photos just how steep the slopes are, as well as what the snow conditions are.

I like the "slopes where you can stop if you fall" metric. I'm down with that.
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horizon, Fab pics as usual, great TR. Madeye-Smiley

Movie title - 3 Amigos Toofy Grin
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@horizon, movie title: "Bag of skittles steeze - the return...!"
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This is so inspiring - awesome photos.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@offpisteskiing, I was toying with some kind of "taste the rainbow" reference, but ya beat me to it. Great photos and looks like a great trip.
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Slowly catching up with the rest of the days...reminds me I forgot to post the La Meije alpenglow of the day before:


Just two pics of the Chazelet day - one by Pierre of the whole team, minus Arno, who was kipping again:


and one with no comments whatsoever (photo by Arnaud):


...and then there was Monetier, with fresh snow...
Me in the Couloir des Filles (where a backpackless local followed us, and faced the wrath of Pierre) - photo by Paul:


... and with some good afternoon light.
irbis:


...and Paul:


Edit: almost forgot about this sunset over La Grave, on the way back:


Two more days to go, but I'm rather busy this weekend, so if you bear with me I'll update this on Monday.
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@horizon, thanks, this was a joy to read, and the photos! Wow, stunning.
There are some cracking shots in there, I love the one at the beginning of the weather closing in. Im really looking forward to seeing the rest of this TR Madeye-Smiley
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Fabulous
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Absolutely fantastic.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
great stuff - love the pic of La Meije
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Quote:

On a tricky passage where we were roped, Arno throws his poles across a blind lip straight into a hole. Pierre gets them back:


Smile

Pierre is clearly a particularly user-friendly guide. When I resort to that sort of stupidity, guides seem to find something interesting in the distance to study while I sort out my own nonsense!
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@jedster, he felt guilty because it was his idea to throw them down rather than keep hold of them Laughing

I could have stood there all day chucking poles and not got them into that hole. A strong gust of wind held them up perfectly and they plopped straight in
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