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Tarantaise resort with the most patrolled ‘itineraries’.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Which ski area amongst the big ones around Bourg Saint Maurice has the most avalanche controlled off piste?
Just musing about a planned future trip and being able to safely ski off the groomed runs without having to hire a guide appeals to my family.
Thanks in advance.
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Erm non really..
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Really? There is no patrolled ‘ungroomed’ runs?
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sbooker wrote:
Really? There is no patrolled ‘ungroomed’ runs?

There's lots of ungroomed runs. On the Les Arcs piste map they're marked "Natur". There's definitely some in Tignes, such as Sache but I'm not sure how they're shown on the piste map. Don't know which has the most.
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@sbooker, They are marked on the piste map as Nutur pistes not as itineraries. They are still pistes, not off pistes, they have markers, they are patrolled and are avalanche protected. they just dont have piste bashers on them. In fact most almost all black runs are not bashed nor are some reds. For example Combourciere in Les Arcs is not marked as a Natur piste but is only bashed once or twice a season. I cannot be bothered to download all the piste maps and tot the number of Natur runs for each resort but a quick mental recap for Les Arcs alone results in about 18. And that doesn't include the runs that used to be on the piste map but have since been decommisioned. Or the numerous routes through the trees. There is lots of potential for skiing safely without a guide but not on bashed pistes
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Thanks. I’ll have a look at the maps for the Nutur pistes.
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Look, this is just not a thing. « Natur » runs are a waste of everyone’s time. When they’re in good condition they’ll be « officially » closed. By the time they’re open, they’ll be trashed.

Take an instructor / guide or learn to ride off piste safely. Or take a guide and ask them to teach you!
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@sbooker, you can get lucky with the intenaries, unpisted black runs, naturide runs etc, for example getting on the Varet gondola very shortly, as in minutes, after it opened following several days of snowfall this January I got three laps of fresh tracks in on the naturides beneath it before it tracked out but most of the time these runs are just big mogul runs. There is nothing wrong with a big mogul run but be aware that this is by far their most common state. For what it's worth, Les Arcs and the Espace Killy both have a lot of these runs
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In Tignes there are a number of unpisted runs, ie never bashed, but secured by the pisteurs and marked as closed if unsafe. They are described as naturides on the piste map: Silene, Golf, Guerlain Chicherit, Campanules, Leisses, Oeillet, Paquerettes (not Sache). But they get tracked quite quickly and 3 days after a fall become mogul fests!
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There is no common designation, but 'official' availability is probably similar between the big areas. For Paradiski there are the "Natur" pistes - around 6 in each of Les Arcs and La Plagne. For Espace Killy, the "naturide" pistes - perhaps 12-15 in total. For Trois Vallees they tend to indicate on a daily basis which pistes have not beeen groomed (and as above they tend to get mogulled fairly quickly); some of the "fun areas" on the piste map are also ungroomed, e.g. Liberty Ride above St Martin and Fun Park above Courchevel 1650, which because they are larger don't track out quite as quickly.

Each area obviously has lots of ungroomed off-piste.
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ungroomed/Natur runs are hugely different to off piste in my view, the amount of skier traffic down them is very different to off piste.
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Quote:

Take an instructor / guide or learn to ride off piste safely. Or take a guide and ask them to teach you!


This is your best bet. Or go to north America where everything inside the ropes is avy controlled
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I think the OP was about pistes that had not been bashed and would by definition have decent bump fields rather than pure virgin off-piste. Otherwise I suggest skiing between the trees. We have had good trips in the Malgovert forest and the trees above Vallandry

Quote:

For Paradiski there are the "Natur" pistes - around 6 in each of Les Arcs and La Plagne.

For Les Arcs we have:
Malgovert
Rouelles *
Font Blanc *
Claire Blanc *
Coqs (if you can find it)
Bosses
Cretes
Dou du l'homme
Lanches
Robert Blanc
Genepi
Droset *
Combourciere *
Bois d'lOurs

The ones marked * are not maked as Natur on the piste map but are at most bashed only once or twice a season. I'm not sure if the "piste non damee" is still at the start Claire Blanc. In fact I cannot see how they can bash fond blanc. It's too steep. Malgovert and Claire Blanc are reds but in many resorts (all in Italy and Austria) would be black. However having once set out down Bosses I discovered it had been bashed and had no bumps on it. Talk about mis naming a piste.
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boarder2020 wrote:
Quote:

Take an instructor / guide or learn to ride off piste safely. Or take a guide and ask them to teach you!


This is your best bet. Or go to north America where everything inside the ropes is avy controlled


We have skied (and will continue to do so) in North America. We love the relative safety of skiing the whole patrolled area.
That said skiing in Europe is a great experience. Maximising the fun factor is what the question was about. After the expense of getting to Europe from Australia hiring a guide for 4 people each day would add up I imagine.
Oh well - it’s only money.
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@sbooker, doesn't have to be expensive if you can join in a group, ie Alpine Experience in Val D'Isere do a morning for 65 Euros pp

https://alpineexperience.com/en/prices-booking-conditions/
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kitenski wrote:
@sbooker, doesn't have to be expensive if you can join in a group, ie Alpine Experience in Val D'Isere do a morning for 65 Euros pp

https://alpineexperience.com/en/prices-booking-conditions/


That does seem reasonable.
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The Alpine Experience guides are very experienced and respected.

An alternative for off piste in the price could be Club Med, not everyone's cup of tea, you may be split up (depending on ability) and in a group of mainly French, but the instructors will give you a thorough work out without additional charge.
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In the 3V you do have "liberty ride" areas-the ones that immediately spring to mind are the area above St Martin de Belleville, and the other under the top of the Masse 2 bubble in Les Menuires, also a nice gentle pitch in the lower half of Courchevel 1650. Last season we had a complete blast above St Martin. See attached pic!

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@sbooker, if you’re not fixed on Tarentaise, Verbier is great for long, avalanche controlled, unpisted itineraries. Google Tortin, Mont Gelé, Vallon d’arbi, Etygeon for ideas

If you get out early after a snowfall you might get them like this...

http://youtube.com/v/yXhp_tBunFo
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Skiing with a guide constantly will get expensive. And for me at least, restricting yourself to only skiing off piste with a guide isn't an option - because once you get a taste for it, it becomes hard/impossible to resist. Going with a guide can be a good exercise for education, for getting to know some of the off piste in area or for doing something that gets a bit remote or gnarly.

A lot of off piste is very safe and easy to reconnaissance. Yes, you still need a transceiver, probe, shovel and know hot to use them. Yes the most accessible will get quickly skied out. But skiing off piste (for me at least) isn't purely about skiing virgin fluffy white powder fields. It's about reading the conditions, getting to know the terrain, making your own path down the mountain.
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La Rosiere has a couple of freeride areas which are patrolled .
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sorry for my initial response - this is what I was getting at

stevomcd wrote:
Look, this is just not a thing. « Natur » runs are a waste of everyone’s time. When they’re in good condition they’ll be « officially » closed. By the time they’re open, they’ll be trashed.

Take an instructor / guide or learn to ride off piste safely. Or take a guide and ask them to teach you!


Rather than looking for specifically identified "safe" off piste on the map, far better to do a course to learn the skills so you safely evaluate and mitigate yourself. Or stick to North America. I've never really found a "freeride area" that wasn't "skier packed" by all and sundry unless immediately after a snowfall.
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La Rosiere has more than a couple of free-ride areas, the new lifts on Mont Valasain have opened up a huge area of off-piste that was previously only accessible by hiking, however some of the best off-piste in the domaine is on the Italian side and there's the option of heli-skiing (with a guide)
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@Lee Shaw, is that area off Valasain patrolled?? Looked very nice when I was there but under strict Drs instructions to keep the HR low Sad
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
sorry for my initial response - this is what I was getting at

stevomcd wrote:
Look, this is just not a thing. « Natur » runs are a waste of everyone’s time. When they’re in good condition they’ll be « officially » closed. By the time they’re open, they’ll be trashed.

Take an instructor / guide or learn to ride off piste safely. Or take a guide and ask them to teach you!


Rather than looking for specifically identified "safe" off piste on the map, far better to do a course to learn the skills so you safely evaluate and mitigate yourself. Or stick to North America. I've never really found a "freeride area" that wasn't "skier packed" by all and sundry unless immediately after a snowfall.

"skier packed" is different from pisted runs. It can be interesting in its own way. A good way to practice skiing moguls for example.

The OP didn't say anything about powder or fresh snow, just "natural" piste to spice things up.

Learning some snowcraft to be able to identify safe off-piste is good. But that and skiing official free ride zone doesn't have to be mutually exclusive.
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abc wrote:
The OP didn't say anything about powder or fresh snow, just "natural" piste to spice things up.

Actually they said two things:

#1 "Which ski area amongst the big ones around Bourg Saint Maurice has the most avalanche controlled off piste?

That question doesn't make sense in my book because there is no avalanched controlled off piste in Europe. Itenaries, Piste Natur or so called Freeride areas are marked runs - what the yanks would call in bounds. It could be that the OP is referring to such areas and doesn't conform to my definition of off piste. Regardless they didn't refer to a "natural" piste.

#2 "Just musing about a planned future trip and being able to safely ski off the groomed runs without having to hire a guide"

Again, it's a bit unclear. There are ungroomed runs that are marked and patrolled areas. And clearly they don't require a guide. But it's not clear that is what is meant by off the groomed runs.

Apologies, I appear to have come over all pedantic.
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Verbier.
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Thanks all.
@Dave of the Marmottes, I get what you’re saying. Fresh snow is always nice to bag but a steepish run on packed powder (before it’s gone to moguls) is great fun too. We don’t want to pigeon hole ourselves to Nth America because our experience skiing in Europe was first class. The big mountain scenery and culture difference can’t be had in Canada or USA.@BobinCH,
It doesn’t have to be the Tarentaise area as such but we’ll likely be there late season (so high will be important) and my daughter is very much enjoying learning French at school so France it is I suspect. Verbier looks fab too.
@Layne,
Your trip reports always catch my eye. I assume it is possible to hire/rent transceivers/probes/shovels? Bringing 4 lots of that gear from Oz could be difficult?
Learning to safely ski off the marked runs would be great to do. What are you doing at Easter?? Laughing
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Why are 4 lots of shovel probe & tranny hard to carry from Oz. Pack 1 less pair of jeans each.
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@Dave of the Marmottes, be fair though..it's pretty easy to hire the stuff if they want to
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Yeah sure can be rented but you own it= you know how it works = more chance of using it properly faster when poo-poo happens.
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Yeah sure can be rented but you own it= you know how it works = more chance of using it properly faster when poo-poo happens.
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sbooker wrote:
@Layne, Your trip reports always catch my eye. I assume it is possible to hire/rent transceivers/probes/shovels? Bringing 4 lots of that gear from Oz could be difficult?


Yes you can hire the gear over here:

As an example: https://ski-hire-sport2000.co.uk/equipment/other-equipment-and-sports/898-safety-pack

sbooker wrote:
Learning to safely ski off the marked runs would be great to do. What are you doing at Easter?? Laughing


We'll almost certainly be in the Tarentaise, probably 3V, from April 4th to 11th. Would be happy to meet up and ski.

Alternatively, depending on where you go I could give you a few starters to get going.

Your kids are virtually the same age as mine. Up to this point ours have worn transceivers but not carried probe and shovel. Basically because they wouldn't be capable - physically or mentally of carrying out a rescue. Although we did a session in the ava park at Les Arcs and they are familiar with the transceivers generally.

Anything a bit dicey, which to be honest you are naturally trying to avoid, usually I will expose myself with the hope the missus can do the rescue. I am by far the heaviest so generally speaking if the slope can take me everyone is good! But I'd say 95% I'm skiing terrain that doesn't require that sort of prudence. And the ava gear is the equivalent of a seat belt and airbag in the car. You are generally working to avoid ever needing it.

Taking kids off piste does add another dimension. Some people on here advocate not doing it, on account they are not old enough to assess the risk themselves. I understand the point of view but we take ours hiking and scrambling in the mountains and we've done a few relatively risky activities that ultimately fall into the same boat. At the end of the day I attempt to give my kids great experiences at the same time of minimising the risks. Of course, it's possible I overstep the mark in order to enhance my own enjoyment. Who can tell really.

That's become a bit of a late night ramble.....
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Quote:

It doesn’t have to be the Tarentaise area as such but we’ll likely be there late season (so high will be important) and my daughter is very much enjoying learning French at school so France it is I suspect. Verbier looks fab too.

I've not really skied Verbier but it's high and reportedly good late season (I'm sure BobinCH will confirm!) and it's in the French speaking part of Switzerland.
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@Gämsbock,
I had no idea some parts if Switzerland spoke French. I’m a sucker for a few beers in a pub at the end of a days skiing. By all reports Verbier may prove a little expensive. Although I guess it’s not going to be that much more expensive than France.
@Layne,
Good tips. I’ll have to sort my poo-poo out and get planning.
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Quote:

Although I guess it’s not going to be that much more expensive than France

My experience is that it is much more expensive. However with Verbier it depends very much on where you go as to how expensive it is. In fact much like anywhere.

Quote from Wikipedia (I know it's not always reliable)

"In 2017, the population of Switzerland was 62.6% native speakers of German (58.5% speak Swiss German and/or 11.1% Standard German at home); 22.9% French (mostly Swiss French, but including some Arpitan dialects); 8.2% Italian (mostly Swiss Italian, but including Lombard dialects); and 0.5% Romansh."

I think it is Romansh that is spoken in that most famous Swiss ski resort St. Moritz or perhaps it is English
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Layne wrote:
I am by far the heaviest so generally speaking if the slope can take me everyone is good!


An avalanche is 1000s of tonnes of snow, whether you weigh 100kg or 40kg is neither here nor there and in any case a 40kg child falling can generate more force on the snowpack than a 100kg adult skiing. I wouldn't rely on any heuristic trap about "we'll send the fat bastard down first". I would read up on triggering mechanisms, Alain Duclos has done a lot of work on this. Here is a link http://pistehors.com/24784794/avalanche-triggering

That said avalanches are pretty rare so the risk isn't great. Personally I've got nothing against taking kids off piste but I wouldn't take my son into any terrain that could avalanche.
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@sbooker, have a look at Nendaz as well as Verbier, it is part of the same ski area but accommodation is significantly less than in Verbier itself. There has been a lengthy thread discussing it's merits on this forum fairly recently
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@kitenski, All the locations that are marked freeride areas in La Rosiere are patrolled, as most of them are in sight of marked pistes this is the pisteurs doing their final sweep as the lifts close. That would include the area to the south of Mont Valasain, going towards the Fort chair-lift, I doubt whether the area to the north - going towards the col would be patrolled, although the lifties returning from the drag- lifts to Italy would have sight of any off-piste skiers. Sorry I can't be more specific.
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davidof wrote:
Layne wrote:
I am by far the heaviest so generally speaking if the slope can take me everyone is good!


An avalanche is 1000s of tonnes of snow, whether you weigh 100kg or 40kg is neither here nor there and in any case a 40kg child falling can generate more force on the snowpack than a 100kg adult skiing. I wouldn't rely on any heuristic trap about "we'll send the fat bastard down first". I would read up on triggering mechanisms, Alain Duclos has done a lot of work on this. Here is a link http://pistehors.com/24784794/avalanche-triggering

Yeah, it's a bit of a loose statement I admit. I've read for example that by falling you exert 6-8 times your bodyweight more force/stress on the slope. So yes, I may not be the trigger but my falling child might. Also if you take a slightly different line you may trigger. There are lots of variables and ultimately you just shouldn't be there. But there are also other aspects to me going first - such as route verification, identifying rocks, checking snow conditions and then I can relay that back to the wife and kids for the betterment of the ski down. I am not a mountain guide or avalanche expert and don't profess to be but I try to understand as much as I can and to evaluate as much as I can. The adage "if in doubt, dack out" springs to mind but equally not letting kids play out leads to physical and mental health problems at worst, missed opportunities at best. Another adage - you pays your money and makes your choice. Hope that makes sense, to sbooker at least...

davidof wrote:
That said avalanches are pretty rare so the risk isn't great.

There is certainly a numbers game element in all this and I find sometimes people can overstate the risk as much as they can understate it. I often think the trick is to think about the risks just enough because of course if you keep on thinking about the risks you wouldn't leave the house in the morning! Sometimes I even wonder if it was a good idea to have ever introduced my kids to skiing at all. Badminton would be far less risky and cheaper. But I think skiing has given me far more than badminton has. Who'd be a parent.

davidof wrote:
Personally I've got nothing against taking kids off piste but I wouldn't take my son into any terrain that could avalanche.

MMmm... that would suggest you would take yourself into terrain that could avalanche? Not sure what that means in practicality. We know that slopes up to 30 degrees are very safe though not completely. Up to 35 is even pretty safe, especially with a certain snow pack. But it's not always easy to gauge slope steepness and also sometimes there is only a short section that is steep. There are so many factors. I don't disagree with your premise. Most parents believe their own life less precious than their own. I just wonder sometimes how it plays out in reality.

One thing is it gets harder as the children get older. Their capabilities increase and they become more adult like. So all the points above become even more nuanced.
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