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Off Piste Ski Sabbatical

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi Folks,

My boss has just given me the go-ahead to take a 3 or 4 month sabbatical this winter, which I plan to spend almost all, if not all, skiing. Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
I would love to get some advice on where to do it. I have searched through the forums and read similar threads and gotten some advice already, but sure, why not start one more thread?!!

My goals centre around becoming independent in the backcountry. I’ve been skiing over 15 years, including a previous season in Whistler & an instructor qualification, and for the last 5 or so years I’ve been doing almost exclusively guided or coached off-piste and touring. I love to get away from the lifts & crowds, ski powder and challenging terrain and steeps. Although I have picked up plenty of tips over the years on staying safe in avalanche terrain, planning routes and navigating safely, I’ve almost always had a guide to rely on when outside the safety of a resort.

With this in mind I want to plan the season to get better at this stuff - I plan to start the season with a thorough avi course, but after that I want to base myself in a place (or places) where I can meet people with similar goals, with more experience and local knowledge than me to learn from, and to really get some mileage under my belt. I won’t be working, so I won’t be able to meet locals that way, and I’ll likely be living just with my husband (who will be working full time remotely), so I won’t meet people through housemates. It’d be great to be able to find a town that has an active club or meetups, or ways to meet backcountry ski partners.

Anyone have any advice -
Where should I go ?
How do I meet people with similar ski goals?

Spots I have thought of:

Chamonix
+ Terrain
+ Lots of people into this stuff
+ I speak a bit of french
- Not sure I have good enough alpine mountaineering skills to make the most of the lines off the midi & argentiere basin (i’ve done a little)
- Infrastructure is shite
- How good is the pow? Does it get tracked super fast?

Verbier
+ Lift Accessed Terrain
+ I speak a bit of french
+ Amazing lift system
- Too posh for me
- Not into the seasonaire party scene
- Pricey
- Not sure what the scene is like for people into backcountry/touring etc ?

La Grave
+ Terrain
+ I speak a bit of french
- Tiny place, is it hard to get in with locals?

St Anton / Somewhere in Tyrol
+ Terrain
+ Lift System
- I speak no german
- Are the mountains challenging enough? (eg how do the steeps compare to Cham / La Grave )

Somewhere in the Aosta Valley
+ Italian food & people
+ Easy to drive to lots of places on the one ski pass, incl Courmayeur, Monterosa, Monte Bianco
+ cheap
- Driving places
- No Italian
- Hard to meet locals?


Travel around:
* Pick a few places, or chase the powder
* Include some big international trips, my bucket list include Japan, Georgia & heading back to BC.

+ See new exciting places
- Always be a tourist, don’t get to know somewhere
- More difficult to consolidate skills in new places
- More difficult to meet people
- €€€

Would love to hear from people who have spent time in these, , or other places, and how you guys meet ski buddies
Thanks!!
snow report     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@alice8217, welcome to Snowheads. You will receive a lot of replies to this as everyone has their favourite spot.

I will put a few thoughts together for you on my region of choice, which is the Chamonix valley.

You will never want to work during the winter again...
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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?
@alice8217, Welcome to Snowheads. Can't help with the questions, but if you are a british citizen you will need to watch your timings. If we leave the EU before you go then you will only be able to spend 90 days in Europe, so 3 months not 4.
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holidayloverxx wrote:
@alice8217, Welcome to Snowheads. Can't help with the questions, but if you are a british citizen you will need to watch your timings. If we leave the EU before you go then you will only be able to spend 90 days in Europe, so 3 months not 4.


Thankfully not a problem, I'm Irish Little Angel
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@holidayloverxx, I wish you'd stop saying that on numerous threads, it is not true.

The current rules only allow us to stay for 90 days in 180 as a "Tourist", exactly the same as 3rd country nationals who have a tourist visa.

It is possible for EU citizens to extend to 180 days and more restrictive for 3rd country nationals, but even then there is an application process that we should abide by but many ignore.

What is easier is that EU Citizens can seek employment and obtain a work related exemption, working for a Ski School for example, which may be less of an option IF we leave the EU without some sort of reciprocal employment agreements.
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@alice8217, lucky you

I’d certainly give La Grave some thought. I’m a regular there as a punter but know a couple of people who used to do seasons there. It’s a small place but has quite a diverse group of ski bums/seasonnaires - lots of Scandis, brits, some Americans as well as French. My understanding is that the place is pretty deserted early season so it doesn’t take too long to work out who’s there for the season. It also seems pretty friendly and low key compared with Chamonix where everything feels like a bit of a race

The downside of LG is that it is quite isolated if you don’t have a car. Take one if you have one!

Not sure how much you know about the skiing in LG. It’s not for everyone but it offers very accessible serious terrain with proper mountaineering skills required (not for all routes) so it’s a great place to learn rope work, glacier travel etc. It’s also pretty easy to get yourself in trouble so go carefully if that’s where you end up.

Hope it’s a great season

Finally if you have transport and want a good and reasonably priced course, look at the things offered by the Eagle Ski Club. The Introductory and Tour Leaders courses are both really good
ski holidays     
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@panaga52, except that British citizens will no longer be EU citizens after Brexit. rolling eyes

It is only possible for third country nationals to stay longer than 90 days within a 180-day period in the EU if they successfully apply for a work or study permit.
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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!
@alice8217, Disclaimer here; these are the observations of an old plodder.

Chamonix is not perfect. 5th January sees the start of my 6th season there. I was lucky enough to retire early and already knowing the place from summer Alpinism since the late 80's it was the natural next step to learn to ski off piste and begin ski mountaineering there. It is easy to be intimidated by the place if you are not used to it.

It can have good and bad conditions like everywhere else. My first 2 seasons had pretty dry conditions (there are always good interludes), the last two have been real fresh snow fests. The lift accessed off piste does get tracked out quickly in the honey pots like the Grands Montets and Flegere/Brevant. However, if you are mobile, or attached to a group that are, fresh tracks are available for much longer at St Gervais, Megeve and Les Contamines from the lifts.

The infrastructure is not in the same league as Verbier or the 3 Valleys. But it is more than good enough for the types of adventure you are seeking. The Evasion MB resorts, included in the Chamonix Unlimited season pass, have a very good infrastructure and a fantastic variety of skiing.

As an illustration of what it can really be like, in the first month last year with a couple of friends, according to my diary we had 13 days making fresh tracks for most or all of the day. This obviously involved skinning further and for longer each day. But with a bit (sometimes quite a bit!) of effort you can be well away from the masses.

As for your mountaineering skill, having some helps. However, if you are looking to ski the really steep and full on routes, it won't be your ability to go upwards which is crucial. It will be your technique and head on the down. If you ski with a competent group/s they are generally only too happy to pass on knowledge and make allowances for less experienced Alpinists.

As you point out, there are lots of folk in the area looking for the same objectives with whom you will be able to link up. No doubt this is all available on Facebook and whatnot but as an old curmudgeon I have no idea on that.

From the information you have provided, and as you have identified, you will need to develop a different, more independent minded approach to get the best out of Chamonix. It is inherently a serious place, particularly when exploring the fantastic glaciated terrain. But if treated with respect, and with good companions it provides a wonderful backcountry ski experience.
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Thank you @Arno, !
I'm not very familiar with Eagle Ski Club, just had a quick google and looks very interesting, thanks for the tip.

I'm a big La Grave fan, I've done 2 week-long trips there before, one in January so I can attest to the ghost-town nature early season! Its an amazing spot, but I've always been guided and never did any routes that needed rappelling in. "Easy" stuff by La Grave standards!! Razz
I did love the vibe, but yeah very serious terrain.


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Fri 4-10-19 16:57; edited 1 time in total
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@alice8217, I'm doing something very similar as I work on a bank contract. I'm not as experienced as you so will be guided except for a brief section where I'll be doing my ski instructor's course. I know of people who have done the whole Alps in a van/campervan but this sounds like a different lifestyle altogether and maybe difficult if you need a good internet connection.

I would suggest from what little I do know that a car would be a good idea: you could stay in one place and then drive elsewhere but still have the security of a rented flat/room?
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
panaga52 wrote:
@holidayloverxx, I wish you'd stop saying that on numerous threads, it is not true.

The current rules only allow us to stay for 90 days in 180 as a "Tourist", exactly the same as 3rd country nationals who have a tourist visa.

It is possible for EU citizens to extend to 180 days and more restrictive for 3rd country nationals, but even then there is an application process that we should abide by but many ignore.

What is easier is that EU Citizens can seek employment and obtain a work related exemption, working for a Ski School for example, which may be less of an option IF we leave the EU without some sort of reciprocal employment agreements.


Not going to debate it with you. If we leave the eu a British citizen wanting to do a ski season is a 3rd country national and a tourist so I am correct. The OP doesn't want to work. The applucation process to stay longer...as has been pointed out to you before... is very restrictive. There is no sign of any employment agreements. For some reason you are in denial and continue to talk about EU citizens...which we will not be. EU citizens have freedom of movement in the EU do can stay as long as they want. I have no idea why you are so confused and have the idea they can only stay for 90 days. There is no need for EU tourists to extend tyo 180 days.

Anyway the OP Irish so happy days for her
snow conditions     
 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.
I've done the last few seasons in British Columbia. I'm planning to switch up to Chamonix next year, but looking at prices it's not much different due to the high cost of the lift pass and accommodation. So if you have the funds for Chamonix maybe consider BC. Somewhere like Kicking Horse or Revelstoke you have plenty of challenging and steep "in-bounds off piste" for days you can't find partners or avy risk is too high, slack-country for lift accessed backcountry, Rogers pass (one of the top backcountry skiing areas in N America) just down the road, and Banff national park not too far. Lot more snow than Europe and polite lift queueing.

For meeting people there is a Rogers pass backcountry ski group on Facebook. Or you can enquire at the local ski shops aimed at touring. Generally the Canadians are a friendly bunch though, it's not hard to get talking to people on lifts.

If you do pick Europe I will be interested to hear about your experience. Like I said my plan is still for Chamonix next year, but I do worry about finding partners and being stuck on-piste.
snow report     
 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
Jan = Verbier
Feb = Chamonix
Mar = La Grave
Apr = Lech
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@queenie pretty please, I think that's what I said!

@holidayloverxx, Here we go again and I'm not in denial, I'm trying to stay within the rules regardless of whether we are in the EU or not. Which by the way is irrelevant as we should not confuse the EU with the Schengen Agreement as they are not contiguous.

Regarding your "EU citizens have freedom of movement in the EU do can stay as long as they want. " No they don't. The 90 in 180 rules apply regardless.

From :https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/

"Citizens of the countries that don’t need a visa to enter the Schengen zone are however NOT allowed to reside in the travelling destination for the time desired without any other legal permission.

Although the United Kingdom is not a member of the Schengen Area, British citizens can travel across Europe visa-free for a maximum of 90 days.

The amount of days permitted to stay in any of the Schengen zone countries doesn’t exceed 90 days/ three months every half a year needless of the travel reasons. "

After 90 days in 180, you need to apply to your chosen country to remain, either on a work, study or other applicable Visa Type and each signatory of the Schengen Agreement has their own rules. This is equally applicable to Irish citizens but (and you are correct) the process of extending your stay is more straightforward if you are a SCHENGEN National.

"If you intend to stay in the Schengen (in a country other than that in which you are "Resident" or a Citizen of) area for over 90 days you must apply for a residence permit (Long stay visa), not a Schengen visa. Instructions are on the respective embassy/consulate’s homepage."

I have lived and worked in 7 countries within the Schengen Zone, in each case I needed some form of residency permission, either provided by my employer, or through a bilateral arrangement between the UK and the state in question.

If the OP wishes to stay within the Schengen Zone for longer it is highly unlikely that anyone will bother to check but, that comes with risk. There is a reason that things like Travel Insurance and Car Insurance (Green Cards) are restricted to 90 Days of use. So if you were to be involved in an accident, altercation or if one was unfortunate enough to be arrested in another country, one of the first questions they'd ask is how long you've been there.

My underlying point is NOT that things won't change if we leave the UK, but that it is not the end of the world as we know it.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
alice8217 wrote:
I love to get away from the lifts & crowds, ski powder and challenging terrain and steeps.

but after that I want to base myself in a place (or places) where I can meet people with similar goals, with more experience and local knowledge than me to learn from,

Anyone have any advice -
Where should I go ?
How do I meet people with similar ski goals?



All solid choices although La Grave might be a bit quiet for a season. Having skied extensively in both I’d pick Verbier over Chamonix. The infrastructure is so much better. It’s easy to find ski partners if you are outgoing - there are a lot of like minded, motivated skiers - mainly Swiss, Scandis and Brits. Verbier community on FB good place to start.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
My resort preferences would be Verbs and St Anton.

La Grave - fun for say a month, but as @BobinCH, mentioned it's a bit quiet for an entire season. If you're at in that region, I'd base myself in Serre Chevalier and drive to La Grave on powder days. I believe there are a number of snowheads who live Serre Chevalier, which is an excellent resort (albeit a tad low).

Verbs - amazing, has it all and attracts a good hardcore crowd. Terrain is great, it's big and there's some good apres. Being in Switzerland it's a bit pricey, but worth it if you can afford it.

St Anton - never been but it's on the bucket list.

Cham - eventhough the terrain is great, it's just a ballache getting around. The snow does get tracked quickly and getting busses across the resort is tedious. A weekend or week break sure, a season would grind me down. Lot's of people love Cham and I see why, but personally not for me.

Aosta Valley - great idea, although I have no idea about the seasonaire culture there and I would fear there's not enough 'seasonaire traffic' to meet like-minded people.

Roadtrip - you probably won't learn as much but more of a holiday/adventure.

Meeting people - for a roadtrip there's more options; online forums, couchsurfing, hostels, lots of drinking in bars, paid guides, mountain hosts, facebook groups and generally being outgoing on chairlifts etc. If you decide to stay put, I would definitely head to the seasonaires bar for drinks and just chat to meet people. I'd also post on the ski resort's local facebook group & online ski forums rolling eyes and see if that gets any traction. All you need is one helpful person and it snowballs Toofy Grin from there.
snow conditions     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@panaga52, I acknowledge...and have done so before....that in some
EU countries EU citizens have to register to stay longer than 90 days. A simple formality. It's not the case everywhere. E.G. The UK does not require registration.

No the world won't end but it will no longer be a simple formality. Tourists will find it difficult to get a longstay visa if they want to stay longer
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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?
In order to get the most out of la Grave you need both good skiing skills and also to be comfortable with rope work and complex route finding. If that is not you then the more easily accessible skiing is too limited for a season. You would be better off at Alp d'Huez or Serre Che and driving over periodically.

After a season spent in LDA and la Grave, I took an avalanche course in Chamonix and spent a season in Nendaz. This was about right. It was a bunch cheaper being somewhere other than Verbier itself partly as there wasn't any nightlife. Verbier has an astonishing variety of terrain and if you are willing to walk you can usually find good conditions.

I love Chamonix but it's not somewhere to figure all this stuff out. Or at least it wasn't for me. Too full on.
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Thanks for all your replies, lots of great information there.

I love the suggestion of BC, but I think I'll probably end up in the Alps, practically speaking, I'll be able to have my car, drive around to chase storms a bit and get a variety of terrain, and also make connections and ski terrain that I can come back to over and over. I'd love to go back to BC again for a trip or even a season, especially Revelstoke, but I think i'd be more likely to meet my goals in the Alps. Also in my experience there, I ended up a pretty strong freeride skier, but with not a lot of a clue about avalanche danger, because everything is bombed.

I agree with a lot of the sentiment around La Grave, it might just be too quiet for a full season. I do have some rope skills and alpine climbing experience, but not a huge amount and it might be just a bit deep-end for 4 months. I might make a trip there if I end up drive-able distance away.

The Cham vs Verbier debate is still neck-and-neck in my head, and I'm doing a little more research on Verbier after the information shared here, I don't know it nearly as well.

Does any know the Eastern side Alps well and have any suggestions in that direction? Eg Swiss-German area, Austria etc.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Either Disentis or Andematt would be good. Nangijala in Disentis is run by really nice people and there is a small ski bum scene. Terrain is endless provided you are willing to hike. It would be a very different experience to Verbier where everything is served up on a platter.
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Chamonix vs Verbier vs La Grave.
Been lucky enough to spend extended periods in each.
Here is my 2p...

Verbier : Incredible place for easy access free-ride skiing off the lift. Did a season there and had a lot of fun. Terrain is challenging without generally being extreme. (if you want touring options or proper steeps then its not Chamonix). Downsides? If you are not earning CHF then its super expensive. Plus the seasonaires tend to be chalet girls or gap-yah types as opposed to reliable ski buddies.

Chamomix : Disjointed ski resort that its not well connected / gets tracked fast. However that misses the point of Chamonix. It is *THE* best place in the world for lift accessible ski touring and alpinism. However you are much more likely to be on glacier at high altitude. My feeling is that meeting people might be harder : it is a big town and the local crews seem to stick together. Different nationalities seem to have their own cliques and hang about for multiple winters. Chamonix is magic - but touring essential to escape the crowds. Got some Scottish pals who live there and I can see why!

La Grave : Any who says it is "too small" hasn't spent long enough there Wink Early season the tree skiing is phenomenal. Mid-season you have the road runs. Then April its all about the big glacier runs (pan de rideau / les enferchotes etc). Lots to do - but you need a car to escape. Serre Chevalier (tree skiing) and Col Du Lauteret (touring) add variety. Oddly the town being small is a positive. Hang about for a week and you will inevitably bump into people there for same reason. Ski bum population might only be 30-40 peeps but is very friendly as result. Southern alps can be slightly less reliable for snow.

Where would I go for longer stay? Now : Probably La Grave. There is no where else like it when snow conditions are good and I like the laid back vibe. However the correct answer depends on where you are at in life and what you want out the winter. For a 20-something wanting to ski lots of pow, drink a little beer and have fun then Verbier was perfect (these days I have kids so can only dream of extended ski sabbatical!)

Ultimately they are all incredible places - but very different!
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Haggis_Trap wrote:
For a 40-something wanting to ski lots of pow, drink a little beer and have fun then Verbier is perfect


FIFY Very Happy
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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!
BobinCH wrote:
Haggis_Trap wrote:
For a 40-something wanting to ski lots of pow, drink a little beer and have fun then Verbier is perfect


FIFY Very Happy


Fair point! For free-ride style skiing off the lifts Verbier is magic.
Then park fat skis outside pub Mont Fort for a pint after wink
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@alice8217, (vested interest, I live in Chamonix)... if I was going to do such a thing, one place no-one's mentioned is Jackson Hole. I have only spent two ski days there, one all day tour up one hill, one day lapping Teton Basin (skins again) and I think it would tick your back-country boxes. Mind you it might make your hubbie's remote working trickier.

Cham vs Verbs. Sooooo tricky. I love Verbier's skiing. But, I know I'm going out on a limb here and @BobinCH, @gorilla, must correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not so sure that it's as "back" country as you seem to desire? Does that sound stupid?

What I think I'm saying is that because it is such a Swiss, connected, joined up area, not that one doesn't can be forgetting about risks, etc., but I just get the perception that it's sort of, in a weird way, easier to manage? Not sure I'm getting my subtlety across here.

Whereas, despite its faults (buses, but you avoid those by having a car...) - where Cham wins for me is,
- it is a real town - i.e. on down days (what are those you may ask?) - it doesn't feel as though the world has ended
- Brevent-Flégère doesn't get tracked out as quickly as Grands Montets, La Tour even less so, although while there are lots of hungry powder hounds, it's not that bad. Anyway back country isn't about powder.
- MBU Season gets you 6 50% days at Verbier, and covers Courmayeur and Evasion Mont Blanc, so Les Contamines beckons on post-storm powder days

I am making pretty nuanced arguments here. I don't think finding ski buddies in either would be difficult as long as you are quite social and ask on here for the right bars to hang in...
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Are you looking for mainly lift assisted off piste or are you thinking of touring.
Austria has lots of opportunity for lift assisted off piste and great touring, both day tours and hut to hut.
With a car and a season lift pass for either Tirol or Salzbuger you would have amazing places you could go.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@under a new name, yes. Verbier doesn't have the same kind of vibe that Chamonix has. I know what you are getting at when you say it isn't as "backcountry" because you are never as far from help and it usually requires a lot less effort to get where you are going. It is also not as dangerous.

Others may have had different experiences but I found Verbier ideal as a base for a second season where I was looking to ski autonomously off piste most of the time. It was easier to put the theory I had learned into practice somewhere where I was only worrying about a narrower range of mountain hazards.

In contrast, even the commonly skied stuff off the GM really requires a good level of mountaineering skill. I know people treat the glacier des rognons as basically a piste but it really isn't. I didn't want to be figuring stuff out in that kind of environment.

That said, this stuff is highly personal and other people may have different experiences. The people I skied with in Verb were good skiers (BobinCH is a much better skier than me) but often did not have a much higher level of mountain skill/sense than I did. If you had access to more skilled locals then you might have a different experience. That might make Chamonix a better experience.
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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.
@gorilla, glad I wasn't entirely off my head on that. I think I prefer Cham town to Verbier, esp. in quiet weeks - but if it was me as I have no particular backcountry aspirations that need to be satisfied in a single season, I'd probs be in Verbier.

Not that I don't have backcountry aspirations he he he

It's a very first world problem, if I may be so rude Happy
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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
The Pyrenees would tick most of your boxes. There is a good touring and alpinism community in the region. A number of expats in Ax Les Thermes. Cheap living, close to Spain/Andorra. Hot pools. Snow not assured (but where is?)but usually good. Worth investigating
snow conditions     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Hiya folks, sorry for the delayed reply, its been a busy few days.

Just want to say thanks for all the nuanced replies and discussion, its exactly the kind of details I was looking for.
Not that my decision has been made any easier!

I think if I didn't have the requirement of meeting people reasonably easily (I'm not some super outgoing person who easily makes friends in bars) I would jump at going somewhere smaller - La Grave, or Disentis even look really cool.
One of the drawbacks with La Grave for me is that I would not feel comfortable skiing there alone without a partner- and I'm sure I will have plenty of days skiing alone, when there are no ski buddies around and my husband is working. At least in a normal resort I could do some in bounds skiing on those days.

I'm a bit fearful of the hectic go-get-the-line vibe Chamonix might have - The idea of running off the GM for first tracks against the agro hoards realllllly does not appeal to me. But on the flipside, I'm also very avi-risk-averse so wouldn't be pushing the steeps on a cat 4 powder day, so would probably happily go lap trees those days.

Decisions are hard!!!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
^ oddly I reckon La Grave (or any small ski town) can be easier place to meet people (however you don't know that yet and just see tumbleweed blowing down the streets). in Cham / Verbier there are more cliques and competition for fresh tracks. in La Grave everyone is just respectfully scared of the big-quiet mountain and happy to help each other out. after a couple of weeks everyone knows your face. the town is small with really tight community of ~40 ski bums. cool thing is that all the nationalities / guides and locals mix up in the same social scene centered on Castillian and the K2. indeed as an outsider you will probably be a novelty wink done a couple of extended la Grave trips (first was in 2009) and meet some really good ski friends : many of whom I keep in touch with. we are now waiting for the day when our kids are old enough to come and shred the telepherique!

have fun wherever you go.
nice 1st world problem to be suffering from!
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I've lived in Chamonix for a couple of years now and haven't ever really felt that there was a 'hectic' vibe. Sure GM gets tracked out by 10.30 but then you just pop over to Le Tour and get fresh tracks until the afternoon on a powder day. If you're touring then you can still get fresh snow, days after a storm, all over the place. A 45 minute skin from the bochard gondola will almost guarantee fresh tracks (obviously this is all anecdotal)

Cham does have a reputation but ultimately the majority of skiers are still there on holiday and not doing anything gnarly and I know plenty of locals/seasonnaires who don't tour. There's active FB groups to find partners and obvs Snowheads Smile
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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@alice8217,

Think I'd end up in Chamonix but would like to have a car to escape the valley at busy times. You are probably right that you don't yet have the skills to be independent off the Midi and Argentiere basin but I guess getting them would be the objective of the season? On the other side, touring on the Aiguille Rouge side is significantly let serious. I'm biased but one use of a car would be to get to Les Contamines for more safer/easier sidecountry touring and lift served offpiste and to get fresh tracks. Add in St G on bad weather powder days for loads of fresh tracks in the trees. In theory, public transport could replace a car but it really cuts into a ski day.
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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?
Ok so your husband is with you but working remotely?

Personally, given your criteria, I wouldn't go to la Grave or Chamonix but it is true that you will need some kind of population center to meet enough like minded people. Do you want to meet tourists/ski bums or locals?
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Quote:

don't yet have the skills to be independent off the Midi and Argentiere basin


Should anyone be skiing that terrain on their own?!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@boarder2020,
Quote:

Should anyone be skiing that terrain on their own?!

by independent I meant without a guide rather than solo
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alice8217 wrote:


I'm a bit fearful of the hectic go-get-the-line vibe Chamonix might have - The idea of running off the GM for first tracks against the agro hoards realllllly does not appeal to me. But on the flipside, I'm also very avi-risk-averse so wouldn't be pushing the steeps on a cat 4 powder day, so would probably happily go lap trees those days.



I may be biased but the combination of the marked and avi controlled itineraries (Tortin, Mont Gelé, Vallon d’Arbi etc) combined with the proper off piste options off Attelas, Mont Gele and Mont Fort sounds like the perfect combination for you to progress as you get more experience during your season. If Verbier is still in your thoughts you could message Rungsp or SteveSparks who have places in Le Chable and I’m sure will reassure you about ease of meeting “normal” people.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
^ This. For lift accessible *fun* freeride skiing nowhere beats Verbier. Chamonix is best viewed as bunch of disjointed lifts that give access to incredible touring.

Only downside of Switzerland is that you need to be earning CHF to survive a longer stay.
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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!
Haggis_Trap wrote:
^ This. For lift accessible *fun* freeride skiing nowhere beats Verbier. Chamonix is best viewed as bunch of disjointed lifts that give access to incredible touring.

Only downside of Switzerland is that you need to be earning CHF to survive a longer stay.


still if you want a shitty lift system that gives access to incredible touring there are better places to go - but the big advantage of places like Chamonix is that it keeps all the grockles in one place.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Quote:

Only downside of Switzerland is that you need to be earning CHF to survive a longer stay.


I agree day to day living costs are not great. Accommodation in Nendaz is not that bad: https://www.inter-agence.ch/fr/locations-saison . You are looking at about £4,000 for a flat for the season. Verbier/le Chable obviously more expensive: https://www.chaletapartmentrentals.com/chalet-rentals/seasonal-chalet-rentals/

Is Verbier nicer, obviously yes. Is it worth another £1,000 a month to live there rather than Nendaz, probably not. Pros and cons with uplift from Siviez but overall not a bad option.
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@alice8217, I'm happy to give some views on Chamonix from the PoV of a female, and re. remote working - there's a big co-working space there! When I was younger I did more of the partying scene. Now my social life is a bit more chilled, and there are lots of people around who are very happy to do the same.

I love it - but more for the ease of access to Geneva, and surrounding ski areas, and the fact it's a real town. I've had plenty of great powder days - getting first tracks isn't easy, getting a fair amount of fresh isn't too bad.

I'll pm you a few links to look at re. more organised groups and meeting people. There's a lot going on - plus quite a few snowheads around Smile

Whatever you choose, you'll have a great winter regardless. But it's worth trying to decide soon. Accomodation is getting tight in Chamonix already, and discounted lift passes are out this month. Other areas may be similar.
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