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Cross Country Skiing 2020/2021

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Weather has been grim the past couple of days, with rain up to circa 2,000m and what fresh snow there was above that has been trashed with the wind.

Woke up to almost bright weather and temps - so I opted for an early XC thinking that they would have groomed the piste as it was the weekend, but silly old me that would be too logical rolling eyes

I so nearly called it a day after a km or so as the trail was grim where it had rained, then melted and then refroze with 5cm+ grooves etc

Then the sweet lady controller came skating along the other way and she told me that the dameuse was on its way, now I've been around the block a fair few years in the Mountains, but unless I have a serious memory issue, I don't think I've ever heard a basher referred to as a dameuse, which after some research is the correct word, so you learn something new every day!

@pam w, @davidof, will be horrified Laughing

And sure enough it appeared and I had fresh virgin tracks which was most pleasant indeed.

And when I arrived at Monetier there were a lot of people coming out of the parking and likewise when I returned back (5km each way) the parking was 3/4 full.

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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
They allow dogs on a groomed track?
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Weathercam,
Quote:

she told me that the dameuse was on its way


It's an odd term. But explains why for eg. Val d'Isere's translated Pisteurs' updates often refer to "ladies" moving the snow around.
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@abc, the rules probably say "No, that said I know the controllers and they like the dogs, they turn a blind eye to them as they are small and their paws do not damage the piste, plus I tend to go out when it's not busy, like a lunchtime during the week Laughing

That said I do see some people with great big dogs?

This morning I went early so was quiet as well, as you can see in the picture, plus if I do see a group speeding along then I pull the dogs aside, just common sense.

And the sleds are doing a good trade today, and they have their own trails which they share with pedestrians/snow-shoers/fatbikes etc

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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Evidently ski de fond is going through a boom just now. I tried cross country in Crans Montana in Episode 65 and talked with Betony Garner about the classic v skate options and the growing appeal (she has an Haute Savoie pass that she's getting great value out of)
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Quote:

That said I do see some people with great big dogs

At what point in the continuum of dog sizes do other people's dogs become unacceptable....? As for "dameuse", what would you expect the woman to call it? "Basheur?"
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Weathercam wrote:

@pam w, @davidof, will be horrified Laughing


The verb damer means to flatten something down. The dameuse is equipped with a "dame" which is the thing on the back they flatten the snow with. On a building site "une dame" would be this tool



which is used for laying cobbles or generally flattening ground. I don't know why it is called that, I'd never thought about it before.

As for skiing, it has been pissing down to 2000 meters around Grenoble for the last few days. I was out this morning and the snow, even if waterlogged, wasn't too bad to ski at 1400m. Lower down it has been blitzed. The rain showers were unpleasant though.
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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!
pam w wrote:
......At what point in the continuum of dog sizes do other people's dogs become unacceptable....


When they trash the piste, just as ignorant walkers can do.

Weathercam wrote:
.....they turn a blind eye to them as they are small and their paws do not damage the piste......
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Not a dog owner here. How do you keep them from crapping at random spots?
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abc wrote:
Not a dog owner here. How do you keep them from crapping at random spots?


around Grenoble it is the walkers we have to watch out for crapping at random spots - especially in the classic tracks!
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@davidof, Laughing
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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.
@KenX, it is actually a big subject of discussion on the ski forums, although the French like toilet

exhibit 1:


http://m.skitour.fr/forums/read.php?id=313346

http://m.skitour.fr/forums/read.php?id=260468
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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
"ça fait un balisage utile en cas de brouillard" Laughing
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You know it makes sense.
davidof wrote:
abc wrote:
Not a dog owner here. How do you keep them from crapping at random spots?


around Grenoble it is the walkers we have to watch out for crapping at random spots - especially in the classic tracks!

Such a lovely country Wink Laughing
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Amazing what 4" of snow can do. Skated yesterday again. The groomer made a very nice solid skate platform for fast skate. I made such good time, I took a major detour to check out a new trail within the network.

But all that packing down of the previous 4 days also brought up some of the gravel underneath to the surfaace. I was carrying some speed at the bottom of a "V" shape section of trail, when near the low point, the snow disappeared! I aimed for the more grassy part first, but quickly that too ran out, only gravel left for the last few feet of the snowless segment. My ski grabbed, I flew out forward. Fortunately landed on the snow on the far side, missing the remaining gravel.

Had to be more careful the rest of the trip (that was near the beginning, so did temper down my speed on descend). Still, the majority of the trail were in good condition.

After some fiddling, I was able to fit my mittens into the loops of my pole strap. Much warmer hands. Much happier skier resulted.

(interestingly, I had in the past always dress "slightly chill" so as not to get sweaty once I started going. But as I was expecting a slower skier to join me yesterday, I opted for a pair of mitten, warmer socks, and a very thin additional layer of my mid-section. Then my buddy didn't show. So I went out with that "warmer" setup. I didn't sweat. So going forward, I'm going to dress a tad on the warmer side than I was used to )

We're expecting a big storm tonight into tomorrow all day. A foot of snow! At my door step! Very Happy
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Well the early bird catches the worm etc etc

This time around the dameuse had been out down where I start from and I had a lovely groomed piste pretty well all to myself.

I felt good and took it easy concentrating on technique and thought decided to go for my longest XC to date but the route I took doubled back on itself, plus I had the nagging worry of getting back home to prepare for Sunday Roast for friends.

As it turned out looking at my stats, even though my HRM was not connected and I was taking it easy, I managed some good segment times, so my technique must be getting better.

As someone who loves the buzz of skiing powder etc I have to say after a session like this morning I get the same buzz Very Happy







Have to admit that the pistes soon became quite tracked out, who would have thought one would start to get selective over best time to avoid the H****S fill in the blanks.

But I do love the fact that the French don't like getting out much before 10:00 so it's not Silly O'clock to get ahead of them Laughing

Back home in Worthing, Sunday AM promenade runners are out in force by 09:00.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I started out trying to skate ski Feb 2018 (age 59) so now it's three years later and after the last couple of sessions, I think I can now say maybe I've cracked it and or somethings finally clicked.

There are so many factors affecting one's performance, not least being three years older and trying to maintain the necessary fitness; and also learning a new sport at 59 was quite a big ask.

As I think I might have said before, as a sport it's akin to swimming, in that it's all in the technique if you want to be better, however unlike swimming where you can't really assimilate your lack of technique compared to others, out on the track the biggest motivational element is watching others more proficient gliding effortlessly along and saying to yourself, I want to try and be more like them etc.

The last few days the weather has been grim, and last evening I muted a plan to go ski-touring searching out Spring snow if overnight/early hours conditions had done their thing to the snowpack, but as I checked the snow this morning, and along with the overcast conditions it became obvious that I really had been clutching at straws.

After a couple of hours decided to go Cross Country though was not too sure what conditions would be like, given the mild temps, and whether the dameuse had been out.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that indeed the piste had been groomed and was holding up well, almost still frozen, and I started out at a steady pace but felt I was gliding well. Up ahead was a young woman who parked up next to me looking the bees knees (most important to look the part in XC) and it seemed that I was catching her, surely some mistake?!

And sure enough, I went past her on the slight climb, by then I was going quite hard but not in the red zone, and my mind started to wander wondering about what times I might put in on the outward leg if I kept going but I then realised that all my previous PB's I'd had a good tailwind, and that was not happening today.

The return leg also felt good, which is always way faster as it's more down-hill, in fact almost twice as fast!

So once back in the parking, I waited for the tech to do it's thing, and Bingo I'd taken substantial chunks of time off all the segments, and more importantly, my HR was not crazy high on the climbs.

Now it'll be upping the distance and tackling some of the reds Shocked

I'm now in a respectable top 50 out of 350 not too bad for an old fart who's only been at this three years Toofy Grin

I should also add that my antics have inspired a 70-year-old friend to ditch his classic skis and take up skating too Very Happy

We just can't get KenX into it in much the same way we can't get him on a road bike Laughing

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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I'm not biting.................
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Skiing on dirty snow is nothing unusual but skiing on sand is rarer. Ok some people do it for fun


http://youtube.com/v/KBZjHbyvkG8

but yesterday it was anything but especially as the snow had softened to slush. When I arrived at our local area people were already leaving, tossing their kit in the back of the car in disgust at the conditions. I regretted not bringing my classic skis as the tracks looked acceptable.

Climbing the 475 meters to the foot of the Charmant Som was weird under the yellow glow of the Saharan dust storm



There was a strong but chilly southerly wind blowing at the top. I wish there were some flat ski areas nearby, it almost feels like ski touring all the time. The descent, of course, wasn't that fast, an average of a bit over 30kph for the 4km and not too many walkers.... the carpark was full of young kids using the downhill ski lifts and the alpine ski schools were doing a roaring trade.
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A few weeks ago I moved up to Moray from the central belt. Brought my touring skis up last weekend in the hope of getting up Benrinnes today. The snow and weather reports weren’t great so my friend suggested XC instead. We had a great morning doing a wee forest trail loop at Archiestown.



It’s 30 years since I last did Nordic skiing and I was using borrowed kit, but I enjoyed it so much that I’m looking to buy my own equipment. Trouble is I don’t have much of a clue as to what to buy. Any suggestions on where to start? There’s no prepared trails around here so it’s always going to be very variable snow.
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Valkyrie wrote:
A few weeks ago I moved up to Moray from the central belt. Brought my touring skis up last weekend in the hope of getting up Benrinnes today. The snow and weather reports weren’t great so my friend suggested XC instead. We had a great morning doing a wee forest trail loop at Archiestown.



It’s 30 years since I last did Nordic skiing and I was using borrowed kit, but I enjoyed it so much that I’m looking to buy my own equipment. Trouble is I don’t have much of a clue as to what to buy. Any suggestions on where to start? There’s no prepared trails around here so it’s always going to be very variable snow.


Well you certainly don't want to be on race type skis. I wonder if nordic touring gear is a better bet for you? That is skis with a metal edge but essentially with cross country ski boots and bindings? Otherwise more touring oriented classic skis with skins such as the Atomic Mover Skintec
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@davidof, I’ve been looking at various review videos on YouTube and people there are recommending properly wide skis for backcountry- up to 100mm. The reviewers all sound like they know what they’re talking about but I’ve never seen a XC ski that wide! I like the idea of steel edges and a bit more width, might go for something in the 60mm to 70mm range.

Bindings are confusing me too - seems to be a lot of different names but can’t find anything to say why one might be better than another.
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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!
@Valkyrie, really good explanations as you drill down here on the various options re XC

https://www.sport-conrad.com/blog/en/cross-country-skiing-guide-styles-classic-skating-backcountry/

And then drill down to Back Country

https://www.sport-conrad.com/blog/en/cross-country-skiing-guide-equipment-backcountry/
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Valkyrie wrote:
@davidof, I’ve been looking at various review videos on YouTube and people there are recommending properly wide skis for backcountry- up to 100mm. The reviewers all sound like they know what they’re talking about but I’ve never seen a XC ski that wide! I like the idea of steel edges and a bit more width, might go for something in the 60mm to 70mm range.

Bindings are confusing me too - seems to be a lot of different names but can’t find anything to say why one might be better than another.


You only need metal edges if you are doing some hills really. The idea of nordic gear is that it is light. Steel edges obviously add weight so for the track you were doing yesterday trad. cross country gear is great. If you are going to climb a Scottish hill then you'd probably want heavier boots, bindings and skis as you can't really descend much more than 15 degrees easily on x-country gear.
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Forecast for yesterday was snow most of the day, but I suspected it might not amount to much, and sure enough this morning there was only circa 5cm in the garden and any hope of more snow higher up was dashed by the overnight strong winds which looked to have done for the fresh, so touring was not an option, but a slight breeze and what looked like a clear sky (twas early) made XC the next best thing.

And you just have to love the French as they just do not do mornings, and it's not as if it was that early, as I pulled up into an empty car-park at 09:00.



5cm of powder actually made the going slow, but was very nice never the less


But I was glad to get to a groomed piste


And six km in and past Monetier they were still not out yet Very Happy


And the middle of the picture is where we've been touring this week.


A beaut morning and another 16km logged.
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Wow-what a difference in two weeks!

Think we'll be lucky to have the trails open this time next week, especially with the end of the holidays, as my friendly lady pisteur said to me "C'est une catastrophe" referring to the recent spell of hot weather, the feckin sand along with no fresh snow on the horizon.

The picture below is very close to where the 3rd one down in the pictures above was taken, and compared to some of the piste was actually not too bad.

Had my work cut-out trying to catch her up after I'd put my phone back and gloves on and strapped my poles on with my HR in the mid 160's frothing at the mouth Laughing

Still managed a good pace even with the stops and dire piste https://www.strava.com/activities/4856812299

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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.
Valkyrie wrote:
@davidof, I’ve been looking at various review videos on YouTube and people there are recommending properly wide skis for backcountry- up to 100mm. The reviewers all sound like they know what they’re talking about

100mm is wider than my downhill ski!!! What do they do with ski that wide???

I once tour with 2 mates in the woods for a day. We were an interesting group: I was on 60mm metal edged double camber xc skis; 1 other on slightly wider (I think 80's) but single camber light weight telemark skis with kick wax; and the third was on an AT setup with skins.

On the up, I had to stop frequently to wait for them. No, I wasn't the fittest. In fact, I was probably the least fit of the trio. Even the guy who were on light telemark skis couldn't keep up with me. But on the down, the girl on AT setup was of course the fastest.

So, the distinction between AT and XC skis are somewhat of a continuum. If you want to xc ski, get normal xc skis! Metal edge is nice, additional width is helpful too. But get proper skis that you can kick and glide. And remember, every step you take, you're carrying the weight of the plank!

Quote:
I like the idea of steel edges and a bit more width, might go for something in the 60mm to 70mm range.

That's what I have. It's narrow enough to even fit in the tracks in Nordic touring centers.

I sometimes wish I have a plank that's a bit wider and stiffer for the steeper descends. Especially if snow was the type that has thawed and refrozen, which is quite often the case where I live. But having been out with others using that kind of setup, the weight and stiffness penalty is quite clear. In fact, I get tired of waiting for them on rolling terrains.


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Wed 5-05-21 19:23; edited 1 time in total
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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
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Weathercam wrote:
I started out trying to skate ski Feb 2018 (age 59) so now it's three years later and after the last couple of sessions, I think I can now say maybe I've cracked it and or somethings finally clicked.

Surprising coincidence. I also started at the same age.Wink

I'm not sure how to define whether I 'clicked' or not. I can definitely get a decent glide on the flat or even gradual inclines. But real hills are a different matter. Though fortunately, that's not really something I worry about around here...

The motivation I took up skating is because the snow near me had a tendency to ice up, which makes classic very frustrating but makes for nice fast skating. The main Nordic network here are on carriage roads, which never exceed the grade a horse can pull a carriage! Perfect for skating even for beginner.

Unlike Weathercam, my measure of success isn't to get faster each outing but to be able to cover long distance in a rough time window. Needless to say, the more efficient the technique, the less tiring it would be. And the faster one covers more distance in the same time. So the learning and progression is on the same path, if the goals differ.

Most of the loops where I ski are over 12km (they were originally designed for sightseeing by horse drawn carriage). So unless I go out and back on the same trail, my outings are all 12-15km each leg. I can also go from one network into the next one. In non-Covid time, have lunch and ski back. That would typically be a 20+km day. I was able to do that easily on classic skis. But only when conditions are conducive for good classic, which is about 1/2 of the days when it's snow covered. So learning to skate, I hope to be able to ski the other half of the days. And to cover the same distance.

So far, I easily cracked the 12-15km part. But the 20+k day at the moment is not too practical, as the midway cafe is not open. Without a midway rest inside a warm hut, the whole idea is just not appealing.

But as the snow isn't always there, I also travel to Nordic centers further north just to practice, or to see different sights. It's turned into a nice season of mostly Nordic skiing. Just like my downhill skiing, I'm mixing travel to new places with skiing. It's not always about the skiing... wink

Sadly, with the pandemic, there's not much going on as far as travel goes. Most restaurants aren't open so there isn't a lot of point in traveling to different places. Fortunately, there's quite a bit of snow in my backyard. So the season isn't entirely lost.


Last edited by 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 on Wed 5-05-21 19:27; edited 1 time in total
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
abc wrote:
.....Unlike Weathercam, my measure of success isn't to get faster each outing but to be able to cover long distance in a rough time window. Needless to say, the more efficient the technique, the less tiring it would be. And the faster one covers more distance in the same time. So the learning and progression is on the same path, if the goals differ.......



You have that a little wrong.

My measure of success is to be faster, but at a heart-rate that is less than my previous times over the same segments, and like you say with a more efficient technique etc so we are both on the same path.

Yesterday even on a bad piste, and I was not concentrating on times I end up with my second fastest splits but with a HR 10 below my previous times, so again that's technique.

Trouble is unless I travel think the season is coming to an end Sad
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@Weathercam, I considered briefly your suggestion of getting a heart rate monitor, but decided I wouldn't bother.

I noticed my time varies wildly depending on the snow condition. Some days the snow is fast (firm) and the distance went by in no time. Other days it was like trying to bike on the beach, getting nowhere despite a lot of effort.

Also because I don't always do the same loop. Makes it even harder to compare. (even the network near my home has nearly 100km of tracks, so I only do the same route maybe 2-3 times one season at most)

But for the most part, I'm still at the stage of my progression I can easily tell if I'm doing thing right or wrong without needing any measuring devices. Some days I just couldn't do anything right and it was just a drag. (I usually blame the snow, or at least snow condition I don't know how to handle) But there're days when I got into a rhythm then I didn't want to see the trail head because I wanted to ski more, a lot more!

I only keep a vague idea of how many hours it takes to do a rough 10 mile outing. It may actually be 12km or 15km depending on which exact route I take. And each route has different elevation profiles. So it can easily vary by up to 1/2 hr. All that will be out the window if I stop to talk to people. snowHead
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Mid march I got an email from Fischer promoting the Red Bull Nordenskiöldsloppet 220 km. A "strava" challenge where you had to complete 220km by the 5th April. This seemed like an interesting target although I had other plans. I had about 20 days, so that's 10km per day. The only problem, a full time job! However I'd just skated 42km around la Feclaz before work so it didn't seem that impossible but I was not to reckon with the spring weather.

I already had one outing to count, a cross country ski race at the Col du Barioz ski area. 22.7km and 700 meters of climbing. 10% of the challenge.

http://pistehors.com/jM66DXgBbNihPQ79Sa-x/cours-de-grand-rocher

Yes, climbing and cross country skiing don't really go hand in hand but all the local ski areas feature lots of ups and downs and the Col du Barioz is no exception with a long 4km climb to the plateau pistes. The race wasn't great to be honest. It was the start of a week of unstable weather with 20cm of fresh snow falling on a very humid base. Normally they wouldn't piste but let things cool down but with the competition they were forced to do something. The result was a rutted course which the piste basher driver described as "degout" - disgusting. He was sorry but that was the best he could do. You really saw the difference with the competitors who started very young in the ski clubs who have a long experience of cross country skiing off piste.


Not everyone was taking things seriously

Barioz has about 50km of trails with fantastic views over the mountains. It is less prone to the curse of the pedestrian as it is a long way from anywhere and is a specialized cross country and snowshoe area so you don't get the pistes totally chewed up by pedestrians by mid morning as they stomp around on them. This year has been a nightmare for that as I guess the peds were occupied alpine skiing in previous years.

I also had a 13km classic ski to the Charmant Som in the Chartreuse.



http://pistehors.com/mM6tWngBbNihPQ79U695/charmant-som-classic-ski

This is a 420m climb up 6km on a road that is closed in the winter.


On the 16th I decided on a relatively early start (9.20) at Chamrousse near to Grenoble in the hope of covering a bit of distance. It had snowed over half a meter and the snow had not yet settled and was a bit slow. The main plateau consists of some loipe that are on false flats but there is a black, the Astragal, that descends a long way to the south down to 1450 m. before climbing right above the plateau at 1730m over 4km. The main loops are perhaps a bit uninteresting although the missus reckons it has some of the best scenery around. The astragal is a very long tree lined run and is well worth doing.



I reckon I skied every piste for 29km with around 700 meters of vertical but the resort claims 55km. Some double counting going on. By midday it was getting sticky and I also had work in the afternoon so headed home.

http://pistehors.com/kc6rO3gBbNihPQ79c6-j/bingo

To finish the week on the 21st I went up to the Desert d'Entremonts for the closing day. The fresh snow meant they'd opened the long Outheran climb (but not the even longer black). The area features both alpine and cross country and is located in the Savoie part of the Chartreuse. It is very pretty with views of le Mont Blanc as well as the wonderful Chartreuse mountains. Yes mountains and that meant lots of ups and downs. By the time it had got too sticky to ski I'd completed 750 meters of vertical over 25km of skiing.



The cross country ski area is split into two parts. The northern sector is hilly with climbs and descents through pine forests and between barns and farms, some now converted in gite d'etape such as my friend Leonie's gite, la Coquelle. She converted her dad's old wood shed with her sister a couple of years ago: https://www.gites-de-france-savoie.com/Hebergements/gite/la-coquelle-73G107123.html

The southern "cluses" sector is flatter and is often used for school groups. It consists of a big blue loop and a shorter red with a stiff section of hairpin climbs. It also keeps the snow better as it has a more northerly orientation.


le Mont Blanc

http://pistehors.com/l85HVXgBbNihPQ79eK9x/desert-dentremonts-closing-day

With St Pierre de Chartreuse and le Granier not far away and ample ski touring and snow shoeing there is enough to keep anyone happy for a week's vacation.


It was now getting well into the second half of March, time was running and the snow was sucking more than Divine Brown by mid morning, the challenge was getting a bit more challenging

tbc...
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I decided to take a few days off work. One day one I headed up to les Saisies, which I'd alpine skied and it seemed pretty flat so a good plan for getting the kms in on x-country skis. It is not too far from home, just an hours drive. I thought I'd ski the Challenge officiel Etoile des Saisies - 22 km - Justine Braisaz. This is a 22km piste with 220 meters of climbing. Now that sounds pretty flat really. I think it is the old Raphaël Poirée. Raphaël picked up a silver medal at Salt Lake City in 2002 but I guess he's old news now whereas Justine is the current local biathlon star. I'd bumped into her last year training on my local track in the Chartreuse


Justine visiting us in the Chartreuse

As @pam w, will know the Justine Braisaz starts off with a rolling down hill to Lachat, about 5km but some quite steep descents and a few ramps up. This is followed by a 9km, 200 meter climb back to les Saisies and up to the plateau de Palette. You then turn around the Palette for what seems like it will never end. The snow was now getting sticky again so I finished with the Julia Simon trail. Julie's results are actually better than Justine's with a World Championship gold this year and 3 other world cup golds. Maybe they should swap the pistes around ? The trail is about 11km long with 150 meters of climbing, so climbing wise not much difference to the JB but it felt easier. It was now a case of searching any shaded snow at all and descents were fun with a mix of hard, fast refrozen crust and glue in the sun.

There is a lot of doubling up of pistes so teh 125km total are less than they appear but the area is very pretty with views of Mont Blanc, much closer than in the Chartreuse.



39km for 780 meters climbing, so yes a bit flatter than chez nous.

http://pistehors.com/n87paXgBbNihPQ79Qa9_/sticky-saisies-pushing-up-daisies

tbc...
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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?
I did other stuff on the Thursday. A ski tour in the Chartreuse looking for some north facing powder and not exactly cross country territory



but on Friday it was back to le Revard / la Feclaz. The plateau boasts 150km of trails including the "norwegian" style Pere Louis which winds its way through the woods on a narrow path



It is an old school classic trail more maintained by skiers' themselves. Not something for going fast or covering much ground but more aimed at a nice day out of contemplation in the middle of nature. I also tried to follow the Savoyarde course (an open race, cancelled this year due to Covid) but unlike les Saisies with its very clear piste markings things are much harder to follow at la Feclaz with a lot of trails zig-zagging in and out of the woods. I think it is a good ski area but easy to get lost too. Basically the area is a series of ever increasing anti clockwise loops but the junctions are not clearly marked so it is hard to follow one trail all the way around. There is alpine skiing at la Feclaz and le Revard as well as some good snowshoeing (to le Reculet for example) and a micro area at St Francois which is only open at weekends. Ski touring is more limited due to the flat nature of the terrain.

http://pistehors.com/o842g3gBbNihPQ7986_o/la-feclaz

anyway another 33km to the counter with 400 meters of climbing reflecting the rolling nature of the ski area, it is really somewhere for people who don't like much climbing. I was now pretty close to my target of 220km.

There is a southern sector at la Feclaz which is completely flat but I've never skied as unless you park up by the trails it is hard to find the link across.

tbc...
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To complete the challenge and as lockdown was near I fancied somewhere a bit different. Plateau de Beauregard or Champagny la Haute. Finally Champagny seemed to have a bigger variety of pistes. Although it only advertises around 25km total these are real km as non of the pistes double or triple up. It consists of 4 main loops and a small loop near the cross country ski hut which is conveniently centrally located.

Situated in a deep but high valley it also, arguably has the most stunning scenery.



At the bottom end you ski through the village of Champagny la Haute



over flat fields or along a river



but higher up the valley you climb up a long black to the alpine village of Laissonay before sweeping down by the river again



An excellent little ski area on the southern entrance to the Paradiski ski area. I'd only ever skied down to Champagny in the past and had no real idea where it was. With 38km and 700m of vertical that completed the challenge totally 235km and 5500 meters of climbing.

http://pistehors.com/pM4Mk3gBbNihPQ79qa9u/champagny-en-vanoise-nordic-ski-area

Of the ski areas I skied Champagny was perhaps the best overall. For pure skiing la Feclaz is great offering a huge number of runs with not too much climbing. les Saisies is similar but with some views that la Feclaz lacks.

During the season I also got over to Pras de Lys but didn't ski enough to form an opinion as I was on a CPD course and I skied les Naves just after Albertville. An area with a lot of climbing up and down but the highest cross country area in the French Alps bar perhaps the Col d'Agnel when it opens.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Despite the lockdown I've rebooted my cross country season with a bit of crust skiing as all the cross country areas shut down at the start of April due to Covid restrictions. Last week I skated over to the summit of the Grand Rocher, a popular ski touring and snow shoeing destination but not many people cross country ski as the the standard route is too steep. I took an 8km route from the trail head at the 7 Laux ski station which is much flatter. An initial climb up a green ski run then rolling across a ridge to the summit. On the climb the snow was still hard crust and I stayed on east facing slopes that had softened a bit at 9am. I also checked out the snow for the return, where I stayed more on west facing slopes as it had warmed up and also the skiing was less technical than on the climb.

17km for 675m of climb and ascent so not too strenuous.



http://youtube.com/v/G3qZ_lfJWVQ

Of course, the obvious question is why not do it on touring skis? Well the trailhead for the ski touring route is 13km from home and the Gendarmerie quite often go there for training. There was also the possibility that at 1400m there was a lot of portage to find snow. Cross country skis let you cover a lot of ground, relatively quickly on flatter routes so are a good choice. The climbing bits of this route were a bit technical which slowed me down a bit on the way over.

http://pistehors.com/rs4EBXkBbNihPQ79NK9k/grand-rocher-crust-skiing-from-pipay

Regarding the lockdown, I notice from Strava and other social media sites that it doesn't appear to be respected much this time around. That said, the rules are very complex depending on who you are. For example, after 7pm but you are Muslim, no problem during Ramadam. Going fishing in a mountain lake? You're good for 30km. Oh you are a retired biathlon star going skiing 200km from home at 5am? No worries either.
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One good thing of lockdown and whole bunch of restrictions this winter was, that instead of being on road with skiing WC half of winter, I was "laying" at home. And that meant, I had plenty of time for skiing myself. I don't remember I would be on skis this much since I quit racing and later quit being serviceman for our WC team. And winter was pretty good too, after it finally started in late December.
When I thought it was over in early April
https://www.instagram.com/p/CNW3gn4Fu18/
we still got some more snow, and they decided to keep making xc tracks now and there, and last skiing session was on 3rd of May. Well maybe it wasn't last, as we still have plenty of snow Very Happy
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