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Sestriere, end of March - tips'n'tricks?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I've stumbled across a suspiciously cheap/bargain (delete as appropriate) option to spend 20-27 of March in Sestriere. Not somewhere I know much about, so any advice, warnings, do's & don't, tales (tall or otherwise) appreciated please

First and biggest question - is there likely to be enough snow? Resort seems to be at 1800-2000m with the local pistes above that, so I'd like to think it would be OK, but...! We like to travel so trips to Sauze d'Oulx and Mont genevre (looks a hike!) will be happening as well. Current reports suggest there's not that much there at the moment and no more dumps forecast

There don't seem to be that many blues. I'm happy skiing pretty much anything, but the missus is a (french) blues-easy reds kinda lady - how do all those Italian red runs shape up? Pretty relaxed or sandbagging blacks?


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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
My brother is there at the moment and says it's fine. As you say, there hasn't been much snow (at all!) this winter in that part of the Alps, and my concern is how much conditions could deteriorate in the next 4 weeks if the dry run continues.

If you are happy skiing the runs which have artificial snowmaking (50% of themz apparently), and OK with the likelihood that most of the other runs will probably be shut (not to mention off piste!), then it might be worth a punt, but personally I would be looking at somewhere to the north of the Alpine ridge - i.e. not Italy.

As for red runs - it's normal for Italian areas to be predominantly red. The majority should be easier than French reds (for example), and they should all be groomed too.
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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?
@CoticJon, I’ve not stayed in Sestriere before but I’ve been to Sauze four times in the last few years. I really enjoy the Via Lattea ski area, it really needs a number of chairlift upgrades but the ski area rarely gets too busy and I enjoy the variety of terrain. The Italians love their pisted runs and do a decent job of grooming, and in general I’d say a lot of the reds are blue/reds, and the blacks are very sedate compared to France.

The Sestriere local area has a lot going for it in itself, certainly enough blues and reds there to find your feet.

There is an 8 person gondola which goes up towards Sauze. From here, there is a blue that goes down toward to Sauze but it’s sometimes fairly sketchy and can be closed. The only other way down to Sauze is a black which, to be fair, is fairly steep for the first half of it, so your other half might want to give that a miss. But from the top of the gondola the area above Sansicario is perhaps my favourite part of Via Lattea, there’s some really nice wide reds that shouldn’t give too much bother at all.

Getting to Montgenevre is a bit of a mission if only for the fact that there’s quite a few lifts to get there and they’re pretty slow. But, so long as you leave reasonably close to first lifts in the morning, there’s plenty of time to get over there, have a bit of a ski around, and get back again. It’s definitely something I’d recommend doing, it’s a good day out even if I do find some of the chairlifts frustrating. When in resort though it’s also worth checking to see if tour operators do a ski away day, where you’ll pay to get on a coach there and back. It’s an alternative way to do it and means you get much more time over there to explore rather than worrying if you’re going make it back in time.bear in mind you get (I think) only one day in Montgenevre with the 6 day lift pass, though you can pay to upgrade if you go twice, but via Lattea has so much going on I don’t think you’ll need to.

Not experienced Sestriere of an evening so can’t comment on that.

Transfer from the airport is quick, should get it done in under two hours on a coach. Each time we’ve been to Sauze (two with TO, two DIY) we’ve had a very early flight out and been on the slopes by lunchtime, which is brilliant as it’s almost like an extra day.

I’d say go for it. Sestriere is high as a resort and there’s plenty of options easily accessed locally or from the gondola that are high up slopes. Word of warning, get the gondola back down again, the lower part of the run is awful and finishes in a car park.
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@CoticJon, I was in Sauze mid Jan, and went over to Sestriere most days as they had better snow at the time, and I think it’s still the same. The run below the gondola from Sansicario area was closed, doubt it will be open unless there’s a big dump. There’s certainly enough for in Sestriere and and Sansicario, and the Italians are very good at piste management, they may get a bit narrower as time goes on. Not all lifts were running mid week, which may be the case in mid Jan every year, but I was able to get about all areas without any problems. I’m hoping to get another week in from the 19th, if there’s a fresh fall of snow I’d certainly go back as I enjoyed the skiing and food on the mountain.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I was in Sauze 2 weeks ago (before they had the much needed top-up). We skied a mix of Sauze, Sansicario and Sestriere.

As others have said, the pistes are in surprisingly good shape considering the lack of snow - there was plenty to keep us busy for our week.

I'd echo the point about the slopes about Sansicario - we love them.

In the whole Via Lattea, the reds are very manageable indeed. Much less red than French reds. And they tend to be very wide, so they're very easy to manage.

Re getting to Sauze, you do need to get down from the top of the gondola, which - as mentioned - is either blue or black. I'd take the black any day of the week - the blue is pretty vile (and it's not just me that thinks that - I've yet to talk to anyone who would prefer the blue option). We were skiing with a very nervous skier this time, and she actively chose the black over the blue. It's SO wide, so even though it's steep in parts, it's very doable. And I don't think it's any more challenging than a red.

I don't know anything about Sestriere as a base, as we always base ourselves in Sauze, but from a skiing perspective, I'd go for it.
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