The STW Ski & Snowboard thread. The 2013-2014 season

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  • The STW Ski & Snowboard thread. The 2013-2014 season
  • Dr_UpGrade
    Member

    Yep, it all seems to have dumped west and south of Tirol for me (so far!)… I agree with the idea of going to try lots on, but like I said, I’m finding snowboard specialist shops a bit thin on the ground..
    Enjoy La Plagne!

    grum
    Member

    Cheers! Never been to Soll so I can’t recommend any shops but there must be a decent one somewhere near you.

    Mayrhofen seemed to have a few good snowboard shops when I was there last year, and isn’t a million miles away if you have a car (Zell am Ziller on the way there had lots of fun, easily accessible and not quickly tracked out slack-country powder last winter too).

    I wonder if there’s any decent snowboard shops in Kitzbuhel maybe?

    Hope the snow picks up in Tirol soon, I’m sure it will.

    Dr_UpGrade
    Member

    Cheers! The good news is I’ve got all season for it to snow really so no rush! And thanks for the tip of a proper snowboard shop a few valleys down from me! :o)

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Are any of the Blue Tomato shops nearby? They are Austrian based and usually have reasonable prices.

    One death in Serre Che already. πŸ™

    Mrs CFH mentioned it was slack country under a lift. Before I even looked at the news, I just new it was under the Vallons lift. And it was.

    There’s so much inviting slack under that lift, it’s no wonder people go and explore. I’ve often skied those gullies, boot hiked either side of the top of the lift. Never thought of that area as dangerous. How wrong I was. πŸ™

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Was that a slip under the lift? That’d be pretty unusual I’d have thought. πŸ™

    Graham, Vallons is a relatively new lift, linking two village ski areas. There’s only one real piste below it, the Cucumelle. An excellent red, as it happens. However, the lift opens up loads of great slack. Look at the Cucumelle webcam and look either side of the piste and you’ll get an idea. I don’t know which exact area it was as yet, though. Will ask some friends over there.

    Not good,either way.

    Premier Icon Digby
    Subscriber

    @Dr_UpGrade – you’ve done well making a pair of snowboard boots last 10years!

    Mine generally only last a couple of seasons before they ‘pack-down’ πŸ™

    You could try the old ‘add-a-custom-insole’ trick on top of your existing insole in order to fill the foot space caused by the liner packing down!

    It might buy you some time whilst you search for a suitable replacement boot!

    Premier Icon Digby
    Subscriber

    Very sad news about the deaths in the Alps. πŸ™

    A number of them very close to the pistes which only goes to highlight the inherent risk in ‘easy-access’ slack-country … especially this early in the season. πŸ™

    Premier Icon Digby
    Subscriber

    btw – Dr_UpGrade … just realised you’re riding Flow bindings … these might be contributing to the sensation of heel-lift as Flows are notorious for being ‘comfortable’ [aka snowboard ‘slippers’] but lacking in ‘performance’ since they don’t lockdown the boot into the binding – which is required for any kind of responsive riding.

    Might be worth trying another set of bindings with straps and highbacks so you can adjust your forward lean …

    2nd hand Burton Missions (or similar) would be ideal …

    Spin
    Member

    Re the comments above about slack country.

    If you leave the piste you need to be clued up. Properly clued up. Those who think its safe or that other risks are more important are falling into common heuristic traps.

    Just last week I saw a boarder triggered slab avalanche under a lift in Alpe d’Huez.

    Get educated. Learn about the snow but as important is to learn about your own decision making processes and the faults therein.

    Premier Icon jambalaya
    Subscriber

    @mugsys sadly those warnings have proven well founded. Very dangerous combination of poor base with lots of fresh snow on top and busy part of the season.

    I hope Schumacher’s ok, good thing he was wearing a helmet

    @CFH in my experience you generally don’t get avalanches under the ski lists as they tend to be built in places not susceptible (eg risk of ski pylons being wiped out) and with tree stumps etc you have natural holding.

    olddog
    Member

    Digby, you can adjust flow binding backs to lock-out with more forward lean. Well mine do anyway, and I have no heel lift problems with the way they are set up.

    olddog
    Member

    . these slack country accidents do make me think I may be a bit more cautious this year in France. We normally go to Canada/USA where there’s plenty of in-bounds ungroomed so used a fairly free approach to riding. May just stick to carving those big on piste Ss and making a fool of myself in the park

    michaelmcc
    Member

    You’re wrong. Avalanche is far and away the biggest cause of death in the backcountry. Much more likely than trauma from a fall.

    FYI, before you say I’m wrong, have a look at this. So I might have veered off topic a small bit, but that’s what I was trying to get at in my last post.

    Avalanche Airbag Effectiveness

    Spin
    Member

    @michaelmcc if what you are getting at is that trauma is a more likely cause of avalanche death than burial then there are some stats to support that. That wasn’t what you said in the post stevomcd replied to though.

    It’s still faulty reasoning to use that to justify not carrying rescue kit. Just because one risk is higher than another does not negate the lower one,every year people die from asphyxiation in avalanches. Also, the extent of injury in an avalanche is entirely outwith the victim and partners control. The ability to rescue a buried victim alive IS (to a degree)within group control IF everyone is trained and prepared.

    I used to tell people that I often didn’t bother wearing a tranceiver etc in backcountry Scotland because the risk of burial was small. Some personal experiences and the tragedies of last winter have made me re assess that.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    @CFH in my experience you generally don’t get avalanches under the ski lists as they tend to be built in places not susceptible (eg risk of ski pylons being wiped out) and with tree stumps etc you have natural holding.

    True. Does happen though. Remember this from last season?

    [video]http://youtu.be/Urge2E3F_Lc[/video]

    Premier Icon igm
    Subscriber

    Ouch. Imagine being sat on one of those chairs as the avalanche hit, not knowing if the wire’s going the give and you’re going in.

    Premier Icon Digby
    Subscriber

    The ability to rescue a buried victim alive IS (to a degree)within group control IF everyone is trained and prepared.

    Spot on Spin!! – interesting to note that partner rescue was significant in a number of the recent Alps avalanches – the woman rescued at Celliers only suffered mild hypothermia.

    you can adjust flow binding backs to lock-out with more forward lean

    @olddog – loads of people swear by Flow bindings and vive la diffΓ©rence for sure, but they also (rightly or wrongly) have had a reputation for impeding progression and performance.

    I only suggested they *might* be contributing to the sensation of heel lift as this was a common observation a few years ago – riders changing to ankle & toe strap style bindings reported an immediate improvement in ‘control’ and the ability to ‘foot-pedal’.

    @CFH in my experience you generally don’t get avalanches under the ski lists as they tend to be built in places not susceptible (eg risk of ski pylons being wiped out) and with tree stumps etc you have natural holding.

    Have a look at the location of the Vallons lift. (Between Villeneuve and Monetier stations, towards the right of the map http://plandespistes.serre-chevalier.com/v2/

    Also, see here – http://serrechevalier.livecam360.net/cucumelle

    It’s the area either side of the lift that’s most likely to have been the problem. Almost directly below it is a set of really fun gullies to play in, and then further to either side all sorts of great slack. Off piste, yes, but very much in the domaine skiable, so people may well take more risks there. Sadly.

    Premier Icon Digby
    Subscriber

    Isn’t the French definition of ‘domaine skiable’ restricted to maintained/patrolled pistes? i.e. a defined route on the slope marked by poles?

    Or have I misunderstood the interpretation?

    Digby, Serre Che seems a little different to me, as they a lot of areas outside the piste markers that are still considered ‘on piste’

    For example, lots of the area around the black Isolee piste are “brut de neige” areas like that. Not pisted, not poled, but still very much ‘domaine skiable’.

    I think the real definitions come in to play during a high avalanche risk, when they really pull it back to the real definition of ‘between the markers’ on piste, as opposed to the ‘domaine skiable’.

    Premier Icon Digby
    Subscriber

    CFH, interesting! Thanks for the clarification. πŸ™‚

    I guess the ‘brut de neige’ areas fall into the same classification as the Italian ‘itineraries’ ?

    i.e. they are a defined route and included on the piste map irrespective of whether they’ve been groomed. This does imply that they’ve been patrolled/ski-cut/deemed safe though doesn’t it?

    What I’m trying to understand is whether the lift company in Serre Chevalier are likely to be liable in some way for not ‘closing’ the run under the lift – French law has previously been very aggressive in this manner e.g. the Montroc avalanche in 1999 and the Mayor of Chamonix subsequently being found guilty of second-degree murder.

    Premier Icon jambalaya
    Subscriber

    @Digby – yes different resorts may choose to designate areas as skiable but not patrolled for example. Ste Foy where White Room Chalet (@stevocmd) are based has something like that. I recall Les Arcs 1800 used to have a huge area between the pistes which was called something like “ski totale”

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Jasna (Slovakia) has them marked on the piste map with hatched areas designated as “Freeride Zones” – but as mentioned earlier they vary in exposure and terrain from relatively safe piste-side and tree runs to the rather more full-on chutes with accompanying increase in avalanche danger.

    Premier Icon Digby
    Subscriber

    @jambalaya – so if I’m understanding this correctly, more and more European resorts are ‘opening up’ ski areas along the lines of North American resorts which are fully contained within a patrolled ‘resort boundary’?

    In which case, surely the lift company is liable/responsible for the sad death in Serre Chevalier?

    My interest in this is over concern regarding the ‘freedom’ of access into the backcountry and insurance premiums.

    The past few years has seen a marked increase in the number of people heading ‘off-piste’ with resultant media interest in subsequent tragedies as each season unfolds.

    Will this lead to restrictions in backcountry access I wonder? A few years ago some Italian resorts tried to make it compulsory to have a qualified guide if heading off-piste, but subsequently overturned this.

    Insurance premiums (particularly for snowboarding due to the lower perceived survival rate in an avalanche) for backcountry cover are also increasing – I was quoted over Β£900 the year before last!

    Premier Icon Digby
    Subscriber

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/27/alps-avalanches-dead-injured-france-switzerland

    “Ski authorities throughout the Alps said it was imperative that skiers kept to the marked slopes”

    This would seem to indicate that only marked slopes are deemed patrolled & safe in Europe [when snowpack stability is in doubt] – therefore you leave the piste at your own risk and should therefore have the relevant equipment & knowledge.

    I wonder how many people hit up the side/slack country without any understanding of the current conditions … πŸ™

    chomp
    Member

    We’re off on our first skiing hols this year, and have a 5 and 8 year old.

    Is skiing still the recommended pursuit (as opposed to snowboarding) for the young uns?

    If so would we be able to ski\snowboard together or are the mountains segregated?

    What’s the deal with the short ski’s? If they’re good fun and more maneuverable than the long ones I may consider ditching the snowboard for the sake of being with the rest of the family.

    “Ski authorities throughout the Alps said it was imperative that skiers kept to the marked slopes.”

    As before, that’s the difference between being fine and dandy to get in to the slack country and keeping it between the poles on the groomers. If there’s a ‘between the poles’ policy in place, then it doesn’t really matter where the lifts are, surely? Just ski within the poles.

    Serre Che’s pisteurs are world class, IMHO, and work their whatsits off to keep the place going smoothly.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    @chomp: 8 is old enough to snowboard or ski. At 5 most places will recommend skiing only. The usual justification is to do with joint strength etc though I’m not sure how much of that has a real medical basis.

    You won’t be segregated by sport, but young kids may be better on the nursery slopes which the eldest and adult will quickly bore of.

    Is skiing still the recommended pursuit (as opposed to snowboarding) for the young uns?

    Depends what they want to do!

    I reckon the yoot are getting more and more in to skiing myself, as they see snowboardering as being something the old folks (Graham πŸ˜‰ ) do.

    New skis are so easy to learn on, and so much fun, too! I assume by shorter skis, you mean newer skis that aren’t like these;

    But more like these;

    Shorter, fatter, way more fun!

    chomp
    Member

    yeah, those are the ones. I’m sure the wife will be happy on nursery slopes with the youngest.

    A few mates who go regularly have said that ski’s these days are a lot more fun for the novice, think I may just ditch the idea of snowboarding and stick with the family on the skis, as at the end of the day we’re going on hols for a shared experience, not for me to piste off on a snowboard (and probably do myself an injury in the process)

    Chomp, which resort are you off to, then?

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    I reckon the yoot are getting more and more in to skiing myself, as they see snowboardering as being something the old folks (Graham ) do.

    There is certainly a resurgence in skiing as it shakes off it’s old image and pilfers technology and style cues from snowboarding.

    But it occurs to me that’s what the current generation are into.

    A 5 year old represents the generation after that. By the time they are “the yoot” it will have cycled back around to snowboarding or possibly *shudder* snowblades. 😯

    Either way my girl was on skis and a board at two and preferred the board πŸ˜€

    By the time they are “the yoot” it will have cycled back around to snowboarding or possibly *shudder* snowblades.

    chomp
    Member

    no idea where we’re going yet, the wife’s just sprung it on me that we’re off on a snowy hol later this year πŸ™‚

    Any recommendations? Ideally somewhere family friendly and something else to do on the days we’re not on the piste

    Any recommendations? Ideally somewhere family friendly and something else to do on the days we’re not on the piste

    πŸ˜‰

    FWIW, the things I’d look for if you’re taking kids/noobs are;
    Short transfer – OK, so nothing to do with the skiing, but a three hour coach ride at the end of a long day travelling is never fun!
    Lots of playful green groomers – Assuming they learn quickly, the nursery slope soon gets dull! So, somewhere with some good, easily accessible greens is good.
    Easy upload/download – Some kids would really appreciate getting up there to see the top of the mountain. If they can do that with easy access in a cable car up and down, all the better. Failing that, a good lift they can go up on and down on is a plus. Also, don’t be afraid to download on a lift at the end of the day. Late afternoon pistes, even green tracks/roads can be a mess at the end of the day.

    Oh, and go to Serre Che. It’s awesome! πŸ˜‰

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    I reckon the yoot are getting more and more in to skiing myself, as they see snowboardering as being something the old folks (Graham ) do.

    lol

    That’s exactly why I’m concentrating on skiing again this year, although nothing in the pipeline yet πŸ˜• At 54 bending down and tightening bindings at the top of every lift is just so ………. ahem ……. last year πŸ˜‰

    Premier Icon jam bo
    Subscriber

    i think CFH must have shares in both Ski manufacturers and the Serre Chevalier tourist board.

    Premier Icon stilltortoise
    Subscriber

    Yay! This may be the year I get to join in this thread. There is a fairly high probability I will return to the slopes this year after a fairly barren period since having kids.

    Jam bo, if only!

    I just rather like Serre Che as a place to go! πŸ™‚

    grum
    Member

    Personally I’d go to a small-ish Austrian resort if I had kids as they are pretty, mega friendly and cheap.

    I’m having to slum it and go to France this year ( πŸ˜‰ ) but Austria is a much better overall mountain experience IMO.

    If you’re staying on piste and especially on hard-packed conditions skis are probably more enjoyable. Still nothing to beat snowboarding through teh pow though.

    CFH – should you be bigging up Zermatt or somewhere? Thought you were meant to be posh?

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    At 54 bending down and tightening bindings at the top of every lift is just so ………. ahem ……. last year

    K2 Autos FTW!

    [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObojFhu9E_c[/video]

    Premier Icon Woody
    Subscriber

    Still prefer my Flows Graham but it was good to try the K2’s πŸ˜‰

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