- The STW Ski & Snowboard thread. The 2014-2015 season
Highlight – really progressing and getting down a couple of unpisted black runs in PDS. Also the last day of skiing on that trip was perfect (as was the lunch in the goat village!).
Low light – lack of snow in Saalbach during Christmas week. But what a great resort that is! Would really love to go back. Austria is awesome.
What did I learn? Skiing isn’t like mountain biking. Consequences of failure are generally less severe. Give it a go – if I’m on a steep, mogully black run then I’m rarely going fast enough to do too much damage anyway!Posted 5 years ago
Disappointment this season was undoubtably only getting 3 half days, pre Christmas trip is always a punt on the conditions and this year they where not good. Circumstances meant I couldn’t get out again so that has to be the low point. High points a few nice turns in some shallow powder and a sunny lunch on the mountain but probably the stand out was a conversation with a fellow guest who had double ACL replacement in her 50’s and coming to the conclusion I would go down the same route. I have to give myself a shot at getting back to skiing proper powder and pistes with some confidence.Posted 5 years ago
Hopefully yet to come. Lyngen Alps in 4 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Posted 5 years ago
1st time away with just Mrs Mugsy and without the cute troublesome little things for 3 years (excluding training camp etc etc).
Avalanche survival story. One very very lucky boy. 😯
I also had a slight incident last week. Was in Chamonix on a beginners ski touring break, and as you may have seen from the posts above, the weather was very variable. It was snowing, but the freezing level was very high, as were the winds, so anything high altitude was pretty much off the cards.
On the Monday we awoke to about 10cm of fresh in Argentiere, but due to the winds the guides wanted to get us into some shelter, so we caught the train to Le Buet, with the intention of a skin up the valley using a hiking path through the trees.
There was snow when we started, but not long after getting into the trees, it started falling as rain. Quite unpleasant, and it wasn’t long before the skis came off, and we were walking. Not far, but it was rapidly turning into a miserable day. The skis were back on, and after a bit, we came to a junction where a route choice had to be made. The guides had a bit of a discussion (we were 16 people in total, split into two groups with a guide each, but due to the conditions, we were basically travelling as one large group on this day as we kept catching each other up), and we continued heading up the valley, instead of crossing the river, and walking up the other side. This was ostensibly due to there not being enough snow should we have crossed – I was the only English speaking person in the group, and my French isn’t good enough to follow the debate. The guide told me we would have to negotiate a climb through a couloir later on, and it would be a one-by-one affair due to the conditions.
So we carried on. It was dire. I have been mountain biking in the snow at Cwmcarn and not got nearly as wet. All around you could hear water and snow running down the valley. Part of me was worried that once we got higher, the cold was going to become an issue – the day before we had crossed the Tete de Balme in a blizzard, and had that lovely experience of everything that was damp, steadily freezing solid. However, this would turn out not to be an issue.
Soon, the track turned steep, and we needed to get back on boots. We caught up to the group ahead as they stopped to put skis on to their packs, and we stopped to follow suit. My GPS track tells me that this was after about 20 minutes, about 900m distance and 300m of elevation – it felt like much more. My skis were off and strapped to my pack, and I had it back on and was stood up adjusting to the weight.
At this point, it all kicked off. I’ll admit it’s a bit of a blur, but there was the sudden sound of the rush of falling snow, and I caught it cascading over the cliffs above out of the periphery of my vision – at the same time our guide was screaming, “Attention! Attention!”, and what I interpreted with my limited French to be, “Move your arse!”. I started running towards the rest of the group who were on higher ground, with just the thought that I need to keep moving, if I get cleaned up, I get cleaned up, but move your legs. Running in boots with skis on your back isn’t the easiest, but the next thing I found myself on safe ground, standing next to the guide. I looked back at where I had come from, and my heart sank. I was fourth last in the group, and I could see a backpack and ski poles sticking out of the debris. I looked back to the guide who seemed remarkably calm despite this. I looked around in panic and realized that everyone in my group was there – the last two had abandoned their kit in the rush, and that was what had been caught up.
You can see in the photo below, the guide has gone down to dig the two backpacks and sets of skis out of the debris, the avalanche path is clear to the right of the photo – the path we had come up is straight back down from where I am standing in the direction of the footprints:
[url=https://flic.kr/p/rZP2tM]DSCF0761[/url] by scott, on Flickr
It shit me right up, sure, it wasn’t a complete burial in loose snow knowing your group didn’t have transceivers, but still. We put skis back on and headed back down and into a hotel bar out of the weather, it took me a little bit of time to process it all and come around. The rest of the afternoon was called off, and we spent an afternoon in the warm discussing beacon searches and rescue.
With hindsight being the perfect science, it was obvious the signs were there. Just the week before, I had read ‘Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain’ and there it was:
The bottom line: The first few hours of rain on new snow are the most dangerous……… A typical spring wet avalanche cycle often plays out like this: Warm sun on new snow makes the usual round of pinwheels and shallower wet snow sluffs off steep cliffs, especially off rocks that warm up in the heat of the sun.
As it happened, some of the guys in the other group had said that ‘my’ guide had raised the avalanche risk during the route choice discussion, but deferred to the older guide. Also when skiing back down, now that I was opening my eyes and looking around, rather than slogging head down in the rain, there was clear evidence of other avalanche activity, including a similar debris field from an earlier avalanche that we had crossed in the day.
The next day our guide was off sick, so we had a new guy, the weather improved to the point that we only spent the next afternoon skiing home in the rain, and we got some really good snow in.Posted 5 years ago
So in answer to CF’s questions.
Highlights: I spent 14 days on snow this year, and got to visit Canada for the first time.
Lowlights: The conditions. Revelstoke was absolute dogshit, and the other resorts were mediocre. Not what you are expecting in February in Canada. Then while skinning up yet another a wind swept and rainy route in Chamonix, more than one guide turned to me and said ‘This is like Scotland, yes?’.
What have I learnt: Avalanche course to be booked for next year. When travelling in the backcountry, look, listen and question, question, question.Posted 5 years ago
torsoinalake: if heading back to Chamonix again, speak to the avalanche academy, Alison Culshaw at offpisteperformance or James Thacker.Posted 5 years ago
Looks like I was wrong about interest melting away – there appears to be a late flurry.Posted 5 years ago
Thanks mugsy, I did speak to a company in Chamonix who were offering the AIARE Level 1 course at the end of March, but they couldn’t guarantee the course would run on the dates they advertised, so decided to do the touring break instead. Will add those names to the list for potentials for next season.Posted 5 years ago
Was looking wistfully at the Bridger webcams last night. It seems that the day after they closed the lifts for the season, they had a big dump! Lots of skinning up and tracks in the fresh by the looks of it!Posted 5 years ago
Highlight. Being the first down the Swiss wall after it had been shut for three days because of snow fall. Without a doubt the best powder run I’ve ever experienced.
Low. Organising a trip split between work mates and non work mates. I know my non work mates weren’t first lifters and would like a lie in. They also drink more And we’re therfore slower round the hill which frustrated my work mates and made me feel stuck in the middle.
What I’ve learned. You Can’t please everyone. Even though it was a brilliant holiday, I’m not organising a mixed friends trip again.Posted 5 years ago
torsionalalake – odd choice to do a ‘vallon de berard’ tour starting in le buet given recent conditions in Chamonix – i.e. late spring conditions & warm fohn winds; then heavy wet snow.
Looks like you had an interesting experience for sure! Pleased to hear everyone was ok!Posted 5 years ago
When is the best time to book a 2015/2016 season trip?
Highs: My wife loving the pistes and snow in ValTho and me learning loads in my lessons and out there too.Posted 5 years ago
Lows: our accommodation in ValTho was a dive (Cheval blanc, please avoid).
Late high: £250 voucher off crystal in response to our comments on the accommodation.
What I learned: I have wide feet and narrow heels and really really don’t get on with hire boots, hence it’s time to buy some that fit properly. I also need to work on stamina to enable longer days out on the slopes!
Last year’s thread 1486 posts – this is post 1933 this year.
Proof that S&S is more popular than ever – of that the weather’s been rubbish and we all turned up to complain.Posted 5 years ago
torsionalalake – odd choice to do a ‘vallon de berard’ tour starting in le buet given recent conditions in Chamonix – i.e. late spring conditions & warm fohn winds; then heavy wet snow.
Looks like you had an interesting experience for sure! Pleased to hear everyone was ok!It would indeed appear to be an odd choice.
But then the lead/elder guide had the most stupendous mullet I have seen in a long time. And this was on a 60ish year old man, so really all bets were off for sensible choices.Posted 5 years ago
Some more 😯
Glad there was no-one under that, torso. I wouldn’t fancy hiking up that way either. Although it does mean you’re much less committed than coming over from Flegere. Sounds like an unpleasant, but useful day out. And as much a lesson on group dynamics as anything. A smaller, closer knit group with 1 guide and better communication would very likely have seen you turning back earlier for an alternative, or coming up with a better option to start with. Also, that “guide” does not equal “god” so it’s well worth finding a good one!
This bit further up the Berard valley, a few years ago. Big, very wet release along a couple of hundred metres, basically down to the ground. One of those moments where you think about the actuality of having to dig through it, and the idea of someone at the bottom coming out alive seem very, very slim indeed. Metres deep, set like concrete.
Posted 5 years ago
mugsysm8 – have an awesome time in Norway! Are you connected with Magic Mountain Lodge on fb? pics today of a fresh dump and blue skies!Posted 5 years ago
Been a bit of a weird season for me, loads of time on the hill, but so very focussed on getting my BASI4 finished that very little of it has been “fun time”.
Highlight hopefully still to come, but otherwise I guess my high/low-lights would both be from my Snowboardcross race season:
Feeling super-competitive at my first ever race in the Czech republic, managing to stay in touch and even overtake people in the heats. Getting points in my first ever race.
Stepping it up in my second qualifier at an Italian race to go 2 seconds faster and, I thought, get the rest of the points I needed.
Finally getting the points done in grand style at almost the last race of the season in Switzerland.
Actually missing the points target by 0.02 points in the Italian race.
Crashing on both race runs in the Italian nationals, despite flawless training runs.
Feeling very out of my depth at the French nationals (the course contained the 2 biggest kickers I’ve ever hit in my life, with high-consequence flat landings if you got them wrong).
Race photo from the Swiss nationals at the weekend:
Posted 5 years ago
Missed the “what I’ve learned” bit. Lots of things, but importantly:
If I get some advice on the best line from the UK No.1 rider, add some ferociously expensive wax, generate as much speed as I possibly can through the rollers, summon up all my courage and pop like I’ve never popped before, I STILL won’t clear the first kicker on the French national snowboardcross course. Oh no, I’ll drop out of the sky like a lemming in lead boots and explode on the flats just short of the knuckle.Posted 5 years ago
We are still having a great season up Cairngorm (sorry to hear about missj geoff)
Highlight for me has been seeing my 4 year old progress from his first turns during the Christmas holidays to shredding the whole mountain and turning parallel (ish) and flying down a gunbarrel full of moguls!
lowlight, erm, the aforementioned 4 year old is now nearly as good skier as I am and far more relaxed and natural on his skis. I reckon by the end of next season he will be better than me.Posted 5 years ago
If I get some advice on the best line from the UK No.1 rider, add some ferociously expensive wax, generate as much speed as I possibly can through the rollers, summon up all my courage and pop like I’ve never popped before, I STILL won’t clear the first kicker on the French national snowboardcross course. Oh no, I’ll drop out of the sky like a lemming in lead boots and explode on the flats just short of the knuckle.
Sorry, but I laughed at that! 🙂Posted 5 years ago
It’s OK CFH, that was my intention! 😉
The kicker was ridiculous, only about a dozen of the men were able to clear it and they had to re-route the course to avoid it for the women’s race. It wasn’t that the size of it was that massive (big enough though!), more that there was effectively an uphill run-in, so you had to generate the speed miles in advance and then hold on to it. The cut-off point for getting the speed right was way back before you even saw the jump and, with fresh snow on the course, it wasn’t really running fast enough.
I should have done what a friend of mine did and just accept that there was no chance of clearing it and go for damage limitation. He speed-checked, stalled on the lip, rode down the reverse-slope of the kicker and got on with his run. Probably cost him a solid 3 or 4 seconds, but better that than the 20+ seconds I lost scraping myself up from the bottom of the landing zone and having to hop up the next roller…
The last hit on the course was even bigger, but at least it had a long, steep run-in so getting the speed up wasn’t an issue. My internal monologue went something like:
“Point it! You have to point it! This is a race, there’s no other option!”
“Oh ****, it really is huge”.
“Keep pointing it! You can vomit later!”
“Jesus ******** Christ it is not getting any smaller.”
“Flat base, flat base, flat base!”
“LIP! ****! POP! POP HARD!”
“Open your eyes!”
“LANDING! ****! LANDING! Please God, please God, please God!”
“Knuckle! It’s the knuckle, I’ve passed the ***** knuckle, I’m not going to die!”
“Ride away like it was no big deal…”
I actually didn’t make it on the first practise run. Between that and coming up short on the top kicker twice in practise and once in the race, I bruised the soles of my feet! Was walking around like I was on hot coals for a couple of days. Count myself lucky I didn’t do anything worse.
Overall, it was all a bit French*. Their bike parks are often similar – “We beeld ze crazy sheet! Die Eengleesh pig-dogs!”
*I love the French, really. But every other course I rode on all season, in 3 different countries didn’t appear to be built by someone who actively wanted to do me harm.Posted 5 years ago
High, Big family ski, My Mum & Dad, Sister, two nephews, one niece, Mrs DT’s and our two kids.Posted 5 years ago
Low, not seeing much sun (The snow was good though)
Learnt, Skiing with small kids is great they love it & dad’s hearing is deteriorating!
Aim for next year, I want to race in the Inferno (Murren)
High – Even though I couldn’t ski this season my hubby and friends all enjoyed their trip. Also I picked a good season ‘not to go’.
Lows – Not going skiing, also finding out that my skies are knackered and I have to find pennies now to save up for a new pair.
Learnt – it’s not the end of the world if you find yourself unable to ski one particular year. Although I did shed a little tear, when I waved everyone off in the taxi.
I know this season isn’t completely over yet, however bring on the next one.Posted 5 years ago
Highs – Seeing our 7yo daughter go from total beginner to (totally controlled) guided missile in 6 days. The video I took over the week really shows the dramatic transition. Makes me smile every time I watch it.
Being back up a mountain after 10 years.
Knowing that we are going again next year, ‘cos I’ve bought a new board and bindings in the sales and must use them.
Low – Ice and repeatedly finding the same, exact point on my backside to land on, EVERY ******* TIME.
Learnt – I need to stop swinging my arms so much. Going to have a couple of lessons next year to correct bad habits.
Low altitude resorts can be good. Chamrousse had better snow in the first week in January than many higher resorts. The variety of runs was good too.
I need to buy padded shorts – any recommendations?
Only 9 months to go……Posted 5 years ago
nedrapier: Iam but hadn’t seen it. Thanks.
SteveO; great write-ups and chapeau!
thetallpual: Chamrousse is pretty good. Did you get to go les7laux and Villard-Correncon? All my local day hang-outs!Posted 5 years ago
Stevo, this behemoth at 1m45ish?[video]https://youtu.be/pL64x-Ac8yU[/video]
Chamrousse isn’t that low, is it? First place I experienced freshies on a snowboard. In hardboots, in the eighties.Posted 5 years ago
Ocrider – that’s the chappy! I’m actually in the background of that video at one point! Pleased to see the filmer (who was racing in the heats so was at least in the top 32) was only just clearing the first hit!Posted 5 years ago
It does look like it would be a happier kicker in a park and I see what you mean about the run in, there’s nowhere to find speed anywhere!Posted 5 years ago
@ mugsys_m8: Didn’t make it to the other areas, but that was due to having to pick up our daughter from ski school. We may be going back next year, but going to get flights to Grenoble and then wait to see what the deals are for accommodation nearer the time.
@ ocrider – May be that my perception of what a low resort is for France (previous resorts have been Tignes, Alpe D’Huez, etc levels). We were really lucky that the resort had collected a good amount of snow before we arrived. On the day we left, a strong thaw had set in and the bottom slopes were almost bare. Really felt for the people just arriving.
Need to make sure that I record the fastest speed next year out of our little group. Miss TTP reached 57.1 kph on day 5, and was still popping little bunny hops whilst singing 😀 . She was obviously very happy, so holiday mission accomplished, and regular ski trips now established
Still looking for padded under-trollies recommendations if anyone can help. Cheers.Posted 5 years ago
Under trollies: cut up camping mats duct taped to your legs is an option.
Alternatively the shorts with most protection I have used are ‘Crash Pad’ impact shorts. They are tight but give very good protection all over. Have handled many a rock and rail for me.
Other than that RED do decent shorts that cover your boney bits (hips, ass bone) but don’t really protect your bum itself . You have to depend on your ‘natural’ padding.Posted 5 years ago
@Stevo, interesting stories, good to know even the good skiers/borders get a little out of their depth from time to time.
@cobrakai – I rarely ski with more than 2 other people, trying to do so in a mixed group is always a nightmare. I like to ski fairly slowly on steep mogul slopes and off psite other friends who have been skiing as long as me like to blast around at 100mph on flat red runs. In your case just arrange a lunchspot and “see you if we see you”. Organizing the accommodation/travel doesn’t have to make you the MC. Of course I used to go on many trips on my own !Posted 5 years ago
Padded shorts, you might like to look at some of the rugby ranges (Cantebury/Kukri) or even MTB like 661 although I suspect the padding might not be in the right places.Posted 5 years ago
re padded shorts.
I’m still using a old pair Dainese impact shorts (the ones without the hard plastic ‘tail bone’) for icy piste days etc.
However, I’m hearing very good things about Force Field Body Armour. They are a UK company with heritage in motor sports and currently sponsor Snowboarders Jamie Nicholls and the lovely Jenny Jones!
May be that my perception of what a low resort is for France
No so much the vertical rise, but the bottom lift is above 1600m, iirc. I’ll grant you that it doesn’t go that much higher, but compared to resorts like in the PDS, it’s actually quite high for the station base.Posted 5 years ago
Thanks for the write up stevo, I enjoyed that!
Made me think I should be doing more to push my riding. Last time I did anything to really push me out of the comfort zone was the Derby de la Meije in (oh lordy, time flies!) 2007. Just been mincing around touring for the past few years.
Which is lovely and everything, but there’s nothing quite like a good dose of that “Holy ****!!!” feeling that comes across so well in your BC posts!Posted 5 years ago
Same here Stevomcd … thanks for the amusing write-up! 😉 That snowboardcross course just looks insane!!
I take it that your BASI 4 is now ‘in the bag’? Nice one – that’s fantastic news! 8)Posted 5 years ago
I’ll take a look at the Force Field stuff, cheers Digby
Thanks for the other suggestions too. Used to wear a windsurf harness turned upside down when on the dry slopes.
HYD – Over the last year I’ve managed to remove most of my natural padding (rather pleased to have lost over a stone), but there is always a disadvantage 😥 😆
ocrider – Must admit to mostly looking at the top run altitude in the past, not the resort. I am now a much wiser, and happier person (cos I have so many more resorts to consider now).
Friends have just come back from a family skiing holiday in Finland (Levi, I think) and loved it. Need to have a proper talk with them later.
I’d just like to say thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread. It’s one that I keep open on it’s own tab constantly. Do we have to stop for summer?Posted 5 years ago
This is so sad 😥
Condolences to his familyPosted 5 years ago
Just followed that link Bunnyhop.
Our 8 year old is now just about at the see you at the lift stage. Makes you think.Posted 5 years ago
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