The STW Ski & Snowboard thread. The 2018-2019 season

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  • The STW Ski & Snowboard thread. The 2018-2019 season
  • dashed
    Member

    @Superficial – Yep, Hotel DDD. Hotel itself is looking a little tired and the food was perfectly acceptable, but not as good as the brochure hyped up. The staff more than make up for it though and couldn’t do enough to help. Enjoy!!

    Premier Icon Jon Taylor
    Subscriber

    I thought I ought to follow up on my week in Courmayeur (last week).

    Snow was good, blue skies mostly.

    The itineraries I’d asked about earlier on in the thread were accessed from the top lifts although increasingly smaller cable cars). Thy were very therefore accessible and saw a lot of traffic. The Mrs was keen to go and get some proper off piste but the BiL had done some good backcountry in the weeks earlier so his itch was scratched and neither of us had the local knowledge or inclination to go and do those route ourselves. Good job really. Instead we all had a very sociable week skiing with the family, including a pair of 5 year-old nephews who put me to shame on the lines under the lifts etc.

    nbt
    Member

    Very good job rally, one of those itineraries avalanched last week and killed four eight people 🙁

    as posted by Wallop on the last page – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-47116059

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    Hello all, sorry I’ve been very absent from the thread. Bit of a quiet year.

    We are planning to head up to Scotland next week for the Feb half term at Nevis and/or Glencoe, but to be honest looking at the web cams I’m starting to doubt if it is worth it. Pretty terrible cover for this time of year and still thawing! 😞😞 Not sure what else to do though. Might just have a session or two in the snowdome at this rate.

    All is not lost though: the brother-in-law and sister-in-law now live in Bratislava (thanks Brexit!) so we might go out there for a late season Easter trip, though we’ll probably hop across the border to Austria to find a higher resort.

    Premier Icon colp
    Subscriber

    Last few Easter’s in Austria (Ski Amadé region) have had great snow, even at 2000m and below.

    Not long back from a week in St Anton am Arlberg, after a 14 year hiatus from the snow. Have to say it was by far the best snow conditions i’ve met in the Alps and the equivalent of Canada – absolutely sublime and so unlike me to be so lucky in the timing of it all! Took to the boarding as if i’d never stopped which was an unexpected bonus. Yet again StAaA delivers ;0)

    Premier Icon Jon Taylor
    Subscriber

    nbt – yeap, exactly why I thought I should follow up and am glad to have been cautious when the backcountry is made so accessible. I think it was 4 killed in Aosta (Courmayeur) and 8 in Italy total.

    Premier Icon Digby
    Subscriber

    I think it was 4 killed in Aosta (Courmayeur) and 8 in Italy total.

    Yeah – it was a pretty grim weekend to start February.

    pleased to hear you had a good week Jon Taylor! Courmayeur is a favourite of mine.

    Regarding the off-piste though, it’s a tricky one as seemingly these days more and more people are accessing the easy lift-accessed slackcountry/backcountry and most of the time nothing happens …

    But then it goes pear-shaped …

    Non of the off-piste areas or itinerairies accessible off the Youla & Arp should be underestimated in my opinion. Of course if the snow-pack is stable then many of the routes are relatively straight-forward. Reading the reports from 3rd Feb fatal avalanche it would appear that the slide happened in one of the couloirs that drop downs into Val Veny. (near the ‘forbidden zone’) In other words quite a significant ‘terrain trap’ that buried the victims under two metres of snow.

    I can’t (and won’t) speculate about the decisions and skills of the unfortunate people involved but the wife of one of the victims was quoted as follows:

    “He never took risks, always carried a collapsible spade to dig himself out. ”

    I can only hope that this is either sloppy journalism or a lack of understanding on her part

    Please … if you do want to head off-piste, go with a guide/suitably qualified person; make sure you’ve got an avalanche beacon, shovel & probe (and know how to use it); do an avalanche awareness course; read the local resort area avalanche report & assess the dangers
    (the risk that weekend was level 3 – Considerable (not high as reported in some bits of the media) This is the level when most incidents occur.

    #KnowBeforeYouGo
    #IllGetOffMySoapBoxNow

    dashed
    Member

    Regarding the off-piste though, it’s a tricky one as seemingly these days more and more people are accessing the easy lift-accessed slackcountry/backcountry and most of the time nothing happens …

    Indeed. I’ve been skiing in the alps (and beyond) for 30+ years and am shocked at how quickly stuff is getting tracked out these days. Not just the easy, side-of-the-lift stuff, but steeper, gnarly lines with potential for big falls or slides. Modern equipment makes powder skiing so much easier than it was on skinny 207s and accessible to many more people than it was.

    However, interesting thread on Snowheads recently about your off-piste CV and where you started from. I’d like to think I’m pretty well informed these days, plenty of training and practice plus carry all the kit (and ABS bag). But I’ve done my fair share of skiing off piste with no kit (on my own!) when I was younger and more ignorant. Information was harder to come by then (no widely publicised avi forecasts), kit was poor / expensive (analogue transceivers were very hard to use with any sense of accuracy and we’d never even heard of an probe in the 80s!). No real excuse, but even less of an excuse to be poorly informed these days.

    Premier Icon nwmlarge
    Subscriber

    Had a good few days in Maria Alm 02-06/02/19.

    The recent addition of a gondola out of town and over the hill has made the whole range loads more accessible.

    The pistes are well maintained with only one T-bar encountered throughout the trip.

    The Off piste was great with plenty of snow drop on the 3rd putting down a good layer.

    Definitely recommend Toms bar at the top of the gondola from town.

    Was snowboarding with 4 others all on boards, good time had zero injuries.

    Premier Icon Digby
    Subscriber

    we’d never even heard of an probe in the 80s!

    … and now you can even get a Black Diamond/Pieps probe with an integrated receiver!

    agreed @dashed – we all started out without much knowledge and learning by mistakes etc is all part of the process isn’t it?

    But as you say what equipment there was available was pretty limited – 12 or so years splitboards tended to be either DIY or Voile …
    a decade or so earlier again and Powder & touring skis weren’t as common as most people (especially in Europe) tended to stick to the groomers. (Some Canadian friends did a trip to Austria about 15 years ago and they couldn’t believe how few people were skiing the powder when it got more than a few cm deep!).

    Nowadays the level of equipment and availablity of it is pretty amazing – and the off-piste backcountry has become ever more aspirational (how many people on this thread alone reference how good the off-piste was?) as people want to move away from the pistes and experience the sensation of skiing and riding pristine powder …

    sweaman2
    Member

    @Dashed +lots.

    I can remember in the late 90’s thinking that if the SAIC forecast was considerable that was good news because at least there was lots of snow!! (and I didn’t have beacon etc). A very near miss (size 1, digging out friend up to his waist with an ice axe) in 2002 caused lots of reflection and a change in my perspective.

    Over here in Canada it’s noticable even in the last 10 years how much busier the back country has become and how different peoples attitudes to risk can be.

    Premier Icon colp
    Subscriber

    @nwmlarge

    You weren’t there with Darren were you?

    Premier Icon BoardinBob
    Subscriber

    Had a great week in Avoriaz last week (apart from an abysmal ski school experience for my missus. Avoid Evolution Ski School at all costs!)

    Lovely nice cruisey runs all day. Great place. Also got to test out the new GoPro 7 Black. Blown away by how much better it is than my old Hero 3

    LD
    Member

    If we’re posting PDS vids, here’s one of mine from last Tuesday, which was a fantastic day!
    linky

    Vid

    Premier Icon El Vino
    Subscriber

    So just back from an incredibly sunny week in VT. Pistes held up pretty well to the high temps but no fresh powder. All our group are skiers so wasn’t a problem. Off piste was fairly heavily tracked but still fun on skis. Got good use from the 3 valleys ski pass but to be honest best skiing was VT especially towards the end of the week. Stayed and skied until 4pm on the saturday for the first time and though it was well worth it, reminded me what skiing was like before kids and I was forced to go at HT.

    nbt
    Member

    Grand Massif advice please. Out there soon (hopefully it will put somne snow down), looking for recommended restaurant accessible for a non-skiier with a lift pass. We’ll be based in the Samoens / Morillon area so can access those lifts easily, Sixt and Les Carroz a little more difficult, Flaine probalby a no-go

    Also, recommended restaurants for days when we’re just skiing around would be good. Last time I went I was in the UCPA in Flaine so we went back for lunch each day

    Premier Icon El Vino
    Subscriber

    Hi NBT
    Check out La Reposette in Vercland, it is by the side of the Piste and right next to the road from Samoens to the Ski area. It must be possible to get a bus there from the Village. It’s Dutch owned and very good.

    mrprops
    Member

    Just returned on Sunday from a week in Les Saisies, 3rd time there now. Snow conditions were decent, although about half as deep as this time last year. Clear blue skies and strong sun, air temp around 5 or 6 degrees so the pistes were turning pretty slushy in the afternoons. No new snow forecast for another week or so at least.

    As I plan to keep going once a year now, was thinking about investing in my own pair of ski boots. Where would people recommend I look for a decent selection and also not to be ripped off?

    tetrode
    Member

    Off to Chamonix for a week in mid march, only been snowboarding one other time in Andorra. Chamonix looks good with a few different places to go, anyone else been? Anything to recommend or avoid?

    Premier Icon jimdubleyou
    Subscriber

    Is it still snowy in Avoriaz?

    Not going until 14th March and if the weather keeps up like it is here in London I might be taking a bike instead of a snowboard 😛

    nbt
    Member

    mrprops wrote:

    As I plan to keep going once a year now, was thinking about investing in my own pair of ski boots. Where would people recommend I look for a decent selection and also not to be ripped off?

    Go to a reputable bootfitter (i.e. not just someone who sells boots) and get the boots they advise. Don’t try and pick your own. Where do you live? There’s be someone within reasonable distance of you

    Premier Icon Digby
    Subscriber

    Chamonix looks good with a few different places to go, anyone else been?

    I wrote the following a few pages back about a month ago which may help a bit.
    Not much really in Chamonix for folks with only a week or so under their belt – especially in March when many of the lower slopes (apart from Grand Montets) will have vanished – especially during this very warm spell that the Alps is having!

    anyway :

    All depends on the weather/conditions I reckon – especially these days as it can be slim pickings in resort. (although there is always the option of getting the bus through to Courmayeur – when Chamonix is lacking, Courmayeur often gets the goods and vica-versa),

    My pointers would be:

    Brevent & Flegere are southerly facing so can get slushy late in the day. but during freeze/thaw conditions this means they are great from mid-morning onwards unlike Grand Montets which doesn’t get the sun so when it’s icy … it stays icy. Brevent & Flegere are also close to town so get tracked out pretty quick after a storm.

    La Tour – good for low vis storm days and low coverage (as it’s a meadow rather than rocky mountain-side). Has the largest number of ‘mellow’ slopes for those wanting to take it easy.

    Grand Montets – great if the slack-country/off-piste is in condition. Should also be good for touring over towards the Lognans since the cable car and top tickets burned down. Also good later in the season.

    Les Houches – good trees on a storm/low vis day

    Downside is that you can spend a lot of time travelling in Chamonix valley and there is always the panic that whichever area you choose you might be left wondering if you’d made the right choice …

    Buying individual day passes for each area can work out expensive so a 6 Day Chamonix unlimited *might* be better value but that depends on what you and your group have planned. The unlimited includes the Montenvers railway & the Midi, so if you get a guide for a backcountry day it can work out economical.

    sweaman2
    Member

    Family day long weekend in Canada and time for the annual family trip to Kimberley.  Yet again we lucked out with 20cm on the Saturday night which meant some powder skiing on Sunday.  20cm is a bit much for Sweajnr but he sort of got the hang of it in the end after some spectacular crashes.

    Now back to arctic conditions (-28C) close to Calgary so some short runs until it warms up.

    tetrode
    Member

    Chamonix stuff

    Nice, thanks for that Digby! Hopefully the weather will be nice for when I go in March!

    Premier Icon cb
    Subscriber

    tetrode

    re Cham. I got back 12 days ago (and promptly went straight to Austria!).

    Agree with Digby’s comments. Not sure if you are driving (or hiring a car) but we had a mixed group – 2 in a car and 4 using the buses. There were times, especially morning where the buses were infrequent and rammed – much swearing involved. I’d used them years ago and don’t recall issues but it seriously impacted their holiday.

    First two days were also bad weather and the info in resort was poor in terms of what was and wasn’t open. The car gave the flexibility to drive elsewhere if for say GM had closures.

    The only time we queued was at the telecabin in Flegere – its old and slow. If you intend going up that side (I would) then try and go up at Brevente and use the cable car to gain access to the Flegere side. If using buses you don’t have to worry about which side you end up on! IMO Flegere has nicer runs but Brevente probably has better options for you as a newb (more blue stuff I think).

    Apres wise, we didn’t seem to find much in the town apart from the awful Swedish cover band destroying all kinds of classics in the Chambre Neuf (sp). Bighorn Bistro good for food. Intersport in the centre of town was a let down in terms of hiring gear – no interest at all. “What do you expect, they’re all s*it hire boots” was a particular fav from the staff! Use a small independent, the rest of our group did and got top service

    tetrode
    Member

    Thanks for that cb!

    We’ll be using the buses so that’s good to know. Not too happy with having to get a bus to different resorts but it’ll have to do. Do you know what times the buses start in the morning?

    Good news about the Brevente car because our hotel, La Sapiniere is right by that one so at least that’s in walking distance.

    Not too bothered about Apre honestly, hotel is fully catered and we get free wine at dinner, combine that with most likely being shattered from the day like I was last time, and I probably will be asleep by 9:30!

    Looking to rent gear at a smaller place close to our hotel, Desailloud Ski. It has good reviews from what I’ve seen.

    Premier Icon GrahamS
    Subscriber

    So as predicted there was absolutely zero snow in Scotland over the half term so went to Plan B and stayed in a hotel near Braehead and just went to the Snow Factor snowdome for four days!

    So yeah… not exactly the Alps or the Rockies, but it actually worked pretty well for the kids (5 and 8) because they got to repeatedly hit a consistent run in dry warm conditions with refreshments nearby. They both improved a lot. Admittedly I was a bit bored, but kids happy – I’m happy. Plus there was a ski-in bar that had a decent attempt at currywurst and had Punk IPA on tap. So that helped.

    Youngest struggled a little getting onto the poma, having only ever done magic carpet, but the lifties were very helpful. The eldest had a two hour intro to snowboard lesson, but definitely preferred her skis. She’ll learn.

    NZCol
    Member

    OOoft.

    Prompted me to go and Jerry of the Day to cheer up my Friday.

    Premier Icon wallop
    Subscriber

    La Reposette

    Yes, this place is very nice. We went every night for apres when we were staying just below Vercland. Bus goes up from the GM Express main bus station and stops just by the bar. Nice staff – mainly Dutch IIRC.

    Premier Icon igm
    Subscriber

    Just back from Les Gets.
    Good week if slightly spring like – but with absolutely masses of snow cover at the same time.
    Needs freshening up, but I believe that’s happening this week.

    Premier Icon csb
    Subscriber

    CFH – Where on earth (quite literally) would have a drop like that unprotected?

    NZCol
    Member

    Hivemind ask pls – 1 week from 6th April. Family of 3, child #1 of 1 is 6 and can do decent parallel skiing but not gung-ho and doesn’t like T-bars or gnarly pomas. Seeking high resort within reasonable drive from Gva. Thinking Val d’I or Val T or ….. ideally nice open greens and blues for her. I’m happy pottering about a bit as I need to resit my Stage II so could use some time to do loads and loads of drills !

    EDIT – Lazy man – if you have any accom suggestions as well – s/c 2 bedrooms.

    Bunnyhop
    Member

    Its raining here in Samoens, Grand Massif. The whole mountain is closed except a couple of lifts by the club med.
    Storm is lifting now after thunder, lightening and high winds. Everybody a teeny bit fed up.
    Only good thing is its put fresh down at the top, which was much needed. I ended up crying on one run yesterday with hard pack and too many skiers. Just lost it and the fear kicked in. Had a great pizza for lunch outside in the sun.
    Finally it turned to porridge in the afternoon, which was preferable.

    Premier Icon colp
    Subscriber

    Had a great pizza for lunch outside in the sun.
    Finally it turned to porridge in the afternoon, which was preferable.

    Some of those French chefs can work miracles.

    toby1
    Member

    I was nearly sick then flashy, thanks for that!

    The thought of the skiers knees and the tarmac is really, really unpleasant!

    Bunnyhop
    Member

    colp – I see what you did there :0)

    CFH – Where on earth (quite literally) would have a drop like that unprotected?

    My thinking is the US. Just somewhere out in the country, away from any lift or resort.

    TheDTs
    Member

    @NZcol we’re going to be in Les Arcs that week, Arc 2000 to be exact. High enough I hope! Saying that we had to put the chains on to leave Serre Che last easter(a week earlier though).

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