Phil had recently
moved to Jersey,with Claire and Olivia and had to drive down on
his own, whilst Nigel, Lee, Dave and I, made our way down seperately.
We had arranged to meet in Moutiers at 6am., for breakfast at
the PMU bar.
we arrived some time before Phil, but after a croque monsieur
and a big strong coffee we were fit for a good day out. The weather
was excellent, blue skies and sunshine, so we set off for Courchevel
and parked at Le Praz, just up the road from the apartment we
had all stayed at last January.
We started easily, as usual. Who suggested going straight to Saulire?
However, the Mille Allee was in good condition and went well.
In the Creux area four people had been spotted making the traverse
to the entry to the Les Avals valley and that was it, we had to
go too. From the top of the Chanrossa lift a traverse is made
towards the Roc Merlet, over a little col and the vista opens
onto a beautiful valley with a few tracks in superb powder in
front of us.This would be the third time I had been in this valley
and it is superb, there are numerous possibilities, but we just
took it easy and followed the route taken by others. The avalanche
risk was high at 4, so we needed to take care.
Dave hadn't come with us to Les Avals so we had arranged to meet
him at L'Ours Blanc in Courcheval 1650 for lunch, but he was late
and we had finished by the time he arrived. Dave missed out on
his lunch today!
For the next four days we went for the trees. The clouds were
down and it snowed every night. Wonderful, all we needed to do
was wait for the sun to arrive.
Off the Matis road from Solaise in Val D'Isère, there are
many ways down to Le Laisinant where you can get the bus back
to Val or La Daille. At La Daille, again, under the bubble and
by the funicular the trees give great powder. Be careful though.
In one area, trees had been chopped down and stumps had been left,
onto one of which I fell, leaving me with very painful ribs.
Midweek found us in St Foy, after taking DaveC to the hospital
to have his foot x-rayed. (That was the end of his weeks boarding),
the top was closed due to avalanche risk, so we stayed in the
trees. At Les Arcs, taking the train up from Bourg St Maurice.
The sun did actually come out, but it was very cold. However,
there was plenty of powder around.
Thursday evening came and the meteo was promising sun for Friday.
At last! Phil was adamant - we had to get up early and get on
the lift for 9am. And we did it! We drove up to Val Claret (chains
100% necessary) and made our way up to the Col Du Palet. We wanted
to check out the couloirs on the Aiguille du Chardonnet. However,
there were no tracks up to them, so we just ducked out left round
the back of the lift cabin at the top of the Col du Palet lift
and took in the easy off piste across to the Signal piste.
But on going back up the lift we were astonished to see at
least 20 people making their way up the mountainside adjacent
to the top of the Grattalu lift. Ok, the decision was made. We
had to go now.
The good thing
about not being first is that you can follow the tracks up and
in deep powder, this is great. Also, the avalance risk is tested
by somebody else, although this is no guarantee it won't happen
to you - it could be they disturb the snow and it gives when you
go. (No - you don't want it to go on them either) It was pleasing
to see that most people were going for the first, easier, couloir
and that only about six people were going up to the top shoulder,
where we wanted to go. On reaching it, Phil made conversation
with a woman guide watching her clients down in the couloir."What's
the avalanche risk today?" (We already knew) "It's high
- 4 or 5. I think we are doing dangerous things today".
had been to this point a couple of years ago with Phil, but then
we looked down on rocks and said "There's no way we're going
This time was very different. Phil led the way and the way was
Lee went next. I asked Nigel if he minded whether I went next.
He said he did. It's understandable really as I am slower on my
skis than the others are on their boards. But on admitting that
I was quite nervous about this, he said he was as well. Phil reckonned
it was 40º. But it went well and the picture right doesn't
do it justice.
makes it look better and below there was a huge area of fresh
powder to go for. (The lower, easier couloir is to the left)
route leads out to the Grand Huit lift and from the top, going
straight on and round to the left, the Centaurée run left
unpisted is worthwhile. From the top of the lift again, we turned
right and made a short traverse for about a 100 yards. A new bowl
crossed to a small rocky hump to assess the area. Below, to the
right, there had been an avalanche. But the whole area was pristine
- no tracks at all. Phil reckonned keeping just left of the avalanche
would be safest and we agreed. So three straightline board tracks
were laid down before me and I managed 14 consecutive turns in
the superb powder - my personal best (and well pleased with it).
a few yards up left from the lift, over the rise, the Vallon opens
out before you, leading all the way down to Les Brevières.
t's a straightforward descent, but watch out at the end of the
plateau shown above. Don't get caught in the trees, but keep your
height and go right, to head for the piste not far ahead leading
down to the village. The way through the trees heads into a steep,
narrow gorge. Nige made it ok though!
was the first time down in Les Brevières when
it wasn't freezing, the sun disappears early here.
We gave up on trying to get some food here and carried on back
up the hill.
Through the Aig
Percée, trending left and off piste all the way down to
the road by the lake. The free navette took us back up to the
car park. One of the best days ever.
were several opportunities for some fun and the boarders took
it in turn to crash into soft powder by trying different jumps.
The area leads to a long run out to the Pays Desert lift.
the top of here on to the Col de L'Iseran and then down to the
Leissières Express and over into Val D'Isère for the
Cugnai lift and the Cugnai off piste.
At the top of
the lift duck under the tape and head off into the bowl ahead.
Trending left, a ridge can be crossed as a variation from the
usual way straight down. By coming round right after the ridge
brings us back to the route straight down. Both are great, leading
to the Manchet Express. Dominating this lift is the east face
of the Charvet on which Phil pointed out some ways down - projects
for future trips. (The Tour du Charvet comes out under this face
also). Time was getting on, so we headed for Solaise and the Matis
road to descend through the trees again to Le Laisinant.
had been a very tiring week (as they usually are) and DaveC was
very unfortunate to miss most of it after his fall early in the
week. But we had done a great deal, with some new highlights and
technique improving in great powder. We had to wait, now, another
three weeks for our next trip, to Switzerland, when Phil's and
my priority would be some puffing uphill, doing day tours around