Thursday, 15 February 2018

Vanoise coaching, Maurienne Off Piste Improvers & half term 'hell'

Once again I am playing catch up on the blog front! Work and family have combined to keep me away from the keyboard the last couple of weeks...

Picking up where the last blog post left off the last couple of days with Phil, Katie, Steve, Ali, John and Roger were nothing short of spectacular!

A great week sampling some of the Vanoise's finest, and once again reinforcing my point of view that a valley base and a flexible approach pay dividends in terms of being able to seek out the very best conditions!

Last week I was back down in the Maurienne valley running an Off Piste Improvers coaching course. Again a valley base allowed a flexible approach to not only find the best snow but also experience the different ski areas within easy reach of our base in St Jean:

The team enjoying a great descent out behind Les Karellis:

Les Sybelles proved to be the highlight of the week, so much so we went back for the last 3 days, scoring fresh tracks right up to the last run on Friday afternoon!

Tim going 'full send':

Many thanks to Alex, Chas, Peter, Kate, Tim and Phil for a great week - see you next winter!

Right now the half-term rush has begun back here in the 3 Valleys, but with really cold weather and blue skies early in the week the stars aligned for my regular morning crew on Tuesday and Wednesday, with some classic Courchevel and Meribel lines in fantastic condition:

And finally yesterday I managed to sneak in a descent from the very summit of the Croix de Verdons - this has been on my list since I first came to work in Courchevel (19 years ago!) but somehow work has always got in the way when conditions have been good, and it takes a quite definite set of conditions to make it skiable, as the via ferrata rungs in the upper section need to be covered, the snow needs to be soft but not too unstable (50m cliffs below the top slope) which is not easy on an East facing summit... Nice to finally put turns down from the summit cross after a few turn-arounds due to bad conditions over the years!:

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Maurienne and Vanoise off piste coaching

Last week I was back in one of my regular haunts of recent years, the Haute Maurienne, for 3 days of coaching/CPD for IFMGA Mountain Guides Andy Perkins and Jim Kerr and their friends Peter and Jim. This has been a regular coaching session over a few years now and the results are really starting to show with some high quality, adaptable and versatile skiing from all the gang!

This week I have had another regular group out from the Eagle Ski Club - despite the lack of recent snow and warm temperatures by playing with the sunny or shady aspects we have been able to ski good cold snow and great spring snow every day! All the team were looking really solid when we stepped things up a gear for a run down Couloir Canadiens on the Bellecote today.

The forecast is for 20 cms of snow for tonight/tomorrow morningm so that should freshen things up nicely for the next few days...

Monday, 22 January 2018

Mid-January round-up: snow, snow, snow...

It has been 3 weeks weeks since my last post and some planned posts have fallen by the wayside temporarily - work and family oblige...

As most people are probably aware we are experiencing a one-in-20 year at the moment snowfall-wise, with huge depths of snow up in the mountains - the Courchevel couloirs are more filled in and banked out than I have seen them in 19 winters working here, and more snow is falling today (though the rain/snow limit is quite high :-(

2018 kicked off in good style, with a couple of days coaching Mike and Sarah (back from a knee injury last winter!), then it was straight over to Chamonix for my regular week with Tim, John and Phil:

This week I have been back in Courchevel with one of my longest-standing groups of clients - the weather has been pretty wild but there are few better places to be when it is like this as there is lots of sheltered tree skiing and even some high quality 'bus runs' if the lifts aren't working...

A quick, high quality tree run on the way home:

More trees:

And powder:

More powder:

Ewan exploring the boundaries of balance:

Friday, 29 December 2017

The Magic Line

A quick blast down the 'Magic Line' yesterday.

I have been skiing this line for a good few years now and still have yet to see another set of tracks in here (that should jinx it now I've said that...) particularly since my ski buddy and esoterica-explorer-in-chief Will passed away a few years ago, although I have started taking the precaution of skinning 5 minutes to get in rather than taking the gravity-assisted route to avoid 'track-followers'!

Magic Line 28 12 2017 from Simon Christy on Vimeo.

This is a perfect line for bad weather days - trees all the way for visibility, far enough away from the main ridges to reduce worry of wind loading at the top, though still steep enough that care is needed - perfect spacing in the clearing as long as no more than 4 or 5 people are skiing it...

It is currently quite cold (-10/-15C) keeping the powder nice and fluffy, and with more snow on the way the next week or two should be great!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

A great start to the season!

Merry Christmas to everyone from us here at offpisteskiing!!

The blog has been very quiet for the last month due to a number of reasons, but here we go for another winter of fun.

It has been a busy start to the winter, flat out with work since the lifts opened here in the 3 Valleys. With great early December snowfalls giving one of the best starts to the season for many years (and certainly better than the last 3 pre-New Years) scope has been wide open for some fun skiing.

A few pictures to sum up this December so far:

Mid-December, skiing back to Bozel after a day's work:

18 December, thigh deep powder in the Courchevel trees with Dave S:

Paul P - sunshine and powder above Courchevel:

Friday 22 - a perfect day of 'micro-tours' with Dave S. No more than 30 minutes skinning every time, for 1000m of descent in untracked snow - perfect!

We are currently enjoying a bit of family time and skiing with offpisteskiing Jrs 1 & 2, but coming up in the next few days on the blog:

- thoughts on early season skiing: given a large number of accidents in late November/early December has the culture of 'if its white we will ski' gone too far?

- review of Contour Hybrid Split skins: having always been a Black Diamond Glidelite Mix devotee will these make me defect? Quite possibly given experiences so far...

- a look ahead to winter 2018: coaching courses and ski touring adventures in the Alps, Norway and Iceland...

See you soon!