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Help – Trip to La Grave and Val D’ Isere

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi, Im planning a 1 week ski trip to France.  3 ski days at La Grave and 3 days at Val D’ Isere.  Im flying from the US to Geneva.  What are my best options for travel once I arrive in Geneva?

Thanks!

post #2 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by weifert View Post
 

Hi, Im planning a 1 week ski trip to France.  3 ski days at La Grave and 3 days at Val D’ Isere.  Im flying from the US to Geneva.  What are my best options for travel once I arrive in Geneva?

Thanks!

Welcome to EpicSki!  What month are you going?

 

I moved your thread to the International Zone from Resort because I think you will get a better response there.  Have you looked around in that section?  May need to be a little patient given that a lot of folks aren't really thinking about skiing right now.

post #3 of 18

In La Grave:

 

http://www.snowlegend.com/

 

Great guides!

post #4 of 18

From Geneva Airport, taking a (private) bus is the quickest way to get to La Grave or Val d'Isere. Here are two bus companies that offer transfers from Geneva:

 

http://www.altibus.com/

 

http://www.bensbus.co.uk/

 

I alway travel there by car myself (from Holland), so I have no personal experience with public transport. But others might. Ask @CerebralVortex he might have some additional ideas. 

post #5 of 18
First off, I'd suggest going to Val d'Isere first and then La Grave.

You're probably going to have jet lag the first few days that you're in Europe because it's a long, overnight flight from the US. Also, if you're not familiar with skiing mostly above tree line, then you'll probably need some time to get used to it, especially the bad visibility on cloudy/snowy days. Val d'Isere will be more forgiving for those first few days, while La Grave is entirely off piste and is best done when you're not jet lagged and you're used to skiing the particular conditions.

Honestly, unless you're particularly good at avoiding jet lag and you're quite familiar with high alpine skiing, I'd suggest spending all 6 days in Val d'Isere and Tignes. You'd have more accommodation options for a 7-night stay than a 3-night stay, you wouldn't have any time wasted with mid-week travel, the per-day cost of the lift ticket will be lower, and you'll still have an opportunity to hire a guide and do loads of off-piste skiing (the Espace Killy has loads of great off-piste terrain).

As for airport transfers, this site has a couple of pages of transfer companies http://www.valdinet.com/travel/transfers.html. It takes about 3 or 3.5 hours to get to Val d'Isere from Geneva.
post #6 of 18

Best to have a guide when skiing La Grave.

 

You will often be on glaciers where crevasses are a real danger. Also some of the routes include really narrow couloirs.

 

No ski patrollers either!

post #7 of 18

As above - don't try to do both and particularly not by public transport.  You could base yourself in La Grave with a rental car and realistically ski Les Deux Alpes, Alpe D'Huez (access vis Auris easiest) and Serre Chevalier (assuming the Col is open) as well as La Grave. If you stay somewhere with a built in guiding package like Skier's Lodge they'll take you where conditions are most promising anyway.

 

Or easily spend a week in EK. It's way bigger than anywhere (resort wise) in North America.

post #8 of 18

You could do 3 days in each, but as Fatbob says you'll definitely need a hire car. For Val d'Isere you could get cheap accommodation (if money is tight) in Bourg St Maurice at the bottom of the valley, which is about 30 to 40 mins away.  If you do that, you might also want to try St Foy for a day, half way up the valley to Val. A real gem of a resort all too often overlooked because of the big mega resorts up the road, but you'll want a guide to make the most of it.  

post #9 of 18

I agree with fatbob. For a one week trip choose one or the other destination.  You need to be guided every day in La Grave and I agree you should book a package including that.  On a bad weather day you'll probably be skiing on-piste at Serre Chevalier, which is lower with better visibility. 

 

I have not been to Val d'Isere but you should have guides there too, at least at the beginning of your week if you're interested in off-piste skiing and to get oriented around a ski complex that huge.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 6/5/14 at 3:46pm
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

I have not been to Val d'Isere but you should have guides there too, at least at the beginning of your week if you're interesting in off-piste skiing and to get oriented around a ski complex that huge.

 

Should you get a guide for big mountain/back country/glacier off-piste skiing? Definately.

 

For getting around a resort on groomers (any resort), hold on to that money and spend some on an other guide in an other area (they're not cheap). The trail maps are pretty good - most Europeans don't get lost using them. There's a system in them: what's up on the map is up in reality, too ;)

 

If you want insider tips of which sectors to ski, ask around on this forum or just google something like "off piste routes Espace Killy" and you'll find quite a few - mostly British - articles and such. Here's a good example: http://www.powderbeds.com/blog/val-d-isere/val-d-isere-s-top-5-off-piste-ski-routes

 

Guides are very expensive IMO, so get one if you want to ski really big mountain terrain, off-piste on glaciers or outside the boundary. Otherwise, check out the Dutch made (!) website wepowder.com that has a ton of info on many resorts, weather forecast, powder forecast, avalache bulletins etc. http://wepowder.com/playgrounds


Edited by Cheizz - 6/3/14 at 1:18am
post #11 of 18

It's hard to advise a North American definitively about need for a guide in Europe.  There is lots of offpiste that is relatively accessible and scopeable visually from pistes and lifts but there is also opportunity to get into big trouble when you bear in mind that the only general rule is that offpiste is not controlled, hazard marked or patrolled.  Add in glaciated terrain and the default inclination is always to advise use of a guide if unfamiliar.  Absolutely no need on piste of course.  Reality is if you're used to lots of self risk assessment have a bit of avy training and experience in the sidecountry then things aren't a lot different (except for crevasses and different snowpack attributes)

 

I definitely wouldn't encourage just bimbling around somewhere like La Grave without someone familiar with the area- while the main 2 routes are not that difficult to follow there is lots of opportunity to get into lots of trouble and just following the group in front may lead you to a couloir with a mandatory rappel or sphincter tightening entry.

post #12 of 18

True. I was just commenting on a remark that one should get a guide while skiing off-piste that is visble form the lifts and pistes or to get to know your way around a ski area.

 

And I do take your point on La Grave. But then is my question: why not stay within Espace Killy. Guide rates start from about € 360 for a day (that's about 460 USD), so they're quite costly. I can get a lodging + 6 day skipass deal for that same amount in low season. Just putting things in perspective.

post #13 of 18
Quote:

For getting around a resort on groomers (any resort), hold on to that money and spend some on an other guide in an other area (they're not cheap). The trail maps are pretty good - most Europeans don't get lost using them. There's a system in them: what's up on the map is up in reality, too ;)

 

If you want insider tips of which sectors to ski, ask around on this forum or just google something like "off piste routes Espace Killy" and you'll find quite a few - mostly British - articles and such. 

For last February's  Zermatt trip, this is exactly what I did. I researched extensively in advance and only hired a guide one day for the extensively glaciated Schwarztor. 

Quote:

There is lots of offpiste that is relatively accessible and scopeable visually from pistes and lifts but there is also opportunity to get into big trouble when you bear in mind that the only general rule is that offpiste is not controlled, hazard marked or patrolled.  

 

Much of Zermatt's off-piste is very scopable. Nonetheless I received a lot of criticism in response to my TR's for potential avalanche exposure.  There's clearly a "gray area" in terms of what is/is not controlled. You're skiing some steep bowls with pistes crossing the runout zone below, or skiing between pistes; you would think that would be controlled, but you're not really sure.  So I'm not necessarily willing to advise others that what I was doing is OK for anyone.

 

At St. Anton I was guided 3 days out of 6.  The skiing was clearly beyond boundaries and not controlled.  If I went back there I could definitely find these ski routes on my own now that I have been shown the way.  With good weather, companions, avy gear and a favorable safety report I'd be willing to do that.  My guess is that Val d'Isere is somewhat like St. Anton and that I would hire guides 2-3 days out of a week there.

 

 

post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by CerebralVortex View Post

First off, I'd suggest going to Val d'Isere first and then La Grave.

You're probably going to have jet lag the first few days that you're in Europe because it's a long, overnight flight from the US. Also, if you're not familiar with skiing mostly above tree line, then you'll probably need some time to get used to it, especially the bad visibility on cloudy/snowy days. Val d'Isere will be more forgiving for those first few days, while La Grave is entirely off piste and is best done when you're not jet lagged and you're used to skiing the particular conditions.

Honestly, unless you're particularly good at avoiding jet lag and you're quite familiar with high alpine skiing, I'd suggest spending all 6 days in Val d'Isere and Tignes. You'd have more accommodation options for a 7-night stay than a 3-night stay, you wouldn't have any time wasted with mid-week travel, the per-day cost of the lift ticket will be lower, and you'll still have an opportunity to hire a guide and do loads of off-piste skiing (the Espace Killy has loads of great off-piste terrain).

As for airport transfers, this site has a couple of pages of transfer companies http://www.valdinet.com/travel/transfers.html. It takes about 3 or 3.5 hours to get to Val d'Isere from Geneva.

This! You will find val provides as much challenging off piste as la grave and also provides better options in event of weather closing in. It is still my no. 1 area in the world
post #15 of 18
Quote:
It is still my no. 1 area in the world 

Val d'Isere is my #1 not yet skied area in the world.  Thus I'm cautious in making the off-piste comments until I've skied the area personally.  By my limited experience in the Alps I see 3 rough categories.

 

1) The La Grave situation where you need guides full time for nearly anything off-piste.

2) The St. Anton situation where a lot of the more interesting terrain/better snow is far off-piste and you need guides at least some of the time to navigate safely as well as assess snow stability.

3) Lots of easily scopable off-piste as I've seen at Davos and Zermatt.  There still might be something unique like the Schwarztor where you'll want to hire a guide.

 

One of the posters on First Tracks seems to target his trips to Euro areas in class 3 above to minimize the need for guides.  If there's no glacier terrain and most of the topography is at an intermediate level, he gets a lot of powder skiing with practically no competition.   Val d'Isere clearly has an expert reputation, and thus my expectation is that I will need guides roughly half the time to get the most out of the experience.

 

 

post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotsSkier View Post


This! You will find val provides as much challenging off piste as la grave and also provides better options in event of weather closing in. It is still my no. 1 area in the world

and you've skied at Northstar?  Unpossible.

post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

Val d'Isere is my #1 not yet skied area in the world.  Thus I'm cautious in making the off-piste comments until I've skied the area personally.  By my limited experience in the Alps I see 3 rough categories.

 

1) The La Grave situation where you need guides full time for nearly anything off-piste.

2) The St. Anton situation where a lot of the more interesting terrain/better snow is far off-piste and you need guides at least some of the time to navigate safely as well as assess snow stability.

3) Lots of easily scopable off-piste as I've seen at Davos and Zermatt.  There still might be something unique like the Schwarztor where you'll want to hire a guide.

 

One of the posters on First Tracks seems to target his trips to Euro areas in class 3 above to minimize the need for guides.  If there's no glacier terrain and most of the topography is at an intermediate level, he gets a lot of powder skiing with practically no competition.   Val d'Isere clearly has an expert reputation, and thus my expectation is that I will need guides roughly half the time to get the most out of the experience.

 

 

 



The Espace Killy is like 2 and 3 combined.

Tignes has a bit of stuff you can easily scope out, but most of the good stuff is best done with a guide. Val d'Isere has a lot of stuff that you can easily scope out yourself plus a bit where you'll want a guide.
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by CerebralVortex View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

Val d'Isere is my #1 not yet skied area in the world.  Thus I'm cautious in making the off-piste comments until I've skied the area personally.  By my limited experience in the Alps I see 3 rough categories.

 

1) The La Grave situation where you need guides full time for nearly anything off-piste.

2) The St. Anton situation where a lot of the more interesting terrain/better snow is far off-piste and you need guides at least some of the time to navigate safely as well as assess snow stability.

3) Lots of easily scopable off-piste as I've seen at Davos and Zermatt.  There still might be something unique like the Schwarztor where you'll want to hire a guide.

 

One of the posters on First Tracks seems to target his trips to Euro areas in class 3 above to minimize the need for guides.  If there's no glacier terrain and most of the topography is at an intermediate level, he gets a lot of powder skiing with practically no competition.   Val d'Isere clearly has an expert reputation, and thus my expectation is that I will need guides roughly half the time to get the most out of the experience.

 

 

 



The Espace Killy is like 2 and 3 combined.

Tignes has a bit of stuff you can easily scope out, but most of the good stuff is best done with a guide. Val d'Isere has a lot of stuff that you can easily scope out yourself plus a bit where you'll want a guide.

This! Cerebral knows what he speaks!

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