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A 12 year old's seven days of exploring Val D'Isere and Tignes, commonly known as L'Espace Killy in the French Alps

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 

Back in the USA,  full TR later when time to process video footage of terrain, god there is so much terrain from earth to heaven - but endorphin high still lingering though receding, so some pictures to whet the appetites of any interested viewers appetites: (note brimming with such endorphins, and the body is so torn up and fatigued, this might turn out to be a unusually long trip report - fair warning as enthusiasm is approaching criticality.)


1. The view that greeted us as we arrived into Tignes Val Claret:


2. Look high above Tignes - the Aiguille du Percee is framed high on the horizon (The Pierced Needle, it's the rock with hole in it, an oval vertical doughnut!) This was taken around day 4.



3. The Aiguille du Percee day 1, Tignes - snow, wind, blizzards, whiteouts and sun appearing wherever we went (and we went just about end to end on Day 1! no kidding, skied for 7 hours and the part of the 8th was customary European lunch break but we needed it, legs were shot, food gasoline and fluids needed desperately etc)


4. Dawn from our balcony in Tignes Val Claret on the best ski day of our stay and if Dan Egan and Hotel owners testimony is spot on, best day in the last decade or so, or of the season respectively were the opinions! It was powder, from about 10 days of snow, and wind, and bluebird skies forever


5. Tignes Les Brevieres - the Dam behind the skier and the skier, now at the other end of L'Espace Killy, Day 1:



6. Looking up at steep couloir dropping into Vallon de la Sachette, Tignes off-piste, big lines, huge powder, lots of cliffs lower down and more places than should be !-)

before venturing into incredible powder field of Vallon de la Sache...This is off-piste like no other we had been on, the undulations and variation, the stark beauty and risks and with powder, a sublime experience (for one who struggles in powder!). This is young man from the concrete canyons of Manhattan with his new best friend on the mountain , a local who skis the off-piste like a mountain goat climbs that terrain - they did not share a spoken language in common, and were inseparable as ski buddies all week! 


7. The Sache, Tignes, an infamous 10+ km (6+mile) Black run, and this Black is double Diamond anywhere, we arrived on it after a 8 mile or so trip in the powder and terrain negotiating and cliff traversing from the Vallon de la Sache. Someone we drove in with told us this was a very, very difficult on piste run, and boy was he not kidding (that dude was a 70 year old local resident and ex-ski patroller). Where we got on board, it was BALD as the baldest eagle and steep as sh*te, so sliding and holding onto one's balance was key, there was no grooving and jiving, the best of the best were side-slipping this and then after those hundred plus meters of sliding and staying upright for f--ks sake ! Yowza, spirit-breaker, huge mogul field, which went on for a very long time (think about half the length of peak-to-creek at Whistler Blackcomb when it is not groomed, but this is steep, compared to this PtoC is flat!-) One and only saving grace, the powder was still there and by the time we got there, it was afternoon, and the moguls were soft, that saved the day, otherwise it was sayonara for old man typing here, and many of his compadres who took even longer to get down! And they are French, Belgian, German etc.




8. Kids coming down the entry couloir into Vallon de la Sachette , Tignes,(it's wide but very,very steep at the top) and pitch stays steep for quite a ways, it was powder day - made things doable for the old man..



9.Looking up at the Grand Vallon in Val D'Isere, an off-piste above the uber steep Signal Poma ride! Nice run in these conditions, known for serious avalanche danger at other times


10. Looking down on Super L - a particularly hairy (entry and exposure) off-piste above the Grand Mattin in Val D'Isere and it drives into Piste L further down


11. Customary Mont Blanc shot from the top of Aiguille Rouge lift, Tignes if I recall correctly - that is where Chamonix is, a few clicks away as the crow flies



12. Looking down into the Cugnai : unreal, long off-piste in Val D'Isere, over and up behind the cugnai lift, entry exposure scared the heck out of me, and later couloirs, oh well, another story, and it is a very, very long and picturesque way to civilization now, at the Manchet lift in Val D'Isere



13. At the top of a / the couloir in the Cugnai, Val D'Isere- it was so long when I was negotiating it, and steep, stem-step-low jump turns (low jump as I cannot really execute those turns as yet, so stem-step is next best with elevation to get feet around fast out of the fall line)


14. Top of Olympic Gondola, Val D'Isere, the American boy and his Italian buddy (American boy's mom is of Italian origin though!)


15. Top of Tommeuses chair, Tignes with the famed Gran Motte (Tignes) in the background. The Gondola from the top of the Funicular to the very top is closed, damaged last year when a few hundred tons of rhime fell at the same time catapulting gondolas all over the sky and into their enclosure walls, temporary repairs failed the week before we came as winds upto 250kmph (156mph) were reported on top, and well, led to caroming gondola cars with extensive damage. Potential re-open date is April 19 but subject naturally.



16 The powder field / huge bowl - accessed by us skiers left off Double M, coming down Black below Gran Motte.  Tignes Val Claret is visible in the foreground, and then Tignes Le Lac in the background further away . This bowl is long and it is pretty darned steep, looks from above - Double M are so darned deceiving, but the powder was delectably delicious. 


17. Tignes Val Claret main thoroughfare



18. the most hospitable family hosting us, they own and run the Hotel de la Vanoise, Tignes Val Claret - ski in/ski out, half-board, rustic skiers hotel with most creatively spacious rooms. One member of the family, the extreme skier not there when picture was taken



19. Customary, obligatory Olympique Gondola, Val D'Isere shot -




20. Life is Beautiful 




That's all folks...details to follow later..on place, terrain, and film..it is the biggest, baddest, steepest, and just unbelievable place we have ever skied, and young man wants to go back there, never said that before about any place, he likes many, loves many, but first time he actually said, we should come back next year. And yes, we got very lucky with snow, and conditions, but note we skied, whiteout, blizzard, zero visibility, wind, we were out there, no respite, no stopping, just exploring as best as we could!


Have a good morning 

Edited by dustyfog - 4/17/15 at 6:32am
post #2 of 41
Thread Starter 

Trail Map of L'Espace Killy courtesy Ski Club of Great Britain Big Map: 



Good source for 2014 map, little cleaner online :








Val D'Isere:



Setting frame of reference to map out off-piste ski routes, this is fun as one ponders markets and energy prices

Edited by dustyfog - 4/18/15 at 8:14am
post #3 of 41

I was wondering whether you had returned.  I hope all is well and I can't wait to hear the details.

post #4 of 41

jumping in for the full report...

post #5 of 41
Wow looks like a great trip!
Many years ago stayed in Val Claret.
We used to ski back into that village. Amazing place.
post #6 of 41

Looking forward to the video!


My brother, his wife & friends made the trip to Val every season for at least 20 yrs., with one week at some other euro destination but Val D'Isere was always the priority... 


Thanks for sharing,


post #7 of 41

That looks so sweet!  :drool

post #8 of 41


post #9 of 41
Very cool
post #10 of 41
Thread Starter 

Caveat Reader: Prose style is transcribed stream of consciousness based on recall and light notes on the trail map. Off-piste routes are best guess-timates based on instructor recall and own recall. Also, we skied so much, 6+ hours on the snow every day for Seven days straight that I cannot recall many on-piste runs and some off-piste, an entire morning is lost in the endorphin haze! Lifts will be identified and the cognoscenti can look them up, best way to peg location on the maps above, and in the link.Day 1 is the longest description as it was Day 1, after that focus will be on off-piste pretty much with only mention of notable on-piste. Any nomenclature errors are attributed to endorphins, fatigue and information overload as too much terrain covered with no let-down.

CAVEAT OFF-PISTE: Skiing story is about an expert 12 year old and told by his intermediate Dad, so it's not the uber-hard death-defying kind, though the Dad felt he was defying death a few times, and even 12 year old was tense enough in places. It was adrenaline-junkie stuff at our respective levels.

The place is just huge, as a New York Times reporter in 2002, noted Vail is about 5,200 acres, and I know Whistler-Blackcomb is 8,171 acres or so, and quote The huge ski area at Val d'Isère -- more than 20,000 acres ...A neighboring ski area, Tignes, connects to Val d'Isère by lifts and gondolas. The combined area, referred to as Espace Killy, adds another 22,000 acres of skiable terrain. “ I had speculated that the area was 4x the size of WB to my son, but was off my a factor of one. (I know, I know WB is controlled in-bounds, and most of Europe is not controlled off-piste unless it influences on-piste, we heard the thumps of ordinance going off on the mountains every day!)

Day 0 Friday: Arrived Geneve Aeroport April 3 morning, drove to Tignes Val Claret. Picuresque drive, pictures below, Dam, the view above Annecy, and the views of Paradiski and Trois Vallees too.

The Arch on the border - we are in Gaul now, left the Suisse behind

The Rock above Annecy en route to L'Espace Killy. Hang/Para Glider-o-rama going on around here, it's a French thing, they can't stop talking about it, and in Val D'Isere/Tignes you see motorized hang gliders puttering in the skies above, along with Rescue Choppers flying in and out, helping the cliff-ed out (we saw a rescue happen above Tignes Val Claret, 5 skiers on a cliff-top, chopper managed to land on I presume plateaued outcrop, loaded we heard 3 of the 5 and left, 2 remaining skiers skied down. One learns quickly - the sound of the chopper not usually a good thing, means someone is in trouble, and one of hope, that they are being rescued.



Passing Paradiski high above - that is Les Arcs, still en route


L'Espace Killy espied dead ahead!


The Dam - cross it and Tignes Les Brevieres J'ai arrivee..



Our destination is Tignes Val Claret to the rustic, small family hotel, the Hotel de la Vanoise, half board, and did we luck out! This turned out to be the start of good karma all the way. The Hotel is owned and managed by very attentive relaxed hosts, Sebastian, Caroline (hubby-wife) Paul (bro), own it and run it and Deena (Paul’s significant other) is there as part of the staff, one family, of ski-teers ! Paul reportedly is amongst the top free-skiers in L’Espace Killy. (He is a veteran of Whistler-Blackcomb too). They do everything themselves, manage, clean, look after  the guests, and do have a chef who is a class act with kids. Cool room, small for some (picture below) but is it a skiers room!  Comfy firm beds, clever shelving wooden platform over heater for placing wet ski apparel and gear to dry, tons of shelves, above headboard, closets galore, spacious balcony,glorious view. Our room:




British National Alpine Championship for U16-18-21’s going on right outside of our balcony gallery as we arrive, and the view is perfect and really up close & personal, as we are slightly above the middle of the course in terms of line of sight so can see the turns being made from directly above the skier (perpendicularly above), and some of them were a sight to see, and the last part of that very long course is steep. Course starts way above the bend behind the visible red fencing. The crowds below are the spectators but we had the best view ! They had no idea.



Next, Ski lockers in front, and boot room with hooks, all pretty convenient, though the boot room is inside, the boot rack is not heated, fyi. Hotel is classified 2* as per the owners, I don’t sweat that stuff, but the creature comforts were perfect for a son-father sojourn, and there were large families there with kids, a la many generations in tow. They have a nice bar, with good wine (I don't drink wine and 12 year old can only taste it with his mom perhaps..), and the whiskey favored by owners were a smattering of single malts, frankly which I cannot stand but as he put it so graciously - he is a snob on that subject..we laughed, I bought a bottle of Johnnie Walker, alas it was Red as no Black (Which is what I will exclusively drink unless in a desert or on a mountain!) and kept it at the bar! Nice bar, mellow, child friendly, cozy, and there is a nice living room too where kids can go and hang out and these folks have some video games and all set up..though my son laughed (and he is a snob on this subject..) "they only have PS2, it's good stuff but really old !" Go figure. Shower pressure terrific for anyone wondering as Europeans are notorious for low shower pressure !-) And this was the third floor.


The best for last, you get your gear, boot up, gear up indoors, and then walk out through the bar, 6-10 short steps down click in, and you are in front of the ski school gathering right there, the Tufs lift (from there ski down to Val D’Isere basically or come back to Tignes), you can ski down to the Bollin (beginners lift), Freisse (Val D’Isere ski or back to Tignes ski), Grande Motte Funicular or Les Lanches Lift upto the Grand Motte area, and Tichot (to Aiguille Percee side)lifts. The mountain is outside your door, click in, and head out! This was unbelievable, better ski-in/ski-out access to the entire area than we have experienced anywhere else (and the list is no joke on that dimension: Oberlech, Deer Valley, Whistler-Blackcomb, Alta, Solitude, Sunshine Village). In front of ESF offices in the square mentioned above (Hotel is off to the right not visible on screen)


This is the town square of Tignes Val Claret, nice town, yes modern buildings but all soul to me, with that terrain, the soul is stirred and one's goose is cooked! The old quaint Alpine houses are in Tignes Les Brevieres, Les Boisses, Le Lavachet, Le Fornet, La Daille, and of course Val D'Isere.


Stores nearby, superb food :

  • La Pignata is a foodie’s delight, a chef’s heaven, Francois and Laura there were hilarious, accommodating and suggested culinary delights at lunch for this 'lone' dark 'Americaine' ! The veal, there was a fish, and then there was the lamb, each one was a killer at lunch, and I normally am not a big eater at lunch. Le Chameleon was good country fare, I stuck with the Foie Gras, it's kind of habit-forming (inside tip if you like American Steak, you will not really enjoy the French version, American steak is one thing that is far superior to French Steak...just an objective FYI, only the Japanese can compete with Americans on the steak front!). Grizzly’s barbecue was sumptuous as was the price tag, though their lamb chops, you three big suckers, one could not stop at eating one even in company..had to take down all three! And these folks provide service with charm, good Gallic cheer and even when looking serious can get them to crack a smile, you know the French, try hard to look reserved and all that. Have to cut through that bull-sh*t sometimes.
  • The pharmacy, the grocery store (Sherpa) and of course all sorts of ski gear stores are within a 3-4 minute walk from the hotel, and an easy walk, no climbing Everest to get stuff, just a Alpine stroll on levelish ground undulating.
  • Lady at the Pharmacy who had never heard of "Ben-Gay" found a miracle anti-inflammatory patch for Dad's almost broken pair of knees, they worked wonders. Got a nice supply back stateside. She did look up Ben-Gay, and sagely informed me, unavailable in France!
  • Bars, nightclubs everywhere, in Val Claret, man more in Val D’Isere, Tignes Le Lac but note, lots of underage and very inebriated loud brits out and about - to each their own - just an fyi after 0200hrs that is! French seemed more wild in daylight and on mountain at La Folie Douce! Techno dance party every afternoon, and boy was I tempted but that would take away from ski time and hanging out with American Ace! So no go for this old guy this time. Maybe go with young gun when he is older if he is willing to be seen in public there with his old man (they did a jig with the music on the slopes watching the heaving masses inside! Alas did not get that on film !)
  • GEAR: At the Ski One-Twinner where we rented our skis, it is a short walk (1-2 minutes) from theHotel Vanoise Bar, plus Vanoise guests get (25%) off rental gear, and the owners, his family, the staffers are uber-helpful, accommodating, and all the women working there are really good looking ! I know I know but hey..just saying..Johan was really accommodating for junior's multiple ski needs, and Dad's problems, Arthur and the owner too, turned around skis in an hour or two in the evening, wax and sharpen, even with other store traffic. And if edges did not feel sharp enough, they took them in the back and brought back Sushi knives for blades! What a cheerful helpful crew, better than anywhere else I have been, bar none! Gallic hospitality or Savoie hospitality was most endearing and warm. Good quality gear too, high quality skis, from Stocklis, Heads, Dynastar, Fischers, Rossy’s and all kinds of funky, big powder skis, GS skis. Funny thing is I noticed a lot of European tourist skiers on narrow skis on this terrain,  skis which suit our East Coast conditions but every and I mean every instructor and patroller I saw was on a minimum of 95mm waist width (I did not check all ,a visual impression)   but all Fat skis. Go figure that one.There are many other ski rental outfits there for all sorts of gear needs especially for off-piste/backcountry avalanche terrain skiing and ski touring, Ski Set, Ski 2000, Montaigne etc. Note renting my skis and poles and son's skis and poles (helping get his pole guards on their poles, they were his guards) cost in total all in EUR 227 for 7 days with unlimited replacements and so on.


Oh, I forgot this is supposed to be about skiing ! Oops ..The mountain conditions first blush: Snowing through the night, Grand Motte upper Gondola is kaput, it appears damaged seriously when all 200+ tons of rime ice dropped off the cable length simultaneously in the spring of 2014, which created a tremendous trampoline effect on the cars themselves and they went for a joyride towards outer space I was told and came back down, and gravity hit them hard! No injuries reported thankfully. They managed to jerry-rig the contraption using clips, safety pins, knots and ties to get it going again (I jest !) for this season. Alas, in the days just before we arrived, got hit with 250kmph+ winds up top, sent the cars caroming into the building walls housing them, collided with station housing walls and pylons, so bye bye Grand Motte. Frankly it looked glorious, high, pristine, but I can imagine the snow was glacial ice up there with that kind of wind. Did get up to top of the Funicular just below the Grand Motte, so about 3100 metres, last 1200 or so feet missed but hey, did not have time to breathe, that is how relentless our skiing was as I will try to convey in the prose below.

Ski Day 1 Saturday: Dad maybe slept for 90 minutes through the night, jet-lag the likely culprit, son slept on the plane for a few hours (flight was deserted) and then pretty well, through the night. Snowing through the night, very low visibility, to whiteout conditions at daybreak. Son (interchangeably the 12 year old, the American boy below) and I met with L’Espace Killy veteran guide/instructor Serge. Well, first he gave us our avalanche beacons and then Dad got his avalanche bag (first time) and therein we knew we were in big mountain country (gulp), and needless to say you couldn’t see more than 5 to 10 feet perhaps. Then we were off on the Tufs lift up and then began cruising into Val D’Isere. Grand Motte and all sides enshrouded in thick clouds as the snow continued. But a sort of divine thing began to happen, wherever we arrived, like the curtains parting of a signature theatrical performance, the grande dame of Nature, parted the clouds above us or close enough and Sun shone through where we were so to speak, more often than should be happenstance, hallelujah and I am not even Christian (though my boy technically could be..).Though the full glory of the vistas were not visible of course, that shroud rarely lifted, and the snow was continuous varying in intensity. We were headed East. to the top of the glacier in Val D’Isere, a direct round trip of 40+ kms, on the shortest path to-fro Val Claret village base, we were told, on skis and lifts (We did nothing direct as we were going to find out shortly) The end point was the top of the Pissaillas Glacier tow rope (Montet), the ‘other’ glacier of L’Espace Killy, almost as high as the Grand Motte, but not as glorious/towering/imposing as the Grand Motte. This is where most of the summer skiing happens we understood.

It was ankle deep to knee deep powder on-piste ! And dry, champagne Utah powder, fluffy and made it easy to ski as Dad was feeling considerably intimidated, especially as could see little beyond the orange piste markers and the ropes here and there. And I knew there were cliffs and drop-offs everywhere. We dipped into Val D’Isere, got on the Marmottes lift, and headed to the top of Rocher Bellevarde (the Rock of Bellevarde).  We skied a bit and Serge takes us to the top of the Face de Bellevarde, figured that out when we arrived there, as I saw the Black marker and knew something slightly ominous might be in store; and we had barely warmed up, skiing quasi-blind! Now this is where the Olympic downhill occurred in 1992, and the son of our lovely host in Lech at the Montana, Patrick Ortlieb won his Olympic Downhill Gold. Our first impression was it’s really,really steep, but it’s on-piste so cool, but it disappears into the mist, so the length in of itself was intimidating to Dad, but a lot of powder so made it safer and then got on Joseray, a veer-off red run, as that was trackless powder, looked pristine, problem was the moguls under the powder knocked the old man’s pole handles into his noggin’ a few times as one could not see much of the terrain or features, whiteouts do that to you, was quite hard to negotiate, powder and all. A side pic of the entry to FACE, Val D'Isere below it :


We got on the Solaise express char, skied around the Glacier chair and then got on the famed Leissieres Chair - it did not fail in its mission of scaring the heck out of Dad and this time the American boy too, the damn thing goes up, over this knife edge ridge and drops straight down! Now in the old days, they didn’t have safety bars on that lift, and Serge narrated the white-knuckled fear on the visages of those who were on it, first time or for the umpteenth time, and we were tense, with bars, and this time, didn't see it coming or realize how frightening it is, till we went over the top! It’s an experience in itself! The video when it’s ready, will include that ride, in whiteout and bluebird conditions. Teens supposedly jump off at the top to ski down one side to the start of the chair (the Western face of the ridge chair climbs over, Paul co-owner of the Vanoise has done that 'illegal' jump, Sorry Paul, legend had to be told, but you are nuts!). Climbed high up to the Pissaillas glacier top via this dual track T-bar, only one track functioning, next to the Col blue, then the Cascade chair and finally the Montet T-bar.  Open sesame - clouds parted allowing us to rip down the glacier runs, reds and blues, good GS terrain in powder !

Conditions at the top: This Visibility was a gift from the Sun God and Cloud Angels, and awesome for this day!


Enjoying perfect snow conditions. Only downside, no long-range views, and some of the beautiful bowls were no-go zones, they get steep in a hurry and downright dangerous in poor visibility, and high avalanche risk. We began our return to Tignes Val Claret, Leissieres Chair again. Skied the blues around down from the Glacier chair. One thing, there are T-bars, Pomas and Tow ropes at some interesting spots, on the Pissaillas Glacier, on top Solaise etc. We got our first taste of these in pretty inclement conditions. What is eerie is one cannot see what is over the side on totally unfamiliar terrain...Our journey back was relaxed, though it always seemed that Serge and American 12 year old were between 400 m to a 1000, ahead of old man. Exhibit A of the GAP:(Good thing they did not leave old guy behind! Always bring your ski buddy off the mountain is the motto if I recall correctly and we do practice it)


Anyway, lunch at Tignes Val Claret at the Chameleon, recommend their home made Foie Gras pate on toast, delicious, filling and it is the ski instructor hangout. I switched skis as the Elans were hopeless ,from the moment I got them I regretted it and then 12 year old almost broke both of his dad’s knees (I kid you not , and that would have pleased his mother mightily!); that was the last straw, and that unintentional accident happened getting off a chair in zero visibility, Dad’s one ski got hooked to the binding of young lad, and he pulled one way, and there went the right knee, and left knee was stuck on the other side, so both knees were buckling inwards literally almost parallel to the ground or so I felt that was the resting place broken apart from shins below, Dad almost passed out from the pain..but fell forward as son’s ski released my ski..and long story short...severe trauma to both knees but not rubbery, just mightily inflamed so skied on through gritted teeth and a prayer on one’s lips. We had 7 days, cannot stop now, and this was day 1. Got Dynastar Cham 87’s at lunch, and never looked back, boy are those skis perfection on a big mountain, used them throughout thereafter even at tail end on spring frozen hard pack on last day. They are a powerhouse, smooth, gliding machine, very rockered and wide shovels, perfect...

Then began our after lunch sojourn. Skied to the Tichot lift - there is a drag rope near it on the flats. Lifted off towards Brevieres (heading West now) in howling wind and snow, got better on other side of Pierced Needle (western side), or the Aiguille Percee, from there skied to lowest part of L'Espace Killy, Tignes Les Brevieres and then returned via Tignes le lac . Powder everywhere, visibility real tough high. Funny thing, throughout the Saturday, slopes were lightly populated (Pissailes saw more traffic as did transit hub Toviere top), because of the weather and Saturday is changeover day for hotel guests. Flat light was an issue and it snowed all day. Anyway, we skied all the way down to Tignes Le Boisses swung west down to Tignes Les Brevieres, and then headed back to Val Claret. Dam pic is above of 12 year old, and father-son pic is below with the Dam behind us. It fills up and is an active Hydroelectric power generation facility


We skied the most we have ever skied in one day in our ski lives, and last third Dad did in severe dual knee pain. Skied a shade over 7 hours and covered immense vertical and mileage, probably almost 90-100kms (56-63miles) was Serge’s estimate in terms of round-trip distance, on ground and lift permutations and circuits, distance around 140km or so.


Note this is the longest 1 day description ever probably - the REST WILL BE BRIEF and the VIDEO has to wait till I get to the machine (my IMac! and IMovie)

Edited by dustyfog - 4/18/15 at 12:35pm
post #11 of 41



I have read a lot of your trip reports in the past, which were extremely helpful in planning my own trips.  I have a general question for you. Do you find that the cost of trips to Europe is less expensive/equal/or more expensive than trips out West? Just wondering because it seems like you favor Europe, even though I've read that snow quality is historically better in North America. I can see why there are tons of cultural plusses for going to Europe and am all for it.  For some reason, I have always imagined European ski vacations from the USA only for the rich. 


I am also in NYC and wondering if I should consider Europe for next season. I am obviously not of the "wealthy" contingent of skiers!!!





post #12 of 41
Thread Starter 

Day 2 Sunday: (no video, just images) Mapping convention: Orange Route is 12 year old; Green/Blue Route is his old man

It snowed through the night, dawn brings hard driving snow, winds have picked up. 12 year old parts ways with old man in the morning and goes off with other similarly situated (meaning "young") adrenaline junkies to get in some speed runs in that weather with cool instructor Emeric! Old man gets with Serge and others in a gang, skiing in a Group, quite a bit of trepidation as visibility is way worse than Day One, set out right to the Tufs lift, over and up into Val D'Isere,. State of play: whiteout high, follow the skier in front of you, do not veer off trail, i..e beyond orange piste markers, or off the tracks following Serge. Flat light and powder everywhere. In Val D'Isere, went up on different lifts, skied down,better visibility in valleys and canyon bottoms. Enjoyed eally nice, endlessly long natural half-pipe called Santons (a blue), powdered to the gills, which cuts left off the Epaule du Charvet black run, from the top of Bellevarde, and takes you directly into Val D'Isere village. Thinking American boy is going to love this when he and his crew get on it. It's "twist and shout" for a few miles, a bit like the one in Alta, just longer, and steeper, think that was 'Corkscrew', off the Collins lift at Alta, which is where then 6 year old was taught to 'Elvis' it, i.e. shake it, by his unforgettable, ridiculously charming (from Texas if I recall) instructor Shelly, memories :rolleyes (but I maybe wrong on the name but that jig is memorialized on a YouTube film and in a TR from 2010 on Epic)


Santons: (Pencil arrows on Santons)




Young guns went with ex-national racer Patrice in the afternoon, off-piste in between Tignes Le Lac and Tignes Les Boisses in what is called the Glattier area. Came to the main road, above old caves and tunnels, walked to bus stop, and got bus to lifts and did variants in Glattier, this is the western, lower down end of L'Espace Killy. Pointed out the terrain to old man on drive back to Geneva as it is above the road, this was a day where visibility was better lower in the valleys:



Google Earth rendition of Glattier Hors-Piste approximate route:


 Kasuncion: I have read a lot of your trip reports in the past, which were extremely helpful in planning my own trips.  I have a general question for you. Do you find that the cost of trips to Europe is less expensive/equal/or more expensive than trips out West?


Kara, As this is a TR, will address your question in a separate thread in General Skiing section Ok;  I am out of time this morning ! Got to run. Others will weigh in too. Here is the NEW thread : others will provide a ton of info too, and there I link to an old thread comparing cost of skiing, Europe vs USA and there is this ridiculous discussion about the cost of a passport being factored into cost of travel to Europe !:eek Drove me bananas laughing :D :



We (father/son) do not favor any one zone, either side of GMT, the International Date Line or if you prefer the Atlantic/Pacific for that matter. Just feel that time is very short, as became a skier very late in life because of the now 12 year old, so trying to see as much of the world together, whenever able. 

Glad you enjoyed our TR's, just sharing the good fortune, pinch self every day - I can think of a few billion people who have not had such luck of seeing the castles of the Gods as I most humbly know.


One thing, a very personal observation, I do not give a rat's a*se about culture and that sort of thing, just the mountains, and love people, and they are fun everywhere...just my two cents..have traveled most of my life, lived on 3 different continents, not enough but a lot, as has young American since he was two weeks old, and culture is not driver here for Dad, it's the snow, the terrain and the people have always been cool everywhere. Enjoy, and go East young lady, and go West ;) 

Edited by dustyfog - 4/30/15 at 10:14am
post #13 of 41
Originally Posted by kasuncion View Post



I have read a lot of your trip reports in the past, which were extremely helpful in planning my own trips.  I have a general question for you. Do you find that the cost of trips to Europe is less expensive/equal/or more expensive than trips out West? Just wondering because it seems like you favor Europe, even though I've read that snow quality is historically better in North America. I can see why there are tons of cultural plusses for going to Europe and am all for it.  For some reason, I have always imagined European ski vacations from the USA only for the rich. 


I am also in NYC and wondering if I should consider Europe for next season. I am obviously not of the "wealthy" contingent of skiers!!!






One of the big differences between much of the Alps and resorts in the West is the lift tickets. With the current exchange rate and the rapid increase of lift tickets in the US, you'll be paying about half the price for lift tickets in France, Italy, and Austria compared to the big resorts in CO and UT. Also, with the rapid increase in food prices in those resorts, it's not really any more expensive to eat in European resorts compared to CO and UT these days. For example, when I went to Val d'Isere last month, my 6-day lift pass was €260 (~$278 at the current exchange rate), and my typical lunch was about €20 (~$21.40).


The big expense is the trans-Atlantic flight. But, the big savings on lift tickets really helps to offset that.

post #14 of 41
Thread Starter 

Something about the grace, sometimes reserved, but most certain grace of the French, given all the static about them:

On or around day 4 or so, Paul, the uber free-skier in the area, and co-owner of the Vanoise met Emeric, an ex-French national team racer who happened to be the morning instructor for the 12 year old American boy. Paul narrated this to his Dad, and for all Americans - it's a feel-good aside:Paul -  "Hey, I met Emeric this evening, he is a friend of mine, I asked him, is my guest D-- skiing with you?" Emeric goes "You mean the American boy", Paul said "oui, yeah", and Emeric reportedly responds "Very good skier, very fast... est # 1 in the Poussins " (i.e. U13's basically as I learnt later). 


Emeric is roughly 6'3" or so, and a big young dude, and American boy is 65 lbs!


(Dan Egan loved this little snippet...we chatted about it at Zurich Airport ! It is a quintessential American pride thing..and all about French grace)

Edited by dustyfog - 4/16/15 at 10:40am
post #15 of 41

A rather glowing report from the area #1 on my not yet skied list.  I've had 4 other trips to the Alps, so just a few of questions.

1) What were your dates there?  My impression is within past 2 weeks, which is the exact time frame I'm considering for next year.

2) These dates coincide with British school holidays, though the French spring holidays are later.  Were there any cost or crowd issues being there during the British holidays? We were in Whistler April 2-6 and there were a lot of Brits there. 

3) Did you have Serge as a private guide all week?  How much does that cost?  Whatever it was, I'm sure it was worth it given the amazing off-piste terrain and all that powder.  Local knowledge and avalanche awareness had to be essential during your week.

post #16 of 41
Thread Starter 

Day 3 Monday: General off-piste routing convention : ORANGE path = 12 year old’s route; GREEN or BLUE path = His old man’s route, and M=Monday, W=Wednesday.

The best ski day of the year for Tignes - Val D'Isere , "the day of the year to ski" - Trademark Utah/Colorado powder ankle to knee deep everywhere, and blazing blue sunshine  from sunrise on. Picture above of 'dawn from our room' taking this morning from room balcony. Definitely major sunblock day. Dad’s friend from Zurich dropped by the night before, and she joined his Group (Level 3, as ESF classifies it, the Challenge group, or “Shhhalllaaange” as they enunciate it) skiing for the day. The venerable Dan Egan said (in Zurich en route home to us) in his 20+ years at Val D’ISere, that was some day, and our hosts at the Vanoise said Monday was the day of this season.

Tignes: Dad and his group took the Funicular up to Grand Motte access shoulder, and later Les Lanches, Vanoise lift combos to lap around that Gondola station below the Grand Motte slopes. Old folks gang first went around East (turn left as you come out of Funicular) and then dropped in on skiers right into steeper and deeper powder fields, Cham 87’s really glide but face-plants happened to quite a few including the old man. Then went directly under Vanoise lift to grab fresh tracks. Finally, back on top, ducked rope to go behind Grand Motte Gondola station, basically South and hiked up a bit, then cut right, turned downhill, and hit beautiful gentle powder fields on skiers left of Descente Black run which is below the shoulder of the Grand Motte, then got on the Black, down Cirse Red, to Les Lanches lift station, and back up again. After a few times of this ecstatic merry-go-round, went down Double ‘M’ Red, cut left under cliffs, into a steep but gigantic bowl, powder field forever. Folks were coming in above us too as there is an even hairier way in for those who ‘know’ and those who can ski it. Serge thankfully was cranking up the pressure slowly so we skied through this bowl, it was very, very steep in parts, like Highland Bowl, not as steep as HB, but feels way bigger, space-filling as it’s flanked by huge cliffs on skier’s left, and high wall on skier’s right where Double ‘M’ red continues on the top of that wall. Basically, this field funnels in, and ends at Val Claret, one way or the other. Did this a couple of times. Map below shows the events of that Monday morning Fest.

Map of morning's ceremonies under the shadow of the Grand Motte Glacier and related Massifs :


A few pics of same fields: 

This is under the Grand Motte Gondola Station - Serge holding forth 'En Francais' had to remind him to translate, he seemed to think Old American guy was ok, a survivor..does not need a lot of advice OTHER than "Get UP and FORWARD in powder and steeps"


The powder fields we hiked up past Grand Motte Gondola and hooked right : 




Val D'Isere:

12 year old’s morning was ‘speedy gonzalez’ time, and some off-piste too but no idea where they went, Emeric shepherding this crew of Germans, French, Italian, British and the lone yank kid !


In the afternoon, 12 year old's adventure got real in a hurry. Patrice took them up the Borsat lift, then down Genepy (Green cruiser for L’espace Killy whatever that means) to the Grand Pre lift, and they went to the top, which is the access point for off-piste over the Rocher du Charvet (Rock of Charvet), chutes, couloirs, steeps and beautiful topography. They dropped in behind the lift, went off some seriously steep sh*te, this is called the TURN of CHARVET . Kids clearly came down like billy goats, because it was a genuinely steep, angled slope with multiple fall lines, and you kind of ride it high, before dropping lower and lower into a steep canyon finally into the bottom i.e. valley where a mountain stream/river is flowing, I presume when the snow really melts and arrived at the base of the Manchet lift. It is out in the wild and beautiful! There are mountain Chamois herds here, we saw them, it’s a nature preserve, and the infamous French mountain woodchuck-gopher cousin called the ‘Marmotte’ made a honorary appearance, marking the arrival of spring.  Note kids did "TURN of CHARVET" which goes over the top and south - and then hooked a left turn high and went West. They did NOT do the Face of Charvet, the Val D'Isere facing side of Rocher du Charvet, which is known for very steep and long couloirs, and classic steep lines in Val D'Isere, something famous called Couloir Pisteurs is here, it's long, narrow, and very steep and no, none of us did it. Though what they did was plenty steep, even though Patrice, their guide has now told me a few times, "Non, no, no steep, easy...", yeah right brother, sing me another song, I came in below it on Friday and saw what was above me.


Found a good map with an aerial view which gives a very good perspective of this off-piste route the kids did on Monday in ORANGE and have outlined what Dad did on Thursday and Friday. You can see both young turk and his old man came behind the Rocher du Charvet, kids came in high and down, and Dad came in flat, sloping relatively speaking and long traversing..The famed couloirs and steeps are in the 'shaded' part of the Rocher du Charvet, facing viewer of this page.


Overhead Map View of the Turn of Charvet (Orange, Today - young guns), the Tour du Charvet (Blue - Friday morning yodel through French backcountry among the Chamois & Marmotte), Cugnai route(Blue - Thursday's party!)




(Dad reiterates as Dad looked up on Friday, as to where they must have come down from; when he was not gasping for oxygen, and said a silent ‘Thank you’ that he came on a gentler route, this is when Dad did the Tour du Charvet around the Cabine du Gard on Friday, which was the old guy’s version of this gig! This route is outlined on a later map too which depicts Dad’s Thursday and Friday. It was quite the route the kids took compared to the grown ups.)


Young man now claiming own lines in powder and achieving that state of ‘floating on air’ relieved of gravity which only powder provides on this planet, Dad a bit of a ways to getting there.


Val D'Isere: Afternoon was a fright-fest. Like lambs to slaughter, trooped off post a nice lunch at Le Chameleon to Val D’Isere. We are cruising down this Blue, see a sign saying “Piste L Ferme” - closed, and shortly past that, at the lip of a Red, chilling out all, Serge stops, and I think "oh no!", I wasn't alone, heard a couple of choice French words ... he looks over edge of our cruise path and says "let’s go..." and he goes...When I looked over, could not see where the heck he wanted to go, and was not alone, at least two others went “No, do not want to do this” in German and French, I muttered “WTF am I doing here...morning powder had taken it’s toll”. Well, we went it, it was steep, and the exposure was rather scary, survived it, it’s called Super-L, the powder made it skiable otherwise fuggedaboutit! Learnt later, Piste-L closed as it is smack-dab avalanche deposit terrain, they land in there off Super-L, but Serge the master, knows his mountain, and checked the snow, it was pretty settled on Super-L when we got there - felt pretty solid, and tracked out, and the snow was beautiful that afternoon. Map:


And here is the picture of the 'debate amongst the skier's - no one really wants to move, and go over that lip - Serge and others looking up at another dilly-dallying before coming around tight turn over a convex exposure, fear is pretty immobilising, and here there was no shortage of fear!  There was one more pic taken by Dad which is in the first post above, that was it, IPhone put away, all hands and instincts on deck to live through this gig...We entered Super-L just off the Blue -  just before the start of the Grand Mattis...well as I learnt on reading online here stateside...a website reviewing off-piste in Val D'sere put it so "The closer you get to the Mattis, the greater the drop!" Yup, damned straight ! Lower down there was a long couloir/gully we went through which was steep but not as scary as the original first 1/3 rd of this little jaunt...



We did this twice, the second time, hiking up and rightward from the top of the Laisinant lift, and coming down, after a few short steeps, good snow, good powder, ending at the Grand Mattis Red. Shown on map above to the left of the jump-into Super-L.
That was Day 3 in a nutshell. 

Edited by dustyfog - 4/23/15 at 6:31am
post #17 of 41
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

A rather glowing report from the area #1 on my not yet skied list.  I've had 4 other trips to the Alps, so just a few of questions.

1) What were your dates there?  My impression is within past 2 weeks, which is the exact time frame I'm considering for next year.

2) These dates coincide with British school holidays, though the French spring holidays are later.  Were there any cost or crowd issues being there during the British holidays? We were in Whistler April 2-6 and there were a lot of Brits there. 

3) Did you have Serge as a private guide all week?  How much does that cost?  Whatever it was, I'm sure it was worth it given the amazing off-piste terrain and all that powder.  Local knowledge and avalanche awareness had to be essential during your week.

  1. Arrival April 3, 1315hrs, departure April 11, 10am. On snow 7 days straight, 6+ hours, including the epic 7 hour first day. Note lifts open 9am to 5pm ! One hour to half hour more than most places we have been to. This was noticed by 12 year old.
  2. Brit school holidays on this week, as are French School holidays in the Annecy and Bourg St Maurice region. We were there with Brits, who come there for 5 to 8 weeks a year, how they do it, no idea, and it was Belgian School holidays so clans of Belgique folks - Flemish and French Belgians all there.
  3. Serge took my boy and me on the first day as a private, and it was one tough day to ski. As a practice, we have learnt on big mountains we do not know, especially one like this, having a guide on day 1, you see everything and if conditions turn (And we were in a blizzard, squall, snow, and whiteout as outlined above) - the guide takes you everywhere or wherever it is good, they know what is skiable, safer etc. I am not good enough to rescue my son, while he can rescue me theoretically but still too 'light' to pick up his old man..and this terrain is to be respected all the way. Cost for the day on this page: let's say about half the cost as in the US major resorts, and this I will pay, and finance for every time, on day1: http://www.esftignes.org/private-lessons/privilege-formula . Serge had both of us beacon-ed and I was equipped with an avalanche bag, I know nothing about avalanches other than what I have read ! So there would have been no skiing without Serge. On day 1, in the much-too long description above we went from end-to-end in L'Espace Killy in genuinely inclement weather, and that was exhilarating. 
  4. Rest of the week, for next 6 days, son skied in the highest level group for kids called Competition ski which is one level higher than what they call Mini-champions Etolie d'or - though in the afternoons, the groups merged, mornings they skied separately. So mornings he had Emeric, and afternoons Patrice. All class acts by the way, gracious, respectful, fun guys for the kids and kept them safe and showed them some serious big mountain terrain. This Dad is very grateful. Costs for this EUR 282. 
  5. Rest of the week, for next 6 days, Dad skied in a group all day and luckily, Serge was the instructor, cost for that was for the entire 6 days: EUR 264. I took this first a day at a time and they got full, but some persuasion with head of ski school Franck, and was accommodated, and note even though I paid for 1 day group, then for 2 more days etc. the French staff (Cecile in particular) made sure, I only paid the marginal amount to meet the discounted package level, so in the end, paid the EUR 264. Now that is called integrity! Gallic charm (she is very pretty too) and integrity. Kids groups with Patrice and us grown=ups (well there were some young 'uns with us, in their twenties and thirties and some teens too...17 and 18 year olds) converged on the last afternoon so Dad and son, skied together that afternoon, and had a chilling ride together on the Leissieres lift again.
  6. Observation by son at the end of day 4: "Dad I think this place just may have less '#' of runs than Whistler-Blackcomb, (he put emphasis on 'number' ie. '#') but it is 20% on-piste, and 80% off-piste". Paul, one of our hosts and the uber-skier who also knows Whistler-Blackcomb very well, concurred young American was very astute and absolutely right. There you go, inside experiential insight from a 12 year old. As noted elsewhere, Whistler-Blackcomb is 8,171 acres inbounds, bowls and all, and it's huge or so I thought, but this L'Espace Killy is another matter, it's 44,000+ acres.

Edited by dustyfog - 4/17/15 at 4:26pm
post #18 of 41
Thread Starter 

Day 4 Tuesday : Mapping convention: Orange Route is 12 year old; Green/Blue Route is his old man

Morning is a blur.

Tignes: Afternoon we head West up the Tichot chair, and coming off the Grattalu chair,  we are on the Le Mer Red, heading to the Merles Red, we see young man and his crew with Patrice,  whizz by on our left off-piste, all half-dozen or so of them and they cut further left,  and then there they are going high on the side/shoulder of Aiguille du Chardonnet and then they are gone. We get to the Grand Huit Chair and suddenly see the crew, skiing/skating/hiking through this flat bowl, it is actually a frozen lake, to the left of the Grand Huit chair. They had come off the shoulder into this open powder field, off the shoulder of Aiguille du Chardonnet.

Map of the Aiguille du Chardonnet North-Western shoulder ride below:



Pic of the kids with Patrice disappearing on the shoulder of the Aiguille du Chardonnet on the top left :


and then coming down to the frozen lake , viewed from the Grand Huit lift loading area:





We take Grand Huit up, ski down Ancolle Red, and then up Aiguille Percee chair, watch diehards hike on ‘this’ side of the Aiguille Percee donut to access the Black below the chair facing/eastern side of the feature. We skied the ‘backside’ or Western side of the Pierced Needle on day one. Serge goes into the Ski Patrol hut and spends let’s say an inordinately long time in there. Later he elaborated, he discussed avalanche risk and related conditions with patrol. Ok, he comes back, and gets us to take our skis off, and we hike up - short but steep quick climb to the top, and lo and behold there are these massive features facing us, and as we are clicking in, we see 12 year old and his crew come hiking up behind us! We hook left , traverse, and it’s steep and rocky below the traverse and enter the Vallon de la Sachette. Steep wide couloir is skied carefully, so much powder made that steep much more skiable, though a few of us did fall on that. Serge had to pick up the pieces for a few of us. Old man made it down to mid-station. Kids arrived above and it was a joy to watch them come down! Got some footage of that.

Then it was an endless bowl, powder field, and we went right and high, kids went left and further afield. It is incredible how this beautiful powder field, then becomes the side of a steep exposure, and one is again carefully picking one’s way down. We see kids on the ‘other’ side of what is now a canyon getting progressively deeper and steeper, flying, and I actually see young American grooving, I stop and watch as I can see he is headed straight for a ‘dip’ or ‘basin’, one of those things, you are never supposed to ski into, since getting ‘out’ often is almost impossible. I see him come to the lip flying(I yelled "watch out" but he was a good ½ click away on the other side of the canyon - did not hear his old man), he stopped, , noticed the basin, and calmly side-stepped up to the track Patrice had made above, Patrice had stopped to watch too I could see from my vantage point. Then they were gone. We skied more powder, fresh lines everywhere, and suddenly find ourselves traversing on this narrow ‘track’ , Serge is cutting the traverse for us intermittently on other folks earlier tracks and his, we ski along, tense as hell, steep fall-away to our left, cliffed out basically, but there is a lot of snow below us, so that is some mental relief, and finally get back to ‘civilization’, the infamous black, Sache appears and we get on it, thankfully this part is relatively calm especially compared to that queasy traverse we had just come through.

From our relatively high perch, I espy my boy quite a ways below on Sache, gunning it, with his crew, so they caught up with us slow-ski 'Lukes and Lucy’s' and came onto Sache way below. I found out later, their traverse was seriously hairy, it’s on video (Patrice filmed it) and 12 year old said, it was ‘really scary’ near the end, video shows why - they traversed much further down cutting back on 'our' side of the canyon, on the side of the gorge steep cliffs below skiers left, absolute no fall-zone, in some trees but no room to slip off at all. They came in ducking under a fence on the Sache, as that on part if anyone flew off the Sache, likely outcome is "Ciao Baby". A bit of Web Research here in Manhattan uncovers this gem about what we did, and what they did, and why after they went lower, and onto left side of canyon - they cut right late, becomes abundantly clear. Here is the description from the the online site:

Link to source: https://sites.google.com/site/skitripaclub/the-off-piste-guide


Vallon de la Sache/Vallon de la Sachette: https://sites.google.com/site/skitripaclub/the-off-piste-guide Two variants of a legend. The Sachette is my favourite of the 2. From the Aiguille Percée to Tignes Les Brevières. Great powder slopes. The fun just keeps rolling on. Route: From the Aiguille du Percée, climb up a few metres onto a ridge opposite the Eye of the Needle. Go off the back of this (Sachette). It is imperative that you exit from the large valley, swinging to your right, at the same point all the other tracks do (before the narrowing). In the narrowing, the valley becomes an impassable gorge with large cliffs.  You join the Sache piste for the last little section into Les Brevières. (There are in fact two ways down this gorge, one on each side, but you have to know where they are. This is why I advise you to leave the valley and join the piste at the same place as everyone else).

Grade: easy-moderate, severe if follow route to bottom, corpse if follow gorge to bottom.  :eek:eek:eek


Patrice took them left for a while, as I noted above, clearly quite the adventure, there is film and they are whooping it up, not knowing what lies beneath..:nono::eekand veered right at close to the last exit point - which is why they came in much lower than the Dad and Serge crew! I distinctly recall Serge drily remarking to me when we were watching young American avoid basin from our side "Patrice and I discussed route but he always does something , he is on ze other side, should have been on zis side... it's the mountain, he forgets what he said...all the time he goes somewhere else.." And Serge was shaking his head with a wry smile...they are very old friends..I now understand Serge's look, his grin ONLY after reading this description online..Whew! Am his Dad after all, love Patrice..taking 12 year old to the edge of Never !  It explains why my son said to me, it got really scary near the end of their ride, it's on film but one cannot see exactly what is 'down there' as Patrice is looking at the kids and our GoPro is strapped to his chest. He kept the kids safe and happy and he trained them well, a very good man. My boy actually said there was no place to ski below their track, Capisce Dad? Dad now capisced !  This GOOGLE Earth rendition of the Dad-tracks and 12 yo tracks confirms - why there were no tracks BELOW 12 yo exit from the Vallon de la Sache ! :eek


Back to the oldies, we actually asked Serge if we could bail out onto the Red Arcosses and he goesou "NNooo...Sache ze iz groomed today...loook.." and yeah, where we were it looked groomed , he said "they groom it once a week, so all luck, and we are lucky today" - famous last words to be remembered! 

Sure enough, about 50 metres past the Arcosses potential bail-out point, on the Sache, it steepens sharply and it is hard, hard New England ice, and sheer, edges cannot grip, :eek it is a slide-o-rama and the bodies and parts are strewn all over as many folks are down, skis simply slid out, it is too steep, and absolutely bald, trying to turn on your edges is an invitation to disaster, I know almost happened to me, and if the slide begins, stopping is hard to do. No idea how, but I think I side-slipped the entire bit, and spy powder and then the spirit sank - steep, gigantic moguls are right there. Famous last words indeed.."Groomed my American a-se..this sh*te is just an endlessly steep mogul field till the eye can see" Cursing under my breath and probably loudly, I begin a slow, sliding over the tops descent, and yes, they were soft, but man were there so many tough spots. Saw good skiers go by and to a man or woman, most crash-landed somewhere at some point. Well made it down, and funnily way before my compadres except for this French woman, Pascale, who has been skiing the area for over 15 years, she skis so smoothly and calmly, off-piste and with power...she was left behind in the NEw England ice, but caught up with me and calmly blew by on the moguls, skied so smoothly, made it seem effortless while I was having trouble finding enough oxygen in the air to help me with my next turn! :(

Trail Map Rendition of our Vallon de la Sachette to Vallon de la Sache sojourn below:




12 y.o. American flanked by an Italian (Mountain local, kid was a mountain goat off-piste, son's best ski buddy, son of an ESF instructor) on the left white helmet, and a German in Blue training jacket and race suit  (he races in Germany and has been to L'Espace Killy a few times now, skis on a mountain near the Black Forest in Germany) on the right :


Looking down into the bowl in the Vallon de la Sache:




Looking down at the entry couloir we traversed to entering the Vallon de la Sachette:



Another look up at the Sache as my compadres are brought down by Sache, thank god for the afternoon sun softening up the moguls and the fresh snow of the past week - there are more moguls below me..but the slope incline is a bit more benign as I am standing at the confluence of the Sache and Red Pavot.


That is Day 4. Spoke to a nice Belgian woman at the bottom, she was going for a beer, I followed her down as she seemed to find the least bump-ridden track to the Sache Gondola at the bottom.


Noted no sign of the kids, who I had seen gunning it on the Sache below us, well, vanished into thin air down here at the Sache base.


Later that evening, young lad showed that each of his outer toes on both feet had blistered from continuous pressure being applied in his boot on the powder and off-piste. Here the class of our hosts in full display, they grab their first-aid kit and treat the 12 year old. Seb, co-owner is applying the bandage and treatment, Paul the free-rider is watching, and Dina, his significant other is cracking up, and grateful American boy is suitably nonplussed!

Edited by dustyfog - 4/25/15 at 11:25am
post #19 of 41
Thread Starter 

Day 5 Wednesday: Mapping convention: Orange Route is 12 year old; Green/Blue Route is his old man

Tignes: Absolutely gorgeous bluebird skies, sun is firing up it’s reactors! Morning head to Vallon de la Sanchette again, conditions too good to pass up, and this time the grown up crew (with a couple of French and Belgian high teens), below Grattalu lift, cut left below the Le Mur Red and Lac Blue as the kids the previous afternoon, and came in high in an opening as it turned out on a high ridge line, steep drop in which was NOT visible from below or the side, into the bowl under Aiguille du Chardonnet. Thinking, “does everything which looks relaxed get steep in a hurry?” Then did the hike over the lake coming to get to the Grand Huit lift, to Aiguille Percee lift. Hiked up above Aiguille Percee lift, clicked in, and now the sun has been working it’s magic, so some rocks have to be negotiated on that tricky traverse to couloir drop in. Ski in the Vallon de la Sachette/Sache is nice, so much powder, still fresh tracks to be had. One thing of note, we go further down the canyon and come in right where the Sache meets the start of the Arcosses Red. This traverse was seriously hairy, way more dangerous than yesterday, this time rock cliffs just below the traversing skier, thinking, ‘you slip, you die, it’s a long way down and no place to slip it on skis’ ! I asked Serge about it later down at the Sache Gondola ex-post, he smiled wryly and said "Yaaas, we came down out lower, saw cliffs was thinking about you all..", Thanks dude for another pinch I felt in my chest when up there, for the fleeting cardiac trauma.

Arcosses was mogulled but relatively benign. This is depicted on day 4 map.

The terrain we were on, looking up, below the ridge line of Aiguille du Chardonnet:


Another view of the Aiguille du Chardonnet bowl, once one comes around the ridge, and the  lake skate, yesterday by the kids and today by the grownups below th Aiguille du Chardonnet, pic from vantage point on the Aiguille Percee lift facing the feature:


Cathy (Mrs. Serge) on her morning exercise, joined us/the crew,. Looking good lady, awesome skier, taken below the couloir entering Vallon de la Sachette.



Val D’Isere: Afternoon, we head to Val D’Isere. En route, after the Marmottes lift, back at the lip of the now infamous Face - World Cup Downhill run, Serge goes , “every one on their own, ski down”, it was soft nice groomed snow, I asked, ‘Freeski’ he goes “YYeesss”, I say “GS Turns” he goes in very accented English “Of course” and with emphasis. I went for it, and the snow was terrific and then...oops...I noticed very very late at the end of the first slope on the Face, as I was screaming down making big, big looping turns, the terrain was not sloping down, but sloping up, it was too late, was at a velocity at my outer limits, hit this ‘hump or ridge’ and yes, was airborne for some distance, at incredible speed and the slope fell away below me as I headed up into the air :eek, it’s the Face after all! Well, managed to stick the landing, no idea how ...Serge later said down at the Solaise base since the others wisely chose to follow him in his tracks, ‘“I saw you, thought too too fast, lot of damaagge..uhhh huh” . The rest of the crew skied the Face carefully, following in Serge's tracks, as the lower you got, it got balder, and very, very icy. Lots of slideouts visible. The old American guy skied it hard, as this was more up my alley and a relief from the white-knuckle, thigh pounding, quad killing off-piste! But it goes on forever...it is one long and uniquely steep ‘Face’, never skied anything like it before that I could recall, the steepness and the sheer length, and the icy conditions. It is designed for Downhill Racing - confirmed it live :D.

Then we took Solaise up, Santons half-pipe down, Laisinant lift up, skied to Pyramides chair/Vallon gondola side-by-side station. We got on the Pyramides chair and it’s cool, the chair goes over the Vallon Gondola, pic below,multi-storeyed lift crossing in the air:


Then we took this uber steep Poma drag lift to the top of Grand Vallon.


Grand Vallon is a beautiful bowl, entry after traversing is ok. Gets steep here and there, nice soft powdery snow but cut to pieces by now, but snow is soft, creamy and dry. Got crusty, so skied down and then across to the Pyramides/Vallon station. Skied down the forested blue Mangard to Le Fornet village, the Eastern-most end of the valley, road beyond it closed now, in the summer, it is open and takes you to Italy. Bus to Val D’ISere, Olympique Gondola and then back to Val Claret.


A somber and respectful note about this area and a recent tragedy: Grand Vallon was nice when we were on it, it is known for dangerous avalanches which have resulted in many a fatality. Someone I knew from the mid-90's from work, (and I found this out, after we returned stateside and was reading about Grand Vallon online) died there this season in an avalanche. He was there with his 5 kids, wife and a guide, got hit by an avalanche, and Dad did not make it, all others did. Really sad. So it looked great but it is extreme terrain for avalanche risk and has many cliff outs, and steep funnels and couloirs.


Map of the afternoon adventure (Wednesday route in Green, Young American did Grand Vallon on Thursday afternoon - Friday was just fun times on the Pissaillas Glacier for our 7th and last afternoon on snow on skis):





Grand Vallon gallery:


Looking up Grand Vallon, old man feeling pretty good:


Looking up - pretty huh..


Young American 12 year old was in a race that morning, Fleche (i.e. GS) with a ton of folks ranging from 30+ to 10 years, from Tignes and all Val D'Isere, he came 6th, got the Vermeil medal (it's between Gold i.e. D'Or and Silver, i.e. Argent), it's an All-France ranking system based on timing and race course set categories, was 1st amongst all Tignes-Val D'Isere, Poussins category (i.e. U13's), got beaten by a couple of 14 year olds, a 23 year old, and a 15 year old. Dad was kind of slightly proud, comme :cool :beercheer: 


Locked and Loaded, Ready for Bear, or the International crew of ski racers: (the ski lockers are on skier left)


Edited by dustyfog - 4/18/15 at 12:29pm
post #20 of 41
Thread Starter 

Day 6 Thursday: Mapping convention: Orange Route is 12 year old; Green/Blue Route is his old man

Glorious Bluebird skies again, no clouds, just sunshine. Snow is going to get harder with the spring freeze-thaw cycle operating now.

Val D'Isere: Morning Grand Vallon again via Santons, came down lower onto Red Callon /Blue Mangard. Bus to Olympique and then Borsat and back to Tignes.

Val D'Isere: Afternoon, again Santons natural half pipe softer than the morning, got onto Glacier chair, hooked a right and went to the Cugnai chair, over the top. Stopped dead as Serge went through the gate, entered and froze, could not see over the side on my right, could see very steep gigantic bowl below the peaks - traverse dipped hard, so speed pickup unavoidable. Serge goes “don’t be scared”, I grunted “F--k Serge, are you sh-tting me, you call this f--king relaxed !” Well, then ventured in, it was glorious thereafter. Skiing with a 40 year L’Espace Killy veteran Serge, and a group really makes a difference. It was such a long, beautiful route, snow was awesome, cut up, but deep, soft, big bowls, big lines, and a real long, steep couloir thrown in for good measure - that was “stem-step-turn” dance time...jump a little too, as time spent in the fall line had to be minimized. This ran into this beautiful canyon base with a small river running through it. There was a rifugio on the way, with folks sunning themselves there, looked pretty tan, food on the table and then crossed a bridge, traversed high over the river on the side of the canyon walls, and this ends at the base of the Manchet chair. Stupendous route!

Map: of the dive through the Cugnai today, coming in from the South-East into the Manchet lift base, grown-ups Tour Du Charvet on Friday, described below,coming in from the South-West into the Manchet lift base, and young American's Monday sojourn over the top of the Rocher du Charvet above us


Cugnai via Apple Maps:





The rock band on the top left, you cut in above that, through gate, the Cugnai lift top is on the other side


Looking down at some point in the Cugna:


Pascale, the most experienced skier in our group, French, and the best of the lot off-piste and with the advantage of knowing what's coming up - does help alleviate those pesky butterflies in our digestive canals! You can see skier in our group down and Serge helping her get her skis on and up.



Top of that couloir where one stem-step-jump turned: Lots of pizza-ing in the group here!


Bottom of the couloir: Really looks flatter on camera looking up than it was looking down it, and skiing on it! Old guy feeling good - but there is such a long way to go to civilization..it's beautiful but the entire ride was unbelievably taxing and a sheer endurance test beyond just skiing ability and mental fortitude.


Then back up Manchet chair :  down plan Red , Piste M, and then we veered off into Black Rhone-Alpes, softer now with morning cooking in the Sun, it's steep and a good ride to the Solaise base and onto the Bellevarde Express or Olympique Gondola. Plan and Piste M are really steep and wide as heck but there are so many bad skiers careening on it out of control or barely in control, it's a virtual human slalom course, and the greatest danger is the clown behind you, coming down without brakes or an ability to put on the brakes. Be forewarned - Plan and Piste M are human obstacle courses, front and back.Headed back via Tommeuses - Glorious day


Edited by dustyfog - 5/20/15 at 1:28pm
post #21 of 41
Thread Starter 

Day 7 Friday: Mapping convention: Orange Route is 12 year old; Green/Blue Route is his old man

Tignes: First thing this morning, Old man tells Serge, today is our last day, body really hurting, mind cannot take more brain freeze risk, and he says “ Zure, zure..easy, easy”. Another example of “famous last words” as one finds out shortly. Get off Borsat lift , Serge saying a lot en Francais, I ask Pascale to translate. She says we are going to traverse for 5 minutes off the Black Epaule du Charvet, no big deal than very relaxed off-piste. Think “that’s cool” but have that nagging feeling in the back of my head...it is bothering me...well..we hook to skiers right and start a traverse, it looks easy at first and then holy guacamole, is over a steep dropoff, ominous basins below, you do not want to find yourself in, and the traverse turns Uphill - yikes. Totally destroyed mois legs, and stamina was almost tested to the limit. That 5 minute traverse was at least 35 minutes, and one had to climb, hike, side-step and so on. Well, now we are doing the  ‘Tour du  Charvet’, beautiful hills, mounds of snow (on GoPro), and ski past the Cabine du Gard - beautiful terrain , icy then soft , marmotte and mountain deer, the  ‘Chamois’ country, we see a herd on high, they watch us, and then finally take off down some steep trail high. I see now, where 12 year old and his crew were way higher - in steep terrain, no idea how they got down. We go lower down into canyon, tough, icy, fresh powder often turned to crust now, and ski down to a river, this is almost romantic, the location! Note old man fell twice from sheer fatigue, once on the side of a steep slope as we skirted it, and then , fell on small ice bridge , over water but not in the water (it’s on film as camera was running).  This ends up back at the  Manchet lift, but now coming from the South-Eastern side, see map above from Thursday, our route is depicted in Green and marked Friday. When we did the Cugnai, we came via another canyon and above another tributary from the South-Eastern side, and ended up at the Manchet lift. Manchet lift is in Val D’ISere.

Val D’Isere : Afternoon on piste ski to Pissaillas glacier , with Patrice, our 12 year old and his friends. They jammed some off-piste under the lifts, Dad stayed on piste thankfully.





Did try to get some footage of him grooving down the Women’s downhill run later on our way back to Tignes Val Claret, that is the Ok Coup du Monde Red on the West face of the Bellevarde Rock. He and his Italian and German pal stopped outside the Folie Douce, were doing a little dance on the snow until Dad showed up and they stopped! Then back to home base, Val Claret. The skiing at L’Espace Killy most regrettably has come to a close for us. Dad’s body is dying, every muscle is screaming in pain, and those almost torn knees seem to be encased in natural cement.


What a journey, what a place, what fine people, truly a mansion of the Gods - privileged to have been a humble visitor - son does take his father to interesting places - though often is teetering on the edge of cardiac arrest or brain freeze :D 


Apologies again, it's the longest trip report I have ever composed and the video is not even ready. Maybe should have waited but the place just got us...nothing like it ever for us...we now understand in a small measure why Tignes-Val D'Isere is part of the ski-world's lore..

Video in the next couple of weeks is the plan.

Edited by dustyfog - 4/18/15 at 12:39pm
post #22 of 41
Thread Starter 

Important observation for Parents of little kids: Lifties are incredibly attentive at Val D'Isere and Tignes - especially to kids, they have this under 1.25m reserved lane, all the chairs (or most, I don't recall any without other than Pomas, Drags, Tow Ropes and T-bars naturally) have special stoppers on the single seat reserved for that lane and the smallest kids go one at a time,( the rides are long and like I said Leissieres lift, scary sometimes), like an extra vertical bar which act as a blocker preventing the little ones from sliding out under the safety bar, every parent's worst nightmare. Pretty well thought out if you ask ,me, the Lift System at L'Espace Killy was the best I have seen, locations, connections, equipment, manning/staffing. Just superb. 


But that does not mitigate their number one risk - avalanche ! They control but it's a real risk anywhere on that terrain...feels real eerie sometimes.

post #23 of 41

It's interesting with the lifts. Back in 1980 I remember scanning our ticket. It had a magnetic strip on it. So far ahead of the States. You'd come to say a poma, scan the ticket and it would let you through. I seem to recall self starting some of the pomas in the middle of nowhere. Meaning they were running, but you pulled a handle when you got to the loading area after grabbing the poma. I may be mis remembering though. I loved the pomas out in the middle of somewhere.


There was no funicular at that time. Does that go up to the top of Grand Motte? When I was there one had to hike that to get up there. There was a summer poma or t bar off to lookers right of the top of the gondola in that valley. It was pretty well buried in the winter.


How do the towns run? It's my recollection that it went Tignes, up by the main lift to the top, then Val Claret a bit lower, but I don't see a Tignes on your map. I wonder if we stayed in Le Lavachet.

post #24 of 41
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Tog View Post

It's interesting with the lifts. Back in 1980 I remember scanning our ticket. It had a magnetic strip on it. So far ahead of the States. You'd come to say a poma, scan the ticket and it would let you through. I seem to recall self starting some of the pomas in the middle of nowhere. Meaning they were running, but you pulled a handle when you got to the loading area after grabbing the poma. I may be mis remembering though. I loved the pomas out in the middle of somewhere.


There was no funicular at that time. Does that go up to the top of Grand Motte? When I was there one had to hike that to get up there. There was a summer poma or t bar off to lookers right of the top of the gondola in that valley. It was pretty well buried in the winter.


How do the towns run? It's my recollection that it went Tignes, up by the main lift to the top, then Val Claret a bit lower, but I don't see a Tignes on your map. I wonder if we stayed in Le Lavachet.

  1. 1980 huh, you were ahead of the times, very cool dude. You must have seen some terrain, it's got to have changed a lot.
  2. Now, Tog, dude, we are staying in Tignes - Tignes Val Claret, the highest point in Tignes, I mention it above, below it is Tignes Le Lac and then below that above the dam is Les Boisses and at and below the dam is Tignes Les Brevieres.
  3. Please Look at the area maps  in post 2, just click on them, there is Tignes - the three villages, I try to highlight in each days story : when we are in Tignes and when we are in Val D'Isere. 
  4. Le Lavachet is on the other side of Le Lac - the lake - of Tignes Le Lac, take a look at the map, it's clearly depicted, click on it, and you will see it clearly; and yes, it is much older than Val Claret etc. 
  5. There are two Funiculars, one inTignes, that goes to a station around 3000m, and from there one takes a gondola which was closed , explained why above, to the top of Grand Motte, so the Funicular in Tignes goes to the Grand Motte glacier, but not to the very top of the Grand Motte glacier.
  6. There is another funicular in Val D'Isere, basically from the the satellite town of La Daille which sits between Tignes and Val D'Isere and that goes to the top of the Bellevarde Peak, we never got to that Funicular.

Hope that helps

Edited by dustyfog - 4/17/15 at 4:42pm
post #25 of 41

Nice, meticulous report! Hitting a week with great weather really makes a huge difference in the alps. Been a few times to Tinges and Val'Disere with friends -- one who went some 20 years ago never came home. He married a French lady. Now he's a mountain guide there. But it was a while ago I was there and you remind me that maybe, I should go back. I just remember Val as pretty ugly. And Val Claret as even worse. But the skiing is some of the best. No doubt.

post #26 of 41
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Tog View Post

It's interesting with the lifts. Back in 1980 I remember scanning our ticket. It had a magnetic strip on it. So far ahead of the States. You'd come to say a poma, scan the ticket and it would let you through. I seem to recall self starting some of the pomas in the middle of nowhere. Meaning they were running, but you pulled a handle when you got to the loading area after grabbing the poma. I may be mis remembering though. I loved the pomas out in the middle of somewhere.


There was no funicular at that time. Does that go up to the top of Grand Motte? When I was there one had to hike that to get up there. There was a summer poma or t bar off to lookers right of the top of the gondola in that valley. It was pretty well buried in the winter.


How do the towns run? It's my recollection that it went Tignes, up by the main lift to the top, then Val Claret a bit lower, but I don't see a Tignes on your map. I wonder if we stayed in Le Lavachet.

Only for you Tog as you were there first! You have the towns listed for your benefit on top and the action on the bottom right! Good hunting!

Edited by dustyfog - 4/18/15 at 12:40pm
post #27 of 41
Thread Starter 

For Foodies and the health-conscious. Let's just say while 12 year old is a fighting weight all of 65 lbs and probably now 62 lbs after all that. Dad who hates soup, ate about 2 bowls of soup religiously at dinner at the Vanoise dining room (half-board), it was addictive! And all that eating at La Pignata, Chameleon, Vanoise - even with all those miles and all that vertical, I just checked, am ONE pound heavier :eek than when I left and I assure you, am a rather active, fit individual, lean, am very, very surprised. That food was good in Tignes Val Claret ! La Pignata matches the best in the Alps (Hotel Montana in Oberlech is the gold standard, it came mighty close)

post #28 of 41
Thread Starter 

The legend and risks of Vallon de la Sache and Vallon de la Sachette , bears repeating: These two neighboring valleys (vallon) are legendary tours and Dad did them twice, 12 year old did them once. Since many on Epic and readers are uber-capable skiers, some may wish to take off and grab turns on this, it really is beautiful in there. I posted this description in #18 above with a map; which matched some of our experience and clarified the potential dangers which were kind of looming but happily we really did not get a 'good look' at the end of the canyon as we bailed onto the Sache, and 12 year old came closest as he hooked right at the last potential spot.


This is worth repeating in its own post. Owner of hotel told us - he tears it up there, how once in the last two years or the season , he and few buddies, all mostly L'Espace Killy instructors and the like, took the 'left' side of the canyon/gorge, free-riding as the snow looked tremendous, and when they  got home and he had wondered how the heck they made it back, a bad decision made that day which ended safely and all are veterans of the area. They cut fresh tracks all the way down the gorge side..and he told his bro-in-law (who was the narrator of the story), that if anyone follows their tracks, they could find themselves in a bad way and may not make it. Reportedly, the next day 8 skiers/snowboarders went into the Vallon de la Sache, and hooked left, and they conjecture that probably followed their tracks as those would have been the only ones on the left side of the canyon, and were caught in some sort of mishap, many injured, heli-evac occurred, and one did not make it.


Just a word to the wise, there is little off-piste in Tignes/Val D'Isere you should tackle first time on your lonesome or in a group, go with those who know first - can be the difference..Just thought it's worth posting, since everything there looks beautiful and quite skiable for the pros amongst you, and the experienced back-country skiers ...the risks are very real.


Anyway here is the weblink and warning from the off-piste guide (Think the author is a Brit guide):


Link to source: https://sites.google.com/site/skitripaclub/the-off-piste-guide


Vallon de la Sache/Vallon de la Sachette: https://sites.google.com/site/skitripaclub/the-off-piste-guide Two variants of a legend. The Sachette is my favourite of the 2. From the Aiguille Percée to Tignes Les Brevières. Great powder slopes. The fun just keeps rolling on. Route: From the Aiguille du Percée, climb up a few metres onto a ridge opposite the Eye of the Needle. Go off the back of this (Sachette). It is imperative that you exit from the large valley, swinging to your right, at the same point all the other tracks do (before the narrowing). In the narrowing, the valley becomes an impassable gorge with large cliffs.  You join the Sache piste for the last little section into Les Brevières. (There are in fact two ways down this gorge, one on each side, but you have to know where they are. This is why I advise you to leave the valley and join the piste at the same place as everyone else).

Grade: easy-moderate, severe if follow route to bottom, corpse if follow gorge to bottom.  :eek:eek:eek 

Edited by dustyfog - 4/22/15 at 5:37pm
post #29 of 41
Thread Starter 

Off-Piste Apple and Google Earth Clarity (CLICK on MAPS to get real sense of TOPOGRAPHY - fascinating): And I am doing this as I often look at others tracks on mountains I have skied extensively on, and wonder where the heck are they ?? So I am doing unto others as I hope others would do for me..next time..show me where you are..snow and powder looks the damn same everywhere otherwise so CONTEXT in imagery enlivens it...otherwise it can get "old" pretty quick.


Finally a way to see the terrain for what it is. Was quite dissatisfied with terrain depiction on Trail map and then with the help of this site : https://skimap.org/SkiAreas/view/790#open_ski_maps


Created much better images of our off-piste adventures for the benefit of the experts, the intermediates, the interested viewers and anyone else: For this Dad this was about as extreme as one can get and on Google Maps it looks pretty incredible - Our TRACKS ARE IN BLACK with ARROWS on them. 12 year old really got the hang of powder finally and serious off-piste/backcountry skiing. A trip for the ages.


1. Tignes: Glattier (12 y.o.) & Vallon de la Sache, Dad did the two easier routes on the upper left, hooking right high twice, onto Black run Sache, 12 y.o. was the longer route to outlined to the left, pushed it to the edge of never as his crew with Patrice entered Sache at LAST TRAVERSE entry, video has to be seen to believed - Gorge dead ahead  to skiers left - don't look down, they did'tnt ! And GoPro did'nt either...they came in ducking under Sache Protective Nets to prevent errant skiers catapulting from on-piste Sache in this zone, as there is only air-time thereafter! :eek(Click on map for close-up)


Entry Face to Vallon de la Sache Apple Maps: CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE


Vallon de la Sache : the whole kit-n-kaboodle Google Maps


2. Tignes: Aiguille du Chardonnet Shoulder, the lake is visible, green pool of water under black 'track' line, we skated over it, left line is Dad, right line is 12 y.o.: (Click on map for close-up)



3. Tignes: Under the shadow of the mighty Gran Motte : Powder day, fresh tracks everywhere, bluebird skies, and Val Claret bowl into Tignes Val Claret left of and below Double M Red: (Click on map for close-up)



Val Claret Bowl and Under the Gran Motte Apple Maps Purple Pin is the bowl:CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE




4. Val D'Isere: Super-L and Grand Vallon, now understand why Grand Vallon aspect prone to avalanches, was not clear on trail map and seemed packed in well, powder but solid base when on it, see tragedy noted above about someone Dad knew from a long time ago in Manhattan on the Grand Vallon, long left line is 12 y.o. on Grand Vallon: (Click on map for close-up)



Grand Vallon Apple Maps , 12 yo's track more accurately traced :CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE



5. Val D'Isere: Turn of Charvet and Tour of Charvet, now understand why Dad almost died of lack of oxygen on the "5 minute" traverse, it was "35 minutes" on the Tour of Charvet .12 y.o. came in high off the Turn of Charvet , that is the line on the left off the Grand Pre lift, yeah Patrice, "easy, easy, no steep.." and Serge and his "5 minute" clock - he can shove that clock where the sun don't shine. And without these guys leading us, we would never have visited these spots, so few on this planet are privileged enough to set foot on...our gratitude is manifest throughout this TR.:beercheer:(Click on map for close-up)



6. Val D'Isere : And this is the Cugnai  coming off the Cugnai lift, the entry is hairy, the pictures above show you that it's a heck of a long way down, hairy couloir, funky rifugio with an old couple sipping wine down lower near where the mountain stream tributary makes an appearance at the canyon bottom..just an idyllic alpine setting and still a long side of the mountain traverse to the Manchet left, so Cugnai is South-East sort of, of the Manchet lift base. Depict Turn of Charvet (12 y.o.'s line) which comes in from the South-West side and along the tributary mountain stream..(Click on map for close-up)



Cugnai up close:



Apple Maps Aerial View Turn Tour Charvet and Cugnai : From directly above I guess: CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE




Inspired by many on Epic who make the effort to go to Google Maps and create excellent depictions of their adventures, Tony Crocker just did it on his Upper Coast of Iceland exploration on skis.

Edited by dustyfog - 5/21/15 at 9:28pm
post #30 of 41
Thread Starter 

I am going to add a 'thank you' to my ski friends on-mountain at L'Espace Killy, not in any particular order but they made the skiing even safer and enjoyable: Young man from County Galway Eoghan (Owen to me), he translated patiently when Serge held forth en Francais, took pictures and pointed out steep spires which his Dad was probably scaling to ski down - whatever dude, your Dad is up there amongst the looney-tunes and thanks for the company. Jean-Bernard, a veteran skier of the area, always brought up the rear in our group, tremendous off-piste skier and was the 'rescue-man' for all who went down, he helped with their skis, waited and brought up the rear without fail, real ski patrol stuff, only find such grace on mountains, and Frenchman all the way. Francois, with his faux-bearskin camelback was funny, cool, and good company. Pascale, the lady who skied moguls like Sun Valley professionals, effortless and also helped translate Serge, and took many a picture in hairy places ! Vous est tres jolie..merci beaucoup.

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