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TR: Val Thorens, FR: The snowHeads EoSB

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
The snowHeads End of Season Bash (EoSB) is in Val Thorens this week, and I have come over as the token Yank to spend some times with 80 of my (mostly UK-based) Internet friends.

You can see the prelude pictures here:

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=55468

The first day of skiing for me (touring all three valleys with a few of the snowHeads) was quite enjoyable. The pictures start at the train station in Moutiers (including a shot of the sleeping compartment), have pictures coming up the valley, and then of the day skiing. That album is here:

http://picasaweb.google.com/steve.hultquist/EoSBDay0

I've been skiing now for three days, and will likely get more pictures later in the week. On Saturday I plan to be in Les 2 Alpes and then to La Grave on Sunday.
post #2 of 26
Thread Starter 
Here's where I slept on the overnight train to Moutiers:



Yes, there is snow:



and you can still ski the traverse to the Grand Couloir at Courcheval:



Which gets you to the top of this:

post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Folks are still skiing, too, but there are no crowds...





(snowHeads Pete Horn on the left, BernardC, Linds, and JonPim on the right (in that order from the right). I can't make out the others.)
post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
I disovered that bindings can come loose over time... I almost lost my heel piece while I was skiing. Fortunately, it waited until I had stopped:

post #5 of 26
Okay, I've gotta join in on this craziness next year!

Nice reports and pix, Steve!
post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 
For some reason, quite a few more people were on the slope today, so I spent a bit more time looking for less crowded pistes. Once I was done teaching, I joined an off piste group and shadowed Euan who was another instructor here. It was nice to get out and rip it up a bit, especially when he did a follow-the-leader drill and I got to bomb around with him for a few runs.

For those of you who have never been to Europe to ski, you may not know that the "pistes" are the marked runs. They have bamboo poles of the appropriate color on both sides of the piste. Anywhere outside those poles is "off piste," and you're on your own anywhere out there. That means that a patrol visit out there costs you (or hopefully your insurance company) money. Most of the off piste here that is lift served is very similar to what you might see in the Rockies, although you can often climb to what would be OB in the US, as well.

Interestingly, this means that the off piste is right there, but that it's not controlled and so you really are on your own. If it slides, it's your issue... you've taken it on yourself.

For me, it's been funny to see everyone crammed onto the pistes when all that great terrain is right next to it. I'll be doing more skiing there in the next few days now that the lessons are done.

I should have more pictures soon...
post #7 of 26
This looks promising. I look forward to the one where you don't shoot into the sun!

post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post

For me, it's been funny to see everyone crammed onto the pistes when all that great terrain is right next to it. I'll be doing more skiing there in the next few days now that the lessons are done...


That killed me, too, when we were in Zermatt last year. A few things are different in Europe, obviously, this being one of them. This photo is from what our guide said was the best day they had all season ... at NOON. I'm not kidding. We had fresh tracks all day. You can see the bamboo "piste poles" at the bottom of the photo, and a few tracks in the pow, and a group of skiers at the right. But we had easily accessible fresh all day, without hiking or anything. (Sorry, not hijacking your thread, just lending a supporting argument.)
525x525px-LL-vbattach1763.jpg
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
Well done, segbrown! I couldn't find any shots from my camera with the piste poles visible.
post #10 of 26
Thread Starter 
Three snowHeads at the top of a Meribel gondola ("bubble"), BernardC, Linds, and jonpim, my tour guides (thank you, my friends!):

post #11 of 26
You getting tempted to buy some nose-high skis yet?
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
Interestingly, this means that the off piste is right there, but that it's not controlled and so you really are on your own. If it slides, it's your issue... you've taken it on yourself.

For me, it's been funny to see everyone crammed onto the pistes when all that great terrain is right next to it.
You've pointed out one of the issue: Avalanch. Most people can't tell if the slope is safe so they stick to the marked "piste". For those who knows the difference, it's funny to see everyone staying on the groomed trail when there's perfectly safe powder 1 foot outside the marker! In fact, pretty comical!

But unless you're skied those or similar slopes, you really don't know. Coupled with insurance requirements "off-piste not covered", it's little wonder they don't want to go outside the marker!

Another issue is crevass. Some resorts are notorious for that, Saas-Fee is one I heard of. There, the piste markers marks not just the edge of the trail, but also the begining of the giant crevasses! You go outside the marker, you may disappear without a trace. So, unless you know the terrain is safe from both avalanch and crevasses, you don't dare to go outside the marker.

It's so funny I recall on day 1 of my trip, I stood at the edge of a shallow bowl, saw the groomed "highway" winding down the side of the bowl and wondering why no one had ski the rest of the bowl... So, I ended up going down the groomed "highway" the first run, and look over the untouched (but heavy) snow from the chair to be sure I didn't miss anything dangerous! There was none!
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
I disovered that bindings can come loose over time... I almost lost my heel piece while I was skiing. Fortunately, it waited until I had stopped:

Markers...
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
One from today... This is Italy from the top of the Orelle lifts (Orelle is the forth of the three valleys)...

post #15 of 26
If you see smallzookeeper, give him a hug for me!
Tell him my feet are cozy in my Krypton Storms!
post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
SZK was here earlier in the week, but had to get back when one of his mates messed up his shoulder and needs surgery.

However, the skiing has been very fun, the experience tremendous, and I expect we'll see a few snowHeads sticking their heads in here once in a while, now...
post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 
Finally got the pics fixed (see above)...
post #18 of 26
Nice TR, Steve. Thanks for sharing
post #19 of 26
You have seen all of Ssh's wonderful pics of Paris, Val Thorens etc, we didnt know how he managed to fit so much in during his time in Paris.
He was however a real Ambassador (sorry Foxy) for Epic and American skiing during his time in Europe and I have put some piccys up on Snowheads http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewt...6407&start=280
but there are a few things he needs to work on before his next trip like making his bed and drinking hot chocolate European style :
post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 
linds, you rock. Ya'll, linds was my savior a number of times, from helping me get train tickets when I couldn't figure out the blasted web sites to giving me insights into cultural differences, she was a godsend. Thanks, my friend.
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by linds View Post
You have seen all of Ssh's wonderful pics of Paris, Val Thorens etc, we didnt know how he managed to fit so much in during his time in Paris.
He was however a real Ambassador (sorry Foxy) for Epic and American skiing during his time in Europe and I have put some piccys up on Snowheads http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewt...6407&start=280
but there are a few things he needs to work on before his next trip like making his bed and drinking hot chocolate European style :
Just to add my two penneth (cents ). I have skied happily in Europe for many years, If we time it right we can even get a couple of hours skiing in on the day of travel. I have NEVER fancied flying all that way across the pond when there is so much to be done only a few hundred miles away. Yes the slopes will be quiet, but it will be full of AMERICANS : .

I was very pleased when I heard a YANK was coming over to teach us all the right way to ski at the SnowHeads EoSB, and thought I would have a lesson just to make sure that my pre-conception of loudmouth, boorish, know-it-alls would be justified.

Unfortunately what we got was a delightful, modest, thoughtfull and all round top fellow. Not only was he an excellent instructor with (IMHO) a unique "selling" point, he was also one hell of an ambassador (that word again) for your country. He managed to put the US right up there on my "to do list" by blowing all my biggoted deas out of the water. I really hope that you enjoyed the trip Ssh because I know that for us it was a pleasure.

He does have very small feet though
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by FtS View Post
Just to add my two penneth (cents ).

Oi, lardy! Welcome to EpicSki.

Just to let you know, tuppence is worth about 10 dollars

Glad you enjoyed skiing with an Epic ambassador in VT.

Now, don't be a stranger here. We're all quite friendly, and you don't have to stick up your hand to ask a question.
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wear The Fox Hat View Post
Just to let you know, tuppence is worth about 10 dollars
The fact the holiday will now cost the price of a decent nosebag is of course another reason to visit
post #24 of 26
FtS, I was watching Jay Leno the other night, and he was complaining that petrol is now $4 a gallon in LA. That's 52p a litre in real money! Why not come to an ESA next year.
post #25 of 26
I suspect family free skiing may be a little trickier than it used to be.
post #26 of 26
Thread Starter 
FtS, wonderful to see you here!

It was a delight to meet you. Contrary to your preferred online persona, you are quite a kind and generous gentleman! Thank you for your kind words, as well. It was my pleasure.

I do look forward to our next opportunity to spend a bit of time together sliding around a mountain somewhere...
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