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Where to ski / Which pass to buy for Chamonix

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I am planning a Chamonix trip for February, and am looking into which ski pass I will want to buy. From reading about the various ski areas I am curious about the Grands Montets. It seems like this is where the best steep, exposed terrain is to be found and, of course, it is not included on the basic "Le Pass."

My question is: is there sufficient expert terrain at the resorts that ARE covered with the basic pass, or will I DEFINITELY want to ski the Grands? I know that one time passes are available to ride the Lognan-Grands cable car, so assuming that i WILL want to ski there, would this suffice? I will be in the area for a week. Will one 10 euro trip up the cable car only allow one run, or are there more lifts above that become available after you get up there? If it is only good for one run then should I buy the Mont-Blanc Unlimited pass so that I have access to it all week?

Thanks for any help, and any other trail info about where to ski will be much appreciated!

A little more info about the trip, I will be with my fiancee and family, all intermediate to easy advanced skiers. (I am an instructor at a Mtn in Vermont, have averaged over 100 days per season for the past 4 or 5 years, and prefer steeps, <20ft. drops, untracked snow, etc.) We plan on skiing the Valle Blache with a guide towards the end of the trip, as it seems like some good "off-piste" skiing that our whole group will be able to do. Throughout the week I will be venturing off by myself to explore some of the more serious terrain that the area has to offer, but as of now I know NOTHING about ANY of it! Where should I look? We'll most likely only be hiring a guide for the one trip, but I would like to get into some more off-piste stuff if possible. I've heard a bit about the Pas de Chevre, is this something that I could solo?

Any and all info is much appreciated!
post #2 of 23
You definitly want to ski the Grand Montets, especially the uppermost lift, which requires an extra fee. Well worth it. This would also be a good place to get some skiing in at altitude before skiing the Valle Blanche.
post #3 of 23
I did a week at the Chamonix Club Med in late March 2004 and my favorite day by far was at Grands Montets. The cable car does get a line (which could be worse during February school holidays), but had the best snow conditions (courderoy compared to spring and/or slush with pools of water at the base near Chamonix village). We also did a nice off piste gap that day, but I don't remember if it was off the cable car or lower down. Grands Montets is about a 20 minute bus ride from Chamonix.

Most challenging part of Valle Blache route we did was the walk from the cable car to where we put your skis on. For a mixed level group many say this is a once in a lifetime experience, but if you had a group of all experts, I would say to spend your money on hiring a guide to show you a wider variety of off piste stuff (that you could possibly repeat on your own depending on the conditions and your av training). Probably better to try to hook up with some experienced locals (including Brits living in the area) rather than do any serious off piste solo. Could look for posts here in Eurozone or more likely, snowheads.com closer to your trip.

Smallzookeeper or others who are more familar with the area should be able to give you more details and better advice.
post #4 of 23
I don't know werther he's still there, but try to get hold of Tom@Cham either here or at TGR.
Anyway, when I went to Cham the season was soo far near the end that I only skied the Grand Montets (being with my ex wife who refused to ski the Vallee Blanche - no harm done, I had already skied it in the past)
Runs felt a bit old after a while, only a few were open since it was already late april, the other area near Cham got slushy snow by 10 a.m....
Anyway, according to here
http://www.chamonix.com/page.php?pag...wboard&ling=en
Only the higher part of Grand Montets is not included in the Le Pass.
So I guess you could buy an extension to that...
post #5 of 23
Here
http://www.chamonix.com/page.php?pag...kipass&ling=en

It talks about the other option, the Mont Blanc pass.
Given that you could also ski Italy's Courmayeur, get access to the Mont Blanc too and all the option of Le Pass, I'd go for it( the price difference is not that much after all - take the seven days pass as an example)...
post #6 of 23
We spent two weeks there last year with the Mt Blanc pass, go everywhere anywhere (including Courmayeur - must do) and not having to worry about lining up again for tickets. It's not much extra, lift tickets there are cheap to begin with!

I'm envious, I fell so in love with Chamonix, but good exchange rate means we go to Utah next year.

If you are looking for guides, Ski Fun Tours are excellent, they take care of everything (including Vallee Blanche) and cater for all levels of skier.
post #7 of 23
I was in Chamonix over New Years. We only skied there three days, and we did not ski the Vallee Blanche, so our situation is not exactly the same as yours. I will relate what we did, and then what I think makes the most sense for you.

We skied the first day at the Grands Montets and then two days at Brevent-Flegere (directly above Chamonix; Grands Montets is down the valley above Argentiere).

The Le Pass covers you for all except the top cable car at Grands Montets. You can then pay a €10 supplement each time you want to go up that cable car. Since we were going to be skiing at areas already covered by the Le Pass the two other days, this is what we opted for.

This turned out to be a wise decision, because a couple hours after arriving, we noticed the top cable car stopped mid span, where it remained full of people for 45 minutes. The cable car broke down and those people got stuck. The tram was then closed for the rest of the day.

Since we didn't get up to the top, I can't comment on how good the skiing is from up there. Even without using that tram, though, there is a lot of great skiing to be had. I would say that anybody who is not a strong intermediate or above would not find much for them to ski, though.

While on the Grands Montets, have lunch at the Refuge de Lognan. Most of the resort owned restaurants throughout Chamonix are poor quality self-service and really very expensive. The Refuge de Lognan is a fantastic exception (family, not resort run).

The slopes are more varied on Brevent-Flegere, so there is more for lower intermediates. Only true beginners are really out of luck. We found the snow better on Flegere, and it was less crowded, but that might be just specific to the days we were there. Both are worth checking out, and are linked by a cable car.

Now, if you read the terms of the pass prices, it says that you can upgrade to the Unlimited Pass at any time by simply playing the balance. You cannot upgrade for a day and then switch back, though. So if you are looking to save money, plan your time to ski the areas covered by the Le Pass first, and then switch to the Unlimited Pass at the end of you trip. The difference is about €10 per day, which is the same as you pay for one supplement to ride to top cable car at Grands Montets.

So that means skiing Brevent-Flegere first, then upgrade and go ski Grands Montets and the Vallee Blanche. If the others in your group are not going to be happy skiing Grands Montets anyway, or at least not from the top, then there is no need for them to get the Unlimited pass.

As Nobody notes, Courmayeur in Italy is also included in the Unlimited pass. Bear in mind that it will also cost you to get there (either by bus or to drive yourself through the Mt. Blanc tunnel), though.

One more note about the top cable car on Grands Montets. As soon as you arrive in the morning, make reservations on it. Otherwise you may not be able to use it, and of course you will have wasted your Unlimited pass.
post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by ami in berlin View Post
As Nobody notes, Courmayeur in Italy is also included in the Unlimited pass. Bear in mind that it will also cost you to get there (either by bus or to drive yourself through the Mt. Blanc tunnel), though.
Also, IMHO Courmayeur runs aren't (IIRC) that difficult to ski.
A side note. Has anyone skied the Italian side of the Mont Blanc ?
I never tried it, although I think I saw people skiing the Italian side of the Mont Blanc a long time ago (about one of the times I went there to ski the Valle Blanche) but did not hear of anyone skiing it since...so through the years I decided that I was merging different memories and imagining things (I was a kid then).
I am not even sure that it's "skiable" or if a route down exists.
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the quick replies, but I still have a couple questions about the cable car/lift at the top of grands montets. From what I understand this lift is covered by the Mont Blanc pass, but not by the basic "Le Pass" and you can pay 10 euro for a one time ticket if you have the Le Pass. My question is, How much skiing is accessible only from this cable car? Once you ride it, are there additional lifts that are only reachable by riding the cable car, or do all the runs end up right back to the base of it? In other words, will a one-time 10 euro ticket be good enough, or will I want to lap it all day? Also, I am curious about reservations. Do they really need to be made? If so, do you plan how long your runs will take and make multiple reservations for a day up there, or is it pretty much once and done?

Thanks again!
post #10 of 23
Unless you have been everywhere else, you are in for a trip of a lifetime. My family found Grands Montets snow to be great and Courmayeur to be less interesting than anything in the Chamonix valley. I understand it probably depends on the weather etc. Courmayeur is an intersting town with great shopping.
The Valle Blache will be a trip you all will always remember. It's not about the skiing its a sight seeing tour on the snow that is unlike anthing I have ever done. DO IT. We had a craggy faced old guide named Robert who was great. Maybe all the paths down go by the old stone inn for lunch but be sure to do that or take a lunch with you to eat on the slopes, either way, "it's all good". Gut up and go as early as possible. It makes the whole day more pleasant.
Your group may want to take a day off. That may be the day you want to ski the steeps. Unlike in the USA you may find chutes and steeps in the middle of what ae otherwise intermediate runs so you can often just take a different way down to find additional challenge. Otherwise you can split up and gather back for lunch.
Refuge de Lognan is worth going by just for the picture opportunities. the good food is a plus. ENJOY.
I suggest you will not get acclimated to the altitude. The valley is LOW the peaks are HIGH it's not like anything you've ever seen in the USA.
post #11 of 23
A guide is the best way to get the real effect of skiing in a place like Chamonix, if you are only there a short time. I remember my first time skiing the Argentiere glacier off the top of Le Grand Montet with an off duty guide. If not for him, I would have probably rotted in a crevasse. It is a harmless looking slope from the top. The crevasses were difficult to see from the top, but when you looked back from the bottom they were everywhere.

It's an incredible place, but your neck will get sore from looking up so much !

Have fun,

JF
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayPowHound View Post
Thanks for all the quick replies, but I still have a couple questions about the cable car/lift at the top of grands montets. From what I understand this lift is covered by the Mont Blanc pass, but not by the basic "Le Pass" and you can pay 10 euro for a one time ticket if you have the Le Pass. My question is, How much skiing is accessible only from this cable car? Once you ride it, are there additional lifts that are only reachable by riding the cable car, or do all the runs end up right back to the base of it? In other words, will a one-time 10 euro ticket be good enough, or will I want to lap it all day? Also, I am curious about reservations. Do they really need to be made? If so, do you plan how long your runs will take and make multiple reservations for a day up there, or is it pretty much once and done?

Thanks again!
I can only half answer this, because as I stated above, the cable car shut down before I got to ride it.

There are no additional lifts accessed by riding the top cable car, so you're going up and coming staight back down.

I cannot comment on how good that skiing is. The bottom of it looked pretty rad from below, but not necessarily any radder that what we were skiing on the othe lifts. We had a great time lapping the l'Index lift, which is were you end up after skiing the top cable car. But again, I didn't see all that there is to offer off the top lift.

The fact that it is all glacier up there would make me a bit nervous, though. I believe there is a standard route down that is safe, but venturing off that you would want a guide. If you only have the money to spend on a guide when you do the Vallee Blanche, you may not feel it worthwhile to do laps on the top cable car. That's only speculation on my part, though.

I'm disappointed that I didn't get to ride it, but I had a great time anyway.

If you have seven days, here's what I would do. Buy a seven day Le Pass. Ski Brevent-Flegere the frist three with the rest of your group. Ski the next three on Grands Montets with those in your goup who feel up for it. Purchase one suppliment on your first day at Grands Montets to ride the top cable car. If you feel like you will want to spend more time up there, upgrade to the Unlimited Pass for your final three days (two on Grands Montets and one for the Vallee Blanche). That strikes me as the most economical way of doing things.

You may also want to replace one of the days with a day at Le Tour. I haven't skied there, so I can't comment. It has trees, unlike most everything at Brevent-Flegere and Grands Montets.

As for the reservation, it seemed odd to me too until I was confronted with a 90 minute line just to get on the bottom cable car up to Grands Montets (get there EARLY, we arrived at 9:30). When you get to the mid station (where the cable car from the bottom tops out and where the top cable car begins), there is a counter on the outside of the building where you can reserve a spot and pay the suppliment if needed. So yeah, you have to plan your day around when your reservation is for, but it's not that big a deal. The thing only runs every 20 minutes or so, so it's a better system than just standing around in line and missing one or two that are full.
post #13 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by ami in berlin View Post
I can only half answer this, because as I stated above, the cable car shut down before I got to ride it.

The fact that it is all glacier up there would make me a bit nervous, though. I believe there is a standard route down that is safe, but venturing off that you would want a guide. If you only have the money to spend on a guide when you do the Vallee Blanche, you may not feel it worthwhile to do laps on the top cable car. That's only speculation on my part, though.

As for the reservation, it seemed odd to me too until I was confronted with a 90 minute line just to get on the bottom cable car up to Grands Montets (get there EARLY, we arrived at 9:30). When you get to the mid station (where the cable car from the bottom tops out and where the top cable car begins), there is a counter on the outside of the building where you can reserve a spot and pay the suppliment if needed. So yeah, you have to plan your day around when your reservation is for, but it's not that big a deal. The thing only runs every 20 minutes or so, so it's a better system than just standing around in line and missing one or two that are full.
Most of the in resort French glaciers I have seen (includng Grand Montets) have at least one marked on piste route where no guide is needed. However, as others have said, much of the best stuff is off piste where it is wise to ski with a guide or experienced local (espcially if your time is limited). Agree that doing laps off glacier is not practical because of the waits. I like the idea of a warm up above Cham, but would probably limit it to one day before checking out Grande Montets...
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayPowHound View Post
Thanks for all the quick replies, but I still have a couple questions about the cable car/lift at the top of grands montets. From what I understand this lift is covered by the Mont Blanc pass, but not by the basic "Le Pass" and you can pay 10 euro for a one time ticket if you have the Le Pass. My question is, How much skiing is accessible only from this cable car? Once you ride it, are there additional lifts that are only reachable by riding the cable car, or do all the runs end up right back to the base of it? In other words, will a one-time 10 euro ticket be good enough, or will I want to lap it all day? Also, I am curious about reservations. Do they really need to be made? If so, do you plan how long your runs will take and make multiple reservations for a day up there, or is it pretty much once and done?

Thanks again!
As someone already mentioned get a guide. This will be a major expense but it is well worth it. You want the ticket that will let you ski all the lifts. One of the classic runs that nany skier MUST check off is from the top of Les Grand Montets: Pas de Chevre. There is also a need for reservations on the Mont Blanc tram. But if you have a guide they will handle all of this for you. Keep in mind that there is so much more off of Mont Blanc then Le Valle Blanche. That's for the tourists. The Argentierre valley is long and all of the areas offer something depending on weather and conditions. This is where a guide really will make your trip plus they'll pick you up and take you so you dont need to worry about transport.

The skiing off of Mont Blanc is an experience, savor it. Don't feel that you need to have the first to last chair mentality that is prevalent here in the USA. You should stop for lunch and wine at Le Refuge on the way down and depending on conditions you will ski or ride the train the last bit. It's realy a day long excursion.

Ski across the valley where there is also a rockin' cable car connecting peaks and then eat outside at Panamoramique taking in the view of Mont Blanc. Then ski the chute around the back of Les Rouges.

If you need a guide I can recommend or call ESF. ESF is really the best because they have all the intel on all the mountains wired because they are so large
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayPowHound View Post
I would like to get into some more off-piste stuff if possible. I've heard a bit about the Pas de Chevre, is this something that I could solo?
Chamonix is the most amazing resort but I don't know it well enough myself to give you specific advice. Here though are the links to two excellent web sites on off-piste skiing in France that have a lot of information about Cham.

http://pistehors.com/
http://www.skioffpiste.co.uk/

You'll see that both are very focused on avalanche safety. And rightly so! I don't want to be a buzz-kill but I do know that the one time I skied Chamonix the guide made sure that (as well as beep, probe and shovel) we wore climbing harnesses in case a snow bridge collapsed and we found ourselves in a crevasse. : Speaking personally, I wouldn't ski there off piste without a guide but it's your decision.

Anyway, here are some general thoughts that may be helpful.

1. If money is tight. Are you absolutely fixed on going in February? That is high season in France. January is MUCH cheaper.

2. You don't have to have a guide one to one. Looking at the Ski Fun web site (crystal's recommendation) it's clear that they do groups and there may be other companies doing the same (there are a couple in Val d'Isere). There are bound to be a LOT of very strong skiers around, so you could find a group that is challenging and fun for you and a lot cheaper.

3. I'd be surprised if the guides/guiding companies don't have regular "office hours" between about 4 and 7. You could walk around and talk to them and see what they recommend. That way, you get useful advice and a feel for the people you might be skiing with.

4. A word about "guides". In France, you don't need a special qualification to take clients off-piste. Henry Schniewind, for example (see link above to Henry's Avalanche Talk) doesn't have a guiding qualification beyond his general moniteur qualification, so far as I know. He does, though, have a degree in snow science and (take it from me!) a great deal of knowledge and experience. So don't insist on a guiding qualification. On the other hand, some French ski teachers who take clients off piste do not do it very much (although I imagine that this isn't so likely in Chamonix). Anyway, I think you'd get clear about how experienced your guide is pretty quickly from talking beforehand.

5. Personally, I'd be leery of the ESF unless I'd talked to whoever was taking me beforehand.

6. If you're really not going to use a guide, at least find a skiing buddy. Chamonix is full of ski bums. But be careful -- the most likely avalanche victims are great skiers who aren't sufficiently cautious.

7. Talk to the pisteurs. My friend, the late Dennis Summerbell, used to ski a lot off piste even though he didn't have a ski-teaching qualification and was very cautious (former climbing instructor). He would always go over to the little pisteurs' huts and ask advice. Of course, they may well say "Monsieur, don't even think about it" -- they don't want to have to come and dig you out. But they are the professionals who know the hill.

Good luck with your planning -- I hope that you have the holiday of a lifetime.
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by hitherandthither View Post

4. A word about "guides". In France, you don't need a special qualification to take clients off-piste. Henry Schniewind, for example (see link above to Henry's Avalanche Talk) doesn't have a guiding qualification beyond his general moniteur qualification, so far as I know. He does, though, have a degree in snow science and (take it from me!) a great deal of knowledge and experience. So don't insist on a guiding qualification. On the other hand, some French ski teachers who take clients off piste do not do it very much (although I imagine that this isn't so likely in Chamonix). Anyway, I think you'd get clear about how experienced your guide is pretty quickly from talking beforehand.

Not onyl is the above advice I believe wrong but it is foolish. I am pretty sure that in the alps to guide you are required to have the UIAGM certification. Even if it's not then you want someone who has it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hitherandthither View Post
5. Personally, I'd be leery of the ESF unless I'd talked to whoever was taking me beforehand.
When you say things like this why don't you give a reason. Let me clarify why ESF is good. you don't want an ESF instructor or moniteur you want a guide. ESF is good because most of the top guides work for them and because they are big they have the resources to back them up. It's great when your guide can get on a radio and get accurate first hand weather and snow conditions.

Here's a link to one of the best guides there:

http://membres.lycos.fr/jpbchamonixguide/index.htm
post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by s0nyskiwer_(jib) View Post
Not onyl is the above advice I believe wrong but it is foolish. I am pretty sure that in the alps to guide you are required to have the UIAGM certification. Even if it's not then you want someone who has it.
I think that I took what I said pretty directly from Wayne Watson's book Off Piste (I don't have it here with me to check). Wayne, so far as I know, is not UIAGM qualified. Nor, as I said, is Henry Schniewind. Nor, I think, is Pat Zimmer (founder of Top Ski in Val d'Isere). If you look at the web site of Alpine Experience (http://www.alpineexperience.com/guides.html) you'll see that three of their guides are UIAGM qualified. I have skied with all of the Alpine Experience guides and know that they are all highly qualified to guide off piste and extremely safety aware.

My point was not to say anything against UIAGM certified guides, but to warn against people without UIAGM qualifications who are not as knowledgeable and experienced as those mentioned above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by s0nyskiwer_(jib) View Post
When you say things like this why don't you give a reason. Let me clarify why ESF is good. you don't want an ESF instructor or moniteur you want a guide. ESF is good because most of the top guides work for them and because they are big they have the resources to back them up. It's great when your guide can get on a radio and get accurate first hand weather and snow conditions.

Here's a link to one of the best guides there:

http://membres.lycos.fr/jpbchamonixguide/index.htm

The trouble with the ESF in other resorts is that it allocates work on a kind of "cab rank" principle and the quality of the moniteurs varies a lot. I've no doubt that UIAGM guides will be very well qualified.

I agree about the benefits of having a guide who is radio connected, although in my limited experience even solo guides use radios and have networks of friends and colleagues.
post #18 of 23
Only qualified guides are allowed to work on glaciated terrain. Go with anyone else (or by yourself) and apart from the obvious risk to yourself your insurance will instantly be invalidated. Any moniteur, ESF or otherwise, who takes you on a glacier will only do so if accompanied by a qualified high mountain guide and will be legally bound by that guide's decisions and judgement.

There is no specific guiding qualification for off-piste but in France particularly the moniteur qualification includes off-piste training - in the case of the full French qualification all sorts of navigation and whathaveyou; in the BASI version there are two six-day training courses (one at ISIA level, one at ISTD, the top cert which allows you to teach anywhere in Europe) on avalanche and mountain safety and off-piste skiing - obviously pass-or-fail courses, you don't get a tick just for turning up.

So in general off-piste situations a fully qualified instructor would be fine; and the vast majority of them will have a very good idea of where the secret stashes are.

ESF has a cab rank principle for general teaching but I would be astonished if you couldn't choose your guide/instructor by name. Take advice from people who have used the local school.
post #19 of 23
What Sandgroper612 says.

If ESF is like The Italian Ski school, they don't provide guides, but instructors.
Instructors may be guiding you around the slopes, but not on "complex" off piste tours. Their main goal is to instruct.
It all boils down to what will be considered "off-piste tours" and what not.
For an off-piste / out-of-boundary tour, hire a guide.
For an in-bound tour with maybe a bit of off-piste thrown in as an add-on to receiving instruction then go to ESF.
Again if it is like in Italy, the "Mountain Guide" qualification is a completely different thing from "Instructor/Moniteur".
post #20 of 23
Ok, Here is my take.

As somebody already mentioned - if you go with a group of people with mixed abilities to Valle Blanche - it is a sight seeing tour - but an amazing one at that. so you need to do that. There are other very interesting routes - but you need an individual guide.

Grand montet has the best snow in cham. the main guide office has a group guide (130 euros per day ) who can take you to various places including GM. I hooked up with the guide. He picks up and drops off at your hotel. we went up on the Lognan cable car - multiple times during the day. In fact other than the warm up run - we spent the entire day lapping that cable car. towards the end of the run - the guide would rush down and make a reservation for the next cable car up. YES - you need reservation everytime. He did not charge us for every trip up. There is one groomed run from the top to the bottom - this is the only run you should do if you don't have a guide. Obviously we did not do this run. on either side of the cable car are glaciers with tons (YES TONS) of crevasses. I would not be caught dead (oops! wrong metaphor) on those glaciers without a guide.

Skiing on the glaciers is fantastic. great off piste skiing, snow is excellent, steeps and everything.

Pas de Chevre - there wasn't much snow on it this year - so the lower parts are unskiiable. once again take a guide.

So - If i were you - I would spend most of my time on GM. your intermediate/advanced friends will find plenty to do. I would suggest that you take a group guide from the main guide office for at least one day. Also he gets line cutting privileges. it will be the best use of your money.
post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty View Post
The main guide office has a group guide...
Main office where? How many people did the "group guide" take out at once? Did you find that they were all strong enough skiers to go everywhere that you wanted to go? Thanks!
post #22 of 23

Ski Fun Tours

Ski Fun Tours has ESF qualified instructors as well as UIAGM certified guides. They are THE best option in Chamonix. They pick you up at your hotel every day, ski, instruct, guide as needed, and know the Valley better than anyone. They have a desk at the ESF headquarters and are multi generational Chamoinards. Eric, Lionel, and Pascal will give you a Chamonix experience to be remembered for a lifetime. They contract with groups or individuals and can accomodate all abilities from intermediate to world class. You won't find any better opportunity to ski Cham than Ski Fun Tours.
post #23 of 23
http://www.chamonix-guides.com/index.php?langue=en

They have an office in downtown which is open 9 to 6 - i think. but I had a hard time communicating with the lady at the front desk. They also have a english speaking guide hang out at Hotel Alpina every evening from 6-7pm. so you can just go there - find out what the group guide is doing the next day and sign up.

Regarding the group - i guess it is a matter of luck. The day I did vallee blanche - nobody held us back - but that was probably because it is not too challenging. The day we went to grand montet - we had two extremes - we had one french couple that did not want to wait a single minute and were extremely good. we had 3 norwegian guys - good skiers. we had one skier from N. Carolina - nice guy - but was completely out of his element. it was a little painful - but luckily - he gave up around lunch time. The guide was very patient with him - becos he had signed up for the whole week.
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