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Tell me about Val D'Isere

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Going to Val D'Isere from April 5-12. A 14 Year Old Expert skier, was skiing every off piste opportunity going back to a lift in Kitzbuhel with comfort. Last year, I was skiing everything in Mott Canyon, Heavenly with comfort.

So tell me, hows the snow conditions usually by then? Will the off piste be okay? And how's the general Val D'Isere area? All I know about the skiing is that it is famous for its off piste and that the Espace Killy is BIG.

 
post #2 of 18

I was just down the road at Les Arcs last season and snow in April was very good, but you can get spring conditions...Val usually stays open until the end of April or beginning of May and the glacier at Tignes is usually open all summer.

 

Val does have great off piste, but it is not patrolled liked Mott Canyon.  You will want to have all the proper Av gear (beacon, shovel, probe) and go with a guide or experienced local to get the good stuff.  Snowcrazy (here or at snowheads.com) may be able to help.

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info but why should I go with a guide to ski the off piste? In Feb this year, I got 5 ft in 5 days and was skiing all the off piste by myself (within piste skiers/lift riders distance) in sight, from the 3 to 4 meter 40+ degree couloirs to good ol' 10 foot cliffs.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree30 View Post

 

Snowcrazy (here or at snowheads.com) may be able to help.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by SkiKing4

 

A 14 Year Old Expert skier

Yea, um, pretty sure I can't do that lol.

post #4 of 18

For the proper off-piste in Espace Killy, you want a guide to take you to the good stuff (and bring you out of it safely).

There should be plenty of powder to ski at the sides of the piste, but not all the off piste is marked on the map.

post #5 of 18

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skiking4 View Post

 

Thanks for the info but why should I go with a guide to ski the off piste?

 

Because you want to be a 15 year-old expert skier?

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 

I probably am just going to get a guide the first day just to learn where the goods are.

 

I mean like 141 € is a pretty good deal for 9 AM to 5 PM, so that's why I'm getting one just for one day.

Quote:

There should be plenty of powder to ski at the sides of the piste, but not all the off piste is marked on the map.

Lol, since when do they show the off piste on the map? Just see a nice line from the lift and traverse/hike/ski over to it.

 

Quote:

Because you want to be a 15 year-old expert skier?

I skied at Kitzbuhel fine...

post #7 of 18

Here is an article all about skiing off-piste at Val D'isere:

 

http://skiing.about.com/od/franceskiresorts/a/offpiste.htm

 

Basically, if you don't know what you are doing (and you clearly do not) you could easily get killed.

 

There are 25,000 acres of mostly offpiste skiing area. They don't have 'in-bounds' and 'out of bounds' Anything off piste is fair game, but if you screw up and die, it's your own fault. There are so many ways you could get hurt or killed skiing on your own in a huge, unknown, dangerous skiing territory with no guide or experience. Have you read the headlines lately of all of the skier deaths? Four people died yesterday in a slide in France. They had a guide and were in a relatively safe area.

post #8 of 18
post #9 of 18

Let's assume that there is a 95% chance that you would be fine skiing alone off piste for the week (and a 5% chance something bad happens)...doing some math, there is about a 80% chance of something bad happening to you before you reach 30 assuming that you take this risk twice a year. 

post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hmmmm but what if you were just skiing in between runs? I know that there is still a risk, but wouldn't it be less? I always knew about the risks in Kitzbuhel when I was skiing there.

post #11 of 18

There is bucket loads of off piste in Val d'Isere. It is everywhere, easy to see and for the less obvious routes, lots of tracks will show you the way. But, due to the steep terrain, couloirs and big faces there are plenty of avalanches and people get killed every year. 

 

In April the main risk will usually be wet snow avalanches after lunch particularly on south facing slopes that have had the sun on them. If there is fresh snow it depends heavily on what the surface was like that it snowed on and if the wind was blowing and in which direction. The steeper the terrain the bigger the risk.

 

The best advice is to get a mountain guide, at least for your first day. He can give you an idea of where to ski at what time of day. If conditions change during your week you will need to get new advice.

 

Also avoid skiing off piste on your own. If you don't have company or can't find a group seek out another lone skier of a similar standard.

 

You should also have a look at this site http://www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/ It's run by a guy who is based in val d'Isere and does regular avalanche talks. He also offers a guiding service.

 

Enjoy Val d'Isere, it is one of the great resorts for off piste, but don't be too gung ho. If you get caught in an avalanche, at best it will scare the life out of you. At worst.......

post #12 of 18

SKIKING4,

 

I just came back from Val-D'Isere yesterday and skied with one of the off-piste guides Olivier Renassia from Mountain Pro Academy (http://mountainpro.fr/) or (http://www.mountain-masters.com/index.htm). First of all, the guy rips. Second,  I would NOT venture out off-piste at Val-D'Isere without someone who REALLY knows the terrain, conditions and past weather conditions affecting the snowpack. He specializes in off-piste tours with people of all abilities and knows every inch of the mountain areas after skiing there for 12 years as a professional instructor and off-piste guide.  He showed us all the hiking areas (pointed them out, we did not hike them all) as he towed us all over the mountain lift systems at Val D....explaining connections to Tignes and elsewhere...including helicopter rides back out of some areas he takes clients to... and knows exactly which ones are safe and unsafe, fun and not fun for anyone's ability.  He knows the snowpack conditions, past weather patterns, snowfalls...ways in...ways out...where to go...where NOT to go...how to connect routes for the most fun without endangering yourself or others....simply put.....get a guide. Period.  There is no subsitute for local expertise.  Olivier speaks superb English (with a British accent) and knows everyone and everywhere at Val-D'Isere. Alpine or Tele....your choice. I would recommend contacting him. Great guy.  Plus, he knows all the prettiest lifties and outdoor barmaids at the resort.

 


Edited by ExoticSkis - 3/19/2009 at 01:49 pm
post #13 of 18

 

 

You can get off piste and be in view of a lift there.....plenty of ungroomed stuff to ski.  To go off exploring the side country, go with a guide.

post #14 of 18

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobnmillsy View Post

 You should also have a look at this site http://www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/ It's run by a guy who is based in val d'Isere and does regular avalanche talks. He also offers a guiding service.

 

 

+ 1. Henry's Avalanche Talk takes place at Dick's (http://www.dicksteabar.com/valdisere/default.aspx) on Mondays at 6:30 (with an advanced follow-up on Wednesdays). Anyone who has any interest in off-piste skiing should go along if they have the chance.

 

 

post #15 of 18

sounds like your definition of off piste is not what many understands. if you think just going off the groomed runs while not losing sight of the lift lines, you may be ok as long as you know where the cliffs, rocks and crevasses are. but, for many folks who go off piste in the alps, off piste means venturing out way OFF PISTE. you make a one bad turn and you may end up somewhere you really don't want to be, even if you did fine with the avi dangers. you can litterally end up in a different country, not being able to get back to your base for a long time.

 

as you prolly saw in kitzbuhel, you are not talking about some chutes and bowls in the sierras.

 

be safe. have fun.

post #16 of 18

I was in your position 25 years ago.

 

My parents did the smart thing of enrolling me in a week of full day powder lessons with one of the ski schools in town.  We were equipped with beacons (primitive though they were), taught powder technique (old skinny skis, mind you), and led by a chain-smoking badass along 45-minute ridge hikes to lines that hadn't yet been skied that season.  Those are some of the best memories of my teenage years.

 

For contrast, one of my worst memories was skiing solo at Val in an off-piste area between two marked and groomed trails, probably not more than a couple of football fields wide.  I hit a lip wrong, landed in deep pow out of sight of anyone, and wrenched my back something awful.  It took me an hour to crawl back to the piste, at which point I was able to ski gingerly to the tram, get downhill, get back to the hotel, have a couple of good drinks (drinking age was 14), and sleep it off.  But I've never felt that helpless and scared in my life.

 

Have fun.  And be safe.

post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alpinedad View Post

 


drinking age was 14

 

Lol is it still 14?

post #18 of 18

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skiking4 View Post

 

Lol is it still 14?

 

My understanding is that there's a move on to up it, but that it still is.

 

14 was for beer and wine only, at least officially.

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