Sunday, November 18, 2012

First ski of the 2012/2013 season!

Yesterday was a very special day and there's only one of those a year: The first ski of the season! I went out with a friend to Tignes, a resort which is linked to Val d’Isere, and comes with some nice stats:

Number of lifts:       97
Tot. length of runs: 188 miles
Highest lift:              11,366 feet

Tignes’ most compelling feature may be its glacier which allows for year round skiing (except for a few “maintenance weeks” annual closure). The limitation is that this is only available on the top 1,000 feet or so of the mountain and skiing last year’s black ice provides very limited fun. Last week-end we had a fairly good storm and I was hoping that given the elevation at la Grande Motte (11,996 feet ) there would be some fun to be had with that snow one week later. Hopefully there would be enough snow , as far down as possible,  to Val Claret (6,993 feet). The objective was the top of the tram station at La Grande Motte (11,337 feet ).  We were expecting to have to carry at Val Claret and then get the skis on higher up.

We left at 6:30 am as Tignes is 2 hours away from Annecy and got there just a bit past 8:30 and started skinning at 9:00 am. To our surprise not only could we skin straight off the parking lot at Val Claret but the lifts were open! There was more and better snow than anticipated and we were in for a 4,300+ “pre-season” skin… and SKI! Once we made it to our destination at the tram station we found a fair amount of powder on an ungroomed glacier just under the summit rock: Mega bonus time! You just gotta watch out for those pesky crevasses and seracs which just makes the whole thing so much more interesting. This was just a much better ski than expected and an all around very legit ski day.

Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):

To the left La Grande Motte at 3,656m (11,996) and to the right La Grande Casse at 3,852m
(12,639). On the far right of 
La Grande Casse you can see a shoulder. There is a really cool
north  face descent that starts there at 3,685m (12,091) and goes down to the Col de la Grande
Casse at  3,093m (10,148) for a total sustained 
 2,000 feet descent with almost 1,500 of it 40-45°
. The only real drawback on that objective is a 7,000'+ ski/climb up.

The rock at la Grande Motte with a ton of snow and some hefty seracs to the left.

A close-up on one of those pesky crevasses. Fun for the whole family but:
Falling est verboten...

View of the Tignes back country past the Champagny lift on the
Grande Motte glacier.

Here is my partner Regis Perret enjoying biting cold on the glacier with
Dome de Pramecou in the background.

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