Friday, February 27, 2015

Pizza, Pasta, Powder!!!

After a great day harvesting some nice corn, we had a down day spent at home fixing ski gear (and doing laundry)!
Following this much-needed day, my ski socks were back, ready to serve for a few days. With Babiche going back to Canada, I left Grenoble with Amelie and my Dad heading back towards the Maurienne valley where some snow was forecasted.

After a fairly early start, we eventually got to the Maurienne valley just as the day was starting to be a bit clearer. We then realize that it didn’t really snowed overnight and that there wasn’t much snow that would fell during the day.

We kept driving and headed out to the other side of the mountain to Italy to see if more snow was waiting for us. After checking an option that looked good from the Internet, we realized that it really wasn’t any great for real!
We then decided to head to the Bardonnechia station instead of waisting the day running around and trying to find a good backcountry option.

We weren’t to excited at first rolling at the station. With plenty of people in line to buy the lift ticket and more waiting for the main lift, it didn’t looked great! After a few run, we realized that most of the people were interested in the piste and not about the freshies that were lying everywhere!
From the highest lift, after about 10 sidesteps, we were able to traverse to a nice treed up area that was not seeing to many skiers!
After a few runs, the weather got bad and it started to snow.

We then had the whole area to ourselves!!
With plenty of snow forecasted at the nearby resort of Sestrières, we drove to the station that hosted many events at the Torino olympics.
After some camping-made pasta, we went to bed not dreaming about what was about to happen.
We woked up with about 15cm of freshies on the railing. 
What stayed there was just a fraction of what fell overnight!
From the hotel, we skied down to the resort.
Again, there was plenty of people when we arrived. But they were mostly here to learn how to ski and not how to shred powder!!
We were again almost by ourselves shredding Japan-like powder straight under the empty lift! Skiers eventually joined our powder-shredding-festival, but by moving to the tree runs, there was still plenty of snow to be ripped!
My Dad eventually skied over a stomp and fell head first onto a branch making him look kinda bad (not like he needed any help on this side...;)
After an other run where we all hit some branches or stomps, we called it off after a day as deep as you would get in Japan.
After a great day of skiing, we drove back to France and dropped Amelie at the train station in Modane since she needed to go back to work.
Still stoked about that day, we drove back to Sestrières to try the little resort call Pragelato.
This little mountain is not a resort as you would expect. In fact, it is a ungroomed, uncontrolled area. They call it a Natural Terrain.
Again, lifts were running empty.
At this point, we were really wondering what people were doing in the morning when there was that much snow that needed some love!!
We were able to get a few good runs, but honestly, the terrain was a bit too flat for the amount of snow that was on the ground. When the sun showed up, it turn what looked what a dream comes true (50cm of snow, bluebird, no one!) into a not really skiable terrain with some really heavy snow to ski through.
A bit bummed about not having being able to truly ski the snow properly because of the lack of steepness, we drove north towards the Monte Rosa area home of the famous Freeride paradise, Alagna.
The Monte Rosa area consist of 3 mains villages located in parallel valleys linked by lifts. That actually make Champoluc more than 4 hours drive to Alagna but only 45 minutes by using the lifts. Coming from the Aosta valley, we decided to head to the middle of the skiable domain and drove up Gressoney.

With its reputation preceding it as a big mountain hotspot, we left the car in the morning agreeing that we should keep it quiet and not to get too excited on our first day.

We used the lift to make it to the top of the mountain and get on the first traverse we see. Sure enough, on the very first skintrack that we crossed, we put our skins on and followed it ‘just to see’! That skintrack was leading at the entrance of the run call Valle Perduta. After scoping the kind of steep entrance, we figured that it would be good to go and not too complicated to ski.
My Dad was a bit impress about the steep entrance but after seeing a not-that-talented-tourist following a guide and not dying on the way down, he was all in!
That was really nice since we were probably about the 7 or 8 persons skiing down this huge north facing valley in which some really nice snow was laying!
We followed some tracks and eventually got back to the lifts.
We had done one run and it was about 12h30!
We ran all the lift back to the top and headed on the east traverse this time.
We pushed on the traverse and looked at the various options.

After turning back after getting to the top of a run that was a bit too warmed up by the sun, we followed a fairly packed traverse.

As we got to the col, we realized that it was kind of very, very steep! I was really surprise to find out that a traverse used so much was in fact leading to a belay point! I guess this is Alagna!!!

In fact, a local skier named Andrea was belaying on of friend down as we got there.
The run is named Malfatta and is run as a regular run by locals. After talking for a few minutes with him and his other friend Marco, he offered to belayed both of us down.

We agreed without much hesitation since it was getting kinda late in the day and the run below looked really nice.
It turned out to be quite a great run. With the valley really opening wide after the entrance, there was plenty of room to ski.
With 40cm of snow on the ground that came down without wind it was really easy to ski!
That was before we got to the ski-out that pretty much skiing down a steep hiking trail with not much snow on it!
That was really a day of skiing like I love them!
Only 2 runs, but 2 GREAT adventures on skis!
We headed back to the resort with not much plan but to explore a bit more.

As we got off the top tram, we bumped into Marco!
His plan was the same as we did the day before: Valle Perdutta and Malfatta.

We hesitated for a few seconds but decided to join them for the day.
There were a bit more tracks now, but still plenty of room for freshies!
Same was applying to the Malfatta!
It was another great run with great weather and great company!
With another big storm coming in 2 days that was suppose to hit in Switzerland harder than Alagna, we decided to leave the area and start driving towards Switzerland.

I really loved the vibe and really enjoyed the company of the people that I met coming from Alagna! And since I didn’t get the chance to ski them, apparently, there is many more great skiing options on the Alagna side.
Next time I’ll go there (because it is sure that there will be a another time!!!), for sure I will not drive on the Gressoney valley but on the Alagna side. 

But before next time, let’s get some Swiss pow!!!

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