Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Discovering some powder gems of Switzerland

With some snow coming from the North and which was forecasted to leave more snow in Switzerland, we left the Monte Rosa area and start to drive towards our next destination.

We had a short stop in Aosta before heading up towards the Grand St-Bernard tunnel.
With some last minute shopping before heading up to the more expensive Switzerland to pack up on cheese, salami and wine, we were kinda late.
We then decided to stop at what was once the Super St-Bernard parking lot. Even when the resort was open, it was a fairly popular starting point to hike towards the St-Bernard’s hospice. We hiked it a few years back and with a fairly long approach both in distance and in not-skiable vertical, we decided to head East towards the now closed ski resort.
It has been fairly windy around the pass and the snow was fairly packed.
We had a nice lap under a bright shinning sun and by looking carefully, we were able to find some decent soft snow skiing down.
Amelie drove from France and joined us in Martigny.
With the snow supposely hitting the area during the day, we headed towards the family resort called Les Marécottes just 15 minutes of Martigny.
The snow took quite some time to arrive.
If fact, it never really showed up. The resort is really small and after skiing most of it and not finding great snow conditions, we eventually chilled out and had a look at the big air contest and some speed-riding demonstration.
The following morning, traces of snow were all the way down to Martigny. We headed back to Les Marécottes. We played hide-and-seek all day with the sun and the clouds but for most of the day, we were able to get some great turns.
When you don’t really have nice visibility, you really loose a lot of skiers in the Alps!
I really enjoy those days when you don’t really need to compete too much for fresh turns!
Amelie left to go back to work and I drove towards the Val D’Anniviers valley with my Dad.
Located between in the Valais with some more neighbours like Zermatt and Verbier, it is once that is easily overlook despite some great terrain and usually good snowfall. At the entrance of the valley, you would find Vercorin, which is really a family resort with piste carved in the forest and a lot of man-made snow. I think the greatest potential lay in the two others resorts St-Luc/Chandolin and especially Grimentz/Zinal.

With some more snow on its way, we headed towards the backside of Grimentz to the Vallon de Réchy.
We were guided by Raphy Largey (raphy (dot) largey (at) hotmail (dot) com).  By using the Grimentz lift all the way to the top, we dropped on a mellow slope on which we didn’t had much visibility at the top.
After skiing, the top part, we hiked on the flat part before putting our skin on and climbing a little bit before skiing down and lapping around the end of the mountain to link up to the Vercorin ski lifts. We used them to climb back up before traversing back towards Grimentz.
We eventually skied down the trees and to the open grass slopes lower down.
With the use of the free ski shuttle bus that you can use to reach all the ski resorts in the valley, we eventually got back to our starting point in Grimentz.

It was a really cool tour on which I was really surprise after looking at the map to see how much ground we did cover during a single day! If you ever are in the area and look to check out beyond the lifts, I highly recommend you to contact Raphy. He is really knowledgeable of the area and most importantly: really cool guy to ski with!

The snowpack in Switzerland is still quite dangerous. Actually after our day at the Col du Grand St-Bernard, 3 people died there. So using a guide can provide you a safe access to the backcountry on such year as this year!

The following day we woke up with about 10cm of snow on the car. We drove to St-Luc/Chandolin to check it out.
At first, we really had a hard time skiing since we couldn’t see anything. Visibility was so bad that we stopped for a Croûte au fromage. This is simply a slice of bread soak with white wine and cover by about a kilo of cheeze!!
While filling up on fat, weather cleared up and we were able to get some nice turns in.
With the sky clearing up, it was really promising for the following day!
We weren’t disappointed about the weather!
With a bright blue sky shinning up, we took the tram to head towards Zinal.
Zinal used to be a family resort but with the opening of a controlled freeride zone and the addition of a beacon practice field, it could certainly not be a good freeride destination.
With the bad visibility of the previous day, there wasn’t much track on the mountain when we got there!
This was a day with way more competition for the freshies!
Weirdly, even on perfect day when you can see everything, there are always some lines that don’t get skied by themselves but required your help!
We volunteered and got rewarded with faceshots and deep turns!!
I don’t know how long Zinal is going to stay under the radar as a paradise for freeriding, but you should certainly get your share while it is sill not too much out there!

I really enjoyed my time in the Valais, but now its time to head back to Italy and drive towards the Dolomites for some more adventures!!


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