backcountry

Weather: How to read mountain weather for a ski touring or mountain adventure

Nowhere are we more vulnerable to the weather than on a mountain top or when we are traveling in the mountains. 

Reading mountain weather is a vital skill to ensure that you take the safest route in the mountains. I have taught skiing and lead groups in the mountains in summer and winter for over eighteen years. With my knowledge and experience here are some valid tips and some of my insights to weather.

Before you plan your adventure:
Before planning a trip or adventure read two or three weather forecasts the night before. Work out if all weather forecasts are telling you the same story. You can also look at weather charts to assess low and high-pressure fronts and where they have come from. Reassess the forecasts in the morning to see if there have been any changes. One of the forecasts that I use is snow-forecast. I can access a nine-day forecast which allows me to see what the weather is doing further away. This is a good tool to have and helps when planning a two or three-day ski touring expedition.

Assess before you start your ski or mountain adventure:
Assess the weather where you are. These are the questions that you need to be asking yourself. What altitude are you at? Is there any wind? What is the visibility? Are there any clouds in the sky? What is the temperature? Is the weather matching to the forecasts that you have seen? In most ski resorts there will be an information center where you can find out the forecast. Also at some ski lifts the weather and temperature are displayed. On my PEPS inclinometer, I have a temperature gauge so I can read the temperature throughout my journey. This also helps with the decision making in avalanche terrain.

Blue skies and no weather fronts in vision on the horizon

Assess on the route:
This is where most people go wrong and get into danger whether it’s in an avalanche or they get caught in bad weather. NEVER have tunnel vision and solely focus on one goal, one summit or one route. You have to be flexible and adapt your journey to the weather you have and predict the weather that is coming. Assess the conditions where you are and ask yourself similar questions. What altitude are you at? Has the wind increased or decreased? What is the visibility? Is the weather changing for better or for the worst? What is the temperature doing? On average the temperature cools down one degree for every 100 meters that you climb. Is that happening? What are your exits? What is your plan B if the weather comes in?

In the French alps you can get weather forecasts in the mountain refuges if they are open. Some satellite phones and trackers allow you to receive forecasts whilst you are traveling. Check on the GTC website for which trackers or satellite phones to carry on your backcountry adventure.

For weather prediction get to know different cloud types and what they predict. For example, cirrus clouds are high altitude clouds which indicate a change in fronts. Get to know the altitude and what direction mountain peaks are around you. Is there any snow wind drift coming off the summits which indicate high altitude winds?

Cirrus clouds which indicate a change of weather

Read more blogs and follow our adventures on Facebook and Instagram

In the winter I run mountain respect workshops if you would like more info drop me an email at [email protected]

FREEFLO specializes in progressive on and off-piste ski instruction, backcountry ski touring and women-specific ski courses. We offer personal British ski instruction for skiers of all abilities. Our primary objective is helping competent skiers to improve their technique on and off-piste and in the backcountry. Our intuitive coach approach will help you to progress, have fun and enjoy the full freedom of the mountains in a safe and confident manner.

Free Flo

Author: Jocelyn Cockle
Posted:
Categories: backcountry, basi, british female instructor, british ski instructor, Espace Killy, France, navigation, off piste skiing, ski, ski courses, Ski guiding and teaching, ski instruction, ski lessons, Tignes

Ski Touring Col De I’Iseran to Col de I’Ouille Noire, Val D’Isere, France

Ski Touring Col De I’Iseran to Col de I’Ouille Noire, Val D’Isere:
This is a simple ski touring route that you can build your skills and confidence on. It is good physical training at high altitude as you start going uphill at 2700m to 3200m.

Ski Touring up to Col de Ouille Noire, Val D’Isere

Route: Col De I’Iseran to Col de I’Ouille Noire 3229m, Val D’Isere, France
Off-Piste skiing between 2700m -3229m W/NW
Max Gradient: 36 degrees
Uphill: 2.5-3hours
Total Route time from Fornet lift: 4-5hrs
Total Return Route time from Tignes:3.5/4hrs
Skiers Level: Intermediate
Ski Touring Level: Beginner/some touring experience
Start: 9 am Fornet Cable Car, Midpoint back at Col De I’Iseran  12.50pm
Finish: 2 pm at Fornet Cable Car 
Lift pass needed: Val D’Isere
Map needed: 3633ET

Why did I choose this ski touring route? 
The snow conditions this winter are different compared to last winter. The snowfalls have been far and few between and have brought warm temperatures and high winds. At the beginning of December, it rained up to 2900m and last Monday it rained up to 2400m which affected our snowpack.

Knowing the history of the snowpack in the ski area that you want to ski in is crucial to making the right decisions and finding the good snow.  I knew that the area of the Fornet and the Col De I’Iseran had more snow than any other area in the Tarentaise Valley. Looking at the weather forecast the night before and reassessing in the morning, I made the decision to ski tour Col De I’Iseran to Col de I’Ouille Noire in Val D’Isere. I could keep at high altitude and find the good snow in the gullies. It is a smaller route on simple terrain with navigation points that I could use if the weather got worst. The temperatures in the day would stay warm and consistent which meant that the summits and ridges wouldn’t be too icy.  I was really happy with my decision and with good route finding, we managed to find some good snow and reach the Col de I’Ouille Noire.

Pointe de l’Ouille Noire in background
At Col De l’Ouille Noire, Val D’Isere

 

Improve your mountain skills and get in touch with FREEFLO.
Follow our adventures on Instagram, Facebook, and Blog.

FREEFLO specializes in progressive on and off-piste ski instruction, backcountry ski touring and women-specific ski courses. We offer personal British ski instruction for skiers of all abilities. Our primary objective is helping competent skiers to improve their technique on and off-piste and in the backcountry. Our intuitive coach approach will help you to progress, have fun and enjoy the full freedom of the mountains in a safe and confident manner.

Author: Jocelyn Cockle
Posted:
Categories: adventure, backcountry, basi, british female instructor, Espace Killy, off piste courses, off piste skiing, Ski guiding and teaching, Tignes, Uncategorized, Val D'Isere

Val D’Isere re-opens 3rd June 2018 for spring skiing

Winter 2017/18 still continues….spring skiing and ski touring in Val D’Isere and Tignes 
This winter the snowfall across the French Alps has been phenomenal.  Locals of Tignes have said that it has been the best winter for snowfall in twenty years.  Out of the my twenty winter seasons it has been one of my biggest snowfall seasons by far. With all the snow Val D’Isère has announced that it will re-open some winter lifts for spring skiing on 3rd June 2018.  This will be the first time in 82 years that some of the winter pistes above the resort will re-open in summer. The pistes are planning to re open for summer skiing between 7am-12pm.  The lifts that plan to be open is the Furnival and the Marmottes chairlift in Val D’Isere.
 
The lifts have now closed in Tignes and there still is enough snow to ski tour up to the glacier from Val Claret.  All refuge huts are open till the middle to end of May. The guardian of the refuge du Palet believes that there will still be enough snow on the ground till June. 
Refuge Du Palet, Tignes March 2018
Last Thursday 17th I ski toured 5.5km up and around the Col Des Ves in Tignes with Clare and Dave and skied off piste back into Val Claret in Tignes. I was still amazed at how deep the snowpack was and the snow was still in great condition for May.
17th May Ski touring around the Col De Ves Tignes
 
FREEFLO SKI specialises in on and off piste ski instruction, ski touring and ski courses in the Tarentaise Valley. See more at www.freefloski.com.
Keep up to date with all year around adventure and follow us on Instagram.

 

Author: Jocelyn Cockle
Posted:
Categories: backcountry, basi, british female instructor, France, ski courses, Ski guiding and teaching, ski instruction, ski lessons, ski touring, skicourses, Tignes, Uncategorized, Val D'Isere, Vanoise National Park

Ski Touring – Womens FREEFLO Introduction Tignes

Sefie at the Col De LaTourne
Sefie at the Col De LaTourne

For the third year running I have just finished leading the FREEFLO Womens Introduction to ski touring Course in Tignes and Val D’Isere. I love and enjoy running this two day adventure as it allows me to pass on skills and twenty years of winter mountain experience to people that have never experienced ski touring in the backcountry before. I have just had an amazing time with four special people.

Day one ski touring

On the first morning we met up in Planks Coffee Shop which is relaxing place to start any course whilst drinking good coffee. I spent the first forty minutes getting to know everyone and to find to each persons expectations and goals for the course. I then discussed the weather, the snow conditions and current situation of the snowpack and taught everyone where to find this valuable information. We then checked our gear and kit list and made sure we carried everything we needed. I gave a rough outline of a plan for the two days before heading outside on the piste for a skills session. I then taught everyone essential ski touring skills. This included how to put skins on and off, how to change their bindings and boots to uphill and down hill mode, different turns, route selection etc:

Breaking trail back to Tignes
Breaking trail back to Tignes

To gauge ski ability and to brush on technique before heading into the backcountry we skied a small section of off piste . The snow was great and as soon as the clouds broke and the blue skies arrived I took the opportunity and lead the group into the wilderness of the backcountry. Virgin untracked snow as far as the eye could see was our view as we crossed the Col De Palet. No one was around as skiers were skiing fresh powder in the resort. It was perfect timing as we made our own tracks in the powder as a group of five. Once we had arrived at the lake we tucked into a well deserved snack and drink. After ski touring for fifty five minutes we then arrive to the refuge de palet and enjoyed tucking into a three course meal.

Day two ski touring

The next morning was clear and no one was in sight. We took full advantage and skied the powder on the north facing slopes to lake Grattalu and then broke tracks uphill making our way through the valley of La Tourne. The valley La Tourne is one of my favourite ski touring itineraries. Its gentle and has breathtaking views especially when come out of the Col de Tourne and overlooking Tignes. It was an amazing two day adventure with great company and one that I will never forget.

This is what the team thought

“I love skiing, but getting a introduction to the awe inspiring backcountry of Tignes, gave me a new level of appreciation of why we ski. Nature is even more beautiful, impressive and so much more powerful than us out there beyond the ski area boundaries. Still, we can be part of it and enjoy it if we work together, breaking track, reading the snow conditions and finally huddling together in front of a fire in the cosy Col du Palet refuge. A truly unforgettable introduction to touring.” Leizel Cloke

Leizel enjoying the uphill of ski touring
Leizel enjoying the uphill of ski touring

“Such an adventure to be pushed safely right out of my comfort zone, experiencing an enemies depth of powder surrounded with such stunning scenery and Flo providing us with a photographic life time memory to share..thanks FREEFLO..amazing amazing.” Sally Coates

Sally skiing the powder
Sally skiing the powder

“The two day tour exceeded all my expectations from the glorious weather, the bouncy snow and the sunny scenery to the delicious refuge dinner and the comfy beds. It was a magical couple of days and Flossie inspired confidence by creating a safe and fun learning environment for all of us touring rookies…I am so please I booked it was my best two days of the week.” Amy Cardale

Amy having fun in the powder
Amy having fun in the powder

FREEFLO specialises in progressive on and off piste ski instruction, backcountry ski touring and women specific ski courses. We offer personal British ski lessons for skiers of all abilities, though our sweet spot is helping competent skiers to improve their technique on and off piste and in the backcountry. Our intuitive coach-approach will help you to progress, have fun and enjoy the full freedom of the mountains in a safe and confident manner.

Step into your next adventure and email: [email protected] or visit www.freefloski.com

Author: Jocelyn Cockle
Posted:
Categories: activities, backcountry, british female instructor, off piste, ski courses, ski instruction, ski lessons, ski touring, Tignes, Val D'Isere

Off Piste Skiing Val D’Isere: Table D’Oreintation

Mountain Respect Snow Awareness Courses and Workshops in Tignes

The Rocher de Bellevarde rises to 2817m and the summit of its 1000m high face overlooks Val D’Isere. Through the  breathtaking off piste skiing lines between the rocky spurs of the summit  lies the couloir Table D’Oreintation and l’Antenna.  The Table D’Oreintation is commonly known as the Table and it is a classic off piste route in Val D’Isere that should not be missed.

The Table is one of my favourite routes to guide and to coach in because of its variation and also for its accessibility. If you get the snow conditions right you can start the decent in a wide couloir which opens into a bowl of untracked powder. After the bowl you can then decided to continue left into the trees and end up at the bottom of the cable car lift. The second exit option is handrail to the right and work your way back onto the piste of the famous World Cup downhill run Le Face.

Off Piste skiing between: 2690m-2209 m NE
Max Gradient: 44 degrees
Uphill: 25 to 40 mins boot hike dependant on conditions
Skiers Level: Strong Intermediate/Advanced off piste
Start: From the top of Olympique
Finish: At bottom of Val or the
Lift pass needed: Espace Killy
Map needed: 3633ET
Grade: 2:2
Exposure: E2

Table D’Oreintation Val D’Isere

FREEFLO specialises in progressive on and off piste ski instruction, backcountry ski touring and women specific ski courses. We offer personal British ski lessons for skiers of all abilities, though our sweet spot is helping competent skiers to improve their technique on and off piste and in the backcountry. Our intuitive coach-approach will help you to progress, have fun and enjoy the full freedom of the mountains in a safe and confident manner.

Step into your next adventure and email: [email protected] or visit www.freefloski.com

For more ideas for adventures and activities in France visit: Active Azur 

Author: Jocelyn Cockle
Posted:
Categories: backcountry, off piste courses, offpiste skiing, Ski guiding and teaching, ski instruction, ski lessons, ski touring, Tignes, Val D'Isere

Ski Touring and Steep Off Piste Skiing North Face of the Pramecou, Tignes & Val D’Isere

Route: Val Claret Tignes/Pointe De Pramecou/Val Claret
Off Piste skiing between: 3054m to 2107m NE/NW
Max Gradient: 48 degrees
Uphill: 3hrs 12 mins
Total Route time from Val Claret: 5hrs
Skiers Level:Advanced off piste
Ski Touring Level: Intermediate
Start: Bottom of Lanches Chairlift
Finish: At bottom Tichot chairlift
Map needed: 3633ET
Grade: 2.1
Exposure: E2

I just love Spring time. Its warmer, the snow pack is more stable and I have more time to go on adventures. Last year touring up and skiing down the 48 degree North Face of the Pramecou on the 9th May 2016 with adventurer and good friend Squash Falconer was one of my vivd memories of 2015/16. From that day onwards we came up with the idea of running backcountry adventures together to inspire, to teach and to motivate people to adventure into the back country. With one of the largest winter store retailers Snow & Rock behind us, in a few days time I am looking forward joining up with Squash and to leading the Snow and Rock Back Country 5 day Backcountry Adventure in Tignes and Val D’Isere.

Fresh Ski tracks on the North Face of the Pramecou
Fresh Ski tracks on the North Face of the Pramecou
Celebrating the fresh powder tracks on a 48 degree North Face
Celebrating the fresh powder tracks on a 48 degree North Face
Ski touring up to the Pointe De Pramecou
Ski touring up to the Pointe De Pramecou

Don’t miss out on adventures next season and get in touch and email: [email protected]
Visit our sites:
www.freefloski.com
www.squashfalconer.com

Author: iwood.web
Posted:
Categories: backcountry, basi, british female instructor, british ski instructor, horsdpiste, navigation, off piste, off piste courses, off piste skiing, offpiste, offpiste skiing, ski, ski courses, Ski guiding and teaching, ski instruction, ski lessons, ski touring, skicourses, skischools, Snow, Tignes, Uncategorized, Val D'Isere, Vanoise National Park

Pisteurs Couloir: Off Piste Skiing and Ski Touring Val D’Isere and Tignes

Route: Tignes/Pisteurs Couloir/Tignes
Off Piste skiing between: 2770m-2441m N
Max Gradient: 43/45 degrees
Uphill: 25 to 40 mins boot hike dependant on conditions
Total Return Route time from Tignes:3.5/4hrs
Skiers Level: Advanced off piste
Start: From the top of the Grand Pre Chairlift
Finish: At bottom Fontaine Froide
Lift pass needed: Espace Killy
Map needed: 3633ET
Grade: 3:1
Exposure: E3

The north face of the Charvet is a super classic route reserved for skiers experienced in committing terrain. It is not  route for the faint hearted. From the top the Grand pre chairlift you hike up to the rocher de Charvet . Continue along the ridge line to the end. The far right entrance normally avalanche prone so its better to access from the top different route opportunities on the way down. Hire a British instructor to take you to these amazing secrets to improve your off piste skiing and increase your route knowledge using fatmap.

Steep skiing Tignes Val D'Isere
Steep skiing Tignes Val D’Isere

Steep skiing Pisteurs couloir tignes val D'sere
Steep skiing Pisteurs couloir tignes val D’sere
Steep skiing Tignes Val D'Isere
Steep skiing Tignes Val D’Isere

FREEFLOSKI offers Elite British Ski Coaching in the snowsure resorts of Tignes, Val D’Isere and La Grave. We specialise in all mountain and off piste skiing, plus backcountry ski touring and women specific ski courses. Step into your next adventure with FREEFLOSKI www.freefloski.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Couloir skiing

 

 

Author: iwood.web
Posted:
Categories: backcountry, british female instructor, british ski instructor, Espace Killy, fatmap, off piste courses, off piste skiing, ski, ski courses, ski instruction, ski lessons, ski touring

Inspire you adventure

Teaming up with the Adventurer Squash Falconer FREEFLO is proud and excited to announce  being a part of a very special and exclusive Snow & Rock evening ‘Inspiring Your Adventure’on Wednesday 19th October at the Snow+Rock flagship store in Covent Garden in London.

Enjoy drinks and nibbles whilst listening to adventures. Get FREE advice and take full advantage of the generous 15% OFF discount on the new outdoor collection in store. Tickets are only £5 and all proceeds go to the Bowl Cancer UK charity. For further details and bookings please visit: https://inspiringwithsquashandfloss.eventbrite.com

We are also teaming up together with Snow & Rock to run Two Off Piste and Backcountry adventures for next winter on the 8th January and 16th of April 2017 in the Espace Killy. Further details will follow.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Step into your next adventure with FREEFLO and Squash Falconer.

inspire-2

FREEFLO specialises in progressive on and off piste skiing, backcountry ski touring and women specific ski courses in Tignes, Val D’Isere, St Foy and La Grave. Please visit our site: www.freefloski.com  and join our newsletter for free. Like us on Facebook and Instagram and we will keep you up to date on posts, photos and videos for free. Check out more adventures with Squash at squashfalconer.com.

Author: iwood.web
Posted:
Categories: backcountry, british female instructor, british ski instructor, camp, Espace Killy, espacekilly, fatmap, France, halfterm, Heli skiing, off piste, off piste courses, off piste skiing, offpiste, offpiste skiing, ski lessons, ski touring, skicourses, skischools, Snow, Uncategorized

Step into your next adventure

New Year, New Start and New Courses

Winter 2015/16 has definitely arrived and its exciting times for FREEFLO. I have rebranded from JCSkiing to FREEFLO with a focused offer of progressive on and off piste skiing, backcountry ski touring and women specific ski courses.

Our brand new website has had a facelift and we’d love you to follow us on social media for updates and news. For full effect, check out the new Instagram account which allows you to share the passion without even being here!

As I start my 16th season of teaching, and my third season in the Espace Killy, my passion and skiing and coaching has never been stronger. There are always more mountains to explore and new routes to find.

This season I’m returning to the off piste mecca of La Grave in the Southern French Alps to deliver my Off-Piste Experience course. Unfortunately both courses are fully booked, however, I’m sure I’ll be heading back there in the future, I love La Grave!

With excellent feedback from last season’s courses FREEFLO has partnered up with Mountain Sun and the Melezes Hotel  where the staff are so friendly and the food is so good. FREEFLO is offering a Womens Introduction to Ski Touring Weekend, which is made by women, for women! You can be relaxed and be yourself whilst skiing at your own pace and learning and making like minded friends on the way. For all you women out there step into your next adventure and come and join us. Get in touch via [email protected]

Womens Intro Ski Touring Weekend

To finish our season with a bang we are offering an Off piste and Ski touring course for the intermediate skier who has had experience skiing off piste and a small amount of ski touring. This course is all about the search of good snow and stepping a bit further away from the pistes. You will stay in a comfortable 4* chalet where you will be fed and look after a great day on the hill. What could be more appealing?

Step into your next adventure

With a focus on holistic performance, for all our courses we have a new partnership with Etixx UK, to offer complimentary elite nutrition to fuel your days on the hill and offers against future purchases. We are also kindly supported by FatmapEmber GlovesSnow-Forecast and Tignes Spirit.

Great memories and adventures are up for grabs. Start your 2016 on a high and we will look forward to skiing with you.

Jocelyn Cockle (Floss)
Director of FREEFLO

Freeflo png
www.freefloski.com

 

Author: iwood.web
Posted:
Categories: backcountry, basi, british female instructor, british ski instructor, off piste courses, scarpa boots, ski courses, Uncategorized

What are Skins?

The History and info about Skins:

Often when I am talking to clients about ski touring which involves going uphill I am confronted with their puzzled and confused face and the question of HOW? The answer is that we put skins on and go uphill which makes the client even more confused then before.

By most accounts skis and skins have been around for thousands of years. For a long time skiing was called ‘skilaufren’ (ski walking). The term for ski riding and downhill skiing wasn’t born until the 1920’s and 30’s. With technology advancing so much during the first world war and the postwar revitalisation programs in Austria and Germany led to the first Gondolas which along with ski lifts changed the face of skiing forever and was then called ‘skifahren’ ski riding.

Before lift-assisted skiing, the masses earned their turns by attaching skins to their skis for traction. At the time mammal skins were used and the cheaper option some people strapped fur twigs under their skis. The seal skin was a popular material because it fulfilled two contradictory purposes, gliding properties to go forward and to provide as much traction as possible to stop you from gliding backwards.

Skins contain three parts: 

  • The Plush
  • The Backing
  • The Attachment

The Plush:

In these modern times in Europe we often use mohair (goat hair) daily due to tradition where as synthetic skins are used more worldwide. Synthetic skins will last longer compared to natural fibre skins. You can have a combination of both. However, mohair skins have better gliding properties in colder snow compared to the nylon skins which last longer and are better in warmer conditions.

The Backing:

The Backing is what the Plush adheres to on one side and the adhesive to on the other which is generally made of nylon. Over there last couple of year recent technology has produced vacum base skins which don’t use adhesive.

The Attachments:

For a long time a leather strap around the skis was used to secure the skins onto the skis which caused a lot of problems on the traverse. The Swiss Army come over this problem by drilling holes in the skis and bolting the skins onto the base of the ski. Nowadays we have more elaborated tail and tip attachments which secure the skins.

Step into your next adventure and experience ski touring and the backcountry: www.freefloski.com

P1020189

Freeflo png
www.freefloski.com

Author: iwood.web
Posted:
Categories: activities, backcountry, basi, british ski instructor, Espace Killy, fatmap, France, horsdpiste, maps, navigation, off piste, off piste courses, off piste skiing, offpiste skiing, scarpa boots, ski, ski courses, Ski guiding and teaching, ski instruction, Uncategorized