adventure

Part 1: Ski touring Col Des Fours, Val D’Isere

Part 1: Ski Touring the Col Des Fours in Val D’Isere

Ski touring the Col Des Fours in Val D’Isere is part 1 of my top five classic ski tours in the Tarentaise Valley in the Northern French Alps. Its a low intermediate ski tour with only a 480m of ascent. For your efforts you are rewarded with amazing views and over 1000m of vertical offpiste descent into the vallons des fours. It is a great introductory tour for skiers who have some experience in ski touring already. But it is a tour where your timing is everything! You need to make sure that you have big enough weather window and that you time the last traverse to perfection.

Ski touring Col Des Fours

Route: Fornet, Val D’Isere- Col Des Fours- Fornet, Val D’Isere
Off Piste skiing: 2976m -1915m W/NW/N
Max Ski Gradient: 38 degrees
Uphill: 480m 1.5 to 2hrs
Total Route time from Fornet: 5-6hrs 
Skiers Level: Intermediate offpiste skier
Ski Touring Level: Low Intermediate
Start: Fornet cable car
Finish: Fornet cable car
Lift pass needed: Val D’Isere
Map needed: 3633ET

Depending on your size of group and the speed of the group this tour in the winter you can actually start in Tignes and ski over to Fornet and ski back depending on your size of group and the speed of the group. In springtime when the snowpack is warming I would advise you to start in Fornet in Val D’Isere so you aren’t depending on a ski lift home.

You start on the Col D’Iseran and ski down southwest to Pont de la Neige. At the bridge you will find a flat area so you can transition to uphill skiing. From there you climb 480m to the col. If you are careful with your line you don’t need to be able to do a kick turn. The last two hundred metres of the tour is the most difficult and its when timing is everything.  It’s a 200m traverse which is slightly exposed and often icy. As the pitch above the traverse is southeast facing it has the sun on it early and the snowpack warms and often releases some slides.

At the Col des Fours, Val d’Isere

After you reach the col you have endless options of skiing different lines to the Refuge Des Fours. Choosing your ski down after the refuge becomes a little bit more tricky as you are in more complication terrain. Depending on snow conditions you can then decide to keep left or right of the river des fours back and then back to the Manchet chairlift.

For more ski touring tips see blog:  5 Ski and Snowboard Touring Technique Tips

Ski tour in comfort and performance; I choose nothing but the best and highly recommend the backcountry selection from Floâ Sports,’ Jocelyn Cockle (Floss) Director of Freefloski

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: activities, adventure, backcountry, british ski instructor, Espace Killy, horsdpiste, off piste, off piste courses, off piste skiing, offpiste, refuge du fours, ski courses, Ski guiding and teaching, Uncategorized

Freefloski Featured in the Ultimate List of Best Ski Schools in France

Ridestore Magazine Press Realease, 29th November 2019.
Jocelyn Cockle (Floss) of Freefloski in Tignes has been featured as one of the best ski schools in Tignes by Ridestore Magazine. Ridestore complied a mega ulitmate list of the best ski schools in France for the 2019/20 season, after all, the countdown is on to many of us ski and snowboard lovers, hitting the slopes! The team at Ridestore thought it was time someone put together a list of all the ski schools in the best and busiest resorts in France to make life a little easier for those that are frantically googling.

Ski Touring Tignes
Ski Touring Tignes

This list was created to try and take a little bit of stress out of selecting the right ski school for you. It doesn’t matter wether you are a first time skier, an intermediate looking to get rid of bad habits or a season rider who loved to learn the latest tricks and tips, its vital to find the right fit for you. Brits have been supporting French ski schools both big and small, always looking for the right tutiton that offers value for money and quality and experienced instructors; Just like Floss!

This ultimate list of the best schools rewards the schools who put their best foot (or ski boot) forward at all times to ensure first time and novice skiers and snowboarders, well riders of all levels have a fantastic experience on and off the slopes. The right ski school experience can make or break a trip after all and our annual (or if your lucky, bi-annual) ski trip is sacred and maxuimising your time is essential.

” Searching for a ski school, particularly in France where there are so many in each resort, can be a little stressful, only adding to the to-do-list further when booking a mountain adventure. Then if you want to advance your skills, in off-piste, touring or more specific niches, finding the right fit ski scholl wise, can be a challenge. Therefore, Freefloski was an outstanding candidiate for such specialised training in Tignes and was rightfully included in our ultimate list. I will have to message Floss when I am next in Tignes! “ stated Angelica Skykes from Ridgestore Magazine.

“There are lots of things to consider when booking a ski holiday, and choosing the right ski school is one that always proves challenging. Therefore, with this list we wanted to make the booking process taht bit easier, so you cna get on with the planning the rest of your trip” continued Angelica Sykes

Jocelyn Cockle, Director of Freefloski stated ” Its a competitive landscape in Tignes for ski schools, with plenty of instructors and schools offering the service but Ridestore Magazine gave us a honourable mention as providing something unique. We are able to give our clients the best possible touring and backcounty ski experience with passion at the forefront. Ensuring a relaxed and easygoing enviornment in which to your skills, push your spirits nad techique to the next level.”

FREEFLO Ski Touring Ski Courses in Tignes, Val D'Isere and St Foy
FREEFLO Ski Touring Ski Courses in Tignes, Val D’Isere and St Foy

To read the full entry about Freeflo Ski School, please visit Ridestore Magazine

Author: Jocelyn Cockle
Posted:
Categories: adventure, backcountry, british female instructor, France, ski instruction, Tignes, Val D'Isere

Ski Touring Decision Making-Tignes 20th Nov 2019

The Preparation:
Always a good day ski touring in the mountains takes some sort of preparation. The night before I checked three weather forecasts one included my favourite snow-forecast.com. I decided that the conditions for ski touring were good for two days. In the morning I reaccessed the forecast. I packed my bag with enough food and equipment that gave me optionality, as I wasn’t certain how long we would be touring for. The plan of attack was to start touring up a piste called Palafour from Tignes Le Lac. The slope is south-east facing and we could stay warm in the sun. We would then decide where to go on route. We had no other concrete plans to arrive at a summit or to achieve a particular route.

On Route:
I decided to break trail off-piste as there were workers on the piste half way up.  Once we arrived at Chardonnet Bowl, we could really start seeing the mountain and reading the signs. Routes in Chardonnet bowl had been skied and two skiers were skiing down and not making it look easy. The wind affected certain summits and cols.  There was one group of 6 or 7 skiers or splitboarders going up a route called Grapillion Des Merles. The snowpack looked thin, the snow was uneven, there were sasturgi and plumes of snow. The group still decided to go up even if the route wasn’t inviting?

We decided to continue upon the piste to the snow park on Grattalu after discussing what we saw and how we felt. Our aim was to ski tour gentle and it was our second ski tour of the season. Two other ski tourers were happy to chat and to share some of their knowledge. They had told us that their friends had ski toured up Grapillion a few days ago and they found that the snow was dangerous, thin with lots of rocks. That news reinforced the decision that we made earlier not to follow the group. They also told us that they saw avalanche activity on west facing slopes and to be aware of the weak layers in the snowpack. We thanked them for their news and headed to the Col Du Palet taking on board what we knew and what we could see.

Knowing the routes into the col and knowing what I knew about the terrain, I decided to keep low and take a new flat touring line into the col to avoid rocks. Above we could see a man skiing on the ridgeline struggling with the lack of snow. So we kept our eyes on him and made sure we weren’t underneath him.

Col Du Palet 20th November

Reading the mountain for the ski down:
Once we arrived at the Col Du Palet we could read the mountain and the evidence of where was the best powder route down. We looked on to the back of Chardonnet bowl and notice a slab avalanche on the west face on route to diamond couloir. At lower altitude the fresh snow had been cross loaded to north-east slopes and gullies. With this info and what we could see, we then decided to handrail clockwise to a north-east gullie and enjoyed making fresh powder turns on a gentle slope.

Ski Touring out:
Enjoying the fresh powder by ourselves, we soon arrived at lake Grattalu.  I had noticed that the lake hadn’t been frozen so it was best to stop before continuing any further. We then choose the easiest and most efficient route to get back to the col.  Once we reached the col, temperatures had risen and we were tired. To be on the safe side of caution, as I was coming back from a ski collision. We decided to take our own skinning track back onto the piste and headed home.  Another great day in the mountains. We were very happy with our decisions, we found the best snow, was safe and had a great day skiing powder with no one around.

I will be delivering mountain respect workshops throughout the winter. If you are interested please get in touch:  www.freefloski.com 

Happy Skiing 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Jocelyn Cockle
Posted:
Categories: adventure, backcountry, basi, british female instructor, Espace Killy, France, horsdpiste, navigation, off piste, off piste courses, off piste skiing, refugedupalet, ski instruction, ski touring, skicourses, Tignes, Uncategorized, Vanoise National Park

How to book a night in Refuge Turia, Les Arcs

Getaway from the hustle and bustle of a ski resort or your nine to five job in the city and visit Refuge Turia.  Be overwhelmed with the epic mountain views that surround you. Find yourself relaxing with the peace and tranquillity of the mountains.

Refuge Turia, picture taken from the moraines of Lac Riondaz 

In a dormitory room the refuge can accommodate up to a maximum of nineteen people per night. The refuge is looked after by a guardian from June to September. Prices start from €17.50 to €55 euros full board. The good news is that the refuge is open all year round with or without a guardian. Payment for your stay is taken in cash. When the refuge is not guarded you can pay for your stay into an honesty box called the Tronc. 

When to go?
The best time to visit refuge Turia and to explore the surroundings is to avoid french and UK holidays. A good tip is to phone up the refuge and ask how many people have reserved the night you want to go. Once you have decided when to go and have booked by telephone then the next step is to plan your route depending on your fitness and ability. 

An eco loo with a view!!! Mount Blanc 4810m in the background 

How to Book?
To book your overnight stay visit Refuge Turia website.  If you are looking for a winter adventure Freefloski can ski and guide you there or teach you skills for you to get there. To start your adventure send an email and get in touch with Freefloski.

For summer guiding to the refuge and around get in contact with Delphine Julliard

Read more about Refuge De Leisse

 

Author: Jocelyn Cockle
Posted:
Categories: activities, adventure, backcountry, off piste, off piste courses, off piste skiing, ski courses, Ski guiding and teaching

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

The Skiers Guide to Ski Touring the Refuge Frey, Bariloche, Argentina

THE SKIERS GUIDE TO SKI TOURING THE REFUGE FREY, BARILOCHE, ARGENTINA
My dream is becoming a reality. For four years I have been dreaming of leading and creating my own Patagonian adventure. One small part of this adventure includes skiing the granite couloirs and ski touring around the refuge Emilio Frey near Bariloche in Argentina. To have a successfull adventure it is so important to have the right information and make the right decisions.

Refugio Frey, Bariloche, Argentina

Refuge details:
Surrounded by granite towers Refuge Emilio Frey is on the shore of the Toncek lagoon at 1700 meters above sea level. The name is a tribute to the engineer Emilio Frey. The shelter itself is one of the most picturesque in the region. Its a true masterpiece of carved granite lintels, sills, edges and other details of high quality to ensure that the refuge blends into the landscape. The inside is lined with wood and its roof is made of tiles.  On the ground floor is a kitchen and a spacious dining room with a log burner for warmth.

How to make a reservation?
It is only possible to reserve a night in the refuge 3 days before on line as there is no telephone service in the refuge. For three nights in the refuge including food we paid around £25 per day. The refuge only takes US dollars ($) or Argentine Pesos (Ars). For more information you can visit the website  Refugio Frey.

How to access the refuge?
There are two ways to access the refuge in the summer and in the winter.
a) Skiing from the ski station Cerro Catedral: You can hike to the ridgeline Punta Princesa. Traverse west to a col and drop down a valley then ski tour up to the pointed ridgeline. The ski down from there will only take ten minutes to lake Toncek.  At the lake traverse along the plateau to Refugio Frey. Ski touring from Cerro Cathedral will take 4-6 hours.  Make sure you have a good weather window as its difficult to navigate. You will need to pay for a Cerro Catedral lift pass which is around £22 per day.

Sunset at Refuge Frey, Bariloche, Argentina

b) The main walkers route from Cerro Catedral.
Difficulty:
 Medium to Hard depending on snow conditions and how much weight you are carrying in your packs.
Distance : 10 km
Elevation : 700m +\-
Running time : from 4 to 6 hours but the lady from Club Andino will tell you that you can do it in two hours!
Access mode : Cerro Catedral line bus 55 from Bariloche. The bus journey will cost under a pound.  You have to buy a SUBE card which you can buy in the newsagents, no cash accepted on the bus. The bus normally goes every hour and you need to get to the bus stop early to get a seat.

Maps: 
Totally different to the IGN map in France.  Finding a good backcountry map to navigate from is difficult and hard to find. We used the PIXMAP Bariloche y Angostura 1:125. NB: Don’t be fooled by the distance.

Weather Forecasts:
The most reliable weather forecasts we have used have been Snow Forecast and Windyty App

What are the granite spires?
The spires of the refuge are granite and granodiorite towers are intrusive igneous rocks that have slowly cooled deep underground in magma chambers called plutons. This slow cooling process allows easily visible crystals to form. Both rocks are the product of the melting of continental rocks near subduction zones.

Follow us and our adventures on the #theskiersjourney inPatagonia.

The team on #theskiersjourney, Patagonia 2018

Creating, Leading and Sharing Mountain Adventures with FREEFLO

Keep up to date with the FREEFLO Patagonia Ski and Climb Adventure 2018 and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Blog. FREEFLO specialises 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. Step into your next adventure and email: [email protected] or visit www.freefloski.com 

Author: Jocelyn Cockle
Posted:
Categories: adventure, british female instructor, maps, patagonia, Uncategorized

The Arcteryx Norvan VT trail shoe is the number one choice for Patagonia.

The Arcteryx Norvan trail and approach shoe is the number one choice for Patagonia.
As soon as I put this trail shoe on I wasn’t disappointed. Tested in the French Alps on running trails, snow and climbing crags. I decided that this shoe would be my number one choice of footwear for the FREEFLO Patagonia Ski and Climb Adventure 2018. It would be the shoe that I could run in, scramble in and an approach shoe to refuges and climbing crags. Intelligently designed and created it will be the connection between trail running and alpinism.
With the combination of a Vibram heel and a sticky rubber compound of the Idrogrip the Norvan VT delivers excellent grip on all terrain. With the adjustable 360° support system can you switch from running mode to a scrambling mode very easily. The fixed adaptive Fit Technology wraps around your foot and keeps your foot dry and free of debris. 
The Norvan VT is a shoe that gives you confidence and support over technical terrain.
Keep up to date with the FREEFLO Patagonia Ski and Climb Adventure 2018 and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Blog.
FREEFLO specialises 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, 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: adventure, France, Ski guiding and teaching