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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The Refuge De Leisse is behind the Grand Motte glacier in Tignes and can be accessed by many different routes. After my second season of ski teaching and guiding in the Espace Killy I am still amazed as to what this area has to offer. There are so many good off piste and ski touring routes beyond your dreams. I know instructors and people that have lived in Tignes and Val D’Isere for years and they have never seen the places that I have been too, the places that I have fallen in love with and places that I am still discovering. I get so excited when I have spare time which I spend hiking, touring and skiing these routes.
Refuge De La Leisse
Arriving at the refuge de Leisse
Chilling outside the refuge de Leisse
Room with a view at the refuge de le Leisse
Happy days with Celine
Off for a coffee at refuge de Leisse
Beyond the pistes of Tignes and Val D’Isere holds the wilderness and natural beauty of the Vanoise National Park. In the parks in France and around the world there are mountain refuges. The best way to describe a refuge is that they are very similar to lodges. Many of these refuges are on hiking or ski touring routes so you can actually travel refuge to refuge, hut to hut. A lot of refuges are not manned for the main part of the winter and they are left as a winter room where you can stay for shelter. End of March to mid May dependant on snow and conditions these refuges are open and offer food and accommodation. The guardian of the refuge often ski tours in the winter or hikes in the summer into them which can take hours and sometimes days, just to start work. Each refuge is self suffcient as there are no supermarkets or corner shops nearby, the water supply is often a mountain stream which is diverted to the refuge. The water from the trough of the Refuge De La Leisse is the best I have ever drunk. Most food and supples are heli dropped once every couple of weeks. Most refuges are ran by solar power and the light switches are on a timer, you also don’t have internet access or any phone signal.
The easier route is skiing off piste from the Genepy piste around the back of the Leisse chairlift and then over the frozen marshlands. If you wanted to embark a more difficult route you can drop into 35 Glacier couloir and get to the refuge. You also can also arrive to the refuge by the Col De Sana, Refuge De La Femma, Col De Vanoise, the list is endless. Celine Terryn is the guardian of the refuge de Leisse. She will welcome you with open arms and make sure that your stay is as comfortable as she can.
Celine can tell you many good stories, ‘ One day I was ski touring alone to the refuge and the weather came in. I ended up touring in circles as I couldn’t see anything. It took me hours to get to the refuge as the only ski tracks I could follow was mine and they were going in circles.’ I asked her what happens when the weather gets really bad. She replied ‘This season the weather has been very up and down, when the winds get very strong I often stay in a room which is underground.’ The word brave entered my head. Like most of us doing seasonal work we have many strings to our bow and have many passions. Celine is a chartered physiotherapist when she isn’t working at the refuge and she surfs when she can. She is living the dream.
For more information visit the website of the refuge de Leisse.
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.
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.
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.
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 mNE Max Gradient: 44 degrees Uphill: 25 to40 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
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.
Relating the ‘Here and Now’ of coaching from the book ‘Inner game of Tennis by W. Timothy: Galloway’ to Steep Couloir skiing was a great insight and made me realise how more of a ski coach I am compared to a ski instructor. After 17 seasons of ski teaching I didn’t realise how many techniques of the inner game of tennis I use in relation to my own ski coaching.
Steep skiing in couloirs is one of my passions and one of the many sides of skiing that I enjoy and coach in. For myself just being in a couloir and skiing in challenging and exposed environments naturally focuses my mind and attention. For many other skiers it is a different story as they become nervous, frightened and feel threatened with the exposure. Skiing on steep off piste and in narrow unknown corridors which are often surrounded by rock is where focus, skill and belief is vital for a good and safe decent.
Learning to focus your attention is a master skill that has unlimited application. When skiing in a threatening environment where your skills are being pushed you need to learn to focus awareness in the NOW. It means tuning in to what is happening in the present not the past.
Concentrate your focus on here and NOW, in present time and in the present space. Most accidents and falls happen when we lapse in concentration as we allow our mind to think about what is about to happen or to dwell whats has already happened in the past. Especially for women that are lacking self confidence. Don’t let your mind absorb itself in the world of “what if’s” “What if I fall over” “What if I can’t make that turn” and then let your mind wander away to “this happened to me last year and this is how I injured my knee” or something totally irrelevant “I can’t believe what that Facebook post said about me”. Since the mind has a will of its own and tends to wander, how can one learn to keep it in the present?The answer is by practise as there is no other way. Every time your mind starts to leak away, simply bring it gently back.
The next time you are in a couloir or on challenging terrain have this action plan. Focus your mind on the present, see and accept the environment that you are in and then ski it with one tactical or technical focus to block out any nervousness. Subconsciously believe in yourself and ability and you will be able to ski stronger and more effectively. For more tips on skiing follow our blog
Improve your inner game and your steep skills with private coaching or on the three day Steep Skiing course with FREEFLO.
Get in touch and email: [email protected] Visit our website: www.freefloski.com
Route: Val ClaretTignes/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.
Route: Tignes/Pisteurs Couloir/Tignes Off Piste skiing between: 2770m-2441mN Max Gradient: 43/45 degrees Uphill: 25 to40 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.
FREEFLOSKIoffers 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 FREEFLOSKIwww.freefloski.com. We look forward to hearing from you!
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.
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.
Short uphill for more downhill: Episode 1 Just after or even when it is snowing everyone rushes out on the mountain to ski fresh powder to get the adrenaline rush of skiing lines off piste with that remarkable floating feeling. Often the powder which is accessible by the lifts in big resorts are skied out by the end of the morning. Some days when I am teaching on the hill most places are skied out by 11am, thats when knowing the mountain is to your advantage. With knowledge and understanding you can ski further a field into the backcountry and go to the secret places to find the stash of powder where less people go. I really enjoy this new type of skiing as you have best of both worlds touring up hill and longer lines off piste downhill.
Route: Pointe Boussac Tignes/Val D’Isere Off Piste skiing between: 2407m -3070m NE/NW Max Gradient: 38-40 degrees Uphill: 40 mins Total Route time from funicular: 2.5hrs Total Return Route time from Tignes:3.5/4hrs Skiers Level: Intermediate/Advanced off piste Ski Touring Level: Intermediate/Advanced Start: From the top of the funicular in Val Claret Finish: At bottom Fontaine Froide Lift pass needed: Espace Killy Map needed: 3633ET
This route is a great route that you can achieve in half a day and you feel like you have achieved a bit of everything a summit, steep uphill ascent and a longer time skiing off piste. The difficulty is the last 200m of the accent where it is vertically challenging and you need to be good with your kick turns but if all else fails you can always boot up. The off piste lines off the Pointe Boussac are in abundance and are as varied and challenging as you want them to be!
Last 200m to summit Pointe Boussac
Skiing down from the Col
Enjoying the fresh tracks off the Pointe Boussac
If you would like to ski this route or another route similar please get in contact with FREEFLO. FREEFLO specialises in progressive on and off piste skiing, backcountry ski touring and women specific ski courses in Tignes, Val D’Isere and La Grave. Please visit our site: www.freefloski.com . Like us on Facebook and Instagram and we will keep you up to date on posts, photos and videos for free.
Step into your next adventure with FREEFLO. We look forward to skiing with you.