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Behind the scenes of the Refuge De Leisse: Ski Touring and Skiing Off Piste Tignes and Val D’Isere

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.

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.

Map showing the route to refuge de Leisse, Tignes
IGN Map showing the route to refuge de Leisse, Tignes

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.

A day out with Ski Focus- Touring the Tuff de Grassaz and the 3 Cols, Tignes

Time just flies by and every winter season comes round quicker and quicker. At the end of last season I managed to spend a day in the backcountry with Stuart Bernard the Director of Ski Focus.  It was a great opportunity to show him some of the beautiful backcountry that is on our door step and a chance to catch up with him after a busy season. The day was perfect for touring with blue skies and no wind and at the end of the season there was no one around. After dropping into the Col Du Palet we only saw two people in the distance all day. Ski touring is a great opportunity to make new friends and build strong relationships as you are away from any distractions and you get the chance to really talk.

After three and half hours of uphill and two hours downhill at the end of the day we returned back to Val Claret to finish a great day with a beer.

Stuart teaches skiing all year round he is based in the Espace Killy for the winter and teaches in the snow domes in the UK in the summer. He runs a number of Gap Ski Courses throughout the year as well coaches and examines people who want to become instructors. For more information and to ski with Stuart please visit: http://www.skifocus.co.uk.

FREEFLO specialises in private instruction, ski courses, off piste and ski touring within the resort of Tignes, Val D’Isere and La Grave. Visit http://jamesg134.sg-host.com.  For further information please don’t hesitate to get in contact and email: [email protected].

Off Piste and Ski Touring Tignes: Montee La Tourne

Ski Touring montee la Tourne is a very accessible and a short ski touring route if you haven’t got a high level of fitness or a long time to complete. This tour also allows some great off piste skiing in the backcountry of Tignes. Towards the end of the tour when you head to the col is where you can see some exciting off steep piste skiing routes in the North facing Couloirs of La Tourne. However, this ski tour is quite a technical route as there is a 100m steep pitch where you need to be able to kick turn on which is 32-37 degrees.

This tour is one of the many ski tours that starts near the Refuge Du Palet which allows you to do some good off piste skiing as well as touring. Its a backcountry paradise where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of the ski resort and be in the peaceful backcountry where you often don’t see anyone.

Route: Itinerary route Montee La Tourne
Difficulty: Blue/Red
Gradient: 26-37 degrees
Uphill: 60mins
Total Route time: 2.5 to 3hrs
Skiers Level: Intermediate off piste
Lift: Col Du Palet
Lift pass needed: Tignes
Map needed: 3353T

Different to any ski school FREEFLO offers intutive British Personal Ski Coaching in the snow-sure 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. Fun and passionate we are highly experienced and fully qualified to work in France. With FREEFLO the quality of your experience, and safety are our priorities. With passion we help people to improve, have fun and to enjoy the freedom of the mountains. For further information please drop an email to: [email protected]

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www.freefloski.com

Ski Touring and Skiing Off Piste: Refuge Col Du Palet Tignes 2587m

The Refuge Col Du Palet is a great base camp or lunch spot for ski touring and skiing off piste in the Vanoise National Park in Tignes, which is very accessible from the Grattaleu chairflift and the Col Du Palet drag lift. You would need to hire a guide or instructor to take full advantage of the area as the off piste and ski touring routes to find fresh powder are endless.

After an amazing ski tour summiting to the Col Du Grassaz and skiing fresh powder tracks on our return we arrived to the refuge happy and hungry and were welcomed by Nicolas who is the guardian of the refuge. Nicolas has been the guardian for four summers in the Col Du Palet and has worked four summers in the Refuge De Leisse which is close to the Grande Motte glacier. This winter is his first winter in the Refuge Du Palet which is open Tuesday to Friday every week from the 23rd Dec 2014 to 24th of April 2015. One nights accommodation with breakfast and a delicious geerous three course dinner is very reasonable at €44.50 per head. The refuge sleeps 15 people in the winter which is one large dormitory. Duvets and blankets are provided, however you must bring a sleeping bag liner or you can rent one for €3.50. The rules of the refuge is to take away your own rubbish. The prices for drinks inside the refuge are reasonable with a glass of red wine starting at €3 and a beer at €4. You can bring your own drinks and food to the refuge but that would mean that you would have to ski tour with your supplies all day. Don’t forget to bring some cash as you can’t pay with credit card in the refuge.

Before dinner at 7pm we relaxed next to the wood burner stove discussing our adventures and looking at our photos of the day with an aperitif from the house which was made by Nicolas’s father. It was a perfect way to relax after a great day ski touring and skiing off piste. Pressed du pin which tasted very much like a sweet almond cognac. The first course was spilt pea soup which was accompanied with a slice of Tomme cheese and bread. Nicolas’s grandma Fi Fi’s slow cooked hot pot then followed which consisted potatoes,prunes and bacon which was a winter warmer after spending the day on the mountain. We were then spoilt with homemade chocolate fondant before getting an early night for the next day adventure. Breakfast was continental with homemade jam and a hot drink of your choice. Which was perfect before setting off to ski tour to the Col De Sachette then dropping off-piste into the Sache and ending up in Tignes 1800.

For further information about the refuge see http://www.vanoise-refugedupalet.com.

Different to any ski school FREEFLO offers intutive British Personal Ski Coaching in the snow-sure 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. Fun and passionate we are highly experienced and fully qualified to work in France. With FREEFLO the quality of your experience, and safety are our priorities. With passion we help people to improve, have fun and to enjoy the freedom of the mountains. For further information please drop an email to: [email protected]

jamesg134.sg-host.com
www.freefloski.com



Off Piste Skiing Tignes: Tour De Charvet to Val D’Isere

The Tignes off-piste skiing route Tour De Charvet is one of those classic Espace Killy off piste routes where you can really enjoy the skiing in the backcountry with a small calculated avalanche risk. You start the route in Tignes descending of the back of the Grande Pre chairlift and you end up in the beautiful town of Val D’Isere.


After a quick check of our transceivers on the electronic device on the post at the top of the chair lift, Susie, Rich and myself nipped under the rope at the top of Grand Pre to start our off piste route. Knowing the route very well, I anticipated the first pitch to be affected by the wind with little snow so there was no great surprise when I was trying to keep balance on windblown snow with variable depths of crust. Being able to see the ridge wind scoured we kept our height and traversed to the right where we choose to ski down one of the gullies to the river Ruisseau which was gushing with water. Normally the river is frozen so you can ski across it, but not this time! Today with roaring temperatures and unusual lack of snow I choose the safer option of keeping left of the river and using the few ski tracks in front of me to navigate between the rocks and to join the footpath. With the knowledge that the Manchet chair lift was close (normally your escape route out of the area) we kept to the footpath keeping our eyes peeled for any avalanche danger above. We then cruised through the valley floor to the restuarant Clochetons which was a fine coffee stop before winding through the sleepy back streets of Val D’Isere to the famous Les Olympiques cable car.

Different to any ski school FREEFLO offers intutive British Personal Ski Coaching in the snow-sure 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. Fun and passionate we are highly experienced and fully qualified to work in France. With FREEFLO the quality of your experience, and safety are our priorities. With passion we help people to improve, have fun and to enjoy the freedom of the mountains. For further information please drop an email to: [email protected]

jamesg134.sg-host.com
www.freefloski.com

A great start to my Ski Teaching season 2014/15 Tignes/Val D’Isere

The start of this season we haven’t been blessed with snow compared to other seasons. This season does remind me of the poor start of the 2000/01 season which is why I have chosen to live in Tignes in a high altitude resort in the Espace Killy, France. In the Espace Killy we are fortunate and we have the accessibility of two glaciers the Grand Motte 3456m and Glaciers Du Pissaillas 3347m which makes teaching possible early season and in the summer months.

Having a summer off it has been great to get back to Ski Teaching and to kick off my ski lessons with a flying start!!!My first ski lesson was with Jill from Singapore who did extremely well making her first ever turns on the Grand Motte glacier and then skiing in control down to the Vanoise chairlift. Once I straighted a few technical hitches Jill was skiing with more confidence and control.

Jill from Singapore 1st lesson of 2014:15

Then a quick drive over to Val D’Isere to teach some great kids Charlie 9yrs and Millie 7yrs their first turns and after a two hour lesson they were making turns on the green run. Amazing quick progression with good foot steering skills. I wish I was that good when I was their age.

IMG_3345

For two afternoons on the Tignes glacier I have been teaching Tanya who is an intermediate skier but finding it hard work and exhausting!!!A change of stance, posture and turn shape then she was skiing so much better and with ease using much less energy. Great skills!!!

[youtube=http://youtu.be/eDji6cVpIWk]

Job done!

So all in all great people and a great start to my ski teaching season 2014/15. I am on a teaching high despite the difficult conditions. I wander what next week will bring? I plan for more successes and more fun doing the job that I love and being on top of the world.

Different to any ski school FREEFLO offers intutive British Personal Ski Coaching in the snow-sure 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. Fun and passionate we are highly experienced and fully qualified to work in France. With FREEFLO the quality of your experience, and safety are our priorities. With passion we help people to improve, have fun and to enjoy the freedom of the mountains. For further information please drop an email to: [email protected]

jamesg134.sg-host.com
www.freefloski.com