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Salomon/Atomic MTN Pure Tech Binding Review

There are so many ski touring bindings in the market it can be difficult to know which ones to buy. Or which review to trust? As a ski teacher in France for 24 years In the video below, I give to you an honest review of the Atomic/Salomon MTN Tech Bindings. I explain how to use time and the pros and cons of the Atomic/Salomon MTN Bindings.

I have used and tested these bindings for two whole winters and with the lifts closed this year in France I have put them to test all winter.

PROS:
1) Convenience: The binding is simple to use and you can use your ski pole to easily adjust the raisers for going uphill on steeper terrain. You also can get the binding into a downhill mode with your ski pole and without taking off your skis. This is a big bonus as this method saves you time and safety.
2) Lightness: Each binding weighs 295G without the brake which is light!
3) Reliability: With its simple construction and minimal parts the binding is more reliable and less likely to break in the backcountry.

CONS:
1) My leash broke when using in the bindings. Which was then easily fixed by a shop.
2) As with most ski touring bindings I had some difficulty a few times to get them in downhill mode due to the ice in the bindings.

MY CONCLUSION:
These Atomic/Salomon MTN Bindings are great for the longer day ski tourers that like a lighter set up who want reliability and performance when skiing in the backcountry. They are not for the absolute beginner ski tourer as its a tech binding.

HOW TO AVOID MAKING SKIN TOURING MISTAKES

THREE MOST COMMON MISTAKES WHEN PUTTING YOUR TOURING SKINS ON

In this blog, I am going to talk about the three most common mistakes Skiers and Snowboarders make when putting on touring skins in the backcountry. Malfunctioning of skins in the backcountry is one of your worst nightmares and is best avoided. Learn how you can avoid making these mistakes.

THREE COMMON MISTAKES WHEN PUTTING SKINS ON?
1) Transition Area: Choosing an unsafe area for transition and in the shade. The Skis or Snowboard facing down in the snow for a long time
2) Snow, Ice, Wet base: If you have snow, ice or a wet base the skins will stick for a short while but after a certain time they will come off and be unusable.
3) Skins over the edge: When skins are placed over the edge of the ski or snowboard you won’t be able to grip uphill and snow will get between the base and the skins. This will make the skins unusable.

HOW TO CORRECT THEM?
1) Transition area: When transitioning your equipment to uphill make sure you choose a safe area away from any avalanche dangers and ideally in the sun. Lie your skis or snowboard up facing the sky on the ground. This will allow the bases to warm up. Therefore the skins will stick on easily.
2) Snow, Ice, Wet Base: Make sure that the bases are dry and aware of snow, ice and moisture. Use a cloth, buff to dry the base and make sure that they are dirt-free and clean.
3) Skins over the edge: When putting touring skins on make sure that you can see the edges of the skis or snowboard.

To see exactly how to avoid these mistakes click on the video below. At the end of this video, I have also shared with you a top-secret of mine.

Don’t make these mistakes

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.

Freeflo Ski Courses

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

 

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.

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.

Off Piste Tignes and Ski Tour to Pointe Boussac

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

OS Pointe Boussac, Tignes
OS Pointe Boussac, Tignes

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!

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.

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Step into your next adventure with FREEFLO. We look forward to skiing with you.

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

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www.freefloski.com

 

Tignes and Val’ D’Isere’ FATMAP- The world’s most detailed 3D ski map.

Tignes and Val D’Isere FATMAP put to the Test by FREEFLO:                                                            Off Piste Tignes/Val D’Isere

I have a great passion for the off piste and backcountry. I work and live in the ski resorts of Tignes and Val D’Isere as a British Ski Teacher which is why I was very eager to put the FATMAP of the Espace Killy to test.

I put the ULTRA-HIGH RESOLUTION 3D MAPPING Fatmap through its paces and completed the ski tour Col Du Fours in the Espace Killy in poor visibility last Monday on my Samsung Galaxy S4 mini. I solely used the fat map and my friend only used the OS map for navigation so we could compare notes. Being a ski enthusiast and not a huge computer fan (I only started to use a touch screen phone last year), I found the map easy to use and it gave me further support and confidence to navigate a new route in poor conditions. One of the main advantages of the map is that it doesn’t rely on internet signal and once downloaded you can use it anywhere on the mountain.

I used the 3D Fly-Through many times to ensure I was on the right track. It would have been easier if there was a setting that you could use to pause and to re-start the 3D Fly-Through to save time and battery, instead of starting from the beginning each time. Also if the dotted line on the 3D was illustrated in a different colour showing the uphill ski touring route, it would make it clearer to see the route in a uphill and downhill version. These are comments I have already forwarded to the active FATMAP team by using the Slack app. The description of the tour then backs up the 3D Fly-Throughs so it is even harder to take the wrong route. I accessed valuable information quicker and easier using the FATMAP about the route and found out the gradient, aspect, crevasse zones etc; without getting the OS map and compass out. With that information and knowing the weather, avalanche bulletin, history and with my mountain awareness and experience, I could navigate the ski tour and ski down the route safely.

Conclusion: FATMAP is the friend that you can fit in your back pocket. It is the most detailed 3D ski map that I have seen and used. I think that this is a great tool which will support your navigation while skiing off piste. Why wouldn’t you have it in your back pocket as you carry your phone anyway?

I will look forward to putting the FATMAP through its paces further and working with the FATMAP team to add new routes and improvements.

The FATMAP Story:
OUR FIRST 3D MAP
Dave has had a lifelong passion for maps, he made his first 3D map at the age of eleven. A few years ago, he became obsessed with the idea of creating the ultimate map for skiing. Scholarships to Oxford and Cranfield and 15 years as a software engineer have created the perfect storm.
Misha had a mis-spent youth with computers. In between games of Elite he wrote his first computer programme on his Commodore 64 at the age of five. Since then he has been busy building and running successful technology companies in the UK and skiing in his free time. Waiting out a storm on a remote ski expedition to Albania, the idea of FATMAP was born. The idea to use the latest mobile and gaming technology to create true to life 3D models of mountains and the information you really want to know as a skier; all on a device that you can carry in your pocket.

Main features include:
ULTRA-HIGH RESOLUTION 3D MAPPING:
3D FLY-THROUGHS
PISTE MAPPING AND PROFILING
INTERACTIVE RESORT INFORMATION
SKI TRACKING, STATS AND SOCIAL SHARING

For more information on FATMAP please visit www.fatmap.com

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www.freefloski.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]

Steep Off Piste Skiing- Alaska Couloir Tignes 11th April 2015

Alaska (the name that the Brits have given) couloir is an impressive couloir which is rarely skied as it is difficult steep off piste skiing and difficult to get to. It stands out and is visible from the Palafour chairlift which runs from Le Lac in Tignes. It is for the Advance/Expert skier. There are two possible entrances which are both achievable in the right conditions which involve some ski touring and boot packing up. A friend had climbed from the left side and skied into it the day before. Conditions were said to be stable.

We had decided to attempt the classic route and to boot pack up from the back of the couloir which is North facing and then to ski down the south facing pitch in the race against time before the snow conditions deteriorate, We had estimated to be skiing down at the latest 11.45am. Due to the lack of snow on the obvious ridge line to go to Alaska we were forced to take a different route. On the top of Aiguille Piercee chairlift we hiked up to the ridge and skied down on a high traverse at the top of the Sache as far as we could then skinned up the flat to the shadow of the Alaska Couloir. The skinning up was more challenging without crampons as there was a hard layer and underneath the surface, snow was breaking away. As the slope increased to more 35 degrees it was getting a lot harder to kick turn. We then we booted up for an hour breaking tracks vertically to the summit. We were behind time and in a race against time. As we boot packed up the snow was changing all the time from stable conditions to layers of depth hoar which was hard to make a foot hold in as you were sinking down to the bed surface. 5m from the summit I was confronted by a an iced corniced and without crampons and ice axe the risk was doubled. With this difficulty and behind time I decided to go on no further and to ski down the same route that we had climbed. Alaska will be there for another day.

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 Tignes: The 3 Col’s- Col De La Grassez , Col De La Croix, Col Du Palet

Your options ski touring and skiing off piste in Tignes and the Espace Killy are endless. Time, weather,your fitness level and ski ability are the only factors that will restrict your options. Ski touring the 3 Col’s is a quiet and friendly estimated around 6 hour ski tour with some stunning views. It is such a peaceful and gentle ski tour with up to to 3 hours of touring uphill so you have to have a good fitness level but it is gentle so you don’t need to be too skill full at ski touring as kick turns are not needed.

The start of the tour is very accessible from the Grattaleu Chairlift or the Col Du Palet drag in Val Claret in Tignes where you traverse into the Col Du Palet. You then ski untracked snow into the bowl passing the Col Du Palet refuge which on your right hand side. If you keep right you then makes some great off piste turns on slight steeper terrain towards the Lac Du Grattaleu. You then put on your skins once you reach the Plan de Janin. Follow the river floor passing the Chalet des Aimes you then cross over the river and climb up to the Col Du Grassez. This section will take you around 1hr and 10mins. This spot is a great lunch spot with the view of the Grand Caisse in the background.

There are two main options for the ski down from the col. You can follow the itinerary route and ski down more of a gentle pitch in direction of the Chalet du Grand Plan or depending on snow conditions you can keep left close to the Aiguille Noire for more of a steeper off piste route. Both options will lead you to the valley floor where you then ski tour up to the Col De La Croix des Fretes then onto the Col Du Palet which can take up to 1hr 40 mins depending on your energy levels. Once you reach the Col Du Palet it is then a short traverse back onto the piste and then back to Val Claret. A perfect tour for a good level of fitness.

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