Jo Guest, old school chamoniard and founder of Mission WOW was back in Chamonix a few weeks ago for the 2013 Women’s Introduction to Touring and Backcountry Skiing. If you’re a girl who has been thinking about getting into ski touring but don’t fancy going with your dopey boyfriend and his mates, then be here next year.
Want to know what it’s like?
Watch this great video made by our friends at Seven Twenty Productions
Late season skiing and snowboarding in Chamonix is great. The snow has disappeared from town making the pavements safer for exploring the shops and the famous Saturday Market. The snow up the mountain is still in good condition though somewhat crunchy first thing in the morning. It soon softens up on the pistes in the sunshine. By 2pm the snow turns to slush making the skiing and snowboarding difficult and wet if you take a fall. Then it’s time to head down and enjoy a late lunch on a terrace in Chamonix town.
In the afternoon fabulous walking through the forests of the lower slopes can be had or go climbing at the roadside crag of Lac Gailands. Families can take on a Mountain Guide and enjoy a picnic while learning to rock climb.
The valley is coming to life after the monochrome black and white of the winter with the crocus and daffodils coming into bloom.
If you like mixing sliding around on snow in the mornings and adventuring or exploring in the afternoon sun then check out Lastminute availability for Chamonix Accommodation and come and stay with Ski Breezy. Enjoy the comfort of the cosy Chalet D?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢Ile with it’s private garden looking out to Mont Blanc and of course Breezy’s famous yogurt cake.
Have a look at Ski Breezy?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s fan page on facebook for photos and information for what is going on in Chamonix Valley.
Over Easter we enjoyed a fresh layer or two of snow to spruce up the pistes and put down powder off piste. This all bodes well for late season skiing and snowboarding in the Chamonix Valley. Last night put down another 6?¢‚Ç¨¬ù and there was heavy blasting of couloirs early this morning in preparation for opening the ski areas.
Last week was a family week at Ski Breezy in Chamonix. A private instructor took the 2 kids off for the morning as the adults played in the fresh stuff. Then after lunch all cruised around the pistes in the afternoon. Last day was market day so Saturday roast chickens, olive bread and Breezy cake for a piste picnic.
Lastminute availability for Chamonix Accommodation can be found on the website for anyone who fancies grabbing a cheeky couple of days before the end of the season in Chamonix.
More than ever before Ski Breezy has had a truely multicultural selection of guests. Spanish, American, Irish, South African, Finnish, Swedish, Scottish and not forgetting Yorkshire. On the border of three countries, Chamonix is perfect for skiers and snowboarders from different countries. Locally there are High Mountain Guides of most nationalities for those backcountry skiing and snowboarding adventures and the Vallee Blanche.
Late season snow the last few days has revitalised the slopes and provided plenty of powder to play with for those off piste junkies. Spring skiing is here for those looking for Lastminute Ski Deals to flex those legs before the end of the season.
Even the signs around the valley are designed to be unambiguous for different languages (except maybe top right – no high kicks?). For more images of the valley see Ski Breezy’s Fan Page on Facebook.
There is a lot to be said for grabbing those Lastminute Ski Deals in Chamonix this Spring. With Courmayeur offering 40% off a day ticket on Wednesdays and the Compagnie du Mont Blanc offering a 3 for 2 on MBU ski passes; the bargains are there to be had.
The time has come when you can buy a 3 day MBU pass for the price of 2 giving an extra day for free. You may have to work harder to get fresh tracks but the backcountry snowboarding and skiing is definitely open. Choose your accommodation carefully, like Ski Breezy and you can leave your extra kit in the chalet when you head off touring.
The time of year has arrived when the weather gets warm again. Having had poor weather for a lot of the season in Chamonix including very cold temperatures, high winds and frequent overcast periods with snow, Spring is finally here. More stable weather has meant that backcountry skiing and snowboarding is well and truly here. Today three of us climbed up to Helbronner from the Aig du Midi as a bit of practice at altitude. A mountain guide friend was doing the same with a small group who head off on the Haute Route over to Zermatt tomorrow. A 7 day tour from Chamonix staying in Mountain Refuges.
Chamonix is a great valley to explore for touring either with skins and skis or show shoes and snowboard. Base yourself in a cosy catered chalet like Ski Breezy to get advice on what the snow conditions are like in different parts of the valley. Ask about hiring a High Mountain Guide to show you the ropes and make sure you get up and down safely.
For those who prefer to make full use of the lift system then spring skiing and boarding means that a slightly later start in the mornings gives a little more time for the snow to soften up. By mid afternoon the sunny slopes are starting to get a bit slushy, great for boarders and telemarkers but less fun on alpine skis. So early apr?É¬®s ski on a terrace in the sun could be in order or even a rock climb or two at the roadside crag of Lac Gailands. The north facing domain of Grand Montets keeps it?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s snow longer as it is less affected by the sun, great snow there at the moment.
This is a great time of year in Chamonix as the town slows down a little. It is noticeable as you walk down the main street as people meander and chill out rather than strut on a mission to get as much skiing in as the daylight allows.
Check out last minute Chamonix accommodation offers and ski deals with Ski Breezy to top up the tan and grab the last of the ski season the comfort of a cosy catered chalet. Fine food and flowing wine.
We are in the middle of two seasons at the moment in Chamonix. There will still be days of cold and light snow, glittery surface frost, and loose powder skiing; but slowly we are meeting the spring and the snow is transforming to slush, at least on the south faces.
This means that ski touring is on! Temperatures will be pleasant for full days out in the mountains, huts will open allowing comfortable multi-day ski tours, and the snow will settle on steeper mountain faces. We offer guided ski touring in Chamonix, multi-day ski tours around Chamonix, and Haute Route on skis.
Latest updates about off-piste skiing and ski touring in Chamonix on Mountain Spirit Guide?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s blog:
- Biggest storm of the winter! (week 7 & 8)
- Epic Powder Conditions Around Chamonix (week 5 & 6)
Backcountry travellers risk being buried in an avalanche of hyperbole this winter as journalists and law-makers turn their sights on off piste skiers. Writing from the comfort of some Parisien brassiere the Guardian?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s intrepid Lizzy Davies alluded to a ?¢‚Ç¨?ìWinter of Terror?¢‚Ç¨¬ù similar to 1999 or 1950 with ?¢‚Ç¨?ìalpine residents living in fear?¢‚Ç¨¬ù of avalanches raining down on their chalets.
Lizzy continues with the warning that with the current weather conditions ?¢‚Ç¨?ìthe season of 2009/10 could spell disaster?¢‚Ç¨¬ù, although the expert she consulted equivocated with ?¢‚Ç¨?ìit?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s too early to tell?¢‚Ç¨¬ù. She even managed to link the events to global warming and melting permafrost.
Le Temps has been hunting for scape goats on the ground in the freeride mecca of Verbier where, according to Jean Moulin, commercial director of Verbier Sport Plus ?¢‚Ç¨?ìoff piste skiing is their main product?¢‚Ç¨¬ù. For local rider Alexandra the problem is ?¢‚Ç¨?ìParisians who see us going off piste somewhere and think they can follow?¢‚Ç¨¬ù. The deputy director of piste security Jean-S?É¬©bastien Maret makes the same point ?¢‚Ç¨?ìA young freerider with large skis, a beeper, shovel and airbag knows what he is doing. A dad with two kids who ducks ropes and skis a slope that I wouldn?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢t ski without a maximum of precautions, oblivious to dangers, that happens a lot. The article concludes with the line ?¢‚Ç¨?ìthe best weapon to clear a slope of avalanches is a Brit!?¢‚Ç¨¬ù
However Montagnes Magazine (special Snow and Avalanche, Winter 2009) paints a different picture. The typical victim is probably a local and maybe even a pro, guide or ski instructor. ?¢‚Ç¨?ìThe images painted in the press of an unskilled novice is in complete contrast to the reality?¢‚Ç¨¬ù. Last year 12 French guides died in the mountains in avalanches and falls.
In a more considered article Simon Petite writes of the ?¢‚Ç¨?ìScapegoats of the white death?¢‚Ç¨¬ù. Two avalanches, at Anz?É¬®re and Zermatt, hit piste skiers luckily without injury. The resorts said they had been triggered by off piste skiers without explaining why runs below unsecured slopes had been opened. Swiss public opinion appears firmly ranged against off piste skiers if comments from a vox-pop by Le Matin are typical:-
* I can?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢t understand why off piste skiing is still tolerated?
* Off piste skiers have no consideration for others.
* Stop the massacare
* They need to be taken to court
However Petite notes that all the deaths have occurred while ski touring, and as at les Arcs in France one group was lead by a guide. ?¢‚Ç¨?ìWe are a long way from the image of freerider outlaws drawn by the press?¢‚Ç¨¬ù, he continues. He says the ski resorts share responsibility. Marketing at Zermatt, les Arcs and Val Thorens plays heavily on images of skiers and snowboarders off piste in deep powder. He concludes that we live in a society that craves freedom but is not prepared to pay the price, that is obsessed with control but on the mountain slopes control is an illusion.
The Dauphine Libere has been leading the charge in France repeating the line that the avalanche risk was 4/5 (High) over Christmas. This has been widely reported by the British press including our own Dizzy Lizzie who commented that the weather had led ?¢‚Ç¨?ìM?É¬©t?É¬©o France, the national meteorological service, to raise the avalanche warning this week to level four out of five?¢‚Ç¨¬ù. In fact at Orelle where an instructor lead group was avalanched the risk was 2, as was the case for the British man who died on Corsica on Christmas day. The incidents at Le Tour and les Arcs were at risk 3. Still considerable but not unmanageable by experienced skiers. Only one death occured at risk 4, that of a French hospital worker ski touring in the Hautes-Alpes.
Chamonix Green & White
backcountry snowboarding and skiing