Mountain Tracks Off-Piste Adventure Week
A couple of weeks ago I was contacted to do an off-piste adventure by Mountain Tracks – a small team of Mountain Guides and Ski Coaches who share a passion for the mountains and deliver alpine mountain experiences.
They had had a last-minute cancellation for their off piste adventure week. It was in Sainte Foy and they wondered if I would like to join the group and experience their product. I shuffled a few things around and was able to get involved!
I’ve been based in Tignes for several years and with all the amazing skiing Tignes offers I had not explored the surrounding resorts. This was the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Here’s what I was told to expect
“The advanced off-piste week is specifically tailored for experienced skiers. Those wanting to get experience of the many challenging routes which are accessible by the ski lifts or short ski tour.
Combining these two methods of access we’ll take you to some iconic places to do some classic routes in the area.
This is an incredible package for those looking to get the most from their ski week. As always, mountain conditions will dictate the program.”
Here’s how the off-piste week worked out
Tom and David arrived on Saturday to settle into the chalet and find their ski legs with a free ski day on Sunday. The week is hosted at the Auberge & Chalets sur la Montagne. Willie Todd, our mountain guide for the week, and I joined the guys on Monday morning.
With the weather looking ok and fresh recent snow we headed to Le Pre. It’s just 20mins away and where we got our Les Arcs day lift pass (€52.00). We took five lifts to just above Arc 2000, then the Telesiege du Grand col. From here it was a short 15-minute skin up to the top of Grande Col. Although a short skin up, at almost 3000m we felt the altitude! It was worth the effort though for the views and the incredible ski down.
With endless options in the bowl of fresh powder, we descended, then skinned up the other side for 45-minutes. The long descent offered up a real mixture of skiing. Finishing with tree runs into Villaroger we welcomed a warm late lunch at restaurant Goyet.
For the last run of the day we headed back up the lifts. With a short boot hike (5-minutes) accessed the Combe des Lanchettes. This once again brought us down to Villaroger and Le Pre where we collapsed into the cars after a very satisfying ski day.
On Tuesday with snow and cloud expected we decided to stay local and headed up to Sainte Foy station. (Lift pass €31.50). We did a few warm up runs, exploring the off piste close to the lifts. Sainte Foy has 6 lifts and 15 marked ski runs and a reputation for unlimited accessible, incredible off piste. It didn’t disappoint. Our run of the day was Col du Granier. Starting from the top of l’Aiguille chairlift we had a vertical drop of 1650m. The snow at the top was fantastic, but lower down it wasn’t so good.
Following the river through the trees taking us down to the village was however, a lot of fun. From Le Miroir we were able to catch the free bus back to Sainte Foy main station.
Fresh snow overnight meant Val D’Isere was an excellent option for Wednesday. (Lift pass €50). This was my home turf but it’s always good to be with a guide, seek out new places and enjoy some favourites. With endless off piste in good condition we managed plenty of it including; Spatule, Tour du Charvet, under the Manchet chair and Grand Vallon from the Signal button. We finished the day with a second run of Spatule and the snow was even better that it had been in the morning.
It was a welcome treat to wake up to a bluebird day on Thursday and we set off for La Rosiere. (Lift pass €45.50). The Espace San Bernardo ski area is 160 km of ski slopes, 2 ski resorts: La Rosière and La Thuile, and 2 countries France and Italy. There was a lot to cover! With so much untracked off piste so close to the lifts there was no need for skins. We spent the entire day in fresh powder managing just one quick stop for lunch in Italy.
The group returned to Les Arcs. I wasn’t able to join for the final day but I did hear reports of good powder and great ski runs!
My verdict of the off-piste week
An experienced guide, with good local knowledge, makes a huge difference. Each morning Willie assessed the conditions. He then decided which resort would be the best and took us where he knew the snow would be the most delightful to ski. Throughout the week he shared his knowledge of avalanches in a very practical way which is invaluable for any skier.
The gourmet food provided by the Auberge chefs was delicious and the accomodation was very comfortable.
I had a great week with the guys and would recommend the Mountain Tracks product to anyone. Especially those wanting to make the most of their ski week, in a safe but adventurous way.
And click here for last years blog about the course.