Two girls, November and plenty of snow, First ski of the winter ….
Anne and I set off for the Col de Lautaret first thing on Wednesday 13th November 2019. The snow has come and its time to put our skis back on! – The first ski of winter 2019/20.
We planned a leisurely start to check all our equipment after the long summer and re hone our skills on route.
Boots and skis seemed to fit and our legs seemed in good shape so off we set up towards The Vallon de combeynot.
There was plenty of snow. We started at about 2000m and climbed around 600m, The snow was wintery and soft in places and the wind had created a little crust in other places. A real all mountain, all snow conditions experience!
Going up was easy as the track had already been cut by other keen ski tourers. We were a few days after the fresh snow so the first tracks had been taken, sadly!
We could see that there was a fair wind higher up, which of course we have taken note of and amended our plans accordingly!
What a wonderful feeling it is to be on skis but away from the crowds of a ski resort. And have the ability to ski even when the lifts are still closed pre or post season. As we were doing today!
The technique of skinning isn’t difficult and we take a steady but easy pace with groups so there is no need to worry if you haven’t made the gym as many times as you had wanted to before arriving. If you could walk the distance and height you will be able to skin it! So don’t be put off from experiencing this wonderful freedom and adventure!
We would of course help you with the technique and the famous “kick turn” as well needed when the slopes get steeper. We used today to practice ourselves and re hone our skills so that we are ready for the winter.
Practicing our tricks ….
Whilst we are climbing up we decide that now would be a good time to practice some of the tricks of our trade. How do you measure the angle of the slope is a question we get asked as instructors a lot. It comes up in conversation when we remind people of the angle or steepness of the slope being relevant to the risk of it avalanching. The magic number of 30 degrees being key here.
So we practiced a little trick …. using 2 ski poles to measure the angle of the slope.
Lay one pole flat on the snow then pick it up. Hang the other like a pendulum to see when the point joins the snow. The imprint of the pole you have left in the snow is a handy hint. If it’s at the base or end of the line – Hey Presto we have a slope of about 30 degrees and an equilateral triangle (for those mathematicians out there!). When the side of the triangle on the snow is shorter this indicates that the slope is steeper. The hanging / swinging pole touching the snow further away from the line on the snow indicates that the slope is shallower than 30 degrees.
From the photo above you can clearly see Anne demonstrating this technique. If you are unsure give it a go next time you are on snow! We are always here to help you with this and other interesting very important information!
This is very important for everyone who skis off piste to do. We will be better prepared, should the worst happen, the more we practice. so on your First ski of winter you should always do a transceiver check and practice. Checking your friends and colleagues each time you turn your transceivers on should be automatic and a part of your routine.
Today Anne and I practiced checking the groups transceivers were on and working. The next time we go out we will practice searching for a berried transceiver.
Clients often ask me if they are ok hiring transceivers or if it is better to buy their own. My answer is always the same. I strongly recommend buying your own and learning how to use your own transceiver. They are all slightly different so understanding you own will again make you so much more efficient should the worst happen.
If you are here in Les Deux alpes skiing with me (or with someone else) I have a deal on an ortovox avalanche rescue kit with Schuss Sport. Contact me for more information and or to reserve your pack!
She Explores and TipTop Ski Coaching come together …..
So after a great First ski of winter TipTop Ski Coaching and She Explores, or Anne and Alex are going to come together to offer you some fantastic adventures!
Watch this space for trips to Norway ski touring from a boat, Heli skiing in Italy and of course ski touring in our beautiful regions here.
To work together on these trips or just to recommend another instructor, you need to have confidence in the other person. I can whole heartedly say that me and Anne have full confidence in each other and are very excited to launch some new adventures together!
We are very much looking forward to skiing with you this winter. TipTop Ski Coaching will be in Les Deux Alpes as usual and offer trips to la Grave, Alp d’Huez and more in our 9 seater minibus. She Explores will be running weekend introduction to ski touring courses and offering private lessons in Puy st. Vincent. Our collaborated trips will be available soon! ….. watch this space!