Les 3 Vallées and Zermatt 2/8-2/15

Date(s) Skied:02.03.2013 - 02.15.2013
Resort or Ski Area: Les 3 Vallées and Zermatt
Conditions: Machine Groomed and powder
Trip Report:

I know it's not New England but it's still skiing so I thought I'd better offer a trip report for anyone heading to Europe during the 2013 season.

I skied a week at Les 3 Vallées France then transferred to Zermatt Switzerland for another week.

Les 3 Vallées had received a foot of new snow for my first day of skiing Sunday. Blue bird skies meant plenty of time to get reacquainted with the resort but unfortunately the avalanche danger was high since it was the first storm in a while. That danger decreased as the week continued. Sunday night the snow spigot turned on and didn't shut off till the following Friday. On piste there was always an inch or two on the late groomed corduroy and off piste it just kept getting deeper. Lower areas opened early and upper areas opened late after avalanche control was complete. Easily waist deep in the couloirs above Courchevel, Méribel and Val Thorens. Mont Vallon was knee deep all the way down to the lower couloirs where it was steep and again thigh deepor better.

Unfortunately I got to witness a live demonstration of an ABS pack while I was there. The good news is the balloons definitely kept the 1st victim on the top of the slide vs. the second whom I couldn't locate shortly after the slide triggered. The bad news is the slide was basically on rocks so even being on top of the snow still meant a bumpy ride down. Leg ligament damage and a dislocated shoulder were the results of the ABS guy, the second victim I never heard anything further about. A rather sobering reminder to ski any off piste slope like it could slide.

Zermatt didn't get the fresh French snow but the blue bird skies made up for it. Also European skiers prefer the on piste skiing so off piste there were still plenty of tracks to be had even 2 weeks after the latest storm. Deepest snow was lower in the trees above Patrullarve and Furi but there was still consistent boot top powder available by simply traversing the ridge lines and dropping in. Skied over to Italy on Wednesday but wind had obviously taken it's tole on the snow over there so not worth staying.

2013-Zermatt 00.jpg
Matterhorn
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Trackin' out 2 week old powder
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Packin' down glaciers
2013-Zermatt 03.jpg
and then we pay ...
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