28 February 2020, Les Contamines – Combloux – Chamonix Ski Touring & Off Piste Conditions

The combination of lots of nice fresh snow – blue skies and ‘vacances de ski’ local half term made for a big lift line queue at Les Contamines this morning…and most ski resorts in the area.  The wait was worth it, the snow was beautiful to ski both in the sun and the shade this morning and remained light and velvety in the shade this afternoon.

Beautiful velvet snow ski touring above Les Contamines

There was a wonderful pristine feel to the domain this morning as a brilliant blue sky revealed the impressive efforts made by the last 2 days of storm weather.  The mountains were plastered white again.   Pretty soon the canvas was getting tracked by an appreciative audience who had had a mixed week so far with bullet hard snow and stormy weather to deal with.  Today was the recompense!

In to the Contamines meadows country. Superb lift accessed backcountry skiing in great conditions, late Feb 2020.

There was something for everyone with mellow side country next to the piste giving great turns and plenty of teams skiing on the steeper sunny Aiguilles Croches side this morning before things warmed up and got heavy in the sun later on.

Contamines powder touring on the last day of our Progression course

Whilst the resort was busy, the classic ski touring cols were much quieter and folk were perhaps wisely reticent to commit to the big slopes on the first day of sun after 2 big storm days.   There were only a handful of tracks on both the Cicle and Fenetre and the Chasseurs also had a few tracks plus a crownwall where a surface slab had released.  The crown walls from several spontaneous slab releases could also be seen on the north face of the Roselette.

Beautiful velvet snow on the west side of the Aiguille de Roselette

Our team at the Grands Montets also enjoyed some great snow around and just above the tree line.  It looks like there is plenty more precipitation in the forecast for next week so lets hope it doesn’t get too warm again!  Bon weekend, bon ski.

Combloux off piste ski guide
The lift line – a great run at Combloux but watch out for the gorges lower down which can be avoided with a diversion in to the woods!

Most of our winter – spring 202o ski courses are sold out, but there are still a few places left on the following programmes…

25-28 Feb, Chamonix Off Piste & Mountain Skills – Progression Course

2 places left – for a ski touring day on Friday 28 Feb 

23-26 March, Chamonix Off Piste & Mountain Skills – Progression Course

1 Place left – about to be full

13-17 April, Chamonix Off Piste & Mountain Skills – Classic Course

1 Place left

27 April – 2 May, Spring Ski Summits

1 Place Available

4-7 May, Ski Mont Blanc

Full – but could still add a team of 2 to this programme with a private guiding warm up & acclimatisation programme.

We also still have availability for Chamonix private guiding so please get in touch if we can help with ski or mountaineering guiding this winter or spring season.

26 February 2020, The Return Of Winter To Massifs de Mt Blanc & Aravis

After some very springlike weather recently it was great to get back out in to some proper winter weather and ski fresh tracks in powder all day which is what our Chamonix off piste & mountain skills progression course did yesterday at Combloux.  There were lots of winter storm factors to deal with…lift closed to high winds, lifts closed due to a power cut, cold & windy weather, poor visibility etc but it’s all worth it when you get to ski powder all day!

Combloux ski guide
Powder fresh tracks on the Croise Baulet above Combloux

There was good snow to ski both off the lifts and from skinning out of the resort including an ascent of the Petit Croise Baulet from the Col de Jaillet.  This had lovely deep light powder in the trees, which happily extend most of the way up the mountain!  The summit ridge area was totally scoured by the powerful W winds and there was just old boiler plate snow, ice and turf on the summit ridge.  But after 1 pitch down, we were enjoying fresh tracks all the way back to, then below, the Col de Jaillet.

Ski touring up the Croise Baulet above Combloux. Good powder touring conditions in late Feb 2020

Our classic course which is also running this week enjoyed some fun turns in soft snow at Les Houches today as most of the Chamonix Valley was shut down due to the strong winds and heavy snow.

Classic course enjoying the powder side country at Les Houches. Photo Derek Tate

The week had started with much tougher conditions and Monday basically had hard boiler plate snow around much of the lift accessed terrain in Chamonix.  Our Classic course team were at the Grands Montets trying to master skiing hard bumps and hard snow in general!  On Tuesday they did some ski touring training around Le Tour and over on to the Swiss side below the Col de Balme which provided a good journey & fine training, but with not many fun turns – so it was great to see the arrival of the fresh snow on Tuesday afternoon!

Ski touring journey over on the northern Swiss side of the Col de Balme, Mont Blanc Massif. Photo Vic Alpen

Kenny and Gavin were both running off piste & touring days for us earlier in the week and had some tough conditions descending from the Col de Rachesses above the Grands Montets and found difficult snow leading down to the Argentiere Glacier with the classic left hand route down the glacier being icy and scoured and another more central line being pretty complicated.  Again, few fun turns but a great journey well managed!

Ski Vallee Blanche – The Petit Envers variation, late Feb 2020, Photo Kenny Grant

The Vallee Blanche had better snow and Kenny and the team enjoyed some fun turns in soft snow on the Petit Envers variation but this was all before the latest storm cycle arrived which looks set to run from Tues PM through to Thursday night – giving a high avalanche forecast and a variety of new snow conditions depending on the effects of the strong winds…à voir!

Storm riding the Combloux powder on our Off Piste & mountain skills progression course late Feb 2020.