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Off-Piste and On Powder In Tignes

Reporter: Andrew Walker

Tignes, with its sister village, Val d'Isère, is a resort almost without parallel for off-piste skiing opportunities. On the March club holiday Steve Wardle, Brian Richardson and I explored the skiing beyond the piste, first with Rob, the SCGB rep. For two days, on Monday and Tuesday, we and a few others crossed the piste boundaries into the crud and crust where the piste-bashers do not go.

SCGB reps are not permitted to go further than 10 minutes skiing from a piste, or under ropes or outside resort boundaries, but this still leaves considerable scope for guided exploration of areas where you wouldn't or shouldn't venture on your own. At just before 5pm on Tuesday Rob decided that the north face of Borsat would be a good run to end on, and we took off ours skis for a walk from the Borsat lift up to the wind-blown ridge from which, through the spindrift, we could make out a few rocks and long steep drop, and for the first time in some years I wondered why I hadn't gone to Benidorm instead. After a further walk up the ridge we did find a great route down to the valley floor and a well-earned beer.

Wanting to go a bit further afield we decided to hire a guide for the day on Thursday. It has never been without some trepidation that I have put my skills on display to an ESF instructor, and having set off down the first slope Olivier immediately turned round and proceeded to ski backwards gracefully in fresh powder to assess our level. With limited visibility and less than ideal snow conditions on the lower slopes we headed off up the Lanches lift at Val Claret for some great runs in untracked fresh powder some way off the beaten track. We also get some valuable instruction in avalanche dangers and safe skiing. We also did other runs from Tichot, GrattaluI and Grand Huit. I still have a lot to learn about powder skiing but I think I speak for all of us when I say that the day was a rewarding experience, and it meant that when the sun rose on Le Fornet the next day I could make the most of the vast areas of new snow. You can see a video of our guide here. He's a bit good.

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