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Club Holiday To Tignes, March 2016

Reporter: Andrew Walker

I can’t remember a season when I have had more than two holidays and not had a fairly decent dump of fresh snow, until now. It obviously had snowed, because there was enough of the stuff at Tignes, and for the first couple of days there were some reasonably good stretches of untracked snow to be had, albeit via some long traverses and a bit of trudging.

Being an SCGB member, I decided to take up the opportunity of their new off-piste guiding days in French resorts, done in conjunction with Ski Evolution. It seemed churlish to refuse, at a mere £20. The advantage of days such as this is that you get to places you would certainly not go on your own, partly because you don’t know the way, and also because it would be madness for safety reasons. We started by going up the Toviere lift, and immediately dropped under the lift onto the generally unmarked black Grizzly run, followed by the worst bits of early morning icy off-piste rubbish the guide could find, presumably to assess skiing abilities before we ended up somewhere with no easy way out.

We then took the Lanches and Vanoise chairs towards Grande Motte, crossed the glacier to the right and took our skis off for a 30 minute walk/climb, followed by a long and winding route to the Grande Balme couloirs (at least I think that’s what they’re called) and dropping down into Val Claret. In the afternoon we had another walk, this time up Toviere, and went down one of the “Mickey’s Ears” couloirs, so called because of the nearby radio antennae (now possibly removed) and down into Tignes Le Lavachet. I can only half-heartedly recommend the experience, because there was too big a range of abilities in the group, although no lack of bottle.

The week’s weather was excellent, and even the windy day, which Graham mentions in his report, had its upside because the gales deposited soft wind-blown snow very evenly on the lee of some of the hills.

The hotel was good, with very friendly and helpful staff. The Ti-Bar downstairs proved to be very entertaining on both the nights I went. First, there was the party night when a man of rather more than a certain age (and with moobs rather more than a certain bra size) decided to strip off to his underpants and dance, until he was eventually thrown out. And later in the week there was our very own Nigel Koenen taking up a guitar and doing a number, to great applause (there’s a clip on the club’s Facebook page). Well done Nigel!

And on the hotel staff night off I discovered a food more revolting than a peanut butter, Nutella and Bounty Bar sandwich. Marrowbone. Don’t try it unless you find the sandwich idea more appealing than appalling.

On the last day I went off-piste with Brian Richardson, and we did the couloirs I had done with SCGB, and a few more bits besides. The photo (pose) is of Brian having just exited the Mickey’s Ears couloir.

Thank you to Brian for one of the best day’s skiing I have ever had (and thank you to Helen for letting him come), and to everybody I skied with for making the whole week’s skiing so utterly enjoyable. Just about everybody I spoke to said they had had a great week. Sadly, that’s it for the season.

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