In search of powder in Sainte Foy
Posted by Tim Wilson 6th March 2012
This last week has been unusually mild in the French Alps. The sudden warming has created some dangerous conditions on sunny slopes and as a result there have been several significant avalanches (including one which destroyed a chair lift in St. Francois Longchamps). Have a look at Henrys Avalanche Talk - HAT for links to the videos of said avalanche and lots of useful safety information.
With this in mind, on Tuesday we headed for Sainte Foy to look for some shady snow that remained in good condition. An early start from Les Arcs, we took the free bus and then the Funicular to Bourg St. Maurice. My friends drove us up to Sainte Foy via a turn off which is part way up the road to Val d'Isere and Tignes.
Sainte Foy is a small resort with a large reputation for its off piste. I've often heard it referred to as the place the instructors from Val d'Isere spend their days off. With just 4 chair lifts, it's not hard to get your bearings and we went straight to the top. Looking back now, I realise the only pistes we did were from one chair lift to the next, so I can't really comment on that aspect of the resort!
We started our uphill hike at the Col de l'Aiguille at 2620m. The panoramic views of the surrounding glaciated scenery are wonderful. We got to the top of Foglietta (around 2900m) about 75 minutes later where we stopped for a picnic before dropping over the back.
The north side was in surprisingly good condition given the 2 week snow drought and rising temperatures. Steep and chalky at the top before opening into inviting powder fields. The sensation of light fluffy virgin snow under the feet was a welcome reward for our efforts.
Lower down the bowl we navigated through a couloir onto another face of soft and cold snow. The way out of the valley follows a forest trail which was a bit icy in parts but brought us safely to where we'd left a car ready to drive back to Sainte Foy.
All in all an excellent day out. We even had time to do a pretty but less steep off piste route down to Le Monal village before heading back to Les Arcs.
About the author
Tim Wilson: Having done my first winter season in Whistler, Canada, I made my European debut in Val Thorens working for Erna Low. They are such a great company that I couldn't resist doing another season in VT before moving to Avoriaz for 2 more, followed by a winter in Val d'Isere. Since then I've been in la Plagne for the last 4 winters, still with Erna Low! Over this time I have gradually been converted from a snowboarder to a skier and now that I am good enough to ski in powder I am generally on two planks rather than one
- Last gasp from Les Arcs - 27th April 2012
- It's still snowing - 19th April 2012
- Water slide ride in Les Arcs - 11th April 2012
- Winter X Games - 19th March 2012
- More amazing snow art - 14th March 2012
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