La Grave Adventure 3
7 nights, La Grave, France
We were blessed with 30-50cm new snow for our first day, which we unfortunately had to share with apparently 1,000 others as it was a sunny Sunday ... which made for a few waits for lifts but the expanse of terrain for fresh tracks was still amazing!
Perfect sunshine and no wind for the whole week made for lots of fabulous skiing. As the mountain got tracked and powder turned to moguls, Max and Jean-Yves kept finding great slopes and we happily used our skins to access longer runs where there wasn't enough snow to ski to the bottom. My best run of the week was on day 5.. a long untracked steep'ish run with knee-deep powder in great condition that was hidden beyond a ridge and required a skin out, well worth it for the fabulous experience!
A challenging and rewarding mountain with a friendly and cosy hotel, wonderful guides, fun aprés beers and lots of great memories enjoying days with a group of keen skiers makes La Grave a high recommendation :)
Geneva airport transfer 3 hours long & final part rather 'exciting' due to main road to La Grave being closed due to a rock fall in tunnel. We took the emergency access road skirting the dam. Best off to close eyes on this bit as the precipitous heights, passing places, blind corners & sketchy road surface above (& below) gets one's heart racing a tad. The driver was a don & manoeuvred his mini coach with great aplomb. Fortunately we had good weather and no white out en-route.
Hotel Auberge Edelweiss is tucked up behind the gendarmerie. Be prepared to lug your case, skis and boots up about 30 steps to the hotel level. Stayed in an apartment across the road with a fellow SCGB chap and that worked well for us as likely a bit quieter than the hotel and nice to have more space with the use of a living room/kitchen/diner. Would be fab for a family. No mountain views though as windows face alleyway.
Owners are chilled, interesting & hail from Scotland & Holland so a common sense of humour was instantly shared. Rinky dink bar where you'll meet like minded off pisters from all over the world. Kitchen is very good tho can be a bit hit or miss but mostly for me it was a hit - pick dishes that make more sense in the alps. Some of the more Asiany dishes were a bit too salty/bland for my taste. Ski room with a few bits & bobs to help tune your skis up including basic ski clamps. Also a jacuzzi and sauna but I was too busy apres skiing - hopefully next time?!
10 minute walk down moderate hill to lift. What goes down goes up at the end of the ski day! Snowed on first night & blue skys the rest of the week. :o)) Sunday was our first ski day and it was very busy with locals - lift is old & slow. Guides Jean-Yves and Max were v fine and leader Nick Stuart Taylor gave me a few handy skiing tips on day one.
HINT - having lightweight touring kit will make a BIG difference to your enjoyment of this superb place as skinning is a VERY real thing here!
Je vais revenir!
Hit the right weather conditions and I had my best weeks skiing for five seasons.One away day in Montgenevre where we were tree skiing on hero snow-great fun! The last day the glacier runs were opened and there was more than a metre of powder - even more fun! The guides Max and Philppe were excellent,leader Andy Dunfield had the right touch and the Edelweiss,staff and food quality was superb. Also everybody gelled so well to create a tremendous bonding, resulting in the perfect week. Thanks to you all!
Poor snow hampered the full enjoyment on this holiday, but amply exhibited La Grave's limitations , I am sure that when the snow is good it is an awesome
place, but I wouldnt book it again until I was sure the snow base was well established. We skied 2 days out of 6 at Serre Chevalier , which rather sums up the frailty of La Grave.
La Grave is only off piste and the reason to go there is steep. Nevertheless there is plenty of off piste of all types and we had fantastic snow and conditions. day trips to Montgeneve and Sierre Chevalier add variety and we had great tree skiing when the light was less good.
The village has a great atmosphere with everyone there to ski off piste with guides and our hotel, the Edelweiss, run by the welcoming Englishman Robin and his delightful wife Marlon, always has an excellent ambiance with food and wines belying its 2 star rating.
Great holiday. Superb guides (J-Y Hubaut, Philipe Andre and Maxant Danilo); terrific Party Leader (Caroline Stuart-Taylor); fantastic terrain. We had an amazing (not all in a good way) range of snow conditions. La Grave is north-facing, the skiing ranges in altitude from 1450m to 3600m. At top we had powder, mid way good, cold, dry snow, on lower slopes solid ice moguls and icy, rocky paths strewn with wood debris (for several hundred vertical metres). Over the back, on the south-facing descent down the aptly-named Vallon du Diable, spring snow at top then a mix of porridge and quick-drying cement lower. On day trip to Alpe d'huez we skied powder from 3500m in a blizzard at minus 15 excl wind chill, then met steep, icy, rutty slopes (that's how I got my black eye - it wasn't from arguing with the Party Leader about the ski groups!)
We all skied at least one couloir; some of us did 3 or 4. Although they weren't all that steep, they were mostly narrow and bumpy with rocks to get past. Not good places to fall or ski out of control.
I think most of us thought the terrain in La Grave itself was so challenging (but suitable for the ski standard of the holiday) that there was no need for the day trips to nearby Auris (for Alpe d'huez) and Monetier (for Serre Chevalier) - unless the weather is bad in La Grave and better elsewhere. We also went to Les 2 Alpes but that is linked to La Grave (off piste) and we skied over the back to St Cristophe.
Don't underestimate how challenging the terrain in La Grave can be. Don't book unless you are sure you can ski fast off piste in ALL conditions. I would recommend wide, specifically off-piste skis (can be hired in resort). I used my own, relatively narrow (85mm waist) skis for 4 days, they were the thinnest of everyone's in the party and I was EXHAUSTED trying to keep up with others. My legs ACHED and I kept having to stop for a rest while others were able to ski much longer pitches in one go. I hired fat skis for last 2 days,