WEEKEND WARRIORS. THE ULTIMATE LONG WEEKEND OF POWDER
HOW AND WHERE TO SLAY THE POWDERJonathan 'Bing' Bingham is a ski fanatic who has spent seasons in his younger years working in the Alps. He now has a wife, secure job and only 25 days holiday a year. So how to maximise his powder turns? Bing has a cunning plan...
You only have, maybe, a week's winter holiday, you plan it way in advance and what happens? You miss the best powder of the season because it was last week. So how do you make certain that you get the timing right to ride the pow? The answer is to track the snow, stalk the best powder and become a Weekend Warrior. And be prepared for action at short notice!
With the back up of the internet, local mountain guide contacts, not forgetting the resident ‘Style Altitude’ gurus with their daily blogs and reports, it can be done to great effect!
Here's how I did it:
Sunday 15th February
Mails / Tweets / Instagram going crazy with claims of ‘Best Snow Ever’ in a number of resorts and snow forecast models showing another huge dump on the horizon for the coming Saturday evening.
Alarm raised and our chosen group of five is alerted that the trip is potentially going to happen next weekend.
After a conversation with our preferred guide, Mathieu, reporting great skiing in Courmayeur and believing the cold conditions will prevail for the rest of the week, keeping the 90cm of fresh in good condition and, importantly, giving the snow adequate time to stabilise so we can actually ski the steep lines, we keep next weekend free. I text, inform the boss and beg the wife!
We decide to make the call later in the week to ensure we are going to get good conditions.
Wednesday 18th February
Do we go?
We have seen time and time again ,this season, that the low has tracked slightly to the east or west and delivered only a fraction of the amount of snow predicted.
After a conversation with our guide, the preferred destination chosen is Gressoney, a small picture postcard village in the Valle d’Aosta, conveniently located in the middle of the Monterosa ski area. It's shadowed by the peaks and glaciers that make up the Monterosa Massif. The entire southern flank is laced with off-piste itineraries, reached by a combination of lift and legwork - or helicopter.
Gressoney has had an exceptional season so far with the deep early snowpack giving favourable conditions and, importantly, a more stable snowpack than that found in the surrounding regions. The area has some awesome backcountry terrain. The options are endless!
And, as we are in Italy, we have the added option of a heli, too, if conditions are suitable.
Thursday 19th February
Our group of five is now only two owing to lots of let downs and excuses galore!
Should we cancel? A mountain guide split two ways is going to be expensive. We decide the conditions look too good to miss and that hiring a local guide is the best option to try and keep costs sensible. So an email is sent to the Monterosa Guides who are very helpful and could even sort out our accommodation. Nothing is too much trouble.
Friday 20th February
Depart Chichester UK at 05.30hrs. Arrive in Gressoney at 18.00hrs (9.5 hours drive from Calais via the Mont Blanc Tunnel).
Saturday 21st – Tuesday 24th February
Need I say anything. Let the pictures do the talking!
Some of the routes we skied and illustrated in the photos include:
Rifugio Quintino Sella (Ghiacciaio), Felix, Bettolina, Malfatta, Stocko, Colle Civera
Wednesday 25th February
At my desk at 08,00 sipping a Costa, looking at our photo album reminiscing the trip. Back to work today!
‘Fabio’ at Heli Guides Monterossa for keeping us safe and showing us a little of what this incredible area has to offer.
·Our new Spanish Heli Ski friends ‘Lito and Samu’ for sharing the cost of the helicopter and managing to keep up!
·Last but not least the snow gods for delivering us the soft fluffy stuff and keeping us safe…
www.hoteldufour.it Superb hotel, friendly staff, great food, great spa facilities)
What Bing was riding and wearing:
Spectrum 105 Alu Elan Skis 187cm with amphibio technology (it really does work!)
Dynafit Ft Bindings
BD Factor Boots
Patagonia Pants and Jacket
ABS Evoc Backpack