I had a hunch that Sestriere in Italy’s Piedmont region may have potential as a good area to run an “Off Piste & Intro Ski Touring” course…so hunches have to be followed up…
So Anne and I flew to Grenoble and hired a car for a wee road trip. La Grave, Serre Chevalier, Montgenevre and Sestriere provided a variety of ski conditions and objectives.
Sestriere, best accessed from Turin airport with a transfer time of about 1.5 hours was Italy’s first purpose built ski resort, and featured in the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics. It’s a lofty col at 2000m, so has a great snow record.
We arrived there in zero visibility with new snow draped over all the larch forest…a promising sign considering the drought and strong winds further west. Our first day therefore was spent skiing beautiful larch glades, getting fresh tracks as the families on half term hols cruised around 400km of great pistes.
Just our tracks down a 20-35º slope facing north, 15min from the pistes!
The remainder of the week was punctuated by days of unbroken sunshine and short skins to untracked bowls, providing opportunity for silky powder descents all to ourselves. Typically, a couple of laps of this stuff, then back into the adjacent lift system (for epic rich hot chocolate and focaccia like only the Italians can make) then an afternoon seeking out another short tour to north facing powder as the day warmed up.
4 days whooping our way down deserted bowls and glades was confirmation that Sestriere is a venue now deservedly in the calendar for February 2018! Watch this space for details.
Driving back west, I wanted to check out Montgenevre, so a day there provided similarly beautiful off piste all easily lift accessed or with a short skin. 45mins of driving between the two resorts makes a very plausible combination of venues during a weeks course.
A successful and enjoyable recce, soaking up Italian ambiance and gliding through untracked powder was especially enjoyable on a new pair of Black Crows Camox Freebird skis which are the bees knees!