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Ski Blog

La Niña Is Coming, So Where Am I Going?

clock 14th October 2011 | comment0 Comments

According to Wikipedia: "La Niña is a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is the counterpart of El Niño as part of the broader El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate pattern. During a period of La Niña, the sea surface temperature across the equatorial Eastern Central Pacific Ocean will be lower than normal by 3–5 °C. In the United States, an episode of La Niña is defined as a period of at least 5 months of La Niña conditions."

This translates in huge amounts of snow in North America, which last year saw many west coast Canadian and US resorts break records in terms of snowfall and powder days. So if La Niña is coming, where am I going to ski this year?

Whistler — It's Got It All

When it comes to riding powder Whistler has it all, from tree-lined skiing and deep powder-filled bowls, to a resort that offers everything you need and want on a holiday. The resort has been synonymous with powder riding and is generally considered one of the top, if not the number one, ski resort and when your locals include the likes of Devun Walsh, you can see why.

Last year was Whistler's third snowiest season ever and if the early winter signs are the same, then it will be another amazing year to enjoy British Columbia's world famous resort. If you do head out there is a local guide, only available in the resort's shops, that will let you in on the locals' secret powder stashes, and don't worry, they are usually in-bounds.

Powder Turns on Whistler Blackcomb Oct 6th, 2011

For many Whistler is the ultimate resort, it takes Val d'Isere, adds more powder, deeper bowls, more tree-lined skiing and replaces the French skiers with Americans, well, nowhere's perfect...

Revelstoke — Scare Your Pants Off

Revelstoke is one of the youngest resorts you will come across, though due to its unique set-up, it is becoming increasingly popular. Another British Columbian gem, Revelstoke's claim is that it is the only resort that offers piste skiing, cat-skiing and heli-skiing under one umbrella.

This is the kind of resort where you wake up in the morning and decide what to do, from hitting the resort's slopes to spending a day cat-skiing, as long as you get to the guides before everyone else! The resort oozes the charm of an old gold rush town, and until recently it remained a small resort filled with locals and wild-life. Don't expect über luxury five star hotels, though do expect cold beer, spicy chicken wings and stories of fresh tracks days after the last snowfall.

Beaver Creek — Luxury

Now this is where you will find five star luxury and powder skiing, perfectly placed together. Beaver Creek is known for its perfect corduroy pistes, luxury accommodation and elegant surroundings. On top of that, the Epic Pass (the resort's multi-resort lift pass) gives you access to the nearby resorts of Vail and Breckenridge, so you can follow the snow throughout your stay.

With La Niña hopefully dumping metres of fluffy, white, Colorado powder, Beaver Creek is the resort for the luxury option. The hotels, guides, ski instructors and even ski shops are renowned for offering the best you'll find in Colorado (just don't tell Vail I said that). Beaver is where wealthy Americans, movie stars and those looking for state-side luxury head year-after-year, so with metres of snow on offer, where better to enjoy a spa treatment or glass of fizz after being chest deep in the white stuff.

Breckenridge — Family

Breckenridge is another of Colorado's Epic resorts, though the mountain here is immense and offers more than enough to keep you going for a week. With ten peaks, creatively named peak 1 to peak 10, the huge snowparks, its back bowls and its welcoming atmosphere, Breckenridge is a cracking all round resort to enjoy Mother Nature's finest snow.

Breck, as it's known in the US, offers a great variety in accommodation, from budget through to five star and with the mountain offering such diverse skiing, it is a fantastic resort for a family powder adventure. The resort has a laid back feel, probably due to its close ties to freestyle and freeriding locals, has great facilities and is the highest in the US. So if you need a resort where you can hike the back bowls, send the kids to the snowparks, or enjoy a romantic lunch with the Misses, all in the same holiday, Breckenridge is where to head.

Heavenly — Sun-Filled Powder Days

California and snow are not two words you tend to associate with one another, but the Lake Tahoe area has some of the finest powder and most stunning resorts you can find. Heavenly is the king of the lake, with a huge ski area and a resort that crosses the state lines into Nevada — perfect if you fancy a flutter in the casino.

Due to its closer proximity to the West Coast and the huge lake, that is Lake Tahoe, Heavenly boasts superb snow records and with a La Niña coming, it will no doubt offer some of the best skiing and riding you will find this winter. Add in some Californian sunshine (between snow storms, of course), the stunning back-drop of the lake and the chance to ski the local resorts of Northstar-at-Tahoe, Squaw Valley and Kirkwood, and you've got more variety in terrain then you can manage in one trip.

Hopefully this year's La Niña will share the love with Europe, but if it doesn't it will be worth saving up the extra to ski in North America this winter. From intermediate skiers, to park rats and powder hounds, you'll be glad of the 8+hr flight home, just to put your feet up. Take your friends, your wife or the family, it doesn't matter who you ski with, there is a resort out there perfect for you and hopefully just waiting for you to make some first tracks in its fresh snow...



AJ's Perfect Spring Skiing Trip

clock 1st April 2011 | comment0 Comments

Last week Iglu's Sales Manager, AJ, was out in Tignes enjoying spring's finest sunshine and snow.

I love spring skiing!

All season I've been reading in the media about poor snow in the Alps. I knew from reports from mates still doing seasons that this media ranting was pretty wide of the mark and pretty irresponsible. I had to get out there to see the snow conditions for myself.

I stayed in the well facilitated Chalet Arktic, with its outdoor hot tub & sauna, in Tignes Le Lac for the week starting 20th March 2011. My first impression when the transfer bus turned into the Vallée de la Tarentaise was a little worrying. The lower areas of the valley as we drove passed the Trois Vallées on the left, and the Paradiski on our right, looked like they were a little low on snow. However, in March anywhere below 1800m is susceptible to freeze/thaw conditions.

The conditions started to look a lot better as we climbed higher towards the Espace Killy and drove passed Tignes Les Brévières. I could see there was plenty of snow as far down as 1550m. As we approached Tignes Le Lac at 2100m I could see that the north facing side of the Tovière was covered in fresh powder tracks and there was plenty more to raid, the moment I could get my Stöckli Corall Snakes on (I'm still in the honeymoon period with my beloved skis).

On our first day we went high to see if there were any powder trails left for us latecomers. Up and up we went to the highest cable car in the region, Le Téléphérique de la Grande Motte, on a blue bird day. From the top we took the first piste on the left and cut high back under the cable car to find ourselves in thigh deep pow. My ski buddy and I exchanged a quick grin before the inevitable race for first tracks commenced. There are no friends on a powder day — fact!

We were enjoying the snow so much we nearly fell into the trap that deep powder causes. As we sprayed our rooster tails left and right we almost missed the last chance to turn off for the lifts. We nearly ended up flying down a valley that had no lifts and no way back to resort, apart from a long hike in four foot of powder. That's a workout I could do without on my first day. After the powder morning we had, we needed a good nosh up. We headed over towards the Folie Douce, where I like to spend my sunny afternoons in the Espace Killy. However, I don't usually eat at the Folie Douce, as the prices at the famous Fruitière restaurant are enough to make even an Oligarch choke on their cuisses de grenouilles. Instead I like to head down towards La Daille, where just off the red piste you will find a little gem called Le Trifollet. This place has the best Tartiflette on the slopes and a charming wind protected deck.

Due to the lovely sunny days we had all week, the snow below 2200m did get a little slushy in the afternoons. Higher we were finding little pockets of powder right up to the time we left, along with fantastic piste conditions. The conditions were even good enough to do the 'out of bounds' tour from the top of the Grand Prix chair down into the Vallée du Manchet. That's a great run that can also be reached by doing a high traverse from the top of the Borsat chair. These are tours that I have not done in the past due to the snow but last week it was fine and Tignes just got hit by another 30cm this week.

So much for this lack of snow malarkey the UK media keep harping on about. There's plenty of skiing left in this season but make sure you go to a resort with lots of pistes above 2500m.

Bonne Ski.



Snow fun and festivals for 2011

clock 14th May 2010 | comment0 Comments

 

The winter is now well and truly over for most of us. If you're not fortunate enough to have planned some summer skiing to the Southern Hemisphere the next six months will be all about next winter. Where to go, who to go with, and how many times can I get my snow fix in during to 2010/2011. Some of us addicted to waste deep powder, others prefer spending their days inverted in the half pipe and some people are all about the apres ski and party scene.

To aid my fellow snow addicts through another British summer I will be pre-viewing and updating information on the big events, festivals and parties to hit the slopes next winter. 

For now I have compiled a list of what we can expect this winter with dates, line-ups and news to follow.

To kick off the winter the London Freeze has been announced for the weekend of the 29th-31st October 2010. The Freeze will play host to both FIS Ski and Snowboard competitions where big names such as Stefan Gimpl and Danny Kass have competed recently and line ups that have included Cypress Hill and Eagle's of Death Metal.

The early season snow and parties usually starts at the Ischgl Opening Party. Last year the conditions were great and Katie Perry headlined the piste side stage.

New Year is a huge party across the Alps, Tignes has a huge stage by the Aeroski and Courchevel 1850 has a massive party by the Crozets. Every bar is packed and the atmosphere from Morzine to Meribel is rocking.

January offers up a few competitions where the skiing and riding will be awesome and the celebration parties, no doubt, will be big. Laax plays home to the Burton European Open, where Brit Jenny Jones has shown success the last couple of seasons. Aspen usually hosts the Winter X-games, one of the biggest competitions in snowsports, expect to see everyone from Shaun White and Tanner Hall to Torah Bright and Jenny Jones fighting for the podium. The party atmosphere is huge with flood-lit competitions, big crowds and DJ sets to keep you warm.

February, being the school holidays and peak holiday season, is a little more chilled. If you need an adrenaline rush though head to Innsbruck, Austria and the Bergisel Stadium for the Billabong Air & Style. This event is home to Dave Benedict's original double cork and Travis Rice's double rodeo. Expect large crowds following the huge dare-devil stunts in the snow filled stadium.

March is a major month for parties, festivals and competitions There is something here for everyone. You can check out everything from the Avoriaz Jazz Festival or Meribel's Altitude Festival to the hedonistic Snowbombing in Mayrhofen. For some serious freestyle skiing and boarding we are hoping to see a return of last years European X-Games held in Tignes as well the Burton US Open in Stratton Mountain, Vermont. There is also The Brits in Laax and BUSC (British Uni champs) in Alpe d'Huez for a more home from home vibe. The Big Snow Festival in Arinsal brings Ibiza to the slopes. For the seasonaires and locals there is the inter-resort competition held in Chamonix, Boss de Bosses.

Finally we head back to Ischgl for the Closing Party in May where you can expect another big name act, spring snow and champagne in every direction.

With all this and plenty more to be announced and confirmed, the slopes are not just for skiing. There are some world class parties and must be seen to be believed events to come this winter. So get yourself out there and enjoy everything the mountains have to offer. If we have missed out any festivals or events that are worth a mention tweet us the info for the next update.

Written by Stephen Adam



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