The Diary of a Challenging Day's Skiing

ONE DAY

How many different challenging snow conditions can the mountain throw at you in one day including more hard crust than on a day-old French baguette?

9.30 CORDUROY

Early lift up to score perfect corduroy on the pistes. Wind blowing up high but clear skies and good vis so up the drag to check out the conditions over the back...

10.15 CRRRRRUST

Gav goes first and his initial turns are pretty OK so it's game on. Then it's thick breaking crust on the really steep south-facing slope, the only way to go down. A few survival turns and a traverse takes us, finally, into more mellow land. But there's a challenging mix of windblown and sun-affected crust so there's no knowing what our skis are going to do, slide over, break through or glide in the pow. We both get caught out and wipe out, but keep skiing until...

10.45 POWDER

We finally make it over to the north side where there's deep cold powder above the huts (main image) and among the trees - and also some tricky turns around some pillows which, I learn, are not as soft as their name suggests when you land on them. After a 5k descent we put on skins and climb up from Les Combes to take the trail down to the Prorel mid-station...

12 noon ROCKS AND GRASS

The trails is unpisted but there's a decent narrow rat track for the first half, which then rapidly runs out of snow so it's a case of doing tight turns avoiding the exposed rocks/grass and stepping over streams to make it to the mid-station...

12.45 CHALKY PISTES

It's the lunch time lull so not many people around and the pistes are in excellent condition allowing for a fast non-stop ski down to Les Combes chairlift...

13.00 MOGULS

As Gav suggests we turn off to take the red Echaillon and, too late, see that it is unpisted and mighty mogully all the way down to the Gaultier chair. Not what my legs needed...

13.30 SLUSH

And just as we push the accelerator down for the final run down Le Bez, the snow has gone into complete meltdown so it's a thigh-pulling descent on Velcro and a waterski through the deep slush for the last 100m back to the van...

14.00 AND RELAX

But only after taking the dogs for their mountain walk.

Of course, there's no such thing as bad snow only bad skiers. But some snow conditions are more technical to ski than others. For more on different types of snow and how to ski them, check here