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  1. #1
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    Tips for Aosta Valley in early Jan?

    I come to you Euro (and Euro-experienced) mags begging for beta .

    My little brother is living in London and about to have a kid, so will be flying over for Christmas to visit with my folks and then my girlfriend and I will be peeling off at New Year's to fly into Geneva (haven't booked a flight for that leg yet) and then flying back to Boston from Geneva on Jan 9. Would love to be booking this later in the season but with grad school this is the only decent window for a trip in the calendar this year.

    I've got a decent chunk of experience in the backcountry and since moving back to the East Coast, a chunk more experience ski mountaineering (comfortable with axe and crampons and on firm snow, but haven't crossed the boundary into roped-up stuff and pure ice). My girlfriend is a wonderfully talented skier whose turns I wish I could mimic but who will be totally new to touring and BC skiing this winter.

    Originally wanted to go to Cham but I think that'll be a bit nuts for me (and frankly me) for a whole trip. Have a friend there we'll ski with, likely towards the end of our trip, and good recs for a guide there.

    But thinking of bopping over to the Italian side for the majority of it. Likely hire a good for a day for a Courmayer/Helbronner tour (recs?), ski Crevacol, Pila, La Thuile (guide needed? Seems like have plenty of mellower options we could navigate on our own), have heard great things about Alagna but seems pretty far out of the way.

    Curious how close to town we need to be to be convenient enough to get out to these various ski areas (I assume we can get most places via bus and don't need to rent a car?). Just get a day pass for each spot we're headed to that day?

    Also hoping that being close to Mont Blanc and the higher elevations will mean we can salvage some decent turns if the start to the season is looking slow.

    Thanks y'all! Looking forward to returning to the Alps, it's been way too long.
    "We're in the eye of a shiticane here Julian, and Ricky's a low shit system!" - Jim Lahey, RIP

    Former Managing Editor @ TGR, forever mag.

  2. #2
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    Heh. Alagna is far from everywhere.

    Hellbronner Standard Routes are easy same for the storm skiing on the other side.

    I've never skied la thuile
    It's a war of the mind and we're armed to the teeth.

  3. #3
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    Nov 2002
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    I love Courmayeur the town and the lift system. To me, saying in town is important. I don't like having a car. Basically, you have to take the Val Veny, Dolonne and Courmayeur cable cars to get to the skiing. Yes there is a bus, yes you can say in some of the out lying villages. I like walking around the towns eating and drinking after skiing.
    Last edited by Foggy_Goggles; 10-24-2021 at 12:58 PM.

  4. #4
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    Oct 2009
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    Which week? If itís not NY week then book your GVA flight and play by ear depending on where the snow has fallen. If itís been coming in from the South, Italy will be a great place to go but if not you may want to look at Cham / Verbier / Andermatt etc.

  5. #5
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    La Thuile/La Rosiere are in general mellow, no guide needed.

    You're thinking the week after New Years? You may need to commit for some lodging, it's generally busy then. If you can defer for just a bit, see where the snow is falling so at least there will be a base.

    I do not think Cham is the right place for early season, particularly with the Grands Montets being rebuilt and not carrying skiers yet. And if you ride the Midi, it may be some walking to get down for a second run, there's no other lifts other than the train back from the end of the glacier.

    I'd follow Foggy's advice if you're really set on being around the Mont Blanc massif.

    Verbier has a lot to offer and a superior lift system to most. No real glacier skiing there, but high enough to have snow and good piste care. It's enormous.

    Another place to consider is Engelberg which actually has lifts serving the glaciers with cable car ascent and descent available. It's huDge as well.

    Then there's Zermatt which also has glacier skiing with cable car access and lifts actually on the glaciers, though flat. The steep skiing there requires some snow over in the Stockhorn.

    If you can consider more travel, I'd keep an eye on the Austrian glacier spots as well. Good access in and out of Innsbruck.

    Not sure what your plans are for travel, but you're going to lose 2 days getting to skiing and back. Generally France is hard to get around in, but Cham, Val d'Isere/Tignes and Les Trois Vallees are exceptions.
    The latter 2 have a bus connection from the train, but it's pretty well organized and easy. Both Tignes and Val Thorens have glacier skiing, another option to consider, especially if there's more snow in the West.

    Forgot: one can get to Val Thorens via Orelle gondola which has TGV train service to St. Michel Valloire, 6 km from Orelle.
    Last edited by Buster Highmen; 10-24-2021 at 06:24 PM.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    I love Courmayeur the town and the lift system. To me, saying in town is important. I don't like having a car. Basically, you have to take the Val Veny, Dolonne and Courmayeur cable cars to get to the skiing. Yes there is a bus, yes you can say in some of the out lying villages. I like walking around the towns eating and drinking after skiing.
    Re my thread about mask and passport requirements in the Dolomites, which I assume will also apply to all of Italy. I don't think it's going to be as easy getting into cable cars and bar hopping. May not be the year. This thing isn't over yet. If I'm going to travel all that way, which I really want to do, I want to have more fun than what it may be this season. Could suck.

    The world is perfect. Appreciate the details.

  7. #7
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    Thanks y'all! Had not considered that COVID restrictions would be worse in mainland Europe than in the UK. Noted.

    Have biked in Verbier and wanted to head elsewhere this trip but you make a good point. Also not having to worry about glaciers would def make the self-guided thing a little easier lol.

    Had thought about Val d'Isere/Tignes and Les Trois Vallees, guess Mont Blanc was the draw though and simply an overwhelming number of options to consider I had to narrow it down somehow. Is there anywhere/zones that more consistently have good snow that early? I feel like the PNW always gets hammered in December and don't know if there's a Euro parrallel to that.
    "We're in the eye of a shiticane here Julian, and Ricky's a low shit system!" - Jim Lahey, RIP

    Former Managing Editor @ TGR, forever mag.

  8. #8
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    I'd suggest staying in Courmayeur or Dolonne. Buses go everywhere, but eat up time coming from the smaller towns where they may not start early. Courmayeur and Hellbronner would best be two separate days. Hellbronner gets you either the Vallee Blanche or the Toule. There's good off piste from the Crest d'Arp on the south side. Possible to ski all the way into LaThuile and take a bus back.

    Alagna (the town) is out of range, Champoluc at the west end of the Monterosa is about 2 hours by car. About 4 hours by bus/train.
    Living vicariously through myself.

  9. #9
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    We liked Hotel Lagrange in Entreves (adjacent to Courmayeur) . Wish I could remember the place we stayed in central Courmayeur--the breakfast buffet was beyond belief. I'll try to find it.
    If I remember correctly the off piste at Courmayeur ski area is not glacier, but I think the top lift may require a guide? It's been a while.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by WaistDeepGroomers View Post
    I feel like the PNW always gets hammered in December
    thanks for the jinx

  11. #11
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    Hotel in Courmayeur is Bouton d'Or. As I said, fabulous breakfast buffet.

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