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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Switzerland
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    LA GRAVE MINI SUMMIT - THE RIPZALOT REPORT

    I bailed a little early from the La Grave mini summit, so here is the the early report... please excuse my grammer, spelling, and sentence fragments. I'm still suffering from post-trip high. For those not in the know, La Grave is a unique and serious ski resort in the southern French Alps. There is only one lift and no groomed pistes. (There used to be several drag lifts on the glacier but they have been closed due to being eaten by last summer's heatwave. Oh yeah, they have now installed a chair from just below the 2400 station, but it's rather useless.) It's all high alpine offpiste type routes down, so pretty much experts only.

    Saturday - I'm up at the buttcrack of dawn doing the 4 hour drive down to La Grave. As I make my way up the mountain road from Grenoble, it starts snowing and it doesn't stop all day long. I decide to stop at Les Deux Alpes on the way and ride for a half day, as I wait for the others to arrive. The avalanche warning is 5 (out of 5!) and it's snowing with near total whiteout visability. Only the lower runs are open. After a short tour of the west side, I make my way to the only tree run that I can find across the valley on the east side. Good powder, knee to thigh deep all thru the trees. After 4 top to bottom runs, my legs are over. A good warmup for La Grave.

    Sunday - First day up La Grave with bad_roo and brownmonkey . It's still snowing with low visibility, not quite as bad as on Saturday. Avalanche warning is 4. They seem to rate the avalanche risk here one lower than the regional bulletins. Several days up to the summit have been a 5 and the local news rated the region a 5, with several special news stories specifically about the high avalanche risk. Oh well, we're here and we want to ski! La Grave is only open to 2400m, so we ride in the trees from 2400 to P1 (1800m) with a run down to the village at midday. The trees were super fun - thigh to hip deep snow just flowing down like water at times. I think we were all beat by about 3pm. That night, Chad arrives from Chicago. Unfortunately, KLM does him the extra favor of rerouting all of his baggage to God-knows-where, so he's bunged until his gear arrives. To make matters worse, Monday is gonna be going off...

    Monday - A peak out the window reveals blue skies and a beautiful sunrise hitting the Alpine peaks. La Grave is open to 3200m! We're about a half hour late up the first lift, not super eager to be the first ones up due to the high avy warnings, still 5 according to the news, and a 4 according to the La Grave personnel. We arrive at the top to find a monstrous view of the peak La Meije and the huge powder-laden mountain below us. There are already tracks all over the place, so people must not be too worried about avys. We spend the day throwing huge carves in big powder. Both right and left of the 3200 station are wide open and super fun runs. Note: snowboarders (like me) must suffer thru the dreaded traverses at the end back to P1. Not easy and not a whole lot of fun either! Nonetheless, La Grave delivers the goods. Awesome day! And truth's bags arrive that evening.

    Tuesday - We head over the pass to Serre Chevalier to search out some leftover pow in the trees. As we head over the pass the weather changes from cloudy and overcast to sunshine, but windy. The upper alpine slopes are all wind-scoured, firm but still soft enough to carve on. The pistes are unbelievable. We spent the afternoon doing Bode Miller impersonations down a looooong red/black piste run. Andy found an interesting under-the-chair route that took us down a series of steep bumps and drops all the way down. Excellent day!

    Wednesday - Back to La Grave. With the arrival of mulletizer, we finally have a guide. Back up to 3200m for a series of interesting decents. On the first descent, I have to bail as my snowboard can't handle the traverse. So I do a couple of open bowl runs in packed powder down to P1. We hook back up and then mullet leads us down a very fun and beautiful route through two couliours. The first is Banana Couliour. As we approached it, all you can see is a white lip and a wall of rocks going straight down. I think I manage three turns the whole way down. The snow was pretty hard packed and mogulled out which made for some pretty tricky turns on a 177 snowboard. Falling is not an option here. Little did I know this was only the warm up for the next couliour. After a short traverse, we're lead into a fun gully which I opened up at full speed, almost missing the entrance to the Freux Couliour. This couliour is steeper and probably 4 times longer than the first. Like Banana, the top is super steep and mogulled out. I think I managed about seven or eight turns on this one. Mulletizer loses a ski about a third of the way down. The run out is filled with debris so we cross over into the tress and make our way down to the final (super nasty!) traverse. No real trail thru the trees, just traverse as best as you can on your own. I lose my goggles someplace, probably hanging from a branch someplace. Other than that, it was a astounding run!

    Pics to follow...
    Last edited by Ripzalot; 06-26-2016 at 08:59 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Switzerland
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    7,263
    Saturday, Les Deux Alpes





  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Switzerland
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    Sunday, La Grave


    2400 to P1 tree run















  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Switzerland
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    Monday, La Grave




    Moi


    Moi again









    What people are riding here...something is wrong with my board's tail



    I found a rock!


    Chancel





  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Switzerland
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    7,263
    Tuesday, Serre Chevalier




    The Mini-Summitteers - Truth, BrownMonkey and Bad Roo


    A huck gone wrong....







  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Switzerland
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    Wednesday, back at La Grave





    La Meije


    Simon checks out the Banana Couliour


    Andy rips the couliour






    The Freux Couliour









    Sunset over Le Meije

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Aspen, CO
    Posts
    2,125
    great report, but a bit understated don't you think. sounds amazing. sucks about truth's ski equip.
    "When restraint and courtesy are added to strength, the latter becomes irresistible."
    Mohandas Gandhi

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Posts
    781
    great pics!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Le Lavancher pour le weekend
    Posts
    3,339
    damn, nice. just couldn't swing more than a few days away from work, unfortunately.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    18,048
    Originally posted by Ripzalot
    "des pentes raides" Does this translate to "panty raids?" What's that got to do with avalanches?

    Those are awesome photos, thanks for posting.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Shadynasty's Jazz Club
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    8,261
    If you can't understand the warning signs, does that mean you can just ignore them?

    Nice TR Ripz, looks like a blast.
    Remind me. We'll send him a red cap and a Speedo.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Beer Warehouse
    Posts
    986

    Thumbs up

    holy freakin' shit!!!!! caw!! caw!! CAW!!!

    i know it takes a bunch of time to not only take the pics but also upload and do up a trip report. you sir are the MAN!
    thanks a bunch.

    get a pic of someone launching off into this background - that would be sweeeeet!



    truth - you still planning on the mini?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    18,048
    Originally posted by bagtagley
    If you can't understand the warning signs, does that mean you can just ignore them?
    Of course. "Risque Fort 4. That doesn't sound that bad, let's go!"

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Close, but not close enough
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    1,757

    Thumbs up

    Nice.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    CAW!
    Posts
    339

    CAWW!!!!

    CAW! CAW!! CAW!!!
    CAW!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Central Mass.
    Posts
    1,185
    thanks...great pics!!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Denver
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    WOW ! Great pics and tons of them too !
    "Do the interns get Glocks ? "

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    North Coast
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    2,615
    Excellent! Way to go, doods!

    Something tells me the "Les Freaks" sign should have been pointing the other way for this shot, but whatever:
    It's idomatic, beatch.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Dtown/Gtown
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    3,416
    great pics Ripz. thanks for sharing.
    what's up with all the pointy split-tail boards? is that the board of choice throughout euroloand? looks like lots of clickers and step-ins too.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Seattle
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    18,048
    Originally posted by Ripzalot
    Sunday, La Grave
    And who knew that Audi made ski clothes! That must be bad_roo, eh?

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Switzerland
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    Originally posted by jibij
    great pics Ripz. thanks for sharing.
    what's up with all the pointy split-tail boards? is that the board of choice throughout euroloand? looks like lots of clickers and step-ins too.
    yeah, la grave is big time for swallowtail powder boards. they are hosting "swallowmania" next month. i gotta find a way to go!

    http://www.swallowmania.com/

    i was surprised to see the variety of bindings being used with the swallowtails. i saw a lot of clickers and other step ins. i was expecting more hardboot setups but didn't see a single one. step-ins may be the choice because you can rig them with a release system in case of an avalanche. just my guess.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Jack Tone Road
    Posts
    12,778
    Great TR, great pics! That is some full-on photojournalism.

    One question: how is www.swallowmania.com not a porn site?

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    closer
    Posts
    2,684
    hmmm i wish i had been there.... ive been in the Sauerland (100m vertical ) instead.

    the good old freaux.

    YOu should have skied banana/le lac on early monday ---> steep bumps are not as much fun as steep pow. *smartass*
    concerning the avalanche risk: you can usually lower one grade on a hard-tracked mountain, so la grave is usually one below the untracked backcountry.
    there are superfun lines in the trees. i wanna see the video !

    btw. NOW IT IS MY TURN ! i am going down to the krippenstein tonight. 50-60cm fresh in the last 48hours and 150+ in the last 14 days...



    It's a war of the mind and we're armed to the teeth.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    A Luxurious Ghetto Trapped Between Times
    Posts
    5,428
    Sweet report and pics. I love Roos clicked-out cliff huck. I don't understand why there is gear in the landing though?

    he over speeds and he never gets pulled over

  25. #25
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    SF
    Posts
    3,629
    toit!
    Craig Kelly is my co-pilot.

    Buy Your Lift Tickets in Advance and Save

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