Anyone trying to run a guided ski trip across in Italy early this season has had a major headache – as there’s been an unprecedented lack of snow on the East side of the Alps to start the season.
This kind of situation is unusual for the venues that we work in, but we do occasionally have to relocate a trip because of extreme conditions (and changing ski tours due to avalanche risk is quite common) so we are used to keeping the ball rolling… With stories of guides relocating from Gressoney to Chamonix and the Dolomites to Austria, we were keeping a very close eye on the situation in the run up to our Val Maira trip – staying in touch with the hotel owner (also a local guide) and scoping alternative venues, accommodation and logistics.
With two guides and 8 clients we were a big team, plus an airport pickup and drop off to coordinate – so not the easiest group to relocate. Mid week, we were advised by the hotel not to come, as there still wasn’t enough snow to go ski touring – so we put our plans into place and relocated to the Val Claree just North of Briancon instead.
This is great spot for day touring and has a similar feel Val Maira, with no ski infrastructure in the valley – crucially however, there was plenty of snow here (I’d visited Val Claree from La Grave earlier in the winter, so we knew the snow cover was good and I know the area well).
The week panned out brilliantly – definitely the best weeks skiing so far of the winter! With loads of fresh snow, we enjoyed fresh powder pitches every single day and the food at our Gite was top notch. I’ve visited the Val Claree plenty of times on day trips before, this was the first time I’ve spent a full week there – we were so impressed that we’re already planning a new, scheduled touring trip there next year…
Thanks for everyone for being such a great group and bearing with the change of plan (Val Maira really is lovely – maybe next year?) – but I think we made a good call. Thanks also to Jon for guiding with me and sharing all the trail breaking through deep snow – I’d have been knackered doing all that on my own all week!
(Update: don’t stress if you’re planning to go skiing in Italy later this winter – two big Retour D’Est storms finally arrived this week and there is now loads of snow across the Italian flank of the Alps!)
Here’s a short video I made of the week in Val Claree: