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La Grave - Ski Resort and Snow Summary
Skiing in La Grave
La Grave - Ski Resort in Grande Galaxie, French Alps (1400m to 3550m)
Incredible 12th century village with legendary off-piste skiing and snowboarding, now linked to the huge Deux Alpes ski area. The massive vertical drop is accessed by a three stage gondola.
La Grave Ski Facts
|3||Blue Pistes (12km)|
|20km||Cross Country Pistes|
In addition to the skiing in La Grave itself 75pisted ski runs), the appropriate ski Lift Pass will allow you to ski or snowboard in the other Grande Galaxie ski resorts of Briançon, Les Deux Alpes, Puy Saint Vincent and Serre Chevalier.
Awesome for backcountry and off piste skiing.
Only suitable for Confident Off Piste Skiers (but see below for exceptions).
La Grave MUST be skiied with a Guide.
La Grave is a stunning and wild mountain area. The term Ski Resort is barely appropriate; apart from the limited glacier skiing noted below, La Grave has no pistes or marked runs. There is a single telecabine that potters up to 3200 metres, pausing for a quick pick-up at an intermediate lift station with the elaborate name of 'P1'. From the top, there is no easy way down and you are warned that you proceed at your own risk - and they mean it.
You should not ski La Grave on your own, and you should employ the services of the excellent local guides at all times - La Grave is an unpatrolled high mountain region with many lethal dangers; some apparent, some not.
There are a couple of short Blue runs high on the glacier but these are generally only open from early February and depend on substantial snow cover.
Just outside the lower lift station is a wooden hut; the guide in residence can advise you on current conditions, the weather forecast and prevailing avalanche risks before you set off.
Before leaving the top lift station you should have a good idea of your route down. There are two primary itineraries; the Vallons de Chancel and the Vallons de la Meije - either side of the ridge on which the telecabine is installed. Vallons de Chancel provides the easier run but both options offer spectacular off-piste descents with a mixture of steeps, open powder fields and (lower down) forest. Access to each valley requires initial care through fairly narrow, sometimes rocky, entry points. The common route into Vallons de la Meije then requires negotiation of a fairly steep scree slope with an entry that can be narrow and couloir-like.
The start of either run should be enough to get the pulse racing but from then on your guide can choose a specific route to suit your preferences and ability. Cliff drops and steep, narrow couloirs are available for those that wish (or those who ski without a guide!) but good snow conditions should see you enjoying powder all the way down to the tree line where trails will take you back to P1 or the village.
You are strongly advised to research La Grave further; it is a skiing experience with few rivals in Europe but you must acquaint yourself with the dangers. You can contact the local mountain guides through the La Grave website.
Ski Lift Capacity :- The 3 Ski Lifts of La Grave are able to uplift 450 skiers / snowboarders per hour.
There are three Airports within two hours drive, so ski weekends, snowboard breaks and short ski holidays to La Grave are perfectly feasible.
Skiing in La Grave
La Grave is a legendary off piste ski destination with very little pisted terrain. Officially there are 12km (7 miles) of prepared terrain, graded either easy or intermediate but this is made up of several very small and basic areas with a couple of drag lifts each and a blue run at the top of the long two-stage gondola which ascends a remarkable 1,750 metres from the village at 1,450m to 3,200m. The blue run is use to make the link over to the huge ski area of neighbouring Les 2 Alpes. However few folk come here to use that service, most are here for the infamous off piste.
La Grave has held its place as an off piste mecca for many decades now. The village is said to have changed little in the 900 years it has stood there and the same can be said for the ski area. Other resorts have opted to create more gentle, recreational skier friendly bashed slopes to compliment their famous steeps, not so La Grave. There are dozens of legendary descents, the longest 2,400 metres. These include lÓrciére de Droites which descends from the Dome de la Lauze at 3550m. Described by those who know as very serious and involving avoiding crevasses, avalanche risk and probable wind slab; skiers and boarders attempting it needs route finding skills to successfully get down its complex route - as well as ropes and a harness for one sector. Skiers that have followed locals or guided groups have regretted their mistake as it is a long way up to walk. There are plenty of easier runs, although it is still sensible to use a guide and potentially life threatening not to. The Chancel is one of the easier, probably only about intermediate standard on a good day.
Snowboarding in La Grave
Natural terrain creates a freestyle paradise, extreme snowboarding. There's no park or pipes for boarders, just a dream world of unlimited natural hits for those already technically proficient off piste. Beginners should stay on the short piste at le Chazelet or le Lautaret, or be smart and go elsewhere.
La Grave Aprés Ski
La Grave is not a good choice if you're looking for buzzing night life. If you're happy to share a few (Probably quiet) beers with some serious skiers and boarders then you shouldn't be disappointed. The Glaciers Bar and Les Vallons are usually the livelier of the half dozen choices available. No nightclubs, unsurprisingly.
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La Grave in brief
La Grave Ski Resort is:
Excellent for Expert Skiers.
Ok for Intermediate Skiers.
Ok for Beginners.
Good for Snowboarding.
Opened : December 15, 2012
Closed : April 28, 2013
Opening Subject To Snow Conditions.
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