Peyragudes Off Piste

Ski-Areas > Pyrénées > Haute-Garonne (65) > Luchonnais > Peyragudes > Off Piste



Looking at the Web we'd seen that there had been 10cm of fresh snow. Although the resort is popular with the Toulousians and Saint Go-Dingues they are generally weekenders so we hoped to beat them by going on Friday. The majority of skiers stick to the marked pistes and the resort is plastered with dire warnings for those who think about exploring further. The weather forecast had predicted sunny, if windy weather with snow on Saturday. As there are few trees this wouldn't be the place to be in astorm.

danger, off piste

Danger, Off Piste!

The resort claimed 170 cm of snow at the summit, a test with an avalanche probe revealed closer to 120 cm unless you stuck the measuring pole into one of the many large cornices that had formed on the north of any ridges. The resort also claimed to be nearly fully open, in terms of pistes this was not an exaggeration but only half the lifts were in operation which made linking pistes a tricky and sometimes hit and miss affair. One can understand that resorts wish to save money outside of the main holiday periods but it is still frustrating to find that some fine skiing is inaccessible without a long walk.

That said, as with so many other Pyrénéenian resorts, the lifts are of an excellent standard. A high speed six seater chair whisks skiers up from Peyresourde to the top of the station and from les Agudes there is a high speed quad. We took this first as we wished to explore the area under the Serre Doumenge chair. At the ticket office it was pleasantly sunny and we'd almost considered leaving coats in the car, but once on the chair we felt a bitter wind blowing up from the south. Many of the pistes had a reddish hue, probably sand that had been whipped up from the arid regions of Northern Spain.

At the top of the chair it is possible to track back towards the station or ski down a couloir to join the bottom of the Serre Doumenge chair. We skied down to the chair and then studied the terrain on the ride up to the summit. Under the chair there are a number of variants which pass through saddles or between rocks before opening up to large snow fields fresh with powder. The wind had driven the powder into sheltered areas so the depth was up to 20cm in places and zero in others. It was quite possible to find a 3 meter wide powder strip bounded by wet snow.

off piste ski tracks in powder

Ian finds powder

From the top of the Doumenge chair the traverse d'Isard offers many descents. With the prevailing wind we started by digging a small avalanche pit to examine the snow pack. Apart from the top 10cm it all seemed to be of an even texture and quite cohesive.

vallee blanche

The Valley Blanche

From the base of the Pêne Nère drag a small saddle can be seen to the left. Skiing over this revealed a large, steepish slope. It was possible to ski down to the Doumenge chair in nice powder, or to traverse left after a rock outcrop to ski a small couloir and join the Traverse des Estives.

off piste powder skiing

A donf sans le peuf!

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