Off Piste Skiing: Grand Plan Piste and Off Piste

Sat, 13 February 2016


Distance: 19 km

Trip Reports

Vertical Climbed: 2,500 meters (8,203 feet)

Avalanche Risk: 3

Snowline: 1,350


Every mountain range has its resort X. A solitary lift on some deserted mountain col that leads to some hidden backcountry stash. Or so the teasers would have us believe. The Isere mountain ranges have suffered from a lack of snow this season. Our local Resort X, St Hils, is shuttered. Resort Y we've skied this year and it tends to get busy, not that hidden it seems. So today we decided to head to pastures new. Resort Z

Our criteria or cahier des charges for winter holiday skiing are simple: snow, no traffic jams and no lift queues. The last two were assured but with the resort covering 1350 to 1700 meters vertical it remained to be seen whether it had enough snow cover. The lift was pretty steep, 50% it said at the bottom but the steepest section is actually 62%, not the steepest I've done, that is the Col d'Ornon with a section at 75% but quite tiring on the legs.

The Grand Plan is principally one very long and steep drag lift. About 350 meters of vertical. With one main piste and some tree skiing. At the bottom of the pistes is an army "nissen" hut that has been relooked with wood cladding in "traditional" French alpine style. It serves as both a restaurant and to sell lift passes.

The lady behind the bar informed us that Junior, as a strapping 11 year old, would need an adult pass. "6 euros.... chacun". She informed us, "en liquid". I placed some coin in this alpine Charon's bony hand.

At the top of the long drag an immediate right leads into an untracked bowl, the Fougeres. To the left of the Rhodus "main" piste we skied through the trees onto an untracked powder field with views over the north Gresivaudan and lac du Bourget. It is not Valdez but a hill, a lift and some fresh snow. What more do you want on a gloomy Saturday afternoon?

Weather: Snow, wind, sun, hail

Access: Clear

Country: France Area: Belledonne Trailhead: Barioz



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