A research week exploring a new area (Val Stura Ski Touring), combined with junior powder school were the twin reasons to head down to Val Stura last week – a place that’s been on my list for a while now. It’s the next valley south of Val Maira and as such gets a similar snowfall pattern – so after a snowy week in Val Maira and the kids on half term, it seemed like a good time to visit. However, the logistics of getting kids boots refitted at short notice (growing feet!) and flying back home and back out again to pick them up etc. was a bit hectic, involving 9 hours in the Uk, 3 hours sleep and back to the airport again!
A cheap early flight to Turin sidestepped the half term crowds and we were on our way – enjoying a week of brilliant powder skiing with fresh untracked snow every day. The area has one small ski station, which has some of the best off piste terrain I’ve skied anywhere in the Alps – and best of all, it was totally deserted on one of the busiest weeks of the season. We also went over to France one day to visit St Anne la Condamine, 40 minutes drive away in the Haute Ubaye Valley – this too was very quiet, with perfect untracked powder right next to the top of the lift system – ie easily accessible via a short skin.
There’s good day touring all around the valley and super reliable conditions due to the high starting point of tours around the Col de Madeleine at 2000m, so it’s a great place to keep the ball rolling in varied conditions. All in all I was super impressed and I’ve found a lovely hotel to use as a base in the area for next season. As for the other objective – improving the kids powder skiing skills – I’ll leave it to Adam to sum up the week after we’d spent the afternoon skinning a long way, in order to drop into a perfect untracked powder field: “Dad, when I was little I didn’t see the point of skinning when there’s chairlifts and ski resorts – but now, I totally get it!” – I’ll call that a result