Superb piste skiing in La Thuile

11th February 2010, by Chris Gill

La Thuile in high season: people-free

La Thuile in high season: people-free

Count the people skiing in the picture at the top of this story, taken just after lunch on Thursday 11 Feb. I make it zero. I may be missing a couple, but you get the point. Compared with La Rosière or anywhere else over the border in France, La Thuile (in Italy’s Aosta valley) is deserted, even in high season. Today’s visit has really emphasised the attractions of this place in February, when so many resorts are miserably busy. Simply put, we had a ball: we got perfect piste skiing, with no people.

As readers of yesterday’s blog will know, we were expecting low temperatures, snow and bad visibility today for our visit to La Rosière and La Thuile. As it turned out, we got low temperatures (minus 15C or less at altitude, with a brisk wind adding chill), mostly sunny skies and clear viz. The pistes in both resorts were in excellent nick, which in the case of La Thuile in particular meant a day without a bare patch or a mogul in sight.

Doubtless there was good off-piste to be found, too, but our explorations didn’t reveal it – the pitches we tried were wind-blown. But that scarcely mattered, when we were having so much fun carving down the pistes.

I’m talking up the skiing in La Thuile, but in fact the highlight of the day was probably the first run of the day, in La Rosière. The red and black runs down the Ecudets chair, through woods below the village, are long-standing favourites of ours. Today, at 9.45, they had 15cm of fresh on a groomed base, and the black in particular was almost virgin. Magic. But in fact, we enjoyed the more heavily skied red more, because on the black the base was more easily exposed, and more crunchy.

The trip over the Petit Saint Bernard pass to La Thuile into the teeth of the northerly wind was absolutely Arctic, and once over in Italy on La Thuile’s famously flattering, broad slopes the cold meant that the speed you could ski at was limited simply by the risk of frostbite in your cheeks. The snow was perfect, the pistes smooth, the people few and far between. I’ve never known anything quite like it in Europe.

Later, on the more testing slopes on the back of the ridge above La Thuile – the slopes leading down to the Petit Saint Bernard – the skiing was still pure, unadulterated pleasure. No effort, no surprises, no problems to surmount. Even the blacks over here were mogul-free. A great way to end our week’s tour of resorts from Bourg-St-Maurice.

I’ll be posting some further reflections on Bourg as a holiday base in due course. Watch this space.

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