Steep & Fun, accessible off piste
Wed 22 December 2004 by EON (-||-)Was in Risoul 10/12/2004 - 18/12/2004
The conditions were pretty bad due to no snow in 2 weeks. Only 3 lifts & 3 runs were open, however due to temperatures staying below 0, the snow was still in good condition, FAR better than Tignes & Chamonix had been after similar lack of snow.
Of course, many more runs were ridable & accessible than those that were open. My favourite thing about Risoul is the shape of the mountain allows you to ride pretty much anywhere, and to still be able to get back to the lifts.
When standing at the middle lifts, the mountain ridge appears to curve towards you in a kind of bowl shape. At the top of the Peyrefolle lift, you can head to the right and choose any spot you like to drop in to the mouintain for some sweet off piste. As I said, even after 10 days of no snow I found powder (albeit only 3-5 inches deep!! my poor board!). There are some cool tree runs, and we had a lot fun cutting in between the off piste and the deserted closed runs. Of course you still need to be careful, and I have Recco locators built into my jacket & trousers. If the snow had been good there is no way we would have explored quite so readily. Superb visibility also made up for the lack of snow, meaning you could often spot a hit from 100 feet away, and get your line just right for the perfect air!
We also found a beatiful powder field to the left of one of the Vars runs but so many lifts were closed I can't tell where it was from the map.
nearby Vars Les Claux is also fun, with the Chabrieres telecabine lift ensuring you spend more time riding than being hoisted!! We only had 1 route to ride to Vars but I'm sure there are some Yarge off piste routes.
Risoul the town is characterless. It must be a resort town, the most depressing thing being the lack of independent board shops, with SKi Set & Intersport being the only rental places. This is a real shame as these guys supply inferior kit, nearly everyone I came accross complained about the standard of their kit, especially the stiff & heavy Rossignol boards that Ski Set handed out to nearly everyone. i will never forget the time Intersport in Tignes tried to give me generic black bindings (you know the ones.... you can change the angle with a flip-clip ) after I asked for a freestyle setup. I walked out. Another reason why not to book your hire in advance on a package holiday. They will most likely send you to IS or Ski Set.
One of the high points of a holiday for me is finding a decent board shop, and chatting to the guys inside about best runs, off piste, the right wax for the temp, etc.. etc. . I find the French to be very friendly and was sad to be deprived of my independent board shop experience! DOWN WITH CORPORATIONS!!! ( http://www.thecorporation.tv )
Bigup Suite Snow in Val D'Isere.
We were staying in the Yeti Apartments, which you should stay away from if possible as they are cramped enough for 2 people let alone 4. Also due to bad town planning we got dropped off about 10 mins walk from the door. We didn't find a decent supermarket, only 2 SPAR's, which were the size of a large 24 hour supermarket in the UK. My trip was with Brighton uni (BIGUPZZZ!!!) organised by Wasteland Ski, who were pretty useless, as most companies who organise uni trips seem to be.
Risoul does have a non-conformist atmosphere. Make sure you bring a tool as the Pisteurs aren't helplful unless you beg them in French!! Not many clocks around either! One thing to watch out for is Pisteurs bombing around on snowmobiles at the edge of the run in the middle of the day. In most resorts they are pretty careful, driving at about 5mph and making sure they are seen by all riders. In Risoul the definitely expect YOU to watch out for THEM!!! On my 3rd day I rounded a corner to see 3 pistie-beasties heading towards me! All I can say is WATCH OUT!! Also they have a habit of leaving snow machines on during the day, usually behind a particularly fast corner on a cold day, giving you an instant layer of ice on your face & goggles. I know I'm whinging but 3 corners in a row and it starts to grate!!
Risoul is a pretty steep resort overall, I wouldn’t recommend it for learners unless they have gumption to go fast! As Sam says, “Momentum covers a multitude of sins”
Anyway, we had a fat week. Bigup The Reverend Slamuel of Pussy, Harky, Becca, Fluxie & all committee crew, Helen & Laura, Tim & El, Mattlock & Dan There should be photos online pretty soon at http://www.ubssc.com
I'll be back in risoul March 18th-25th DJing for the British University Snowsport Championships. Really looking forward to returning for better conditions & hitting more of the mountain! I make films & write music, my website is http://www.undeadarmy.org
Also gotta bigup World Snowboard Guide, my first stop for resort info, impartial and peppered with dry british humour & skier slurs! We rule!!