Turns 'n Curves: Episode #2 La Grave
One the iconic ski places of the Alps, renown for it’s glaciated and technical terrain is surely the French resort of La Grave. The first time I drove through La Grave I didn’t realized there was a lift there, and didn’t notice the town at all. It’s only when I went there in the spring 2006 to compete in the famous Derby de La Meije, that I realized that the skiing was absolutely spectacular. The one and only lift (beside a little t-bar lift on the glacier) that takes you up to 3200 meters, 1800m vertical meters above town, is an iconic contraption and whole experience to ride.
The pulse gondola with the 5 characteristic cabins attached in a row to the main cable was first built as a prototype, but once they tested how inefficient it was in terms of capacity of people per hour, it was never produced. The only exemplar still lives and run only in La Grave.
The big summit surmounting the valley is La Maije 3987me, a beautiful pointy summit guarding on everybody business from high above. The skiing terrain is vast and still partly unexplored, witch makes this resort respectful like a precious pearl of the Alps. All the good skiers that lands here knows what they want: steep gnarly terrain and few people around. Luckily this year, through my sponsor Plum and Kaestle, I’ve got hooked up with one of the best guide in town, or, for what I know, the best possible ski partner to have in that type of terrain. Joe Vallone lives in La Grave since 10 years and knows the mountain like the back of his hand. He skied pretty much every inch of it, opening a bunch of new lines and couloirs. His passion and excitement for skiing is what I like the most about him and his enthusiasm was surely contagious. At the question “why do u like La Grave?” he answer: “u have to experience it yourself”. And he can’t be more right.
The snow wasn’t perfect every day but the terrain revealed itself exceptional as I was hoping. Beautiful long runs starting on a glacier leading down incredible shoots between high walls and mandatory rappels to end u in the lower forest where to make the last big turns till the road. 2200m run each time… not for weak skier!
Last day we went for a tour which took us first on the backside of La Meije, to explore new scenery and incredible views over The Massif des Ecrins, then, climbing over a col, we dropped down back to La Grave side and skied the top north facing glacier visible from town. From up there we could fully appreciate the wild environment and the vastness of La Meije and precious silent. That place, that moment was the answer of why Joe likes so much La Grave.
Mother nature invited us one more time to enjoy her beauty and to ski perfect snow. Thank you! Enjoy a La Grave experience.