If you are thinking of a booking splitboarding course or snowboard holiday with us and want the inside skinny then have a read of the rather lovely testimonial we have received form one of our guests last year.
Dear Paul & Fi,
I just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed the splitboarding course I did with you guys.
I’d been looking at splitboarding for a while now both as a way to reach some new fresh snow but also to just get out of resort on the over-crowded busy days. I’ve been riding for a few years now and built up a bit of backcountry and off piste experience but certainly not enough to go out alone. I was looking for a course that could give me some technique tuition but also with a specific focus on Splitboarding. The backcountry is dangerous enough without venturing out on your own for the first time with a brand new splitboard you’ve never used before!
I looked around the web and found a couple of other courses from some well known names. These courses seemed to have a lot of pre-reqs and also seemed to only include guiding and equipment not the accommodation. When I found your course I though the prices were good for a fully catered holiday with equipment and guiding, and to top it all the dates suited :).
Below is a quick review of the course, guiding, chalet etc:
Due to flight times I arrived early on the Saturday I was met by Paul at the airport and swiftly transported back to the Chalet and settled in with a real espresso… a must after the red-eye start to get to the airport.
The chalet itself was clean, spacious and had all the comforts I could have asked for. There was even an xbox / playstation area upstairs if there were any quiet evenings or down days.
After a chat over coffee and cake I took the chance to head out and ride that afternoon and get my bearings (the bonus of the red-eye flight), Paul hooked me up with one of the 2013 Never Summer Protos which I thought was an amazing board to lap around Super Chatel for a couple of hours. When the rest of the guys arrived later that eve and were pretty green I’d already been out.
Now to my first chance to sample one of the highlights of the week…. the food! I’m kinda into my food and I have to say Paul and Fi really surpassed my expectations every time. Every meal was served with some flair and attention to both detail and flavour. Certainly not the typical chalet food knocked up by a hung over seasonaire. I’d highly recommend Chalet Le Cret for a ski holiday based on the food alone.
But that wasn’t the main reason I joined the course. Onto the splitting.
First day after breakfast our guide Rory met us at the chalet, Paul hooked us up with some Never Summer SL splits and all the gear. We then spent the morning sussing our skills on piste. It did take a few runs to get used to riding the split on the piste, they were surprisingly responsive and had good edge hold but on the flats you definitely noticed a slight flex down the middle of the board, nothing major but they did take a bit of getting used to.
After a warm up we took a short hike up from one of the lifts in PdS. Rory and Paul were really hands on with great explanations of converting the splitboards and also on skinning technique. From my limited experience I’d say it’s just like many things on snow…easy to get the hang of and have some fun but difficult to master.
The hike was about an hour and nothing too difficult for my first time skinning. We stopped at the top for lunch at approx 2000m which a glorious view which overlooked the PdS area. Next came the best bit… the ride down. Rory led the way stopping every few hundred metres to highlight different things to look for in the snow conditions or particular terrain traps. We then came to a natural couloir and went one by one for safety. The run down was glorious spring snow and the perfect end to our first day.
The next few days followed a similar pattern with the walks getting gradually longer or more complex. Wednesday was one of my favourite days. We walked all the way up through a backcountry valley, over rivers through trees in the most glorious sunshine to emerge at the top of a 2000m+ peak in baking sunshine about 3 hours later. Again in almost perfect spring conditions we went in turn boarding back down past our skinning tracks all the way to the valley floor.
Another highlight for me was the technique and snow safety training. Rory gave us some pointers on both technique and snow / avalanche conditions all week but in the afternoon of the first two days we focused particularly on beeper training and snow safety. I’d done a bit of this before and while obviously critically important it can be a bit dry. The scenarios that Rory used while we were beeper searching we just excellent! Covering both single and multiple burials but also considering real world conditions… like leaving your own beeper on in the heat of the moment or performing a probe only search just to prove why a beeper is so critical. We then went on to dig a snow pit and analyse the layers and the snow crystals themselves. A brilliant way to turn the theory into practice.
The only possible complaint I could have had regarding the week was the weather… All week we had absolute bluebird conditions and in April this meant high temps… the display boards in resort showed between 26 and 28 degrees every day! So in one respect the very best conditions to get a tan and take a leisurely stroll / skin, unfortunately though towards the end of the week the snow had not refrozen at night for a couple of consecutive days. Paul clearly explained the increased risk this introduced into boarding in the backcountry and the stability of the snowpack. It was getting dangerous to be off piste on the lower slopes.
Here is where Paul and Fi went above and beyond what I would expect from a residential course. On Thursday for our last day skinning up Paul proposed a very early start, and a trip to Chamonix! We’d be hike above the freezing point, and above 3000 metres! Paul had lined up a Mountain Guide in Chamonix so we could take the techniques we had learnt during the week to the next level, and into some serious terrain. It was an amazing day which pushed us all, and took our skills to the next level. It was only the second time I had been to Chamonix and I was reminded that this is a next level place! The terrain and views are just out of this world and it was the perfect end to the week.
Back at the chalet, with the biggest of grins but, to be honest, happily exhausted. We all agreed to stick to resort riding on solid boards for our last day, and to top off the week it dumped all day! Yet again Paul hooked us all up with some suitable Never Summer boards (the 2013 Cobra – which was also awesome) and showed us some sneaky little side-country between piste routes now there were some freshies to be had.
All in all. What a holiday! Paul and Fi were the best hosts you could ask for. The chalet was really comfortable and ideally located. The food was amazing. PdS is a world class resort and with Rory and Paul’s local knowledge I went to places and explored spots I would never have seen without them. Add to that the daily technique tuition and day trip to Chamonix and I can honestly say this is one of the best holidays, yet alone ski holidays I’ve ever had.
Once again thank you so much for an excellent week. I really hope to be able to hook up with you guys at some point this season, and I will be pointing a couple of my mates to your split and mix courses as soon as they have any spare holiday and spare cash.
The very best of luck with the 2014 season… hope to see you soon!