When the clouds come in and the light turns flat it can be hard to know where to ski and what to do. The high, open pistes can lack the contrast required for orientation during white out conditions and slope and sky can blur into one.
However, there are certain runs that offer more contrast providing vast amounts of skiing/snowboarding when the flakes are falling. The trick is to head for the pistes that are tree-lined, as they help provide definition when everything else seems to be white.
When visibility is difficult due to snow or white-out, there’s one important thing to remember when you are on the slopes: keep the poles that line the pistes in sight. The poles marking the edges of the piste are the colour of the difficulty of the run (green, blue, red or black). Have you ever noticed that the poles on the right side of the piste (looking down) have a 20 cm band of orange at the top? This is so that in a white-out when you really can’t see very much, if you come across a pole with an orange top, leave it on your right. If the pole is one colour all the way to the top, leave it on your left. That way you’ll stay safe & on the piste!
If you are up the mountain and the visibility closes in then why not try heading to the lower pistes near resort as these may be below the cloud and you might be able to catch a few good runs. Alternatively if the cloud is sitting in the valley it is worth bearing in mind that it might be clear high up the mountain, just make sure you head up a bubble or cable car as if the weather is still bad high up you will probably want an easy route down. Also if it is snowing in the valley then it will usually mean it is snowing up top, making for great skiing and quiet pistes!
Visibility tends to be better in amongst the trees when there’s a whiteout as they give definition to the otherwise merging sky and pistes. So it is always good to head for tree lined pistes, the black runs into Le Praz (Jockeys & Jean Blanc) or the red run (Brigues ) are in amongst the trees so should provde better visibility on a bad weather day. The long blue run (Folyeres) into La Tania is also a good bet with trees lining it and a lower altitude the cloud may not be as thick here.
If you do want to head out on a bad weather day then some of the pistes coming into Courchevel and Courchevel Moriond are tree lined so it might be worth doing a few laps of these lower runs as up top the terrain is stark and there are not many trees. Try the red Loze, green Verdons and some of the blues that go all the way down to Courchevel Moriond.
Check out our webcams to see what the weather is like up the mountains before heading out on a bad weather day.