Our first day ended with snow falling on the hill. We were all pretty excited by the prospect of what was to come…

Emma, Ciara and I got the first lift up to Avoriaz and headed down towards the Prolays lift. The first run was great. The mountain was still quiet, we were ducking on and off the piste, hitting nice stretches of fresh. Playing in the soft stuff, kicking up snow. Good lines. Good times.

We met up with reinforcements after the first run, and started with a few laps around the Stash. The Stash in Avoriaz is pretty, damn impressive. As well as the natural park objects, the Stash is set amongst the trees, under the chairlift, and there are good pockets of powder on hand – after a snow fall.

As well as taking as much of the fresh as possible, and there were some good lines, if not a little short, we tried hitting a few of the obstacles. There’s a good pic-nic bench setup with a steep, drop-away landing. I went pretty big off of that, from 50-50. There’s good stuff there… some of it is pretty gnarly.

Following a few laps of the Stash, we tried one of the Snow Cross runs in Avoriaz. The Portes Du Soleil has a number of non-groomed, freeride runs; one such starts close to the top of the Prolays lift, and we spotted it while lapping through the Stash. My first run down was awesome. Fresh, fast, long and good turns. There was a good deal of faith involved, as the visibility wasn’t great and there were a few dips, bumps and creeks that needed avoiding.

The second half of the run was more tracked, but we traversed to uncover a good strech that was steep and untouched. More great turns, all accessed by lift and on an official run. That’s pretty good.

After our first run through, I spotted an area that was entirely fresh. I was picking out the route to get there as we went up on the lift, and the access was sketchy. I repeated the first half of the run and then left the trail and headed toward a bank of small cliffs/rocks. It was a short but steep face that I traversed on the heel edge, picking my way between branches and rocks, and pushing away small slides of snow as I went – nothing really. At the bottom of the bank the snow stretched out on a clear, fairly narrow, steep slope between small shrubs and trees.

Once I was half way down there was no grip left on the branches/rocks – so I just accepted it, pointed down and hit the slope with speed, then layed down some fast turns in the fresh, hoping not to hit a depression in the flat light. It was a great run – I’m glad I decided to pick my way down through the rocks…

Just before lunch, the light snow turned to soft rain. At the very top it was actually still snow, but a little bit further down, it was rain. The snow was heavy, wet and sticky, which wasn’t great.

We spent the afternoon exploring a little. It was a mixed bag of horrible wind, wet snow, choppy snow, some good runs and evil chairlift rides. We ended the day completely soaked through. It’s the wettest I’ve ever been when snowboarding. By time we got down into town, the light rain up top was regular rain. We weren’t encouraged. Getting back to the chalet for a hot shower was a priority – after a few beers, of course.

…And then later on that evening, the rain turned to snow…

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