Piste To Powder – Skiing the Valluga North with Graham Bell
Last week we were delighted to be guiding the British Olympic skier Graham Bell, on the infamous Valluga North descent, as part of a series of runs filmed for the Telegraph Ski and Snowboard.
Graham, is still regarded as one of the finest downhill skiers the UK ever produced, achieving 12th place in the famous Hahnenkamm race in Kitzbuhel. Since his retirement from the world cup circuit in 1998 he has had a successful television career, commentating on the winter Olympics and presenting the iconic Ski Sunday, “the Jump” and sports programme “high Altitude”. He is also an all round nice guy. I was delighted to meet him.
So with excitement and anticipation, our guide Magnus, Graham and myself, climbed aboard Valluga 1, the first of two cable cars that whisk you up to the highest peak 2,809m. The second is a small egg like gondola fitting just 6 people in, at this stage you are only allowed in with skis if accompanied by a guide. The reasons for this are clear. Valluga North is essentially a “no fall zone”, as it is circled by cliffs and skiers need to control their speed, before reaching the safety of the plateau Pazieljoch saddle. From here there is a great powder run to the foot of the Roggspitze and on to Zürs.
Today we were blessed by clear blue skies and cool temperatures, and we stopped a little to admire the view whilst Magnus explained the options for descent. The top was fairly icy and hard packed and Magnus asked Graham if he had edges. With a broad smile, Graham replied “a racer always has edges!”
I watched as Magnus set off carving quick turns, followed at a safe distance by Graham, one hand wielding his camera as he filmed the careful descent. I knew of course that around the next corner as they hit the safe powder bowl descent – speed would take over. On this occasion I didn’t join them, leaving the two men, Graham and Magnus to enjoy a fast exhilarating descent. But another time – and I would for sure be sharpening up my edges!
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Piste To Powder Blog Entry by Zoe