Wayne's Daily Diary

Wayne Watson

Wayne's photos

27 February 2017
It was great to ski with Jean!

As we desperately await snow tomorrow we enjoyed another sunny warm morning and I had the pleasure of skiing with Jean R. I had a new client Callum and along with Louise and Jean we headed for a lovely Sachette via the Lower Borsat, and we finished off with a great run in the Familial. It’s very warm at the moment and a lot of snow is ‘in-between’, which isn’t much good for anything! Anyway, it was great to have Jean back for a morning and when the conditions and group are right he’ll join us again sometime.

Chris was in the Sachette as well while Andreas decided the 3500 didn’t look too hot so he skied the Tour du Balme instead.

Stormy weather is forecast for tomorrow, which is fine as long as it brings snow! One forecast I’ve looked at predicts some snow tomorrow, and again Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Now that would be fantastic! Stay tuned!

PS We had 90-plus-year-old Jacques tag along for our warm-up run this morning with a huge grin on his face, and I’ve noticed some lovely ‘Alpine’ tracks left by John, Margaret, Jean and Richard H. Bravo!

26 February 2017
A better day than forecast!

It’s been a fun week with various characters, and I mean characters, such as Frits, Sarah, Camilla, Rupert, Lucy, and Mark, and this weekend Jules arrived with his pals Toby and Neil. The three lads are young, fit and strong skiers who are really good fun and certainly wore me out over the weekend. Anyway, it was sunnier than forecast today and we finished off the boys three-day-weekend with a double ‘skin’ to the Crete du Genepy and Mont Roup, and had some excellent snow although it was warmer than I had expected. It was a hot heavy day and a lot of the snow on the sunny exposures is turning to spring snow, even though it’s still February! Andreas skied with Virginie and Thierry today and they went off with helmets and big skis in search of adventure and I think the two of them wore out Andreas as well! Chris, Thomas and Henry were all off today enjoying lie-in’s, although I don’t think anyone gets a lie-in at either Henry or Thomas’ house with all those children to deal with. You’re both brave men!

Millie had a golf lesson on Saturday with her young coach James who is a great guy and he stopped by to visit earlier in the season. And today she played with Mark, who has been coaching her for a few years now. Mark has small children of his own and isn’t around as much as he used to be so it was a real treat for Millie, Sophie and Daisy to be able to play nine-holes with him. Thanks boys!

Katie is baking a rhubarb crumble for dessert tonight while Millie is in charge of burgers and it looks like one of my main ‘reasons-for-being’ is slipping away as the girls are taking over the cooking duties. I love my cooking but both the girls are seriously into their food so I’ll need to step back gracefully.

Chris came by yesterday and sorted out my internet problems and my Wi-Fi is up and running again and actually very quick, he’s help to sort my photo problem, my phone is working again, and thanks to Ray I’ve a new computer that I’m getting the hang of. My technological nightmare seems to be over, thanks very much boys!

We’ve a sunny day forecast for tomorrow and snow is expected on Tuesday. Fingers crossed on that one and stay tuned!

PS And thanks to Jules, Toby and Neil for a great lunch in the sun!

25 February 2017
Fun in the sun!

The sun returned and I’d heard the rumour of 30cm’s at the Fornet, which I didn’t believe because of the wind direction over the past couple of days, but it did sound like it needed to be verified one way or the other so Andreas and I headed up that way hoping for the best. We certainly didn’t find anywhere near 30cm’s but there was enough new snow to make a massive difference and we had a cracking good morning. First up was a lovely warm-up and a taste of what was to come off the Laisinant Express followed by a nice run in the Lower Combe du Signal en-route to the Glacier. Once upstairs we skied an excellent run in the Combe du 3300 followed by a trip over the Col Pers and out through the gorge. I keep saying that the last time was my last trip but since I first said that I’ve exited the gorge 5 more times! The Vallonnet looked dreadful so we circled back upstairs for the fastest Pays Desert in quite some time as it was getting late and both groups pretty much skied it top-to-bottom without stopping! It wasn’t 30cm’s but the thought of it was enough to tempt us to the Fornet and we were rewarded with a fantastic morning.

Chris had a new group and headed towards Tignes and a trip through the Sachette. He had a great morning although a couple of his skiers were having dreadful boot problems, which is no fun. In the skiing world happiness starts with the feet and if you’re in serious pain it is really difficult to ski let alone enjoy yourself. I hope you all get it sorted!

A cloudy day is forecast for tomorrow but I’m hoping for enough vis to travel comfortably because this fresh snowfall has given us some options. Stay tuned and come on you Hammers!

Speaking of sport I watched the Federer v Nadal highlights on you-tube last night. Wow, what a match and both players didn’t look like men in the twilight of their careers. They were both fantastic and it had to be perhaps the finest moment in Roger’s glittering career! Also have a look at Gary Lineker’s comments about Claudio’s sacking. Extremely well put as were Jose’s comments, which I haven’t seen or heard yet.

PS Fred and Liz are in Narli where Katie and I went riding and they’ve had some superb leopard sightings including leopard’s mating!

24 February 2017
Only 5 cm's but it helped!

About 5 cm’s of snow fell overnight with strong winds and although it wasn’t much it certainly helped. It was a rather grey day with wind and teasing patches of sunlight, but it was like the pot-of-gold-and-rainbow routine and as Chris and I headed to the bright light above the Sachette only to arrive in flat-light and patches of fog. We had a great ski however with some very good snow and just enough light to keep going all the way to the bottom. Andreas skied the Borsat, Lower Chardonnet and Sache while Thomas skied around the Balme and Motte. It was a pretty good day considering the lack of light and how little snow fell but sunshine is forecast again for tomorrow, although what we really need is a big dump!

There should be some photos for you to look at on the Wayne’s Photos link. If you click on it and find the old Picasa files (especially if the link is marked as a favourite) Chris says to delete the favourite link, go back into it and refresh and hopefully the new file will come up. It’s still a work in progress but at least there are some recent photos up.

Late yesterday afternoon there was another tragic accident as a 59-year-old Brit managed to ski off a cliff and kill himself. He ducked under the ropes off the Laisinant Chair (skiers-left) and somehow skied off the cliff, which was very close to the piste. I don’t know if he was skiing too fast and didn’t know the terrain below or what but what a sad situation. This is such a wonderful place but it is scary how a brief moment’s loss of concentration can be so costly, both on and off-piste.

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow and another big weekend of sport with the 6-Nations and Premiership in full swing.

Photos of the past week can also be found on the Valdinet website under Snow Reports.

23 February 2017
Now that was a great result!

Radio Val announced this morning that we’ve received 1/3 of the snow this year compared to the same time last season, and that includes the 50 to 60 cm’s of lovely powder that was washed away in the heavy rain at the end of November. To say it’s been a tough winter is an understatement but we’ve all really enjoyed the season and for the most part have delivered superb skiing under the circumstances. I must say that the past few days have been the most difficult of the season with very few options and the resort jam-packed with tourists, but we’ve still managed some pretty good skiing and kept away from the crowds. The snow the past few days has been what I call ‘educational’ but that doesn’t mean that it’s rubbish. ‘Educational’ snow just takes more technique than the perfect snow that many have become accustomed to and I personally love the challenge of ‘educational’ snow and often get more satisfaction from it than ‘perfect’ snow. (Of course we’ll all take beautiful snow every day of the week but…) If you have a well-timed pole plant, pivoting skills, steering skills, flexion and extension, and the ability to progressively pressure the snow, or just as importantly take pressure out of the snow and be able to apply what the snow needs then ‘educational’ snow is brilliant. (Of course there are varying degrees of ‘educational’!) If you lack in basic ‘skill’ levels then ‘educational’ snow is a wake-up call and you need to get your technique sorted, but good ski-able ‘educational’ snow is a fantastic educator and you can learn a lot from it. We had some brilliant winter snow today and some good ‘educational’ snow and I thought Rupert, Lucy and Mark really learned a lot in it. (One thing for sure is that fat skis are not a substitute for good technique!)

Anyway, I thought today was brilliant and I really enjoyed it. Chris and I ‘skinned’ up to the Crete du Genepy and the wind has totally ravaged the entire sector but we ended up skiing lightly supporting spring snow on the big steep slope above the pond, a little frisset on the flats and it was a decent result. Both teams felt like walking some more so we then ‘skinned’ up Mont Roup and from what we’d skied we were hoping that the main slopes that would have sun-crust would have warmed-up enough for the crust to melt leaving us with warm but good ‘educational’ snow. We were rewarded for our efforts and skied some fantastic winter frisset on the more northern slopes and when we ran out of northern slopes the sunny slopes skied beautifully, and it was a great result on a tough day.

I managed to kick off a surface sluff on one of the steep slopes, which is a timely reminder that things will move as the temperature rises as we approach the spring. And then on the way out when we re-grouped before traversing under the Charvet I told my team to spread out and keep an eye above them because the slope does tend to drop off from time-to-time. I also said that the chances of it dropping off on us were pretty slim but to spread out and look up anyway, and sure enough it slid between the last two skiers in the group. Fortunately it was a surface sluff and wouldn’t have killed anybody, but it was enough to have wrecked someone’s knees. So, it was a great outing with good skiing, ambience, solitude and a little action to boot!

Meanwhile Andreas headed up to the Col Des Fours and turned a potentially difficult outing into a great morning by ‘sniffing’ about and making the most of what was on offer. It was a brave move going out there because times are tough and no one has ventured out there since my sortie last week, and Andreas was pretty pleased with his morning. Thomas went adventure seeking and found exactly that as they needed to negotiate a steep couloir. He had a strong team and they dealt really well with the walk and the skiing and all the teams this morning pretty much had the mountain to themselves, which is a result in itself.

I’d better stop now as I’m now rabbiting on. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow and we’re expecting some snow over the next 24-hours!

PS Double great result, Chris and I, well Chris really, have made some progress and you can now look at the photos from today back until January 22nd, which was when I threw wine all over my computer. We haven’t worked out how to get all the photos in the archive up yet but at least there are some recent photos and you can scroll down to your holiday!

22 February 2017
Staying away from the crowds!

Thankfully the sun came back out today and with the crowds in the resort Chris and I returned to the Glacier Pers and had an excellent morning on our own with fantastic ambience and another trip through the gorge. Chris’ team opted to climb out while I took my team through as Mark, Lucy and Barnaby had never been through before while Frits was dying to go through again! The skiing was easier than yesterday due to the visibility but it was still ‘educational’ and the wind in places was blowing an absolute hoolie!

Thomas went for a big ‘skin’ and had a great time (code-mode) while Andreas started a private group and warmed them up with some ‘classic’s’ in Tignes.

I’m enjoying following Fred and Liz’s trip to India as they are visiting and staying in many of the same places that the girls and I stayed in when we were there. It’s easy to picture the hotels and forts and many of the owners and serving staff and I hope they’re having as good of time as we did!

Sun is forecast for tomorrow and hopefully the wind will die down. It’s tough out there with track-damage, wind-damage, and now we have sun-damage to deal with, but the good news is that we should see some snow on Friday. Not much is expected but anything will help!

Katie had a big night at Gym Club last night and was pleased with her progress on her front aerials and she said that she landed them all! Bravo Katie and I miss watching your sessions!

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

21 February 2017
An unexpected trip through the gorge!

I was expecting sunny skies this morning but it was overcast with a conflicting forecast of cloud rising from the valley below to clouds clearing as the morning progressed. Chris and I headed to the Fornet to go over the Col thinking that we might be high enough to stay above the sea-of-cloud that was forecast and also to stay away from the crowds. We ended up with cloud cover and the odd patch of sunshine and although the light was flat we had good visibility for navigating but not enough to properly ‘read’ the snow. Anyway, we ‘skinned’ up to the Glacier Pers and although the snow was ‘educational’ it was a great outing and everyone on both teams thoroughly enjoyed it. I could tell my team of Frits, Camilla, Sarah, Rupert, Penny and Nick were pretty adventurous and it was evident that they wanted to go through the gorge, so after explaining the pro’s and con’s and having a consultation with Chris we both decided to have a go. (Going through the gorge was definitely not part of the thought process this morning!) For many it was the first time and with the frozen waterfalls, some holes, and a fresh rock-fall to add to the ambience the cameras and smart-phones were clicking away. Near the bottom we found an easy place to walk out if necessary so Chris stayed with both teams while I went down to check out the exit and surprise, surprise, someone has been in there with a shovel rearranging the last snow bridge, which made it much easier than the other day when Millie went through. So we all made it down without incident and on the way out we were treated to an excellent wild-life show and one of Chris’ clients said, “What an end to a perfect morning”! And what a result for ‘educational’ snow!

Meanwhile Andreas and Thomas were planning an reconnaissance mission but were put off by the clouds and not really knowing what to expect weather-wise, so they went for a ‘double-skin’ and had sunshine for the most part and everyone had a great morning. Bravo boys for coming up with a Plan B that worked! I’m in code-mode again but I’ll give the gorge away because anyone who wants to go through the gorge is welcome! Henry was also in action with Karl and Pippa, who we haven’t seen for a few years so it was lovely to see them back, and Henry skied the Col Pers, Vallonnet and Grand Vallon.

My girls made it back in good time last night as the flight took off early, landed early, and except for the usual go-slow at customs it was a fantastic journey, and I made it home in good time to the Eagles, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin!

I’m hoping to get Chris over soon to see if we can get my photo link working but in the meantime a few photos are posted on Monday and Friday’s on the Valdinet site. Stay tuned!

20 February 2017
A bonus ski with my girls!

It has been a quiet few days so I took the morning off to ski with the girls as they leave this afternoon. We had a good blast about the piste with their friend Rosie and after a quick lunch we’re just about to head down the valley to the airport. Chris, Andreas and Henry were all in action today and heading towards Tignes as far as I know. We really could use some snow but it looks like we’ll need to soldier on for a few more days at least.

I’m back in action tomorrow so stay tuned for a more in-depth report and photos over the past three days are now on the Valdinet site.

19 February 2017
A morning out with the boys!

I rounded up the boys this morning and had a cracking morning with John E, Jean R and Richard H as we worked on a little technique, skied some lovely pistes, laid some great ‘Alpine’ tracks and even threw in a 20-minute ‘skin’. It was great to be out with the boys again and I hope we get the chance to ski together again soon. Meanwhile the girl’s entertained Margaret and they had a fantastic morning as well, and Rosie was very impressed with Margaret, but then again who isn’t? Henry was up at the Fornet and was planning on a little ‘skin’ out in the Pays Desert.

This afternoon I skied with Simon and Kristen and it was Kristen’s 28th birthday today. Happy birthday to you and you both did extremely well this afternoon, bravo!

Check Valdinet tomorrow for more photos and I’m signing off as it’s the girls last night. A demain!

18 February 2017
What a day off!!!!!

I enjoyed my first day off of the season today and didn’t get off the hill until 4 o’clock! This morning Gill, Millie, Katie and I skied the Face du Bellevarde, followed by the ‘L’, then a run off the Laisinant, a run off the Pyramid, then a Pays Desert and a Vallonnet on our way to lunch.

This afternoon we had a fantastic time skiing with Millie’s school friend Rosie who is staying with us this week. She won a well deserved ‘skier-of-the-day’ award for a brilliant performance. She has been skiing with Suzanne this week and she’s made amazing progress in this her third week of skiing. We were flying this afternoon and bravo to Rosie and well done Suzanne who has done a fantastic job with her this week. Thanks Suzanne!

Andreas and Chris were both out this morning and skiing at the Fornet. A centimetre or two of fresh snow fell overnight and with the wind we were hoping for some creamy strips and a bit of accumulation in the lee but we didn’t get as much help as we were hoping for. Still, it did help a little but a fresh canvas would be greatly appreciated, although the wait will continue!

I tested some Blizzard 85’s today and thought they were brilliant. Jean Sport won’t be stocking Movement next season as there won’t be a French distrubutor, which would leave Didier without any after sales service support and he can’t operate without the back-up of the manufacturer, so I’m looking ahead to life without my lovely Movements. Up against my Vertex (Bonds) skis they were the same underfoot even though they say 85, and the Blizzard’s were slightly narrower at both the tip and tail, and I think they have real potential. I’ll test them again after a snowfall to see how they ski in powder but at the moment I wouldn’t hesitate to ski on them next season.

Those of you who skied with me last week can now find the photos on the Valdinet website under Snow Report dated February 16th, and it features a photo of Doug, which then turns into a slide show. And have a look anyway as it’s my only chance to post photos these days although hopefully Chris and I will get things sorted next week when the girls return to England and Chris isn’t doing so many afternoons. Fingers crossed on that one!

17 February 2017
Plan D worked out quite nicely!

The day turned out much better than forecast and for the most part we enjoyed a bright sunny ski. After days of skiing around the center of Val d’Isere (Charvet/Mont Roup and surrounding sectors) and the Fornet the team decided on a change of scenery this morning and we all headed towards Tignes. Chris and I ended up with lift problems (plus I managed to temporarily misplace 75% of my team for a short time) and by the time everything was sorted out people were milling about everywhere and we decided to go for a ‘skin’ and get away from it all. We headed to Mont Roup and I must say it was much better than it might have been and we had excellent skiing with no one else around. Chris had 15-year-old Josh along and it was Josh’s first real off-piste experience as well as his first-ever ‘skin’, and he performed brilliantly and thoroughly enjoyed himself. Bravo Josh! Meanwhile Andreas and Thomas made it into Tignes and had a great morning in the Sachette skiing the Sachette Couloir and then the Familial on the way home.

The forecast is for another stunning day of sunshine tomorrow, although some snow would be welcome but in the meantime I’m happy with clear blue skies so we can see the best snow on offer. When times are tough it’s really difficult to ‘sniff’ out the good strips when the light is flat and you can sometimes look like a rubbish skier when leading in flat-light and skiing into wandering plaque or old tracks, and you know we always want to look our best!

I might have my first day-off of the season tomorrow and am looking forward to a family ski with the girls. It’s rare that we can ski in the mornings together so I’m really looking forward to it. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

PS Don’t forget to check the photos on the Valdinet website and click on Snow Reports and then again to get up the revolving slide show.

PPS The latest update hasn’t yet been uploaded. Bummer!

16 February 2017
The end of the gorge!

The sun was beating down again today and after a long walk yesterday I took it easy on my team this morning with a couple of short ‘skins’ in the Pays Desert. As usual the scenery was fantastic and we had lovely easy snow top-to-bottom and the team loved it. I had Millie, Sarah and Sim who had never been through the gorge before and with time running out due to the deterioration of a couple of the snow-bridges Chris and I both took our teams over the Col Pers and through the gorge. The skiing was a bonus as it is still pretty good out back with clean lines still to be found but the real fun was the gorge itself. It has changed drastically since Monday and the exit was pretty exiting to say the least. The snow-bridge near the exit by the rock that juts out is now almost non-existent and everyone had a few flutters of the heart and some nervous moments crossing that bridge. Chris had a client drop and ski into the drink and poor Chris had to go in and fish it out, ending up with soaking wet feet and the prospect of working this afternoon. Bummer Chris! Chris kindly waited for my team to arrive in case we needed any help but everyone made it through without further incident and they all thoroughly savoured what will be our last trip through the gorge until, and if it fills back in. I must say it was fantastic having the gorge open this season and I for one thoroughly enjoyed all my trips through it, and for those who experienced it for the first time today they’ll certainly remember it! Meanwhile Andreas ‘skinned’ up to the Col des Barmes de l’Ours, which is a pretty jolly good hike and bravo to everyone, and was rewarded with a great ski down, and I’m not too sure what Thomas skied with the Parker family, and Henry is on-piste this week.

Cloudy weather is forecast for tomorrow so let’s hope they have that wrong unless of course it snows!

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow and some photos from this week will be posted tomorrow morning on the Valdinet site, and with any luck my photo link may be up and running soon. Fingers crossed on that one!

15 February 2017
Tough skiing but a great outing!

It was another gloriously sunny day and having a strong team today I decided on a trip to the Col des Fours. We had a lovely walk with absolutely no one else around and ‘skinned’ up through beautiful snow, which is sometimes not a good sign, and we when arrived at the Col the back-side had been shredded by the wind. What a bummer! But, we made the most of it and chose the best snow and route available and the team of Adam, Tom, Jerry, Jumbo, Angus, Doug and Gill did a superb job leaving great tracks in some ‘educational’ snow, and leaving extra-good tracks in the easier snow! Bravo to everyone for a solid performance! Meanwhile, the rest of the boys were out in the Pays Desert skiing some great snow before going over the Col for the Col Pers or Vallonnet.

Sunshine is forecast for the next few days so it isn’t going to get any easier option-wise. It was fairly warm today and the sun is now damaging the sunny exposures, and add that to wind damage and tracks and you can see that we have our work cut out for us. Anyway, what else is new?

I tried to donwload some photos last night but my camera card doesn’t fit into my new computer, which was a surprise! I need to buy a card-reader or get Gill to send the little cable that I left in England because I’ve never needed it before!

Thanks to Russell, along with Stephanie and Charlie, for taking Millie and Katie skiing this morning. They had a fantastic time and said that Stephanie was so nice (or course, she’s Canadian!) and that Charlie was sooooo funny! (of course because Charlie is Charlie!) Thanks everyone although Gill is exhausted after her ‘skinning’ trip this morning!

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow and some photos from last weekend can be seen on the Valdinet site under ‘Snow Reports’.

PS I took some great photos of the team in action this morning and a few will be posted on Valdinet Monday morning.

PPS Apologies to Ray but my card does fit and I’m dangerous close to being able to get some photos up. I might need to recruit Doug and Chris for the final phase!

14 February 2017
Another top day on the mountain!

I’m just getting the hang of my new computer that Ray has set up for me, thanks so much Ray! And thank you to Geoff D who supplied a Macbook Air that Millie and Katie have their eyes on!

Anyway, on to today’s skiing. We had a team ‘skin’ today and I thought it was another jolly good morning. Millie came along and is happy to be in her Dad’s group again, and it was Marion’s first-ever ‘skin’, and she did brilliantly and thoroughly enjoyed it!

We’ve had emails, texts, and phone calls from all over the world about yesterday’s tragic accident in Tignes. Thank you all for your concern. I must apologise for not being able to respond to emails as I’ve had trouble with my phone and emails and it’s been a struggle. I’ll now be able to start re-building my address book as and when you send me an email.

Chris had three new clients cancel today because of yesterday’s avalanche and it’s quite sad that people think the world is suddenly such a dangerous place after rare accidents, whether it be a terrorist attack that stops people travelling or an avalanche that stops people skiing. Andreas has also had people wondering about their trip in April, when conditions will be totally different. Yesterday’s slide took place on one of the biggest nastiest slopes in the resort, one that rarely gets skied in winter. In the spring it becomes an option with the felt/freeze cycle that stabilises the mountain and conditions are generally much more stable in the spring. What happened yesterday was an incredibly sad but rare occurrence, and this is a huge resort with so many safe options and I really hope that yesterday’s horrible accident doesn’t put people off the wonderful world of off-piste skiing.

Gill is looking forward to her first off-piste excursion of the season tomorrow. Millie has taken her place so far this season as Gill skis with Katie but the girls are skiing with Russell tomorrow so Gill is getting a rare chance. Thanks Russell!

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow and maybe I’ll have the photos sorted by then?

13 February 2017
Tragedy on the Lavachet!!!!

I had a good trip to the airport last night to pick up my beautiful girls and Millie’s lovely friend Rosie, and I got into bed at about 1:45AM. Fortunately the sun was shining this morning and the entire team took the opportunity to ski up at the Fornet and have a trip through the gorge before the last snow-bridge collapses. Between us we skied the Col Pers, the Lechoir, the Vallonnet, an Oh My variation, the Pays Desert, and the Grand Vallon and I thought it was a cracking good morning. I had a new client named Dave who drove over from Tignes and he had a fantastic time as he really enjoyed the experience. We had a sandwich together at the Gourmandine as I had the pleasure of skiing with Clive’s daughter Georgina and his grandson Jack this afternoon. Thanks Dave! And well skied this morning Trevor who turned pro when the going got weird!

A great day was marred by a tragedy in Tignes on the big slope of the Lavachet, which avalanched and at least 4 people have died with another in serious condition. Thankfully everyone we know is safe but somewhere in the resort there will be some people in a living hell tonight. I don’t really have much else to say so I’ll stop there for today. Stay tuned!

PS Photos of the avalanche are on the Radio Val website, the BBC and Henry’s site and photos of the weekend’s skiing are on the Valdinet site.

12 February 2017
What a brilliant morning!!!

Today was one of those days that looked incredibly uninspiring at 7AM with overcast skies and a howling easterly wind the was humming in the chimney and shaking trees about at street level, but we all know to never underestimate this place as we had a stunning morning. Radio Val was painting a black picture wind-wise but once up the mountain it wasn’t too bad at all and although it was overcast the light was still bright and forecast to get better as the morning wore on. We did a double ‘skin’ and were rewarded with some fantastic skiing and snow and what a pleasant morning it turned out to be. I had a tight team with Jumbo and his 19-year-old son Angus, along with Doug and Shred and evidence of our good work can be found tomorrow morning on the Valdinet.com Snow Report. (It’s definitely code-mode time again!)

Thomas had a terrific morning as well skiing with the Parker family. He was very pleasantly surprised at how nice of day it turned out to be and also with the snow conditions. The wind has blown in a lovely cushion of snow and in some areas we have a ‘fresh canvas’ of creamy snow to work with, which is great news after last week’s powder extravaganza!

Hort, please let Stretch know that I know that he’s trying to get hold of me. I’ve had a technological melt-down and even my phone is out of order so I haven’t been able to listen to his message. Thanks!

I’m off to Lyon soon to pick up the girls and I’m thankful that it isn’t a snowy night with blizzard-like conditions. Stay tuned!

11 February 2017
Wow, what a finsih!!!

The sun came out today and what a glorious finish to an absolutely stunning week. After spending all week in Tignes and around the Charvet/Manchet sectors it was time to take the team up to the Fornet for a change of scenery and for many a first-ever trip through the gorge. It was a wonderful morning with excellent skiing, fabulous views and great ambience. I’ve had such a lovely team this week with Dave and Sue, Kevin (who I’ve known for over thirty-years), and Stephen and Al, all of whom just happen to be staying together in the YSE Chalet Les Chardons, so the team really gelled. (Unfortunately Tony-the-dentist couldn’t make it due to illness)

I saw Andreas in the bus at the end of the morning and he was grinning from ear-to-ear and glowing like a man who’s just had his first child! You can tell that satisfied look on someone’s face when they know it couldn’t have gone any better He did a short ‘skin’ (code mode as times get tough around here quickly!) then finished up with his team over the Col and through the gorge, and being James and Richard’s last day it was a cracker to finish on.

Last I saw of Chris he was heading up to the Point Pers with Doug and Suzanne so after a great Col Pers Chris decided to go for gold as he has the day off tomorrow. Nice one JC! Thomas was up at the Fornet as well and came up with a good plan to finish the morning, which I thought was jolly good, thanks Thomas!

I’ve probably skied through the gorge 15 times or so this season and it has been as easy as it gets, but today a new hole is developing where is looked solid last week and there is a fragile looking snow-bridge around it. I that bridge goes that will be the end of the gorge for a while and it just shows how quickly conditions change!

I’m off to the gym before I get stuck in on my tidying up routine. What a drag but like Andreas I’m buzzing so that will help as I beaver away. And come on you Hammers to round off a perfect day!

PS I’m picking up the girls tomorrow night!

PPS And a well deserved ‘skier-of-the-morning’ award to Stephen this morning, and bravo Dave for such good progress this week!

10 February 2017
Tougher conditions but great results all around!

The easterly wind that started to blow yesterday afternoon certainly did some damage but the day started out brightly and with visibility on our side we enjoyed another great morning on what could have been a tricky outing. I hummed-and-hawed this morning about what to do and went from Plan A to about Plan G but it all worked out pretty well in the end. We started off with a nice run off the Mont Blanc piste trying to get some photos for John Yates-Smith’s YSE Photo of the Day, and I must say we took some great shots and the snow was excellent. Then we skied a Lower Borsat because 100 people were walking to the top, followed by a nice run off the Grand Huit, then we ‘skinned’ into the Sachette, which was really good with great ambience, then a quick Alti-port to finish. Andreas and Thomas both skied the Little Lavachet then Andreas moved on the the Balme before skiing the Sachette, Chris took the Kennedy family team up to the Fornet and I’m not too sure what Henry skied today.

I’m off down the valley for a big shop as the girls are coming Sunday night, and of course I need to peak at exactly the right moment with my tidying up business! So I’ll sign-off and perhaps add a bit more later. If not, stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

PS There are quite a few photos on the Valdinet website. Go to Snow Reports and click on the writing and when it comes up you can move the photos along. There are about 19 this week and I tried to put one up of everyone who has skied with me this week.

PPS I forgot to mention that we had a nice run with Jean R yesterday to start the morning. He followed us down in some lovely snow and it was great to have him along, although very briefly!

PPPS I was stopped by the Gendarmes coming back up the mountain after my shopping trip, and of course I had no ID, no driver’s licence, no carte gris, no anything. I told them I’d been shopping for my family who arrive Sunday night on holidays and they took pity on me and let me go. I think I was more hassle than it was worth. Anyway, the Gendarmes seem to be very nice to me over the years, it must be my honest face?

9 February 2017
Happy Birthday Nana!!!

The best skiing of the season continued this morning and today we our best visibility since last Friday, and I think everyone was grateful for it. It was time for a change of scenery today so I started by being first into the Little Lavachet, which was fantastic. Andreas started with the Borsat en-route to an excellent Chardonnet and Chris, Andreas and I ended up skiing the Sache together. We were the first in again over the first little Col and the first pitch was a little tricky with the only flat-light of the day, but the snow just got better and better the lower we skied. From there we finsihed with various variations in the Familial, which was wonderful, and it was another cracking morning for the lucky Alpine skiers who are here this week.

Chris did the business today with a 10-year-old girl named Emma in his group, and I had the pleasure of skiing with Roddie and Sarah Finlay’s daughter Fay and her boyfriend Greg this afternoon. Greg made amazing progress as he’s only skied 4-weeks. Bravo to both Emma and Greg!

I’d like to wish Gill’s Mum Liz a very happy birthday today. She’s celebrating at home with family before heading off to India tomorrow to see in her 75th year in style. Have a brilliant time Nana (and you too Fred!)

I must run as I need to go to Chris’ to send off my photos for the Valdinet website. If you want to see some photos log on tomorrow! Stay tuned!

PS Thomas had a great day with his Belgian clients and Henry was also in action today!

PPS I almost forget Al’s ‘skier-of-the morning’ award. Nice one Al and great to see the return of your mojo!!!

8 February 2017
The True North Strong and Free!

It was a tougher ski this morning for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it didn’t snow enough yesterday afternoon and during the night to cover any tracks and a lot of the good snow has been hit pretty hard during the past few days making it necessary to try somewhere else. And secondly, the atmospheric condidtions were much more difficult. The cloud cover was thicker, there were more fog patches, and it just seemed as if there wasn’t as many bright spots or sunny bits. Andreas and I started off on the Borsat and had a great start to the morning with just enough light and from there I headed up to the Motte hoping for thinner cloud or perhaps even a little sunshine. Pat Z was thinking the same and we arrived upstairs to fantastic visibility and if one used their imagination you could even say ‘sunshine’! The snow was much more ‘educational’ than the glorious snow of the past few days but with the great vis it was very skiable and everyone enjoyed it. Both Pat and I circled around for another run hoping for some more lifts opening as well as more sun but by the time we arrived back on top the cloud and fog had risen, although the light wasn’t dreadful, but that same snow was a little more demanding without the visibility. I then decided on a change of scenery and hooked up with Andreas for a lovely run in the Familial/Alti-port followed by a real ‘morning-clincher’ off the Epaule du Charvet. It has been excellent the past few days and even though it was a little warmer today the snow was still fantastic and we found ‘clean’ snow right to the bottom. It turned out to be a pretty good morning but it wasn’t as easy as the last few days!

Chris is working all-day with a family group and it must have been tough out there this afternoon with light snow falling and flat-light, and both Thomas and Henry were in action today as well, doing their best to ‘sniff’ out the good snow as well as trying to find pockets of visibility. (It’s a bit like searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!)

It was a fantastic day for Canadian skiing today! Firstly, Wayne Watson didn’t noodle himself, which was a great result in itself, but secondly Canadians came first and third in the World Championship Super G today in Switzerland! That has to be the best Canadian result since the Crazy Canuck days of Ken Read, Dave Murray, Steve Podborski and Dave Irwin. It’s not quite as long of drought as the last England World Cup win, but it has been a while! Bravo boys, and Oh Canada!

A little sun is forecast for tomorrow, which is great news although we’ll need to deal with a ‘powder-frenzy’, which will be even worse after thousands of people have been cooped up with ‘cabin-fever’ these past few days and they’ll be going berserk with fresh snow and sunshine. We’ll have to come up with somewhere to hide and weather the storm. Stay tuned!

7 February 2017
It just keeps getting better!!!

Well if yesterday was stunning because it was, today was expectionally stunning! We were expecting flat-light again but for the second day running the visibility was much better than forecast and with deep light snow it was game on! Chris and I opened up the Tour du Charvet and TJ’s Shoulder, which is always a treat and it was fantastic, followed by two great runs in the Arcelle before skiing one in the Marmottons, and then we finished a brilliant morning with an outstanding Epuale du Charvet. Meanwhile Andreas and Henry had a fantastic time up at the Fornet with a Super L, Grand Vallon, and a Combe du Signal before coming over to the Arcelle, and Thomas started off with a couple in the Fontaine Froide before skiing the Tour du Charvet and Arcelle.

Someone skied the Face du Charvet today and I must say they did a brilliant job, the tracks were tight and a lot of people around the resort will be giving us credit for it! (Although it was a pretty brave move!) Whoever it was picked the right day, was courageous and executed the decent to perfection. Chapeau to everyone involved!

It started to snow lightly around 2 pm and we should have another 10cm’s or so of fresh snow by the morning. Chris is doing the business and skiing all-day at the moment so bravo and good luck JC!

My Salomon test boots arrived this morning and it was fantastic to ski on them again. They are light, soft and extremely sensitive giving a great feel and connection with the snow. However I still managed to ski off another drop in the only real flat-light of the morning, but at least this one had a soft landing. That makes three hits this week and surely that should do me for this season?

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

PS The girls are starting to get really excited about their return and it will be fun to have Millie’s friend Rosie here to experience our Winter-Wonderland!

6 February 2017
Simply magnificent!!!

Well, last Friday had to be one of the top 3 or 4 days of the season, but today was equally as good and maybe even better! Today we didn’t have the clear blue skies and maybe not quite the same ‘maximum-turn’ factor, although we did ski 2 Fontaine Froide’s, one off the Verte, Borsat Nord and meadows into Tignes, two Combe des Lanches, and bits and pieces off the Familial on the way home, but what made today exceptional was the depth and quality of the snow. There was 40-plus centimetres in places and Andreas and I managed to stay in the sun together all morning long, which made a massive difference because there was fog and flat-light lurking almost everywhere. I had the privilege of opening up the Combe des Lanches in beautiful deep light snow and Andreas followed me in about ten-minutes later and when we finally reached the bottom no one else had come in behind us, which is incredibly rare, especially during the holidays! Because we’d made the track we circled back around for another run but by this time a few others had got in on the act, but we still had most of the bowl clean to chose our lines. Chris and Henry were skiing as well and I lost track of Chris after the second Fontaine Froide and the last I saw of Henry was on the Borsat, but I’m sure they had fantastic mornings as well!

Last Tuesday I took a big hit after dropping off a 2-metre wall off the Motte in flat-light but today was the most violent fall I’ve had in 20-years or so. I was skiing at speed on the Borsat piste and hooked a tip in some soft snow, which spun me around and I piled in shoulder-and-head first with incredibly force. It’s the first time I’ve come out of my pin-bindings and my skis were miles behind, my poles and glasses went flying and it took a few moments to realize that I wasn’t injured. I gave myself a serious whiplash and I know I’m going to be stiff and sore again tomorrow. It was the first time that I’ve whacked my head in a long, long time and for a moment thought that maybe a helmet might have been a good idea, but then I thought that maybe I might have broken my neck with the extra leverage? Anyway, my head is fine but my neck is sore and one thing for certain is that I’m way too old to be piling in like that and hopefully that’s me done for the season!

I must give Dave D a ‘skier-of-the-morning’ for some solid progress and I’ve never seen him so fluid in the powder! Bravo Dave and what a promising performance. Kevin S also had a top day and what a start to everyone’s week!

Congratulations to Michael Rosen who will have been the happiest man in America last night (except perhaps for Tom Brady’s Dad) as his Patriots won the Super Bowl in overtime after being down 25 points in the second-half! It must have been one of the best Super Bowl’s ever and I’m sure Michael was absolutely exhausted afterwards. Ahh, the thrill of victory!

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

5 February 2017
Welcome to Winter!

It didn’t snow at all overnight so we didnt get any help on the fresh-snow front but it did start to snow around 7AM and has continued throughout the day. It was a tougher start than yesterday as we tried the Familial in flat-light and it wasn’t the best, and in fact I won the ‘splat du jour’ award with a lovely head-first somersault that filled my goggles with snow and made a flat-light day even worse! Anyway, Chris, Henry and I recovered and we had some good snow in the Borsat and Meadows, followed by a fantastic run in the Combe des Lanches, and great snow off the Motte. I twigged my back, which could have been a complication from the hit I took on the Motte last Tuesday, or a result of my splat, or a combination but I must admit to taking the bubbles down from the Folie Douce at the end of the morning because I’d had enough! Hopefully some Pilates and drugs will sort me out by tomorrow.

It is really starting to look like a ‘winter wonderland’ with the snow that has fallen over the past 48-hours. The girls will be getting extremely excited by their return next Sunday as they both love the snow and have been waiting for it. Millie is bringing a friend who has never seen snow like this before so it will be a fantastic experience for Rosie. I hope the weather clears before I pick them up next Sunday night because I certainly wouldn’t want to be on the roads today, it must be chaos down the valley.

Photos from the past three days will be posted tomorrow morning on the Valdinet website and I’ve tried to put up a photo of everyone who’s participated over the weekend. And I must say that I’m a Happier Hammer today and glad that we’re through with that Man City lot for the season! Stay tuned!

PS Good luck to Millie who is playing in a Surrey County Girls Knock-Out Competition today. Have a great time Millie!

PS Millie had a fantastic day playing in the match at the Royal-Mid Surrey. She played against a girl who plays for England and the young lady is going to Portugal next week to represent her country! Millie enjoyed the experience and it was good for her to see how well girls can play golf and where you can take your talent with practice. Bravo Mils! And she ran into Ian Noble at the club as Ian was hitting some balls on the range. See you next month Ian!

4 February 2017
Great opening, brilliant finish!!!

The wind was howling this morning and the skies were overcast with a bit of fog floating about but the good news was 10cm’s of fresh snow. The Olympique opened 10-minutes earlier today so Chris and I warmed up with an excellent first-track run on the Face du Bellevarde. From there my team skied the Fontaine Froide, off the Verte, two on Bonnvie’s Drag, the hooked back up for Chris for a Lower Borsat Nord and meadows into Tignes, one off the Motte via the edge of the Genepy and by this time Tignes was shutting down due to violent wind. Thomas said he’s never seen the chairs swinging around so wildly on Toviere before and we made it back via the Fresse chair. From their we had a stunning run in the Jardin du Borsat Nord (some of the best snow of the season) before finishing with a run under the Mont Blanc and lower Familial. For the last hour the sun came out and it transformed the morning allowing us to finish the morning in style! It was a ‘maximum-turn’ morning and considering the light we did a lot of skiing!

Thanks to Thomas this morning for the track coming out of the Borsat. It was foggy when we were in there and I was extremely pleased when I came upon his track near the exit! Coming out of the Funicular in Tignes we noticed that the avalanche risk had shot up to 4/5, which isn’t surprising as vasts amounts of snow are being transported in the wind. Tommeuses, Toviere, and the Mont Blanc were some of many lifts that were closed this morning and by the early afternoon it looked as if most of the resort had shut down.

Winter has arrived and the risk is going up so if you’re interested in my used ABS bag with a light carbon cylinder please let me know!

I’ll probably add to the update later but in the meantime, go Hammers!

3 February 2017
One of the 'top five' of the season!

A lovely cushion of fresh snow fell overnight but what really made today special was the unexpected sunshine that led to a ‘maximum-turn’ extravaganza! My team dove straight into the Grand Vallon with Chris and co, then the Combe du Signal, followed by the 3300, then a Pays Desert and a Col Pers and gorge to finish. Andreas, Thomas, Chris and Henry were all filling their boots at the Fornet and a most wonderful morning was enjoyed by all! Thomas’ wife Muriel worked for us today and she had a fantastic time with some new clients that came from the Valdinet website. (Where you can find the only photos I can post at the moment) TJ skied the Little Lavachet and the Sachette this morning and said it was brilliant, but unfortunately it’s his last day and he and his sons Rollie and Oscar will be sadly leaving us in the morning, but not before one more little soiree!

It clouded over this afternoon and it has just started to snow again around 4:15pm, so we should have another fresh canvas again tomorrow, although we’ll be very lucky to get much visibility. But I’m an optimist and find that usually things work out better than expected so I won’t be losing any sleep over the forecast tonight. Stay tuned!

PS It turns out that the helicopter yesterday was winching Gendarmes down into one of the cliff/waterfalls coming out of the Col des Fours. An ESF led group had someone fall and the it wasn’t a good situation at all, but I’ve heard no more news about it. There is however a link on the Valdinet.com website on my snow report about the person who fell off the cliff on the Charvet a couple of days ago.

PPS Just received the forecast from Louise and it should be snowing tomorrow with some gusting wind and somehow I’m not sure optimism will be enough on the visibility-front!

2 February 2017
More wind and changing conditions!

The winded picked up this morning and became a factor as it’s starting to work over what was some pretty good snow. With the wet snow and drizzle in the village the lower slopes are a little tricky in places but the higher you go the colder and drier the snow and there is still some excellent snow to be found. Chris, TJ and I all skied Mont Roup today and the meadows down from the Borsat were very good, and the upper section of Mont Roup itself was great but lower down you could feel the affects of the humidity in the snowpack and the wind. Andreas headed Little Lavachet way en-route to the Sachette while Thomas was working with Jerome and they were up at the Fornet.

Up until now we’ve had very stable conditions this season and we’ve been able to attack some big slopes but conditions are now changing and the snowpack doesn’t feel as stable. I think we’re in for a period of calming it down and caution, especially if the snow starts to fall. I’ve lost confidence in the stability of the big slopes as you can feel the under-layers collapsing now when traversing, skiing and even today while ‘skinning’.

We saw a Gendarmes helicopter landing beside the Manchet piste today and Doug mentioned that the police only show up when there has been a fatality. Let’s hope Doug has that one wrong! It seems as if a lot was going on today as helicopters have been flying about for a good part of the day but I haven’t heard any news. Someone told me this morning that someone skied off a cliff on the Rocher du Bellevarde yesterday and that the skier was in the hospital. There was no news of it on Radio Val so who knows, but I do know that they don’t report everything that happens!

The wind is forecast to blow and gust to 100km/h this afternoon and into the night but hopefully we’ll get some vis in the morning. Stay tuned!

PS Some fresh photos will be posted in the morning on the Valdinet site. I can only post between 15 and 20, which is how many I can post on a powder day, but it’s better than none!

1 February 2017
Bravo team Chris!!!

The sun came out today and with it quite a few people who weren’t skiing off-piste yesterday, but we all managed a quiet day for the most part. The wet snow from yesterday did wonders smoothing out the surface and we all had a fantastic morning. It was Baz’‘s last day so I wanted to give him a change of scenery so we opened up with an excellent run on TJ’s Shoulder in total solitude, followed by a play off the ‘L’, then Henry’s Gully followed by a double ‘skin’ in the Pays Desert. My team stopped there for lunch or a rest as it was 1PM so Baz and I found a nice line in the Super L for a 1:30 finish. Meanwhile TJ skied his shoulder as well followed by the Cugnai, while Andreas ‘skinned’ to the Crete du Genepy then headed up to the Vallonnet. Thomas headed towards Tignes with Wynne and Barbara and I’m not too sure what Henry skied today.

I’d like to give a special mention to Chris’ team of Bill, Elin, John, Ken and Anne who all put in a stunning performance in the Pays Desert this morning. They ‘skinned’ up quite high from the T-Bar and laid some exquisite tracks that were pleasing on the eye and very pleasing for Chris as well. They are fairly new to off-piste, especially the way we ski and they did themselves proud, bravo to you all!

We should see some sunshine in the morning, or at least have decent light and with any luck perhaps a few snowflakes will fall tomorrow afternoon and into the evening. Fingers crossed on that one and stay tuned! (And come on you Hammers although I spent all my sports points on Roger and can’t ask for too much more!)

PS I had a great evening chez-moi last night with TJ and his boys Rollie and Oscar, Chris and Suzanne and Russell. It was really good fun and lovely to see everyone.

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