Wayne's Daily Diary

Wayne Watson

Wayne's photos

21 December 2014
Off to the airport!

Last night’s prize-giving was great entertainment and there is no doubt that Lindsay Vonn is the star attraction on the Women’s World Cup Circuit. Pure class, even if we’re unsure about her taste in men! Her next win will place her tied for the all-time lead with 62 wins on the Women’s Tour. Did I mention class?

Anyway, I’m going into ‘code mode’ as the resort is filling up and our powder stashes are becoming rarer, so I’ll let the photos do the talking. Today had Andreas, Oli and I all in the same sector, while Chris was out with Suzanne exploring. Thomas has been out of action as his newly-born daughter Elisa has been having some respiratory problems and Thomas is spending time with his family. We all wish little Elisa a speedy recovery.

I’m off to finalise my preparations before heading down to Geneva to pick up Gill, Millie, Katie, and Red Ray.

21 December 2014
ABS Recall!
ABS have recalled some of their airbags and below is a response from Andreas:

Ok, many of you would have now heard about the recall of metal bottles
for the abs bags. I have just spoken to one of the main developers of
this system so here’s a bit of help and explanation. Yes, it’s true
that in 1 out of 100000 steel bottles there could be a default that
would cause a problem the SECOND time you pull your bag. There is
however a very easy way to check that your base system is working fine
and could even cope with a default bottle. So, to cut a long story
short, yes, if you have a black steel bottle in your bag it will be
replaced by ABS. But, we know that there’s not enough bottles around
in Europe to change all at the same time so instead of risking
spending the winter waiting for a new one, we suggest you have it
checked to make sure it could take even a default bottle and then
you’re ok for the winter and then have it changed over the summer
months. We will try to organize a day in Val next week where you can
come and have your system checked for free so you can relax so more
info on that later. I do enforce that if you have a carbon bottle ,
there is no problem. Hope this helps you all and contact us if any
other questions, we feel ABS way of communicating this is very bad
although we do enjoy their products and want to be assured they work
100% ! Andreas , alpine experience !

20 December 2014
Tignes, needed or not!

The day started of cloudy with pretty flat-light but the vis was decent and by 11:30 the clouds started to disperse giving way to a stunning afternoon. Oli, JM, Andreas and I all headed to Tignes for a change of scenery and although the snow wasn’t the easiest we had a really good morning. I skied off the Verte, the Lower Borsat, off the Genepy from the Motte, two in the Campanules and one in the Jardin du Borsat to finish, so we did get in quite a lot of skiing. (NO walkies today) The boys all skied similar slopes with Andreas having the ‘sniff’ in the Lower Chardonnet and I think the boys had a go in the Upper Familial.

It was race day today with another race tomorrow and it all went well and was a huge success. I’m looking forward to the prize-giving tonight as it’s usually pretty entertaining and there should be some hype with Lindsay winning.

I’d like to thanks Didier and Emily for a fantastic drinks and nibbles session at Jean Sports last night. Also thanks to JM, Oli, and their lovely wives for their contribution to a cracking evening with excellent wine and great food.

I must go and finish off my cleaning and tidying as the girls are arriving tomorrow and I’m out with Biggy and Carlotta tonight. And come on you Hammers! (Photos are up)

19 December 2014
After a negative test a cracking good result!

The sun returned today but after yesterday’s heat, humidity, rain and wind we were hoping that the snow had dried out and we’d have easier skiing, but the other possibility was that the snow was wet enough to form a crust with the freeze overnight. I cut out left at the Col hoping for the best as I tested the snow, but the first feel was dreadful and I didn’t even attempt a turn and immediately returned to the piste. The next test was out in the Pays Desert from the t-bar and this was more promising, although it still wasn’t easy. In the end Andreas and I continued on and ended up having a pretty jolly good ski in the Pays Desert, but we decided against our original plan of popping over the Col Pers. Chris joined us as he was skiing with Jim’s family and although new to off-piste they handled it really well and thoroughly enjoyed their outing. We finished off with some warm but good snow in the upper Marmottes before cutting back to the Solaise piste.

I wanted to say bravo to 16-year-old Sophie who skied beautifully today. She dealt with the tricky snow with perfect rhythm and was lovely to watch.

JM and Oli went for a day trip down towards the Tretetes and I haven’t heard how they got on and Henry was also skiing at the Fornet today, while Thomas was working on the World Cup preparations.

My great mate Biggy has arrived for a week with his lovely wife Carlotta. I started teaching Biggy when he was 12-years-old and I was 20, so we go back a long ways. He was here in my early years and knows things about me that should probably be forgotten, but what are friends for!

We may see a few more flakes tonight and it’s 50/50 about our vis in the morning. Stay tuned!

18 December 2014
Not what was expected!

Everyone was pretty excited this morning because it snowed 15cm’s overnight and we all headed to the Fornet with great expectations. Unfortunately, the snow was humid, warm, and had been compressed by the wind, and I must say it was the most difficult snow I’ve skied all season. Still, it was good skiing and no one was complaining, but the good news is that the thick snow will stick to the mountain and help to build a base, which we desperately need.

It is drizzling lightly in the resort at the moment (2:40PM) so hopefully some more snow will fall at altitude. It is forecast to clear overnight, which would help dry the snow out, and we are expecting clear skies in the morning. Fingers crossed because a cold night could give us some wonderful skiing tomorrow.

17 December 2014
A cracking morning over the Col Pers!

After yesterday’s white-out conditions we were all chomping at the bit this morning as the vis promised to be good enough to travel. Chris, Andreas and I all headed up to the Fornet and dove straight over the Col Pers, which had filled in nicely with 10cm’s of fresh snow, giving us great skiing right from the top. We then ‘skinned’ towards the Grand Vallon while Andreas skied a few pitches in the Vallonnet en-route. The Grand Vallon had improved with the fresh snow although you still need to pick your way carefully due to the rocks lurking under the surface. I skied to the bottom to check it out and we only needed to take our skis off a couple of times, while Andreas went back up and ‘booted’ it up under the bubble lift for some good bonus turns, and I’m not too sure where Chris ended up.

JM and Olivier went off with their touring teams and I don’t know what their plans were, but they definitely had better light to work with than yesterday.

It closed in by 1PM and it is now snowing lightly (2:15) and we should get enough to make a difference, at least in the short term, and fingers crossed for a more significant snowfall!

I’m now about to tidy up as Gill and the girls arrive on Sunday evening. Yahoo!

16 December 2014
Tough day-Good result!

Unfortunately we experienced the worst light of the season making for the toughest morning so far, but all the teams made the best of it and we had a pretty good ski. Andreas, Chris and I all headed to Tignes for the first time this season and I was staggered by how little snow there is on that side of the mountain. I hit more rocks today (many on the piste) than I’ve hit all season up until now, and I had a good ‘park-and-fly’ to boot. Still, we managed to get up the Motte and break through the dense cloud which had been making life difficult, and we profited with an excellent ski. It then cleared just enough for us to have a go off the piste Genepy to finish off the morning with a little adventure. Although it was a tricky morning 13-year-old Douglas, who was skiing his first morning off-piste, gave the morning 10/10. I say, that boy can ski with me anytime!

JM and Olivier headed up to the Fornet and I’ve no idea how they got on. Hopefully the fog wasn’t as thick up there because it did make for a difficult morning, and would have seriously complicated their touring plans.

It did snow five cm’s or more last night and it did soften the feel underfoot as well as make the resort look a bit more normal. Hopefully we’ll get some more snow over the next few days, which will help the piste skiing enormously with the Christmas rush right around the corner. Stay tuned!

And thank you Michael for a great meal last night at the Cinq Freres. If you’re looking for a nice honest traditional French restaurant, give it a try. It was formally the Belle Vue and is located just behind Jean Sports.

15 December 2014
Col Pers, Vallonnet and Grand Vallon!

The Gourmandine was a busier place this morning as Andreas and Chris were both skiing today and JM and Olivier met their touring clients there as well, so we had a nice ambience to start the day.

JM and Oli headed off towards the Pointe Boussac (above the Crete du Genepy), while Chris and Andreas headed up to the Fornet for a triple ’skin’ out into the Pays Desert, and everyone benefited from lovely snow and good light when it looked as if flat-light was going to feature.

I took my team over the Col Pers where we skied the top section before ‘skinning’ towards the Grand Vallon, but the Vallonnet looked too good to miss so we dropped in and skied four nice pitches. It was then necessary to ‘skin’ back and we continued on our way to the Grand Vallon where we found some great snow out skiers-right. Everyone enjoyed a great morning being alone in the mountains and making the best of what’s on offer, but the good news is that the snow quality remains very good indeed! (See photos)

14 December 2014
Surprisingly good after the wind!

It’s not getting any easier but at least the sun was in-and-out this morning and the visibility was enough to get stuck in and have a go. I’ve been skiing with between 2 and 4 most of the winter and having a small team makes it much easier to sneak a line through the rocks, but today I had a full group and the team skied brilliantly when the going was tricky. Bravo to Jean, Michael, Johnny Alpine, Jean-Eves and Robert and Caroline on their first morning of the season. We skied an excellent Pays Desert before finishing with the top of the Marmottes before cutting back to the Solaise piste, which is still closed but ski-able. It’s a bit annoying as there is plenty of man-made snow on it but they haven’t yet made the effort to get it open. (Must be concentrating on the World Cup?)

JM and Olivier finished their week with the Ski Club yesterday and I spotted Oli teaching yesterday afternoon and he was doing a terrific job. It looked to me as if he’s invented a new exercise, which was excellent, and I thought he was running a brilliant class. Bravo Oli! Jean Marc and Olivier are now skiing the rest of next week with some of their touring regulars.

Babette (Elizabeth who used to work with Henry years ago) had an unfortunate accident a few days ago while skiing with the Ski Club. She hit a patch of horribly icy man-made snow on the piste and fell over and broke her leg. She’s out for the season and everyone at Alpine wishes her well.

I must run as I’m off to Johnny Alpine’s for a burger and to watch Man U v Liverpool. Stay tuned!

13 December 2014
A change of pace!

After two weeks at the Fornet I thought it was time for a change of pace and to have a look at what the rest of the mountain had to offer, and we managed a jolly good morning around Bellevarde. We played around on the meadows off the Verte, the Borsat traverse, and the Jardin du Borsat, and lucked out having first shot under the Tommeuses chair. I had the pleasure of having Oliver, his wife Emily and their friend Sanil along with Jean and Michael, and Emily picked up a ‘most improved skier’ award this morning as she worked hard and really applied herself. Bravo Emily! (Oliver is Bridget’s God son and was taught by Gilles)

Meanwhile Andreas was about with some Vikings and they skied around Bellevarde as well and had a go in the Campanules, which was a good result. Well done boys! Andreas has a friend from Sweden here for a visit and the two of them had a great ski this afternoon.

I’d like to say well done to Pam who has skied with me the past two afternoons. She’s only skied three weeks and she’s working hard so that she can go touring with JM, Oli and her friends, and she’s made some solid progress!

It warmed up considerably today, so much so that I had my lunch outside on the terrace. Hopefully we’ll get a little snow but I’m not very positive on that front, but if it doesn’t snow I’d love to have enough visibility to enjoy what good snow we have left. Seriously flat light would put a real damper on our skiing. Stay tuned and wish us luck!

12 December 2014
Congratulations Leah!

The day started brightly but it was windy at altitude and the clouds rolled in quickly. We were lucky enough to get over the Col Pers before the bubble lift closed and we had an adventurous morning in the Col Pers and Grand Vallon. The wind had touched the upper slopes and we needed to ‘sniff’ about to find snow that worked, but that was followed by excellent snow to the bottom. The wind was strong enough in gusts to push you about and you needed to stand firm in places, especially on the cretes and little cols. (See photos)

Henry was somewhere behind us and Andreas had a quick ski on the top of Bellevarde to check out conditions as it opened this morning. And finally the liaison with Tignes is due to open tomorrow so we’ll be able to spread our wings a little, and as much as I love the Fornet it will be nice to have a few more options.

However, the best news of the day is that Michael R’s daughter Leah has won a place at Harvard University, and Michael is one proud papa to say the least! Congratulations Leah and what a reward for all your hard work, and you know what they say about the world and oysters!

PS Late breaking news- Andreas reports that the liaison with Tignes may not open as planned tomorrow, and that would be a bummer! He also reported the first serious avalanche of the season day out towards the Sana. Fortunately there were no serious injuries but it’s a reminder that after this brutal wind that’s been transporting snow it’s time zone in!

11 December 2014
Murky start-but a great result!

I had a slight sense of humour failure this morning looking out into a grey, foggy, flat-light day, plus it was cold and windy. But I harboured hope that we’d break through the cloud again as we’ve fortunately done several times this week already and again it looked bleak all the way to the Col before the clouds started to thin out. Instantly my spirits soared as we had options, one of which wasn’t going to be stuck on the piste all morning. There was still a thick sea-of-cloud below so I didn‘t go over the Col Pers but instead stayed high and we had a great ski in the Pays Desert with very little walking. (See photos)

I seem to be having trouble with my answer machine as a French voice that isn’t suppose to be there answers and invites a message that I never receive. It’s strange but if you’ve tried to contact me I’m not ignoring you, seriously! I’ll try to get it sorted as soon as possible.

And thanks to Johnny Alpine for a great football match last night. Joe Hart was fantastic and kept City in the game until they could finally score, and then played brilliantly as Roma pressed with intent right to the end.

PS It seems my home phone is not working at all so either Skype or use my mobile number please. (O6 20 11 06 07)

10 December 2014
A fantastic outing!

After ten days in the Pays Desert (which has been superb!) it was nice to have a total change of scenery when Michael, Luke, Jim and I dove over the Col into the Col Pers for the first time this season. The views and ambience were spectacular, and the snow was wonderful as well. We then ‘skinned’ into the Grand Vallon and had excellent skiing there as well, but needed to chose our line carefully to avoid the rocks. It was a treat to be out there again and with the soft light of early December it really was quite special. We finished off a top morning with some bonus turns after a ten-minute ‘skin’ under the bubble lift back down to the top of the Signal cable car.

Jean Marc and Oli were both up at the Fornet with their ski club groups and I think JM skied the Col Pers and Vallon as well. JM’s photo exhibition at the Marie’s will be running until mid-January so make sure to stop by and have a look. His book will be available at the office as well as the Marie.

A little snow is forecast overnight, but we need more than a little! Stay tuned!

Late breaking news! The Woman’s World Cup Race will be held here in Val d’Isere as the FIS inspectors like what they saw and feel the resort can get it organised.

9 December 2014
A bit of snow and a bit of wind.....!

After awaking to light snow and overcast skies I must admit to feeling like I’d run out of gas. The thought of flat light and dealing with the Ski Club, the army, and the Manchester Ski Club wasn’t very appealing, but I headed off hoping for the best. It was totally white and my mood wasn’t improving until we arrived at the Col and broke through into stunning sunshine, and the transformation into a keen and ready to rock-and-roll skier took about two seconds. There had been some northerly wind overnight, which blew some snow onto the lee slopes and into the gullies and we opened up straight off the chair into the Combe du 3300, which gave us strips of deep, light snow that were delightful. We then headed back up and skied the Pays Desert from the top of the t-bar and Michael, Jim, Luke and I had a great result when things weren’t looking very rosy early on.

It did snow in the village last night and with -17C on the glacier this morning it’s plenty cold enough and the snow cannons are blowing full blast. By the weekend we should have many more options and the general public will be much happier as well.

Thanks Johnny Alpine and Richard Finlay for a fantastic meal last night, and of course the footie!

8 December 2014
Another morning in the Pays Desert!

With absolutely no options we continued on and had another excellent ski in the Pays Desert. The snow quality at the moment is wonderful and Andreas and I did our best again today to find the best remaining lines down the mountain. Fortunately it’s been just Alpine for the most part over the past nine days and we’ve kept our tracks tight leaving ourselves enough space, but it is disappearing as more and more skiers are getting into the act.

Jim, who skied with me yesterday, left for Chamonix last night and this morning took one look at the place and turned around to come back so he could join us again tomorrow. Well done Jim!

Jean Marc and Olivier are here at the moment skiing with the Ski Club, and JM has a new photographic book full of stunning shots of his travels over the year, and his book will be available at the office. Pietro is also here and skiing with Fiona. Fiona was ill the other day so Pietro skied the Col du Montet then ‘skinned’ back over the Grand Torsai and skied down as far as he could before it became too rocky, then walked all the way back from the Pont St Charles. Blimey Pietro, that’s hard core! Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

7 December 2014
Third place for a day!

Today was an absolutely brilliant ski with the glacier in full sunshine above a sea-of-cloud, and we profited with the best morning of the season. We’ve had great snow so far but today we hit our lines just right and with lovely snow and clear blue skies today’s ski will take some beating. Andreas and my teams skied a fantastic first pitch on the Pays Desert before cutting under or through the rocks for another beautiful pitch before ‘skinning’ up again for the bottom slopes. Andreas then set a boot track up to access the slopes under the bubble towards the Combe du Signal, and that too was excellent and a nice change of pace.

We’ve had some great new additions over the weekend as Peter and Clare brought their friend Mark along and today Tilly introduced Jim to Alpine. Both are solid skiers and terrific company and we look forward to skiing with them both again in the near future.

And to top off a fantastic day my Hammers won their third game in a row to jump up to third place, if only for 24-hours, behind Chelsea and City. Can you believe it? (Thanks for the game John and thanks to Derek, Paul and the Campbell’s for taking Andreas, Clare B and I out for a great evening last night!)

A rougher day is forecast for tomorrow but we’ll certainly savour today!

7 December 2014
Wow!

Photos are up and the report will follow.

6 December 2014
Unexpected snow is falling!

As the Pays Desert is the only show in town we played it again, but today the visibility wasn’t as good and we skied in flat-light for most of the morning. Still, it was great skiing and the good news is that it snowed properly on-and-off during the morning and at 2PM it is still snowing lightly in the village.

I had the pleasure of skiing with my third-generation of the Ellis family this morning as John and Margaret’s grandson Luke accompanied Jean R, Michael R and I, while Andreas skied with Clare and Peter and their friend Mark for their season opener, along with Derek, Paul and Andy.

It was another good morning and hopefully the snow will continue for the rest of the day and into this evening.

And thank-you Lou for another great physio session and to Margaret for a lovely meal last night.

PS And thank you Newcastle for making the Premiership a more interesting place with a 2-1 win over the Blues.

5 December 2014
The Pays Desert continues to deliver!

We started ‘skinning’ in thick cloud this morning but by the time we arrived at the top of the Pays Desert it had cleared and we enjoyed great visibility for the entire morning. The snow was excellent again today, and we had the company of Andreas, Derek and Paul, who were kick-starting their season this morning.

It was Suzanne’s birthday yesterday and we celebrated quietly with a meal at my place last night, and many happy returns to Tansy who is celebrating her birthday today with a family ski and lunch. Fingers crossed for some snow as the Ski Club will be arriving over the weekend and there just isn’t enough off-piste to go around unless they open another sector. Stay tuned!

4 December 2014
Another cracking morning!

Today was similar to yesterday as we started in flat-light but after skiing the first pitch we broke into better visibility and sunshine for the rest of the morning. We did a ‘triple-skin’ in the Pays Desert and had superb skiing top-to-bottom. The skiing is very limited to say the least but the snow is fantastic and everyone is enjoying what’s on offer.

There is a huge haggis trap at the bottom of the first pitch in the Pays Desert at the foot of the glacier. (See photos) I’m glad I know it’s there because it’s big and deep and you’d probably kill yourself if you skied into it. It will take a lot of snow and wind to fill it in so we’ll need to be careful in the meantime.

Thanks John for the football and a great meal last night, and Happy Birthday Suzanne!

PS And thank you Lou from Bonne Sante for a superb treatment on my back yesterday. It’s made a massive difference already after one session!

3 December 2014
Jean back in action!

The day started out looking like a repeat of yesterday but the clouds rolled in and the skies became overcast very quickly. It took some mental adjustment going from ‘tally-ho-here-we-go’ to ‘bugger-I-hope-I-can-see-enough’ but we ‘skinned’ from the top of the t-bar hoping for the best. Fortunately we had enough light to ski and navigate and after a third of the way down it started to cheer up and we ended up skiing and walking in beautiful sunshine. (but by this time my camera battery had died). The best news of the day however was the return of Jean Ribart. Jean was a little nervous in the flat-light because of his knee, but the snow was excellent and the light improved so he had a confidence-building first day back.

It was another great win for the Hammers last night and I don’t want to get too excited in case I jinx them, but this is so much more fun than being relegation fodder! I’m looking forward to a meal and Arsenal v Southampton at Johnny Alpine’s tonight.

On the weather front is had cooled down enough so that the snow cannons are now pumping out snow so things should look better by the weekend, and we could see some real snow by then as well.

2 December 2014
Considering there's no snow.......!

After two days of skiing in flat-light I was overjoyed to open my curtains and see clear blue skies, and we profited with a superb morning of skiing. We started off with the Combe du 3300 from the top of the t-bar before ‘skinning’ out, then we circled back around to ski the Pays Desert. Considering there isn’t any snow, I’d say that was a cracking morning of powder snow and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Andreas came up to ski a couple of runs with Tansy and I’m sure he’s posted something on our Facebook page.

It’s so warm this afternoon that I ate my lunch on the terrace and soaked up some warming rays that felt wonderful. We need snow but I enjoyed a morning of vis and could do with another one tomorrow. Stay tuned!

1 December 2014
Limited but good skiing!

It was a murky morning to say the least but we had excellent skiing on the Glacier. We skied four rotations of the Combe du Geante and didn’t venture into the Pays Desert because of the flat-light, but as soon as the vis improves it should provide some excellent skiing over the next few days. We finished off the morning by skiing down to the top of the Signal cable car, which is still closed but it’s pretty good skiing and beats the slow unreliable bubble lift. Fingers crossed for some snow or at least some better light tomorrow!

Find us on Facebook