Adieu Fabrice!

26 August 2014

For the first time in 11 years we spent some time in Val d’Isere during the summer, and enjoyed a fabulous 16-days walking in the most majestic scenery. I had the pleasure of introducing Jean (from the Pyrenees) his wife Catherine (an old friend of Gill’s from Guildford) and their daughter Clara to the Alps for the first time, and it was great to have Mike A along for a couple of days. It was truly stunning and the girls performed admirably as we had several five and six hour days mixed in with some shorter hikes of two-to-four hours. Bravo girls!

On the odd days off we took a drive to Italy on a bad weather day and on Katie’s birthday we went hydro-speeding down the Isere from Bourg to Laundry. I thought it would be relatively gentle but it was anything but, and was actually pretty scary in places with Gill worrying that Katie would be bucked off her little toboggan-like boat and crash into the rocks. (Bummer I couldn’t take photos as it was pretty darn impressive!) We also had a morning in the Adventure Park, which was incredibly well laid out, and that too had the heart pumping a couple of times! I also managed a game of golf early one morning with Jean R over in Tignes. It was great to see him and his knee has healed up quite nicely and he’ll be ready for the winter season.

We BBQ’ed most nights and had outstanding picnics with breathtaking views during the day, and the girls played in town with their friends before supper most evenings. It was great for the girls to be speaking French again, especially since Millie will be starting in Bourg next January, and she seemed to gain some confidence that will help next winter. It was a wonderful holiday and I can hardly wait to go back to one of my most favourite places on earth!

On a sad and very tragic note, Fabrice Villaret was killed on Mont Blanc with two companions during our stay. I went to his service in Seez on August 21st and it was incredibly moving with between three and four hundred people in attendance, many of them travelling from the UK. It was clear from the readings and the number of people from all walks of life that were paying their respects that Fabrice was a very respected and well-loved man, and a Mountain Guide of the highest quality. Fabrice was president of the Vanoise Guides Association and spent countless hours working not only for the Guides, but also organising skiing for the children of Bourg. He was a family man, and a community spirited man who had a tremendous love for the mountains. Fabrice will be sorely missed by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him and all of us at Alpine’s thoughts and condolences go out to Fabrice’s family and friends, and also to the families of his two companions.

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