Wayne's Daily Diary Archive

20 June 2007

18 March 2018
Great visibility equals brilliant skiing!

The Meteo France Avalanche’s weather forecast is usually pretty good and this morning it was spot on and we had the predicted visibility that made all the difference. We had a ‘maximum-turn’ morning with just a ten-minute ‘skin’ thrown in and the snow quality was excellent. I warmed-up off the Laisinant before skiing the Grand Vallon, Combe du Signal onto the shoulder, the Pays Desert (with ‘skin’) and the Col Pers to finish a terrific morning. Chris, Andreas and Thomas were all up at the Fornet skiing much the same itineraries and we all had a fantastic time.

I had Katie along today for her first-ever ‘Alpine’ morning and it was great to have her along. She speaks excellent French, which pleased Jean, is a cracking good skier, and appreciates the beauty of team tracks. Well done Katie, you can ski with us anytime!

Chris reported an accident around the Laisinant at the end of the morning and it didn’t look good with pisteurs, gendarmes, and a helicopter. Chris thinks someone was killed and that it was probably a piste accident of some sort, which normally means a collision, and collisions are a totally avoidable accident!

Thanks to Derek and Mario for turning me onto gin and tonic’s at the Baraque last night. I didn’t realise how many different gins there are along with various tonics, and last night we had Italian gin, not too sure about the type of tonic, with slices of grapefruit. Bloody hell they were good! The boys had to leave for supper but I ended up staying for another 45-minutes nursing my drink and listening to the most excellent band. They are playing again tonight if you fancy some brilliant music in a very civilized bar.

It snowed overnight in the UK again and Millie had her Surrey Girl’s Golf day cancelled, which is a real bummer because she really looks forward to them. The girls arrive on March 28th for 17-days and I can hardly wait. Fingers crossed that we get some sunshine in April. Stay tuned!

17 March 2018
Another day of limited options!

After a brief reprieve yesterday it was back into the flat-light again this morning. At least it was Saturday, which makes any piste skiing much more enjoyable, and there was a few centimetres of fresh snow to spruce things up a little. Chris, Thomas and I all headed towards the Motte where we had some good skiing en-route to an excellent Rosalin before ‘skinning’ out. Chris and I tried my shoulder in a white-out but missed it by about ten metres and ended up in the gully skiers-right. Instead of lovely soft snow where the slope turns away from the sun we ended up on sun-crust and it wasn’t the result we were looking for. Louise said that we “skied Wayne’s Elbow instead of Wayne’s Shoulder” and it just goes to show how easily you can go wrong in a fog! And it just shows I don’t know my elbow from my shoulder, ha ha Lou! Meanwhile Henry went up to the Pissaillas Glacier with his initiation group while Andreas had the day off.

Thomas had a client ski into a hole this morning, which was a frightening experience for all concerned. I had a client do exactly the same thing last week when Craig stopped below me and the outcome could have been a lot worse. Remember to never pass the guide or stop below them, especially in flat-light when we often see something at the last possible moment and throw on the brakes just before piling into or off of something.

I ran into our great off-piste guiding friend Herve from the ESF on the bus this morning and he didn’t know I’ve been doing my blog all these years. He said he’d have a look tonight, so here’s a mention Herve! Herve is out there seven-days-a-week just like we are and it’s always a pleasure to see him on the mountain. He’s a fantastic guide and a great guy!

It’s a big rugby day so I’d better get going if I want to see any of it. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow and I only posted four photos today!

PS Ghiselle is back in training for the London Marathon April 22nd. Please keep those donations coming in and thank you very much to all of you who have contributed.

16 March 2018
It cleared up halfway through the morning!

We were anticipating blue skies this morning but we started off in flat-light and had to deal with some difficult visibility at times up to around 10:30 before the cloud cover started to break up. I skied the Combe du Signal twice with poor vis, then had an excellent run out wide in the Pays Desert where Matt and Milly used ‘skins’ for the first time, and the skies cleared just as we were ready to ski the big slopes back down to the poma, then we finished with a great run over the Col Pers in the sunshine. Chris was in the neighbourhood and Andreas skied the Combe du Signal before going over the Col to ‘skin’ to the Glacier Pers and had the sun come out just in time while Thomas skied the Pays Desert, Col Pers and Vallonnet. Henry was up on the Pissaillas as well and all the teams had a great morning and were thankful for the skies clearing so that we could finish the morning in sunshine.

The Guinea Pigs were terrific again last night and Corrine came along, as did the Farrer family and friends, Chrissy, Paul G, Johnnie Alpine, Al and Louise, Jim A, and my great pal Biggy and his lovely daughter Maya. It was several people’s first time to the ‘Pigs’ and it’s was great to watch people who don’t dance either dancing or trying their best not to! Even Biggy was dangerously close to dancing and thanks Biggy for a lovely meal in the Grande Ourse afterwards. What a way to finish the day! My boarder client Nick, who is a great guy, was there with his pals as well and they had a brilliant time.

I’m very sorry to have lost Dean this morning somewhere between leaving the Gourmandine and getting on the bus and arriving at the Fornet. Dean is a fantastic guy and was really looking forward to the morning and I can’t believe I lost him before we even got started. Sorry Dean!

I went down to Bourg this afternoon for the first time in a month and the contrast between our white winter wonderland and the spring-like feel down below was quite amazing. Spring is just around the corner up here ad well and I’d love to have some sunshine in April as it’s been a tough winter visibility-wise. Grey ski and snow is forecast for the next four or five days so it’s back into the flat-light again tomorrow. Stay tuned!

15 March 2018
What a contrast!

It was a tough morning as the light was flat, the wind was howling, and you couldn’t have much more of a contrast to the stunning day we all enjoyed yesterday. But, with that said we did have some moments as the Little Lavachet was pretty jolly good with just enough ‘education’ in it to demand some application, and the big slopes in the Sache were good skiing as well. By this time we were getting reports about the Fornet sector being closed due to wind and we realised that we were in a good spot and had had as good a morning as possible. Chris, Andreas, Thomas and I were all skiing together today and it was the type of morning where it was nice to have some company.

I’ve paperwork to catch up on before dropping my skis into Didier to have them sorted as they came out of the factory in poor condition and need some work, then a quick trip to the gym before my weekly session with the Guinea Pigs at La Petit Danois. Maybe see you there!

Stay tuned and better weather is forecast for tomorrow.

PS I’ve only posted two photos today!

14 March 2018
'Day-after's' don't get any better!

What a marvellous day! The sun was shining all day long and after 7 days-in-a-row in Tignes we headed up to the Fornet for a change of scenery and had a fantastic morning. The Fornet was hit pretty hard yesterday but we still had ‘clean’ lines everywhere we skied and it was a ‘maximum-turn’ session of extremely high quality ‘left-overs’. My team skied a Combe du Signal, followed by a Grand Vallon, then another Combe du Signal on the shoulder, then we headed upstairs for a Combe du 3300 before heading over the Col Pers where we ‘skinned’ up to make the most of a virgin Grand Torsai. The snow quality was excellent everywhere and it was nice to have Jean along who met up with us by chance at the cable-car. Andreas was with me for the first few runs before heading off over the Col and then towards Bellevarde in search of a couloir while Chris started up on the Pissaillas and spent his morning there before skiing the Col Pers. Thomas started in Tignes and skied his way to the Fornet before skiing his clients back to Tignes in the afternoon, and Henry was up at the Fornet as well. It was smiles all around this morning as great snow and beautiful sunshine is hard to beat, especially after all the flat-light we’ve been skiing in lately! (And bravo boys for some great skiing in tough conditions this week!)

I had a brilliant afternoon with Adrian, Fergus and Nick up at the Fornet. It was Adrian’s 40th birthday present and with the horrible visibility and lack of options yesterday we moved it to today and the boys had a great time. We warmed-up off the Laisinant before skiing the Combe du Signal en-route to the Col Pers and out through the gorge, where we spotted a couple of chamois and bouquetin. Nick was the first-ever boarder I’ve taken off-piste and I’ve been much nicer to boarders since skiing with James, who is Millie and my golf coach. Millie and I had an afternoon with James and his boarding pal at Christmas and I was really impressed with how fast they went and how much fun they were having. Anyway, James has paved the way for Nick this afternoon and we all had a great time, but the poor boys had a rendezvous at the Folie Douce afterwards to finish themselves off!

I’m looking forward to a steak dinner followed by Barcelona v Chelsea tonight at Johnnie ‘Alpine’s’. John feeds a group of blokes on a regular basis and supplies the football games as well and your hospitality is very much appreciated by all of us who show up at every opportunity!

Tomorrow’s forecast isn’t great but I’ll savour today and worry about tomorrow at the Gourmandine. Stay tuned!

PS Don’t forget the Guinea Pigs tomorrow night at the Danois!

13 March 2018
Another cracking good morning in Tignes!

It’s a quick one tonight as I’m pressed for time.

We had some unexpected sun filtering through to kick-start the day and with another cushion of fresh snow we had a fantastic morning. Andreas and Thomas had a Couloir morning and with fresh snow and no tracks they had a great time. Thomas had a couple of boarders who needed to be ‘gravity-fed’ and that’s exactly what Thomas gave them! Meanwhile Chris and I had a lovely warm-up before skiing the Campanules, Chardonnet, Tourne, Sache and a Funky Familial to finish. (See photos)

I was supposed to have an initiation off-piste session this afternoon for Adrian’s 40th birthday but I arrived on the summit of Bellevarde to a ‘white-out’, the wind was blowing, and anything in close had been tracked this morning during the bright period, so I put it off until tomorrow when we are expecting bright blue skies and I can take Adrian and his pal Fergus over the Col. That seems like a more interesting birthday present than what was on offer this afternoon!

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

12 March 2018
Good call Andreas!

After three extremely tough days in a row we weren’t really expecting too much of a change this morning but after a ‘test’ off the Verte we knew that the snow quality was significantly better and we were in for a good morning. What we didn’t realise was how good the steep slopes were and Andreas decided to try the Borsat Nord from the top so the rest of us kept him company and the skiing was excellent and totally opened our possibilities. From there Chris and I skied Andreas’ Garden with him, which was excellent, while Thomas went up to the Motte and had four fantastic rotations on Wayne’s Shoulder. Andreas then circled back to the Motte to join Thomas while Chris and I had a very good and atmospheric run on the big face of the Balme, and the sun popped out momentarily just when we needed it! After some meadows below the Cairn we finished with a good Familial and it was a cracking morning and the contrast to the past few days was remarkable.

I was on my way to Bourg for a big shop but the left-rear wheel on my car was making some noises so I turned around and will drop it off at the garage when it opens after lunch. The wheel was probably making those noises on the way back from the airport but I had Led Zeppelin cranked up so load I couldn’t hear it. Fingers crossed that it isn’t a serious and expensive problem.

Millie had a brilliant time at her golf match yesterday and she was very pleased with herself for playing four-under her handicap and single-handedly holding the Men off until they finally lost on the 17th hole. (Her partner had a non-productive day!) With the winter conditions the Men were teeing off at pretty much the same spot as the Ladies so she wasn’t getting any advantage as the Men’s course was significantly shorter while the Ladies remained the same. Bravo Mils! After all the rain the sun popped out and Katie managed 45-minutes on her trampoline, which made her day. And I’d like to say hello to Josh who has become a regular reader of the blog since his trip here in February and to Millie’s friend Connie as well.

I’d better think about taking my car in to the garage, what a bummer! Stay tuned as the snow is falling and we should be in for a fantastic day tomorrow!

11 March 2018
Slim pickings but a good morning!

After a stunning day on Thursday we’ve had three of the toughest consecutive days that I can remember in years. Friday was deep but skiable in places but Saturday and Sunday have given us very few options and with extremely poor visibility, meaning no visibility, it hasn’t been easy! Chris and I headed up to the Motte where we hooked up with Thomas where we had a couple of nice runs on the piste before a little excursion with a ‘skin’ out, while Andreas tried his luck at the Fornet, but I’ve had no news.

I ran into Matt and Ellie’s daughter Jesse the other day and it was the first time I’ve seen her all season. She is having a fantastic time and is working in the Arctic Cafe if you want to drop in and say hello. Millie is playing in a golf match this afternoon, the Juniors v the Men so good luck to her and Katie is waiting for the rain to stop so she get start using her trampoline again!

It is forecast to snow between 15 and 30cm’s at altitude before tomorrow so fingers crossed and we could be back in business. Stay tuned!

10 March 2018
What a dire end to the day!

It was another tricky day but at least everyone was prepared for it this morning. After a test off the Verte and Borsat it was evident that we needed to get as high as possible so Chris, Andreas and I all headed to the Motte via some excellent piste. The pistes on the Grande Motte were fantastic and we tried a run down towards the Liesse from the summit and although the snow was of good quality the tracks from yesterday chucked us about a little bit and the skiing wasn’t very comfortable. We then had an excellent ski on the other side before ‘skinning’ back out and we returned home via the pistes.

I had the pleasure of skiing with Biggy and his lovely daughter Maya this afternoon and we had a great time and were lucky enough to enjoy some moments in the sun, and what a difference that made! I took my Blizzard’s out for a spin this afternoon and had a great time on them. My Vertex are wonderful in soft snow but I’ve been struggling on piste with them when the snow is a little grabby, and I must get Jean Sports to sort them out for me because they’ve never been quite right.

Thanks to Chris and Suzanne for a fantastic evening last night with Bridgette, Ghiselle, Isadora, and Paul G. It’s been great to see the girls and spend some time with them and Giles would have been extremely proud of how is girls have grown up and the young ladies that they’ve become. I look forward to seeing you again soon and good luck with the Marathon Ghiselle!

I’ve just ruined my day by checking the West Ham score and it looks as if we’ll be playing in the Championship next season. Mind you, it’s what we deserve and seems to be about our level!

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow and it looks as if we’re in for a tough day! Woe is me!

9 March 2018
Talk about contrasts!

I don’t really know where to start? After yesterday’s seriously wonderful conditions we were all expecting some great skiing again today, and everyone had a plan to get to the ‘clean’ snow that was spared in yesterday’s frenzy. But, what we didn’t expect was the temperature rise and all that fabulous snow becoming wet and heavy, and that was the good snow! In places it was un-skiably heavy and at the Fornet there was a nasty rain or perhaps heat crust that refroze and was to be avoided. In the end Chris and I did rather well as we skied the meadows across the Altiport to the Little Lavachet, which was warm but enjoyable skiing, and the Lavachet itself was warm but very skiable as well. It was ‘skiers’ snow but we had skiers so it wasn’t a problem and I really enjoyed it. It was good enough to ski to the bottom and ‘skin’ out so at this stage we didn’t realise what lie ahead. The top slopes in the Sachette were also heavy but good skiing but we then cut out early as it was evident that we were finished off-piste and needed the safety of the pistes to avoid damaging someone’s knee. At this stage I was telling myself that perhaps we should have gone to the Motte but reports from the Motte indicated that the light was very flat and the snow upstairs was heavy as well, so that made me feel better about our choices. Andreas headed to the Fornet to ski the Col du Montet (which I also almost did) and he needed to turn around because of a rain/heat crust and he reported that the entire Fornet sector was ‘wishbone’ snow and he saw quite a few guides turning around and aborting itineraries. Thomas ‘skinned’ to the Col des Fours and had heavy but skiable snow all the way to the refuge before it turned into ‘porridge’ so he had a decent morning under the conditions.

We were all expecting sunshine this morning but the day started off overcast and grey, but Radio Val had promised it would clear up around 11AM and we’d be skiing in sunshine. Without this carrot Andreas wouldn’t have bothered thinking about the Col du Montet and Thomas was counting on some sunshine for the Col des Fours, but we were all left in flat-light when we needed the vis on the big slopes. We have been lucky all week however with unexpected light and even sunshine when it wasn’t forecast so we can hardly complain, but it was a jolly difficult day when expectations were fairly high.

I’ve no idea what to expect tomorrow but a freeze and some snow would help. Stay tuned!

8 March 2018
That was a 'perfect' day!

That was about as ‘perfect’ a day as it’s possible to have. The skiing this morning was absolutely exceptional as Team ‘Alpine’ headed towards the deeper snow in Tignes and with fresh snow and clear blue skies it was a ‘maximum-turn’ session of the highest calibre! Thomas and I warmed up with a fantastic Kern followed by the Borsat while Chris and Andreas started with the Borsat and headed to the Chardonnet. We also had a great skiing off the Motte, a wonderful run on the big face of the Balme and a brilliant funky Familial near the hole. The photos tell it all and I’ll them do the talking as it’s getting late now.

This afternoon I had a brilliant time skiing with Ghiselle and Isadora as I introduced the girls to off-piste skiing with three runs in the Grand Vallon. It was wonderful to be out there on our own and the girls really enjoyed it.

Then to top off a wonderful day the Guinea Pigs were on fire and were absolutely brilliant. It was Penny, Frans, Bridgette, Ghiselle, Isadora, Paul G, and Craig and family’s first time to see the ‘Pigs’ and Paul and Hugo didn’t disappoint. The place was rocking and it was great to see so many people enjoying themselves. I was pretty wound up afterwards so I took myself for a quick burger at the Roxy Burger Bar before coming home to do the blog and write my Valdinet piece for tomorrow morning as well. Today could not have been better unless Gill, Millie and Katie were here to share it. It won’t be long now girls! Stay tuned!

8 March 2018
Late Update!

Update and photos tonight after the Guinea Pigs!

7 March 2018
Our luck held out again!

After two consecutive days in Tignes I felt it was time for a change of scenery and headed up o the Fornet with Chris and Thomas. For the first half hour it seemed like perhaps we’d gone the wrong direction but the skies started to clear and with the added visibility we ended up have a brilliant morning on the Pissaillas Glacier. We started with a Lower Combe du Signal before hiking up from the Col Poma to access the nice slopes back down toward the little pond, and the snow quality was excellent. At this stage the light was very flat and I almost skied off a cornice but saw it in time and stopped and Craig made the mistake of skiing below me and came about 10 cm’s from skiing off the edge. There’s a good lesson to be learned there but all’s well that ends well! We then skied the Combe du 3300 before the sun came out for two fantastic runs in the Pays Desert. Thomas finished off over the Col while Andreas and Henry skied in Tignes. Henry skied around my shoulder while Andreas skied the Borsat, Chardonnet and I’m not too sure what else.

I had the pleasure of skiing with Giles’ daughters Ghiselle and Isadora today and I’m skiing with them again tomorrow before bringing them to the Danois for the Guinea Pigs. Hope to see you there! And hopefully we’ll get some visibility because there is some great skiing to be had but today was another much appreciated ‘bonus’ day as enough light filtered through, and just when we needed it most! We’ve been jolly lucky this week and long may it last. Stay tuned!

PS And a big Happy Birthday to Jean Ribart! You were sensational last Sunday Jean and I look forward to many more skis with you in the future!

6 March 2018
The 'bonus' days just keep coming!

We seem to have had quite a few days during the past couple of weeks where the visibility has been much better than forecast, which makes our lives guiding so much easier, and today we were lucky enough again to have enough light to navigate and make the most of the skiing. It was the third day after the last sunny day and with the resort tracked out we revisited some of yesterday’s itineraries with some variations thrown in, and I thought it was a fantastic morning under the circumstances. It was another ‘Alpine’ team ski although we didn’t see too much of each other and we skied the Lower Lavachet, which was excellent, the Sachette and various Sachette couloirs, which were very good indeed, and a Familial with great snow to finish. It was another ‘bonus’ day and considering how tracked out the resort is along with the overcast skies it was a brilliant morning out! Bravo boys!

It’s great to have the Wing Commander Ian Noble back after a year out, along with Stephen C, Craig, Frans, Adrian and Al, and I must say I’ve quite a team this week. They can all ski, the banter is top notch, and no one is spared a ribbing if any faffing takes place. And we do seem to have some faffing so it’s a good laugh!

Very little snow was forecast but it seems to have snowed quite nicely during the day and I think we should be in for a really good day tomorrow, especially if we get lucky with the visibility. Fingers crossed and stay tuned!

PS I ran into Simon and his friends in the Familial today. Simon is fantastic when I go into ‘code-mode’ and play Where’s Wayne. His hit rate is incredible!

PPS And thanks to Johnnie Alpine for a fabulous dinner last night followed by a stunning football match. Brilliant!

5 March 2018
What a morning of 'left-overs'!!!

After track damage from yesterday’s powder extravaganza along with wind damage and a forecasted grey day, today turned out to be another fantastic result and miles better than anticipated. We had an ‘Alpine’ team ski this morning as Chris, Andreas, Thomas and I all headed the same way and skied variations in the same sectors. After a nice little tester and warm-up off the Verte we skied the Lower Borsat and meadows into Tignes, and then a team trip through Andreas’ Garden. Although the Chardonnet had been skied there were enough ‘clean’ lines to give everyone excellent shots in great snow and a fantastic top-to-bottom run, but about a half-hour after we passed through Andreas’ Garden was absolutely trashed! From there we enjoyed some superb ‘bonus’ turns off the Tourne en-route to the Sache/Sachette. My team skied the Sachette Couloir, while Chris and Thomas continued on to the Sachette while Andreas had skied the Sache from the first Col. It was good right to the bottom and Thomas decided to keep skiing and headed for a Cocaine Nord while I finished with a Funky Familial near the ‘hole’, Chris finished with the Altiport and Andreas finished Little Spatule way. Boy, for a morning of ‘left-overs’ it was absolutely superb, and fun to have the team in the same neighbourhood! (See photos)

Light snow and grey skies are forecast for the next few days, but today was supposed to be rubbish as well, so stay positive and stay tuned!

PS Ghiselle is in town at the moment with her sister Isadora and her Mum and they are very touched by the support from the Alpine Experience family who have rallied around. Please keep those donations rolling in for such a great cause, and a great family!

4 March 2018
That was seriously good!

Wow, what a stunning morning of ‘maximum-turn’ skiing that was! After two days of snow and very flat-light light the sun was out and we really let rip. My team opened up with a two-stop run under the Pyramid and Vallon lifts while waiting for the Signal to open, and we knew then that we were on for a big one! Then they opened the Signal right in front of us and we were the first into the Grand Vallon for another two-stopper. Then we came back up and skied the Grand Vallon again and Penny counted a 77-turn pitch. From there we traversed into the Combe du Signal to get a ‘clean’ line and skied it top-to-bottom without stopping. After 110-turns Jean skied up and wasn’t even out of breath, bravo Jean! All of this took place by 10:30 and I can’t ever remember a better hour-and-a-half’s skiing. From there we headed up to the Glacier and although the snow wasn’t nearly so good upstairs, it was plenty good enough and we skied the Combe du 3300, the Combe du Geant from the T-Bar, and then the Col Pers to finish. Blimey, it was good!

Meanwhile Chris was at the Fornet as well having a wonderful time, as was Thomas who was skiing with Muriel and a cousin, and Andreas started with the Tour du Charvet before heading up to join us at the Fornet, and everyone had one of those special mornings that will take some beating!

Thanks to Wilkie, Simon and Tony who stopped to help Thomas find his ski in the Vallonnet. Nice to see there is such a thing as friends on a powder day! Mind you, it was at the end of the morning and everyone was cooked!

We should see a little more snow tonight but unfortunately the next few days are forecast to be overcast. Fingers crossed for enough vis to enjoy ourselves. Stay tuned!

3 March 2018
Talk about 'white' !!!

For the second day in a row we had tough navigational conditions, meaning it was seriously ‘white’! Enough snow fell during yesterday’s flurry to make a huge difference today, and it snowed fairly hard all morning today, which bodes well for tomorrow. We had a lovely cushion of ten to fifteen centimetres but in the lee there was more like 30 to 40 cm’s and the snow quality today was fantastic. Chris and I skied off the Verte to test the waters, followed by the Borsat, one on my shoulder where I had my compass out, then a long run from the top of the Grande Motte cable-car where Penny counted 126-turns on one pitch, then a great run off the Genepy and a ‘classic’ Familial to finish. Meanwhile Andreas skied the Borsat, an excellent Chardonnet, the Combe des Lanches and off the Spatule to finish. It was tough going out there today but everyone did extremely well and the skiing was very good indeed!

I skied with Ian today for the first time since my Top Ski days, and that’s going back a long way. He had his sons Charlie and Nicholas along and the boys did very well, especially since they were on piste skis! Bravo boys!

We should have a brilliant day tomorrow as the sun is forecast to shine and after two days of stumbling around in the dark the boys and I are really looking forward to some visibility. Stay tuned and come on you Hammers!

PS And thanks again to all of you who have donated so generously to support Ghiselle and her family. It’s pretty emotional to say the least!

PPS What a dismal performance by the Hammers. They stank so badly that I took off my Hammers shirt and put it in the wash! We need a fresh start!

2 March 2018
Happy Birthday Mom!

It was going to be a difficult morning as we didn’t have too many options and a change of wind direction and snow were forecast for later in the morning. Chris, Andreas and I headed up to the Fornet to ski the Glacier Pers because we knew the snow would be excellent and if the weather came in we could ‘feel’ our way home. The light was very good for most of the morning and we enjoyed some lovely snow on the Glacier Pers itself, but the weather did come in with strong winds and snow making the visibility extremely poor and we really did need to ‘feel’ our way down in the end. It was a fantastic morning out with great snow, wonderful ambience and a ‘travelling safely in the mountains’ experience to finish it off. Meanwhile, Thomas was out there somewhere with his Ski Club group on their last day.

I thought the Guinea Pigs were brilliant last night and Chris’ who’s skied with me all week and played drums in a punk band in his university days was extremely impressed with the boys and he loved the way Hugo plays. It was fun having Viv, Wils, Rosie, Cliff and Sam along as well and we then had a great meal at the Cornice afterwards. I felt a little rough this morning, which doesn’t mix with flat-light very well, but the Irish Coffees were my idea. What an idiot!

I’d like to wish Louise a belated happy birthday for yesterday and it also marked the 18th year of going out with Al. It was nice to see them both bopping to the ‘Pigs’ last night. And I’d like to wish my Mom a very happy birthday as well. I better phone her as she doesn’t do computers! Stay tuned!

PS And thank you to everyone who has donated to Ghiselle’s Brain Tumour Trust run. It’s nice to see such a list of ‘Alpine’ clients, both old and new contributing!

PPS And thanks for dinner last night Cliff!

1 March 2018
Where did that come from!

Wow, what an unexpectedly good morning that was! I was expecting a good morning in flat-light ‘skinning’ to the Glacier Pers, where the snow is ‘clean’ and it would have been great skiing, but we were gifted a ‘maximum-turn’ type session with jolly good visibility. It only snowed about one centimetre in town so the Fornet sector had the best chance of any new snow so Thomas, Chris, Henry and I all headed up that way and when we tested the snow in the Lower Combe du Signal it was evident that more snow than expected had blown in. We ended up skiing the Combe du 3300 three times before going over the Col Pers and out through the gorge, and we had several wildlife sightings as well. So instead of spending half the morning walking we ended up doing a lot of skiing and everyone loves a ‘low-expectation’ morning that turns out really well.

To top off a great day I’ll be going to Le Petit Danois with Wils, Rosie, Viv, Cliff, Sam and several clients. Chris used to play drums in a punk band back in the day so I’m looking forward to see what he thinks of my man Hugo. Come along, it’s going to be fun!

PS It was 20 degrees warmer today! Instead of being in a deep-freeze and worrying about your feet it was uncomfortably hot at times. Spring isn’t too far away! Stay tuned!

PPS The only other guided groups we saw this morning was Herve from the ESF skiing with his 8-year-old daughter. Bravo Herve!

PPPS It was great having Matt along this morning. Matt has stayed at Chez-Ray a couple of times over the years and has been working his way through the BASI system. Well skied Matt! And I hope that the weather in the UK doesn’t stop our clients’ coming-and-going over the next couple of days. Fingers crossed!

28 February 2018
An adventurous start to the morning!

It was another cold day with some ‘bonus’ sunshine early on to kick-start the day and we had a pretty adventurous first run. We climbed up to ski the Borsat West and getting up-and-in was more difficult than I’d expected, but it was worth the effort. There was one track left by a pisteur a couple of days and I was surprised that no one had skied it yesterday, but we had a beautifully ‘clean’ slope in front of us with excellent snow. Ann skied extremely well with determination and picked up a much deserved ‘skier-of-the-day’ award, and Chris would have been really proud of you today! And a big thanks to Nick for your help at back! The Borsat West took longer than anticipated so we went in for a hot chocolate before skiing off my shoulder en-route to a nice ‘skin’ on the Little Borsat West where the snow on the meadows was excellent. Chris skied the Pays Desert today and frost-bite his big toe, Thomas was heading to the Fornet to ski the Pays Desert and Lechoir with his Ski Club team, Henry was out there somewhere and Andreas had the day off.

We spotted three Perdrix Blanche this morning walking up the Borsat ridge, exactly where they can often be seen. They looked twice as big as usual as they were all puffed up to protect themselves from the cold. I took five photos with freezing hands and drew four blanks, but did manage one photo where they can be seen at the top edge of the photo. (And l almost drew a blank on that one as well!)

If I’d known a month ago how cold it was going to be for such a prolonged period I’d have bought some electric socks. Apparently they work a treat and are durable and can be washed. It’s supposed to warm-up tomorrow so perhaps the cold weather is behind us but I’m planning on buying a pair next season. It’s been tricky managing my feet, which seem quite sensitive at the moment, when you’re out for four-hour stints, especially if you do something like the Col du Montet, which is north and once you start there is no place to seek shelter. I just spoke to Emily in Jean Sports and they do have a few pairs left for anyone who is suffering.

We are expecting some snow tonight, which will be welcome because the temperatures will rise and we’re in need of a fresh canvas. Stay tuned!

PS Thanks Viv and co for a great evening last night, although I did feel a little rough this morning!

PPS And thanks to Chris for the shot of Baileys in our hot chocolates!

27 February 2018
Rosie's first 'skin'!

Today was one of the coldest days I’ve ever experienced here except for the fact that there was no wind. Had there been a wind blowing today it would have been almost impossible to do anything significant but the ‘Alpine’ team did a great job of keeping everyone warm enough to finish the morning without going in for hot chocolate. (Bravo boys!) Chris, Andreas and I started off with a Crete du Genepy, which is always one of the warmest places to be on a cold day and the snow wasn’t as easy we would have liked, but it was good skiing with beautiful scenery and we stayed warm enough. Chris continued on to Mont Roup while Andreas and I made our way to the Fornet with Andreas skiing the Vallonnet while I went over the Col Pers and through the gorge. I had Wils and Rosie with me today and it was Rosie’s first time in a morning group and her first ‘skin’. Well done Rosie! Meanwhile Thomas is skiing with the Ski Club and since his team don’t have ‘skins’ his options are limited, and I’m not too sure what he skied today. (We spotted some chamois in the bottom of the Charvet and a bouquetin on the way back from the Pont St Charles, which is always a bonus! )

Fred and Liz are still in India on a trip organised by Mary-Ann and I’m looking forward to hearing about it when they return in a few days time. I know they’ve seen a tiger in the wild, which is fantastic because they didn’t see one on their trip last year, and I’m sure they’ve had a stunning time. Liz is a regular reader of the blog so she’ll enjoy the photos of Wils and Rosie tonight!

Another cold day is on the cards for tomorrow but with any luck we’ll see a few flakes of snow tonight followed by a little bit of sunshine poking through in the morning. That’s a ‘best-case’ scenario and the worst case would be cold, flat-light and no new snow! Stay positive and stay tuned!

PS And thanks for your donations for Ghiselle’s London Marathon run for the Brain Tumour Trust Charity!

PPS And well done to everyone who skied this morning and braved the elements! I know we had moments when the hands were a little chilly, but everyone hung in there and no one moaned. (At least not that I could hear!)

PPPS Andreas has an apres-ski gig in La Rosiere tonight with his musical mate Julian. Good luck boys!

26 February 2018
Extremely cold but very enjoyable skiing!

I almost lost my mojo when I looked out the window at 7AM to see grey skies, which would seriously complicate the morning’s proceedings, but by ‘show-time’ the skies had cleared and we were left with clear blue skies everyone’s spirits lifted. It was jolly cold so the Fornet was totally out of the equation and we managed the entire morning without seeking shelter. There was much less new snow than anticipated but the skiing was excellent and my team skied a nice warm-up off the Verte, a lower Borsat Nord and meadows into Tignes, two runs on my shoulder, a Rosolin, a Cairn, a Campanules, and then a piste home as the clouds arrived and the Altiport didn’t look very appetising in flat-light. Thomas was around the Motte as well with his Ski Club group, Andreas skied the Chardonnet before coming back towards the Motte as the Sache was under a sea-of-cloud, and Chris was on piste most of the morning. It was very cold and extra layers and neoprene boot warmers were a must (for me anyway!) but it was a very enjoyable morning on one of the coldest days of the season. (See photos)

If you want to see yourself on the web check the Valdinet Snow Report website. I post an update for them every Monday and Friday and always post between 6 and 12 photos.

Tomorrow’s forecast isn’t great as it’s expected to be another 4 degrees colder and we’re expecting cloudy skies as well. Hopefully we’ll have a repeat of today and get enough light to enjoy ourselves. Stay tuned!

25 February 2018
I'll be kind tomorrow Chris!

Blimey, what a morning that was! It was Irish-Chris’ first day of the season and it wasn’t without adventure. It all started off when his lift ticket didn’t work at the Fornet turnstiles. We had a five-minute wait for the main office to sort it out while a cable-car full of people was waiting for us. I must say the lift attendant was incredibly patient and it was very nice of him to wait for us when the cable-car was full of people chomping at the bit! Merci Monsieur! From there we took the Pyramid chair and when we arrived at the summit they opened the Signal Poma and we were first up into a thick fog to open up the Combe du Signal. So Chris’ first turns of the season were in the steep-and-deep in a total ‘white-out’ and he handled it really well. (The lower third had decent vis or I wouldn’t have gone up in the first place) Chris wasn’t too far behind with Doug, Suzanne and Louise and it was nice to have some company! The Col Poma wasn’t ready to open and there was a clearing in the Grand Vallon so we headed up to ski one there but like the-pot-of-gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow we arrived and the clear patch had been replaced by fog! We were the first ones in again and worked our way down towards chez-Henry where we knew we’d get some relief from the rocks and the lower third has decent visibility. So far we’d taken on some great itineraries and it was great skiing even without any vis. Next up was another Combe du Signal en-route to the Pissaillas and it was the same story, fog up top and good vis half-way down. We were all looking forward to the Combe du 3300 but the Cascade chair broke down when we were two pylons from the top and we must have been stuck on it for at least 40-minutes. It started to go backwards twice and we were starting to get cold and a little worried by this point because it was becoming a serious situation. At this point we had no idea if we’d be there for another 5 minutes or an hour and the temperature was dropping rapidly. Finally it started up and we went straight in for a hot chocolate and Tilly, Peter, Chris and I then realised how cold we were. We’d lost our skiing mojo’s by this point and headed straight down the piste to finish the morning. Welcome back Chris, I promise to take it easy on you tomorrow!

I’m planning our trip to Canada next summer with Gill and the girls and it’s shaping up to be a memorable experience. So far we’ll be spending time with my dear friend Lisa in Vancouver, (Lisa introduced me to Val d’Isere all those years ago) , then moving on to Whistler to vist an old school friend Tony and his family (Tony spent my first season here with me), then on to Clearwater to visit another old school friend Doug Trotter. Check out this link of his rafting company, and the girls are really looking forward to this. Then we’ll drive to Jasper and work our way down to Lake Louise, Banff and then Canmore to visit my friend Penny, and from there to Calgary to visit my Mum. As you can imagine we are all really getting excited about it!

Wils, Rosie, Viv and Cliff arrive this afternoon so I’m looking forward to that but rumour has it that this week will be the busiest week of the season. What a bummer! And tomorrow is forecast to be -20 to -25C Yikes and stay tuned!

24 February 2018
A solid ski this morning!

It turned out to be a rather funky morning with varied terrain and good hard skiing. We were expecting 15 to 30cm’s of fresh snow this morning but had to settle for about 5cm’s, which doesn’t really change much. The easterly winds were clocked at 120km/h this morning so the wind did transport enough snow to give us a lovely cushion in the gullies and on the lee-side of certain slopes and in places it drifted in to about 20 to 30cm’s. The lack of snow was a let-down but we had much better visibility than expected and it seriously enhanced the morning. Tilly, Peter and I started with the Kern because it was in full sunshine (and the only sunshine in the resort at that moment) and we found some great skiing in protected pockets, then we skied the Fontaine Froide, off the Verte, the Campanules, the Combe des Lanches, the meadows under the Balme, and a Jardin du Borsat Nord to finish. It was a really fun morning and we were all pooped at the end of it.

Thanks you to everyone who has responded to Ghiselle’s Brain Tumour Charity. I’m hoping that the ‘Alpine’ family can help her raise much more than her target. Thanks again and keep those donations rolling in!

Hopefully the forecasted snow will arrive before morning but with high winds today very little was open at the Fornet, and with an easterly wind howling there must be some snow up there somewhere. Stay tuned!

PS Have fun at golf Millie!

23 February 2018
Congratulations Jean!

For the third time this week we profited from better-than-expected visibility, and I for one was very grateful for the light. The light was still pretty flat at times but it could have been so much worse. I headed to the Sachette for the first time in ages via the meadows across the Altiport, which we lovely but we avoided the main slopes as they were tracked-out. I’ve never seen so many tracks in the Sachette before but we managed to find some clean slopes with a couple of little ‘skins’.

Thomas finished up his excellent week with Tasha’s ‘ladies’ team and they’ve had a fantastic time. A couple of the less experienced ladies also had a couple of fantastic mornings ‘skinning’ with Chris and a great time was had by all. I’m sure they’ll be making it an annual event from here on in!

Jean Hooper, who is the Junior Organiser at Millie’s golf club, won the Best Volunteer In English Golf last night at an awards ceremony in London. Jean has been very influential with Millie’s early golfing career as well as so many other children, and it was an entirely deserved award. Bravo Jean and thanks for all your hard work!

It is forecast to snow over the next couple of days so fingers crossed as we are now in need of a fresh canvas. If it stayed sunny there is still some fabulous snow to walk to and these past couple of weeks have been brilliant but some fresh snow over the weekend would be very welcome. Stay tuned!

22 February 2018
Three generations of Recordon's

It was another day where we were expecting overcast skies but were pleasantly surprised with pretty decent visibility, which allowed us all to do more than originally planned. I had a cracking morning with great snow on both the Crete du Genepy and Mont Roup and the snow quality of late has been absolutely brilliant. Chris and Thomas headed off towards the Sache to ski various options while Andreas skied the Borsat West to start and Mickey’s Ears to finish and I’m not too sure what in between. It was another ‘bonus’ morning, which was gratefully received!

I had a wonderful afternoon skiing with Nigel Recordon’s grandchildren Menno (16), Bruno (14) and Lucas (12). Nigel was my first-ever client in Val d’Isere and we must be going back 35 or 36 years. I’ve skied with Nigel’s children Emma, Claire, Polly, and Ben and now I’ve skied with his grandchildren as well and it was an absolute pleasure as they are a delightful family and long-time lovers of Val d’Isere. Well done boys, you did extremely well this afternoon.

I had another fantastic session at Le Petit Danois with the Guinea Pigs and they were brilliant as usual. Adrian and his wife Kari came along with son Louis and his pal Torran, Tilly and Peter were there, Louise and Al, Jim of course, and it was great to see Tasha and her girlfriends as well. And thanks to Adrian and Kari for a lovely meal at the Lodge afterwards. What a day! Stay tuned to see what tomorrow brings!

21 February 2018
In memory of Giles Green!

We had another fantastic day with cold temperatures and sunny skies, and the snow quality was excellent again today. I had some lovely Vikings along for their first ‘Alpine’ morning, Styner, Simon and Alex, along with Adrian, Craig and Frans, and we headed up to the Col du Montet for some wonderful skiing, views and ambience. The snow was about as good as it’s going to get top-to-bottom and it was a great first trip to the Col for all the boys. Meanwhile Chris and Andreas had ‘new-to-touring’ groups today and Chris skied the Crete du Genepy and Mont Roup while Andreas skied the Crete followed by the Alti-port, and both itineraries we perfect for their levels today. Well done boys! Meanwhile, Thomas was down in Ste Foy and had a brilliant morning skiing the Foglietta with his ladies team.

This is Alpine Experience’s 25th anniversary and one of our founding members, Giles Green died of a brain tumour at the age of 34 on May 28th, 1995. His daughter Ghiselle, who was extremely young at the time is running in the London Marathon to raise money for the Brain Tumour Cancer Charity in memory of her father. In the next day or two we’ll add a link for anyone who would like to donate to this excellent charity. Giles was an incredible character with an extremely adventurous nature and anyone who knew him will never forget him. Good luck with it all Ghiselle!

A cloudy day is forecast for tomorrow but we’ll wait and see as we’ve been pleasantly surprised lately. Stay tuned!

PS I was thinking of not only Millie and Katie is morning while ‘skinning’ to the Col du Montet but of Jean and Penny as well because it was a big effort from everyone involved. Like today, it was a brilliant day out! And I thought of Gill who made it up to the Col in 34 minutes! I forgot to mention that a young German skier was killed on the Grande Motte yesterday. It sounds as if he fell and took a high-speed slide before crashing into something. It’s been a bad week for deaths in the resort!

20 February 2018
What a brilliant morning that turned out to be!

I went to bed last night expecting a cloudy grey morning and was thinking about a hard piste ski combined with the Sache, but the day dawned fairly brightly and by 10 o’clock we were basking in full sunshine. Thomas and I both warmed up with a lovely Jardin du Borsat Nord while waiting to see what the weather was going to do as we were thinking Sache or Motte, and in the end we both decided to head to the Motte. Adrian and Doug had never skied the Borsat West before so we climbed up through the rocks and were rewarded with an absolutely brilliant ski. There were two Mountain Guides behind us who thanked us for our tracks and they were pretty impressed with the boy’s performance. Well done boys! From there we skied my shoulder three times before ‘skinning’ up to the Little Borsat West, which was excellent, and then we finished with a great Alti-port. It was a stunning morning made all the better by unexpected sunshine, which is always a winner! (I think Adrian and Doug will be pleased with their photos today!)

Thomas skied the Tour du Balme with his ladies team while Chris had another good day up at the Fornet. Andreas was off again this morning skiing with his family and I didn’t see Henry at the Gourmandine.

You’ll have noticed a new photo link under Wayne’s Photos but for the moment it isn’t working and the last three days photos can be found on the regular link. Hopefully we’ll get the new link running soon as it will save me some time each afternoon. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

19 February 2018
A stunning day after yesterday's tragedy!

The sun was shining this morning and Radio Val announced -14C on Bellevarde but it didn’t seem nearly as cold as last week, mostly because there wasn’t any wind and the sun is climbing a little higher each and every day. Chris and I headed up to the Fornet and my team did a ‘double-skin’ in the Pays Desert where the snow was a little wind compacted but very skiable at the top before getting better and better towards the bottom. From there we went over the Col Pers and had some superb snow skiers-right before ‘skinning’ up to the Grand Torsai. With everyone pouring through the Gorge du Malpasset it makes a nice change to take the traditional Torsai route and we had clean and lovely snow all the way down. (See photos)

Meanwhile Thomas has a ladies team this week and I think he was heading towards the Crete du Genepy and Mont Roup and although I haven’t had a report I’m sure it was brilliant. Andreas had the morning off to ski with his brother and Henry was on a HAT day. I forgot to mention that Jean Marc was here last week and since his children are now grown up and leading their own lives JM is planning on spending more time here next winter. It will be great to have him around more often and it will be days gone by. Pietro also seems to be here more often and it’s always great to have TJ here for his three week stint.

PS More on yesterday’s tragic accident. A 44-year-old father and his 11-year-old daughter were killed in an avalanche while skiing the ‘closed’ Combe du Geant piste on the Pissaillas Glacier. The piste wasn’t groomed and they were skiing chopped-up powder. The mother was with them and apparently it was her idea to ski the slope in question. When the slope released high above them the father skied towards his daughter and wrapped his arms around her to protect her as best he could and they were buried together while the mother was able to ski away from the avalanche. He was wearing a beeper but it was turned off and although the rescue service and volunteers arrived within minutes it took 40-minutes to locate and dig them out. They needed to do a probe search and had three or four avalanche rescue dogs as well. It must one of the sadist and most wasteful loss of life imaginable and today the piste was groomed and open and it was business as usual as if nothing had happened.

PPS I’ve posted a photo of the avalanche that Chris took yesterday on the Valdinet Snow Report website.

18 February 2018
What a horribly sad accident!

We had an absolutely stunning morning but the day was marred by a tragic avalanche on the Pissaillas Glacier during the afternoon. A father and his 11-year-old daughter were killed while skiing the Combe du Geant piste, which was closed at the time. I think of all the places I’ve taken Millie and Katie and these unfortunate people were killed on the piste in a sector that is pretty gentle for the most part. ‘Closed’ or not it’s a terrible tragedy and sad beyond belief.

As for our skiing today Chris and I headed up to the Fornet and we had a ‘maximum-turn’ type of morning of extremely high quality. We had a run in the meadows under the Vallon bubbles while waiting for the Signal Poma to open, then one on the steep sunny-side of the Lower Combe du Signal en-route to the Pissaillas. (We couldn’t wait forever for the poma to open) We then skied one in the Combe du 3300, an exceptional run in the Pays Desert and through the rocks, then a brilliant run over the Col Pers and through the gorge, and then Frans, Criag and I picked up Jean R for a variation of Oh My! Boy, what a morning!

I then had a lovely afternoon with Fay Finlay and her boyfriend Greg and when a helicopter landed on Bellevarde and two pisteurs with a dog jumped out I had a bad feeling that something might have happened. Chris then radioed to say there had been an accident with two people killed. That put a stop to Chris’ afternoon as he was on his way to the Col Pers with an off-piste session but they closed the Cascade chair during the search and rescue mission.

Frans took a photo yesterday of me from above after I’d skied off the cornice. Where I’m standing is where I landed and came out of my skies and I’d already climbed up two vertical metres to reach my skis when Frans took the photo. I’m such an idiot and so lucky to not have done some serious damage to myself.

A sunny day is forecast for tomorrow and we might just need to walk a little to find ‘clean’ snow. Fortunately a little should do the trick. Stay tuned!

PS Sports Report- I am so pleased that Roger Federer has made it back to number one in the world. Five years ago he had 17 Grand Slams and everyone thought he should retire gracefully before he embarrassed himself. Fourteen months ago he still had 17 Slams and was ranked 17th in the world and people still thought he should retire. But 14-months later he’s won his 20th Grand Slam and has become the oldest man to ever to be ranked number One. What a class act and a total gentleman! And Andreas was on fire last night as he scored 3 goals with 4 assists as his team won 13-10 in Albertville. And Andreas says he’s honoured to be mentioned in the same paragraph as Roger!

17 February 2018
It was a long way down!

We had another warm flat-light day with in-and-out fog. When we were out of the fog the flat-light was bearable, but when in the fog it was extremely white and not very comfortable for skiing or navigating. Andreas, Thomas and I all headed towards the Motte and had great snow off the Verte and the Lower Borsat and the piste skiing in between was fantastic. Thomas and I had an excellent ski off the Motte followed by a 20-minutes ‘skin’ and we all played around off the Genepy and Cairn where the snow quality today was brilliant. On the last run off the morning I managed to ski off a 3 to 4 metre cornice and was lucky to not noodle myself and Thomas had a little incident as well. I took a photo looking back up at the boys and I’d already climbed back up a couple of metres to my skis to give you an idea. It would have looked more impressive with my skis and poles between myself and the boys above but I was a little shaken up and not really thinking about photo opportunities!

It snowed pretty hard at times during the morning and we should be in for a good ski tomorrow as a little sunshine has been promised by Meteo France. Fingers crossed and stay tuned!

16 February 2018
Much better light today!

It snowed again overnight and we had another flat-light day to deal with, although the visibility today was miles better than yesterday’s ‘pea-souper’! With extremely warm temperatures over the past 48-hours it was necessary to go as high as possible to find ski-able snow, and that meant either the Pissaillas or Grande Motte, and the entire Alpine team headed up to the Fornet. I thought the skiing was pretty jolly good today and we all made the best of the conditions and took advantage of the odd patch of light.

I had another great afternoon with Dave, Tilly and Emilia up on the Pissaillas and this afternoon the light was much better than this morning and I must say it was massacred with tracks everywhere. It will need to snow on top of the tracks or have enough vis to go further afield tomorrow, but anything in close isn’t a option tomorrow. Fingers crossed for snow or vis, but I’d be happy to be able to see where I’m going! Stay tuned!

PS I’m missing my girls already!

15 February 2018
Flat-light, wet and heavy but bloody good!

We were expecting a dusting of fresh snow this morning, maybe 5cm’s at the most and I had envisioned skiing the Little Lavachet and Sachette, but once we touched the snow it was evident that we had a useful cushion of fresh snow to work with. Plan A was immediately scrapped and it quickly became a ‘low hanging fruit’ morning and we skied the Familial, Fontaine Froide, Epaule du Charvet, under the Mont Blanc and that sort of thing. It was a total white-out and if you weren’t in the trees or near a ligt or some piste markers you couldn’t see anything at all and venturing too far off-piste would have been a nightmare as far as navigating went.

I’ve just returned from dropping the girls and their pals off in Lyon after a brilliant week and I’m missing them already! They aren’t back until March 28th, which is a long way off but at least they’ll be coming for 17-days next time!

We might see some sun tomorrow, which would be useful as it was very wet today, even around 2600metres or so and with a refreeze it might be an interesting morning, and some vis would help enormously. You never know for sure before you touch the snow but fingers crossed and stay tuned!

PS I thought today’s skiing was fantastic even though we couldn’t see and the snow was heavy towards the end of the morning. The snow was consistent and skied quite easily and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

PPS Derek and his pals say hello from Canada where they are having outstanding conditions and a wonderful time. Rock on Derek!

14 February 2018
Blimey, I enjoyed that!

Well, what a stunning day that was! I had four runs off Wayne’s Shoulder, which was at its best and the deepest snow I’ve skied for at least a month. (See photos) Thomas was up around the Motte as well while Andreas ‘skinned’ to Terre Rouge for a fantastic outing and I’m leaving Chris in ‘code-mode’.

This afternoon I had a wonderful trip over the Col Pers with Dave and his daughters Tilly and Emilia. We are normally there in the morning and it made a lovely change to see it in the late-afternoon sun. It was stunning and my team had a brilliant time.

It’s the girls last full day as I’m taking them to the airport tomorrow afternoon. What a bummer! But, it has been a fantastic holiday, their friends have had a brilliant time, and my day taking Millie and Katie to the Col du Montet along with Gill, Jean R, Penny and J-Love will remain in my memory bank for a very long time.

The weather looks pretty rough for the next few days so we should see some snow and we’ll wait and see what tomorrow brings. Stay tuned!

13 February 2018
Sunny but cold!

Radio Val announced -21C this morning on the top of Bellevarde at 7AM so needless to say it was a little chilly and a day for staying in the sun! All the boys did just that and everyone managed the morning in great snow and interesting places and those of us who ‘skinned’ even ended up shedding a layer or two. It warmed up significantly by the end of the morning but the air temperature remained cold in the shade.

A big plaque popped out of the Marmottons/Marmottes last night in the middle of the night when it was -20C so we’ll need to be careful around the ‘stretch’ marks that can seen all over the mountain. Once it starts to warm up again some of those ‘hanging’ plaques are just waiting to go.

Another sunny day is forecast for tomorrow so we’ll enjoy that before the clouds roll back in on Thursday. Stay tuned!

12 February 2018
That was much better than expected!

It was Gill’s turn to ski with me today as Millie and Katie had a date with Russell, who skis with them at least one day every holiday. They are a scary threesome and they had a fantastic morning up at the Fornet. Thanks Russell!

It was jolly cold again today with a nasty northerly wind blowing and part of the job this morning was to stay as warm as possible. About 10 to 15 centimetres of snow fell overnight and the day started off fairly overcast but at least we had a cushion of new snow to work with. Chris and I were heading to Tignes for a change of scenery but once we felt the wind and the snow we realised that certain exposures had a lot more snow than anticipated we immediately doubled back into the lee and had a wonderful morning with great snow, ambience and only chamois for company. (See photos) I’m back to ‘code-mode’ as this little top-up of snow is all we’re going to get and it was good enough this morning for two runs before returning in the afternoon with Dave and his daughters Tilly and Emilia. Meanwhile Andreas and Thomas were up at the Fornet skiing some Fornet ‘classic’s’ (that’s all you get on that one as well) and everyone had a fantastic morning.

I saw Thomas at the end of the afternoon at the top of the Marmottes as we were both looking for a ‘last-minute-trick’ to finish off the afternoon and we found a few bonus turns before cutting back to the piste..

The girls are out ice-skating and trying to milk their last few days to the last drop and their friends Josh and Jas are having a brilliant time!

It’s forecast to be bitterly cold tomorrow but at least the sun should be shining. Dress up warm and stay tuned!

11 February 2018
Milking it to the last drop!

It was overcast today with a few flakes floating about but we did manage an excellent ski with great snow and pretty decent visibility. I had Paul W along today with his daughter Alexandra who is new to off-piste and ‘skinning’ and his son Nicholas who has skied with Alpine before as well as having spent Christmas with his dad at CMH, and Alexandra did really well for her first go. Bravo Alex! Millie and Penny were along and Penny has been a real trooper this week as we’ve ‘skinned’ everyday and she’s really done the business. Besides lovely snow we had the mountain to ourselves, which considering how busy it is this week was a real bonus, and we had a few good wildlife sightings as well.

Millie and Katie are off at the pool with Josh and Jas and it’s been a brilliant holiday for everyone concerned. We’ve had some great meals and some after-dinner fun each night, they’ve been to the Guinea Pigs, Josh and I watched the rugby last night, and they’re loving the skiing!

I rarely get ill but seem to have caught the worst cold I’ve had in about 20-years. I’ve done everything my grandma would tell me and doing my best to get rid of it because ‘skinning’ and colds don’t mix!

Hopefully we’ll get a fresh canvas of some sort by morning as I rate the off-piste possibilities at between 3 and 5%. Thankfully within that small percentage we’ve had some stunning skiing and bravo to all the boys! Stay tuned!

PS What a great win for the Hammers yesterday!

10 February 2018
A memorable first 'skin' for Katie!

It was a special day today as it was Katie’s first ‘skin’ and her first full morning in my group along with her sister and Mum. The plan was to do something simple like a Pays Desert out wide and ‘skin’ back up but conditions were exactly right to do something a bit more adventurous and after asking Jean and Penny if they were up for it we decided on the Col du Montet. We also had along a lovely young lady named J-love (nickname) who was absolutely delightful and what a first ‘Alpine’ morning it was for her! I’d like to say a huge bravo to Penny and Jean because it wasn’t a freebie today as all our turns were earned, and to Katie for a great performance both ski-wise and with the walking! The snow was absolutely brilliant top-to-bottom on both sides and what a memorable first ‘skin’ Katie! (See photos)

Meanwhile Andreas was finishing up a fantastic week with James and Richard and they’ve had a great combination of touring and couloirs, and Thomas was skiing with a member of the French bumps team today who’ll have kept Thomas on his toes! Henry was out there as well and Chris enjoyed a well-earned day off.

Millie and Katie’s friends Josh and Jas are having a fantastic time and thoroughly enjoying our wonderful environment and all that goes with it. It’s fun to watch people who’ve never been here before experiencing the mountains and all this snow for the first time. And they’ve been the most lovely and helpful house-guests as well!

Andreas played a couple of songs with Mike and Ritchie last night and I thought he was excellent. He’s been practising hard over the past couple of years and has made noticeable progress. Bravo Andreas and I look forward to your next appearance!

We are expecting some snow over the next couple of days, which is good news as the resort is completely tracked out. We’ll miss the visibility but I’ll be able to come out of ‘code-mode’! Stay tuned and come on you Hammers!

PS And happy holidays to Fred and Liz who are off to India today!

9 February 2018
Well done Josh and Jas!

It was another cold but sunny day and all the boys spread out around the mountain and we all had another extremely good day, especially as it’s getting pretty tough out there. Bravo boys!

Millie came along in my group this morning and she absolutely loves the ‘skinning’, the powder snow and the ambience of being in the mountains without a load of other people. I took Katie out this afternoon to try her new off-piste gear and we skied a nice Jardin du Borsat Nord before heading home through the Piste Perdue! (See photos) Also well done to Mike Cran’s daughter Sarah who has made huge progress this week, both ski-wise as well as her ‘skinning’!

The girls’ friends Josh and Jas had a great day and are doing really well. Gill and Millie skied with them this afternoon and they skied all the way to the bottom of La Daille on just their second day! Bravo you two!

I’d like to wish Liz a big Happy Birthday and she and Fred a fantastic trip to India. They had so much fun last year with a trip organised through Mary-Anne that they’ve decided to go back for more. Everyone at our house is seriously jealous!

We had a great session with the Guinea Pigs at Le Petit Danois last night and it’s nice to see Gill have a little boogie, and don’t forget Andreas is playing tonight with Mike and Ritchie around 6 at the Pub Moris. See you there and stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

8 February 2018
Adults in the Piste Perdue!!!

I picked the girls up in Lyon last night and arrived home around 1:15AM and must admit to stifling the odd yawn on chairlifts today! The sun was shining again and what a perfect first day for the girls and their friends Josh and Jas!

After several days in a row in the same sector Chris and I decided on a change of scenery, for better or worse, and we had a pretty good day up on the Motte, although the snow wasn’t a patch on what we’ve been skiing lately. Steve and Chris’ group told me that the Piste Perdue was in great nick and really easy so we finished off our morning crawling around on our bellies like little kids. Bravo Inga and Penny especially! It was really good fun but a little trickier than I had imagined.

Pietro is in town working with the Ski Club and I saw him up on the Motte, while Andreas, Thomas and Henry were all out walking and found some excellent snow. It certainly isn’t good everywhere, in fact it’s hardly good anywhere, but there is some fantastic snow about and that’s why I’m in ‘code-mode’. Well done yesterday Simon with your Where’s Wayne guesses!

My new G-3 touring bindings seem to stick after a ‘skin’, almost like they are frozen and they sometimes need some serious force to turn them back into ski mode. Today I made the mistake of taking my gloves off while trying to turn them back into position, and I was grunting and swearing away when they finally released and I punctured a nice hole in my hand. Chris taped me up with his trusty first-aid kit but when I arrived home it started bleeding again while taking off my boots. I ended up with a couple of stitches but fortunately didn’t damage any tendons. I took my skis up to Didier and it’s important to not hold down the safety brakes like with the Dynafit bindings, and he showed me a trick about using a little kick with your boot. The morale of the story is don’t take your gloves off and if your bindings are really stuck, a gentle kick works quite nicely! Thanks Didier!

It’s the Guinea Pigs tonight at Le Petit Danois and don’t forget Andreas is playing with Mike and Ritchie at the Pub Moris Friday night around 6:15! Stay tuned!

7 February 2018
Back to 'code-mode'!

The forecast was for an overcast day so it’s needless to say how delighted we were to wake up to clear blue skies! The vicious wind that has been blowing for the past three days or so died down, so it was game on for another cracking good day. With all the wind we’ve had and very little snow there isn’t that much top quality skiing at the moment but today was exceptionally good and I’m going into ‘code-mode’ so Simon can play ‘Where’s Wayne’. Penny said it was the best day of her season so far and Stocky in Chris’ group seemed rather pleased with himself so it was a jolly good result this morning. Thomas and Henry were in the same sector as Chris and I while Andreas had a small team and was skiing couloirs. He said that the couloirs are starting to firm up and have become ‘no-fall’ zones so he’ll be waiting for some more snow to soften things up little before going back.

I’m off to get the girls tonight and won’t be back until about 1:30AM so I’m pleased sunny skies are forecast for tomorrow! Stay tuned and see you at the Danois tomorrow evening!

PS The announcement for Head Prefect came out today and Millie told Gill she didn’t get anything so Gill and I have been feeling sorry for her all afternoon while we’ve both been doing housework. Then Millie arrives home after school with a new tie and badges and it turns out she go it after all. Dirty trick Mils but well done!

PPS Matt, I left you a message on yesterday’s update in case you missed it?

6 February 2018
Thanks for the Super Bowl Piers!

Today was so much easier than expected because the visibility was extremely good considering a flat-light-overcast day was forecast. After finding fresh snow at the Fornet yesterday I returned again this morning and after seeing some nice strips of snow blown in skied the Combe du 3300, which was good enough to warrant a go in the Pays Desert before heading over the Col Pers and exiting via the Grand Torsai. (See photos) Meanwhile Chris, Andreas and Thomas all went over the Col first thing and the circled back around to ski the Vallonnet or Grand Vallon. (I’m not sure what Henry was up to today)

I’d like to thank Piers and Clare for a great early-evening last night watching the entire Super Bowl highlights without huddles or commercials. It was an absolutely brilliant match and must have been extremely tense to watch live, especially for those like Michael who had a vested interest in it. The Eagles took some serious gambles that all paid off, and they needed to because the Pats do not go quietly. What a game! And thanks to Russell P for the pizzas! It was also nice to see Piers’ boys Torran, who I haven’t seen in years, and Cai who was just a baby when Joe Carter jerked a two-strike pitch into left-field bleachers to give the Blue Jays their second World Series win in a row. Piers was changing Cia’s nappy at the historic moment and I’ll never forget it! It was also great to see Russell P who I haven’t seen in ages and to meet Torran’s girlfriend Rita. Thanks again Piers!

I’m keeping it short today as I need to drive down to Bourg and do a big shop for the girls’ visit! Stay tuned!

PS I received your message Matt but can’t text on my French phone. Haven’t seen Jesse all season and was wondering what she’s up too
? I’ll stop by to say hello and hopefully catch Lara and Ellie at Le Petit Danois for the Guinea Pigs, and have fun in Korea and see you in the spring.

PPS Andreas is playing a couple of songs with the excellent Mike and Ritchie Friday night around 6:15 at the Pub Moris. Come along and support Andreas and have a beer or three! See you there!

5 February 2018
It was almost lonely today!

It was looking like a potentially tricky day with flat-light, and -10c made to feel a lot worse because of a strong foehn wind. I decided to brave the teeth of the wind and went to the Fornet to head over the Col Pers, where we would be protected and fortunately all our necessary lifts were running and we managed to get over the Col. We then ‘skinned’ up the Glacier Pers and were rewarded with fantastic snow and absolutely no one else in sight all morning long. On the way out through the gorge we had three chamois just above us and a little further down a couple of bouquetin, and a wildlife sighting is always a nice bonus. (See photos) Henry came up to the Fornet as well but his team didn’t have skins so he skied the Lechoir before exiting through the gorge. Meanwhile Andreas and Chris headed towards Tignes to ski the Sachette and probably the Lavachet en-route, or perhaps Andreas skied the Chardonnet first? I haven’t heard from the boys so I’m not 100% sure what they skied but they’ll have had a great ski as well.

Michael Rosen (and Henry) will be totally bummed by the Eagles winning the Super Bowl last night but I must say that most neutrals will be absolutely delighted. My friend Tom back in Calgary will be happy as he’s a big ‘anyone-but-the-Pats’ fan! Hope you enjoyed the game Tom!

I must decide in the next five minutes if I’m going to Bourg to shop for the girls’ holiday or put it off until tomorrow? Decisions, decisions? Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

4 February 2018
Still great skiing in the Sachette!

It was another cold morning but it was a few degrees warmer than yesterday, which seemed to take off the bone-chilling ‘edge’ and everyone was more comfortable today. We started off with slightly better light than yesterday and we took advantage of it early on but as the morning wore on the light became flatter and the skiing became a little tougher. I almost went to the Crete du Genepy but decided to do variations of yesterday instead because there was still some great snow waiting so Chris and I skied the meadows to the Little Lavachet then down through the trees before ‘skinning’ out. Another cold night improved the snow even further and the Lavachet was even easier skiing today. From there we ‘skinned’ into the Sachette for some wonderful snow then ‘skinned’ again for a few minutes to access a steep pitch of virgin snow. Unfortunately the surface sloughed as I was skiing and it didn’t leave much snow for Jean, Mike and Penny. Sorry about that but it was fun!

Thomas was out there as well this morning and he was heading towards the Motte to ski off the Balme and Andreas was off this morning but is skiing with the family this afternoon.

And thanks to Simmo and Janet for a great evening last night!

I’m about to head off the gym before getting stuck into my chores. Stay tuned and it looks as if we’ll have a cloudy day to deal with tomorrow!

PS Poor Jean wasn’t happy with the French defeat to the Irish yesterday. He’s convinced that the French deserved to win!

3 February 2018
It's jolly cold out there!

After being cold yesterday I put on some more layers, dug out my boot-warmers, put on a proper hat and headed to the sun. The sun didn’t last very long mind you as clouds rolled in pretty quickly, which kept it cold but at least we had really good visibility all morning long. I was going to ‘skin’ to Mont Roup with Chris but Penny arrived really late last night and a couple weren’t feeling up for too much walking so we changed plans and headed to Tignes. It probably worked out for the best as we had some great skiing in the meadows leading to the Little Lavachet and pretty good snow in the Lavachet itself, which was a huge bonus because it was dreadful last week! We then ‘skinned’ into the Sachette and had some wonderful skiing right to the bottom and then finished off our morning with the Altiport in the Familial. Meanwhile Chris skied the Crete du Genepy and Mont Roup and both Thomas and Henry were heading off towards the Grande Motte and the last I heard from Henry he was about to ski the ‘Wall’.

It was -17c on the summit of Bellevarde this morning and the cold has certainly dried out the snow and the quality this morning was much improved. The forecast calls for another week of cold weather so don’t get ambushed like I did yesterday and dress up warm because is extremely cold in the shade and in the wind.

Thanks to Sue and Dave for a lovely evening last night. John’s YSE Chalet meals are always excellent and last night was no exception!

I’m starting my ‘clean-up’ campaign as the girls arrive next Wednesday night with their pals Josh and Jas. A huge shop in Bourg is also on the cards so I’ve a bit to do to get everything ready at just the right time!

It’s a big day in the Premiership and the Hammers have a dreaded 6-pointer with Brighton this afternoon. Come on boys, make my day!

Andreas, Tansy, Ness and Victor are down in Albertville watching the Davis Cup tennis, which sounds like a brilliant family day out to me. Have fun!

PS I’ve just dug out The Rolling Stones ‘Hot Rocks’, boy that takes me back!

2 February 2018
Ambushed by the cold!

After a nice little top-up of snow yesterday the sun was out again today, but boy did I get ambushed! We headed up to the Fornet and it was much colder than expected and for the second day in a row I must confess to stopping for a hot chocolate and warm-up. Thanks Bunny for a lovely foot massage/rub to get the circulation going again, I was the envy of many in the restaurant! Anyway, we skied a Lower Combe du Signal, a Combe du 3300, followed by a welcome hot chocolate stop, then some great bonus turns en-route to the Col Pers. Once over the Col we started towards the Lechoir but came across a pitch that was too good to miss so we skied it and changed our plans. Everyone was heading into the gorge so we ‘skinned’ up to the Grand Torsai and had it totally to ourselves and clean top-to-bottom, and it was a great change as we’ve been through the gorge many, many times already this season. Chris and Thomas were in the neighbourhood while Andreas finished off his week with Gunnar and Tom by breaking trail up to the Col des Fours where they were rewarded with some great skiing and wonderful ambience.

We had a brilliant evening at Le Petit Danois last night as the Guinea Pigs were fantastic. Unfortunately towards the end of the gig some drunks took over our space in front of the stage and started spilling beer on Hugo’s drums and themselves, which was a real shame because they spoiled what was to that point a wonderful evening. They are playing again tonight so Sue, Dave, Nikki, Adam, Mark, Daphne, Bunny, Stephen, John, Natalie and a few others are returning for more! It’s also Mike and Ritchie’s evening in the Moris Pub so there is no shortage of live music.

It’s forecast to be cold again tomorrow so I might go somewhere a little warmer, after all I can’t expect Bunny to rub my feet again! Stay tuned!

PS I’ll be adding the layer I discarded earlier in the week! And Jean R joined us for our trip over the Col and it was great to have him along!

1 February 2018
Well, that was a pleasant surprise!

That turned out to be a cracking good morning and totally different to what I’d planned or anticipated. About 10 cm’s of snow fell overnight so Chris and I were heading up to the Pissaillas to go over the Col and ‘skin’ to the Glaciers Pers, which would have been excellent, but when the Signal Poma was running we totally changed our minds. We ended up skiing a run in the Grand Vallon followed by a run in the Combe du Signal before heading up to the Glacier for a run down the Combe du Geant. It was -10c with high humidity and a bit of a breeze so we all went in for a hot chocolate and warm-up before heading over the Col Pers and out through the gorge. By this time another 5 cm’s had fallen and the snow back-side was great top-to-bottom, although we couldn’t see too much. (See photos) Unfortunately my camera battery died so I missed the ambience shots in the gorge along with the chamois and bouquetin. (It’s amazing how quiet the gorge is when it’s snowing!)

Andreas is still skiing with Gunnar and Tom and they skied the Borsat Nord followed by an excellent run in Andreas’ Garden before circling back around to the Fornet. I’m not sure where Henry ended up we he was skiing around Bellevarde first thing.

It’s Thursday and I’m off to Le Petit Danois later to see the Guinea Pigs. Hopefully they’ll be able to get up the mountain as it’s one of the highlights of the week. See you there and stay tuned as the sun should be back out tomorrow!

31 January 2018
And yet another great change of scenery!

It was another fun day in the sun as we await some fresh snow tomorrow. Our first thoughts this morning were to do a ‘double-skin’ on the Glacier Pers but Thomas wanted to do the Col du Montet so Chris and I decided to keep him company. I haven’t been up there for a while, and like yesterday it was nice to have a complete change of scenery as well as a totally different ambience and the morning was thoroughly enjoyed by all. And to go along with the fantastic scenery we had the bonus of jolly good snow top-to-bottom! (See photos)

Andreas went down to Ste Foy with Gunnar and Tom and they had a great morning skiing the Foglietta before having a cracking good lunch in the Monal, and Henry is still working on his three-day HAT course, which is going very well.

Unfortunately tomorrow’s snow is forecast to arrive around 8AM, which will leave us with flat-light and no new snow to speak of to work with. I think I’ll savour today first and see what tomorrow brings. Stay tuned!

And thank-you Dawn and Tilly for a great meal at the Lodge last night, which followed some excellent music in the Baraque!

30 January 2018
The time is right!

After four days up at the Fornet it really was time for a change of scenery So Chris and I headed to Tignes. After a lovely warm-up on piste we had some good skiing under the Borsat chair and into the lower Borsat before heading upstairs to the Grande Motte. The Motte itself is still closed due to wind damage but we enjoyed a 105-turn pitch before ‘skinning’ up for the Tour du Balme. The last time I was up there was probably 8-to-10 years ago with Jean R and Red Ray in a snowstorm and it was really nice to be up there again and see how much has changed since my last visit. The skiing and ambience were excellent and we finished the tour with the big face of the Balme, which is always a crowd-pleaser!

Meanwhile, Andreas has been entertaining some hot-shots these past few days and he’s been showing Tom (who skis religiously in Chamonix) all of his favourite couloirs. After the rain and warm weather followed by a good re-freeze the avalanche risk has been 2/5 for the past several days so now is the time to be taking on the big slopes. Thomas also had a couple of days of privates and was spreading his wings as well. Well done boys! Henry has been running a three-day HAT course and is busy with initiation to touring, beep searches, snow pits and general all-round mountain awareness and etiquette.

We’ve one more day of sunshine before another 50cm’s or so of fresh snow moves in on Thursday. Fingers crossed that the wind is kind and it all isn’t too disruptive!

My girls are coming next Wednesday with a couple of school friends so we should have a brilliant week. Jazz and Josh have never been to the mountains and have never witnessed snow like this so it should be fun to watch. I need to get started on my preparations but as usual, the key is not peaking too early! Stay tuned!

Thanks to Chris and Suzanne for a lovely ‘ happy birthday Chris’ meal last night, and I hope that Fred had a great day as well!

29 January 2018
Back for more!

It was another stunning day with clear blue skies and after a couple of days at the Fornet I thought I’d go to Tignes for a change of scenery, but then changed my mind as the Fornet was just too good to leave behind! Chris and I ‘skinned’ into the Grand Vallon again as so far it’s been just our tracks in there, and then I did a funky run between the Vallonnet and Col Pers to the Grand Torsai and then back down so we could ski through the gorge. Thomas as also up at the Fornet while Andreas was skiing couloirs again with Gunnar and his friend Thomas from Chamonix. Henry was out there as well today but I’m not too sure what he skied.

We have two more days of sunshine forecast before it snows again on Thursday so we’ll enjoy the visibility while we have it, but we’ll be grateful as well for a fresh canvas on Thursday. Stay tuned!

And happy birthday Chris and Fred!

PS TJ left a couple of days ago after a great three weeks and we’ll all miss him!

28 January 2018
What a day that was!

Blimey, what a brilliant day that was! The sun was shining again and after so much snow and flat-light it has been a real joy to see the mountains again these past couple of days and more importantly, see where you’re trying to ski! Chris and I headed up to the Fornet and went straight over the Col Pers and ‘skinned’ into the Grand Vallon as the Signal Poma is still closed. We finished our morning there yesterday and it definitely deserved another trip and we had some great skiing and ambience as no one else was around. From there we circled back around and stopped just short of the Grand Vallon and skied the top of Oh My!, before cutting back into the lower part of the Grand Vallon. It was a cracking morning with excellent snow because there is a lot of rubbish out there, fantastic scenery and being alone in a crowded resort is always a massive bonus! Meanwhile Andreas and Thomas had a big ‘Couloir’ day in Tignes and I won’t give you details as Andreas wants to return tomorrow with Gunnar and Thomas.

I had the pleasure of skiing with Luke today (I’ve known him since he was a baby and he’s John and Margaret’s grandson) and Luke was a breath of fresh air. He’s 23-years-old and was skiing on skis that were 188cm’s long, 99cm’s under-foot and he was perfectly comfortable following the track . He could pivot, carve, ski slowly when needed, fast when he wanted and was always totally under control of where he was going and was able to adjust instantaneously within a turn. It just proves that skiers on fat skis who can’t control their radius or their speed can’t because they lack basic skills, and their width of ski is a poor excuse. Bravo Luke, bloody well skied!

And how can you possibly top off a stunning morning on the mountain? A brilliant lunch at Geoff and Inga’s followed by the Australian Open highlights where Roger Federer cemented (he actually did that a long time ago) his place in tennis history with a stunning display en-route to his 20th Grand Slam! Inga and I were blubbing when Roger broke down in tears during the awards ceremony and it was a fantastic end to the afternoon. I’m now doing the blog followed by my Valdinet piece for tomorrow morning and I’m half pissed so excuse any flowery descriptions!

It’s sad to say that after all that snow we actually need a top up as the resort has been tracked out at an alarming rate. I’ve said it a million times but very few skiers are trashing way too much of the slope by spreading out, skiing across the fall-line and basically being selfish with the terrain, and free-riders and boarders with lack of knowledge are doing the same and it totals up to an unnecessary mess!

More sun is forecast for tomorrow and I’m not worried yet about tomorrow as I still want to savour today. And thanks Geoff and Inga for a great afternoon. Stay tuned!

PS Millie played to 12 today, well done Mils!

27 January 2018
What a day to forget my camera!

Wow, that was a special morning and they type to give a guy back his mojo! We had everything this morning, great snow, sunshine, stunning scenery, wonderful ambience, first tracks everywhere, non-stop-maximum-turn skiing for the most part, and I had a great team to maximise on the conditions. Unfortunately I forgot my camera this morning and missed some brilliant photo opportunities, but the only good thing about that is I saved myself at least an hour of work as I would have had 300 shots to sift through!

Chris, Andreas, Henry and I were all up at the Fornet where about ten centimetres of fresh snow fell overnight, and a little more in places, and everyone had a terrific morning. My team opened up with a Lower Combe du Signal, followed by a little run above the pond while waiting for the Cascade to open, followed by a Combe du 3300, then a quick one in the Combe de Giant before heading over the Col Pers and out through the gorge. All the boys skied similar runs with slight variations here-and-there and everyone was on fire! At this stage Dawn had a rendezvous and Geoff was completely satisfied so they stopped while Sue, Catherine, Jules, Inga and I carried on for one more knowing we’d be late. I knew it was going to be good so we picked up Simon on the Cascade chairlift and he came along as well but I’m now going into code-mode because we had a stunning run without any tracks, and I just might need it for tomorrow morning. Photos would have given it away but the team did a great job and left some very impressive tracks on a beautiful slope. Bravo team!

More sun is forecast for the morning and I’m looking forward to it already. Stay tuned and come on Roger!

26 January 2018
A tough start but a cracking finish!

With overcast skies and flat-light it was never going to be an easy morning, especially without any new snow overnight to work with. Team Alpine started off with a Lower Lavachet and at this stage a snow flurry blew through and the light was extremely flat and combined with tricky snow it wasn’t the easiest start to the morning. From there we headed to the Sachette with full intentions of cutting out early back to the piste because of what we’d experienced on the Lavachet, but the snow was excellent right to the bottom, helped by an improvement with the visibility. I thought it turned out to be a cracking good morning, especially after a tough start.

Millie gave her speech at school today to try to become the Head Prefect. She’s made it from 12 down to the last three and all three candidates had to give their speeches this morning. Mils was pretty nervous this morning but feels she did pretty well and I’ll post her speech tomorrow. Katie texted to say that she thought Millie did really well so fingers crossed!

I think the Guinea Pigs are playing tonight at Le Petit Danois so I’m going to watch the first set before having supper with Chris and Suzanne. Maybe see you there?

Hopefully we’ll get a few centimetres of snow today before the sun comes back out mid-morning tomorrow. Stay tuned and well done Fed!

PS I’ve posted some photos from yesterday this morning at 7AM and again today at 2PM.

PPS I just passed by the Danois and the Guinea Pigs weren’t there. Bummer!

25 January 2018
A brilliant Col and Gorge du Malpasset!

We had better than expected light this morning and after yesterday’s lift queues everyone decided to go for a walk. Chris, Thomas, TJ and I ‘skinned’ to the Col Pers and had a great run down before exiting through the gorge, while Andreas had a lovely morning on Mont Roup.

I’ve another busy day with the school kids this afternoon, followed by the Guinea Pigs, then dinner here with TJ, Oscar, and Russell and I’ll try to post the photos later.

Stay tuned!

PS Guinea Pigs are ill so there is another band tonight. Bummer!

24 January 2018
We need some more lift options!

It’s a quick one today as I worked all day then needed to shop for and then cook tomorrow night’s dinner, then I need to be at Chris and Suzanne’s for 7 o’clock, which doesn’t leave much time.

The sun was out again today but it was unseasonably warm, which played a part in where we chose to ski. Unfortunately very little was open again today leaving us with very few options and some pretty big queues for this time of year. We opened up with an excellent Tour du Charvet onto TJ’s Shoulder and it was all good except for the steep slopes off TJ’s Shoulder, which had taken a sun-crust and needed to be negotiated with care and attention. From there is became more complicated with queues and hardly any lifts open so we headed to the Grande Motte for a good run off the Genepy before finishing with the Familial. Henry was up at the Fornet and skied off the Pyramid but that was all that was open in that sector.

I had a great afternoon with Mike Cran’s daughter Lucy. What a cracking young lady and a really good skier as well and I look forward to skiing with her again soon.

I’ll post the photos tonight when I return from Chris and Suzanne’s. Stay tuned!

PS We witnessed a big avalanche out of the cliffs above the bus stop at La Daille at 4:30 this afternoon. It was a pretty cool end to a brilliant afternoon!

23 January 2018
What a change in landscape!

The sun finally came out and it was brilliant to look around the mountains and take in the huge amount of snow that has fallen. Some things have disappeared under snow and the landscape looks very different in places. Today’s main problem was the limited opening, which led to us having very few options. Still, I thought the boys put on a jolly good show and we definitely made the most of it. Considering the wind, rain, amount of snow, an avalanche risk of 5/5 moving to 4/5, and the heat the skiing was pretty good for the most part. The snow was variable but all very skiable although some pitches were more ‘educational’ than others, and you could find rain-crust at lower altitudes if you persisted in skiing to the bottom.

I spent some time clearing my terrace this afternoon and it’s a massive job. I needed to climb on top of the snow and start shovelling away from my building so that I will eventually have somewhere to heave the snow from below. Thank goodness it’s a once in every 35-years event, fingers crossed!

Chris and Suzanne finally made it home after three nights of camping at my place. They’re great company and we had a really good time but I’m sure they’re both looking forward to their cosy apartment and their own bed tonight!

More sun is forecast for tomorrow and with it hopefully we’ll get a few more lifts open. Stay tuned!

22 January 2018
Unexpected fun!

We weren’t really expecting too much today as the roads to Bourg and Tignes were closed all night, the Fornet remained cut off from the main village and with an avalanche risk of 5/5 and the black flag flying Chris and I were surprised when Radio Val announced that the Funival would open at 11:30. We both rallied our troops and we all know about these ‘low expectation’ days and this one turned out like so many, brilliant. Well, considering all the snow, wind and cabin-fever it was brilliant! The snow was heavy but very skiable and I was pleasantly surprised at how good the skiing was. But after three runs we called it a day as we’d had the best of it and with the wind picking up, the temperature rising significantly and all the safe options becoming tracked, we stopped while everyone was in one piece. (See photos)

I was skiing along and sensed a bandit at 4 o’clock and sure enough there was a bandit sneaking up on me, and it turned out to be Henry messing with me! It was good to see you out there Henry!

Hopefully TJ’s son Oscar will have finally made it up the mountain. He needed to stay in Geneva last night because of the road from Bourg being closed all night. Looking forward to seeing you Oscar!

Sunshine is forecast for tomorrow so that should make for some very interesting behaviour about the mountain. Stay tuned!

21 January 2018
Another day of paperwork!

I just remembered that I haven’t yet done today’s update, and there is nothing to report ski-wise as we were shut down again by snow and high winds! It was the 6th morning of the season so far that has been cancelled, and it is getting a little tedious to say the least. It’s stunning beautiful with brilliant ambience, and I’ve never seen so much snow before but the resort can’t take much more. Roads are a problem, parking is a problem, the security of the village is a worry, and several lifts have been damaged. The good news is that after another snowy day tomorrow we should get some relief this coming week so that we can ski and the resort can get so much needed work done.

TJ’s son Oscar had his flight cancelled last night and is stuck in Geneva without a lift up so I thought I’d need to drive TJ down tonight and pick him up around 10 o’clock. But fortunately Doctor Mike has offered to take him down with his 4×4, which is fantastic as it would have been a serious adventure in my car! I’ve snow tyres but only two-wheel drive and these are pretty extreme conditions. Thanks Mike!

I’ve posted a few photos from my wander about town today.

PS Millie has got down to the last three for Head Prefect. Good luck Mils!

20 January 2018
More unexpected light!

That’s the second day in a row that we’ve had unexpected visibility and we all made the most of it. My team was first into the Tour du Charvet and TJ’s Shoulder followed by TJ, Andreas and Chris and we had a fantastic opener with great snow and lovely ambience. Since we were heading to TJ’s Shoulder maybe I should have let TJ go first, but nah, there’s no such things as friends on a powder day! It was great to have TJ along and he picked up Dawn, Chrissy and Carol in the Olympique so he ended up with a great little group and having the company of three lovely ladies. Nice one TJ!

After the tour it was decision time about what to do next so Chris and I ended up circling back for another run as it seemed a shame not to, while Andreas skied the Epaule du Charvet en-route to the Fornet where he had a couple of nice runs in the Lower Combe du Signal, and I think TJ and co headed towards the Manchet but I didn’t have clear radio communication and I’m not too sure where he ended up. Anyway, it was a serious ‘bonus’ morning that will keep us all going, and we may need the spiritual uplift if tomorrow is another tough ‘big-snow-high-wind’ day!

It was nice to have TJ along last night for the Guinea Pigs, who were brilliant again. Alex came along as well as Richard F, Steve and Sandy and I’m looking forward to TJ’s son (and my God-son) Oscar and Russell coming along next week. I love having something to look forward to every week besides the regular living-in-Val d’Isere routine, which isn’t hard to take but the additional music buzz is fantastic and a great change of pace.

I twigged my back taking photos this morning and it’s the first time I’ve done that in ages. I’m off to the gym for a good stretch and some mobilising Pilates exercises to sort myself out for tomorrow.

And come on you Hammers!

PS And a big thank you to Tilly and Jenny for a great meal and evening last night!

19 January 2018
Frustrating start but a great finish!

The wind wasn’t so violent last night but it did start to blow around 5AM and with another 20 to 30 cm’s of fresh snow it took a little while to get started this morning. I took a photo at the bus stop because it looked like another tough day but the lifts opened at 9:30 and we ended up with some sunshine to light the way. It’s amazing during long periods of flat-light that even a little tiny bit of extra visibility gives people a boost and everyone’s skiing seems to improve immediately.

We had another great day on the mountain and between us we skied at La Daille in the trees, the Fontaine Froide, Epaule du Charvet, Henry skied a cheeky lower Banane, we skied into the L, off the Mattis, and the Lower Combe du Signal. Thomas went down to check out the trees in Ste Foy but I haven’t yet had a report.

I thought the Guinea Pigs were great last night and it was nice to see Steve, Tilly, Chrissy and Jim all there and enjoying themselves. The Guinea Pigs are playing again this evening at 5:30 as a Friday night one-off so I hope to see you there!

It’s possible that another metre of snow will fall this weekend but we could use a break in the weather so that the resort can get itself sorted out. There are roads and parking lots to clear, lifts to dig out and some lifts have taken some serious damage during the storms. I heard on the radio this morning that winds of over 250km/h were recorded on the Pissaillas Glacier. I say ‘over’ 250 because the machine can only read up to 250km/h and it was off the scale. Blimey, no wonder there has been some damage!

Fingers crossed and stay tuned!

PS It was Michael’s last day of his 42-day holiday today and he’s had a great time with an incredible amount of variation in condiditons, and he’ll go home happy as he continues to improve. Bravo Michael, I’ll miss you!

18 January 2018
Great to be skiing again!

After a really tough day yesterday where the resort didn’t open any lift at all we were up and running quite quickly today and everyone was happy to be skiing again as that ‘cabin-fever’ routine gets a little tiring. Anyway, we had some great skiing in the trees at La Daille, followed by an excellent Epaule du Charvet, a lovely run down the L and a run up in the Fornet tress to finish. I had Alex who is new to ‘Alpine’ this morning and she had a fantastic time and we look forward to see more of her in the future. (See photos)

Chris, Tansy and I had our afternoon’s cancelled with the school children as it’s snowing again this afternoon, and I must say that was the easiest community service we’ve ever done as three of the four afternoons were cancelled!

I’m hoping that the Guinea Pigs will make it up this afternoon and they kick-off at 5:30 at Le Petit Danois. I ran into Jim this morning who reports that the new Tuesday night band at the Danois is excellent and that we need to check them out next week.

It looks like snow is forecast for the next few days so hopefully the wind won’t get up and ruin it all. Stay tuned!

17 January 2018
A non-starter today!!!

It is no surprise that with winds clocked at 190km/h on the summit of Solaise last night that today was going to be difficult. I listened to the wind howling all night long in my chimney and rattling the windows and sure enough today was a non-starter. I walked up to the Gourmandine for 8:45 because I didn’t have a contact for Simmo and sure enough he showed up with skis and boots and ready to go, but the resort remained shut all day long. It continued to gust to 150km/h during the day and we can only hope for better things tomorrow as it is all starting to become a little tedious. Well actually, very tedious if the truth be known! (See photos)

Millie has a Head Prefect interview today so good luck with it Millie, and Katie had a brilliant time at gymnastics last night. I hope the weather sorts itself out before the girls arrive in February because the thought of driving down to the airport in these conditions isn’t very appealing. I’ve been really lucky over the years to get decent enough weather to not need chains but the windows for good driving have been few and far between during the past month, and I was lucky twice at Christmas with the weather when going to pick-up and drop-off the girls.

Thanks to Michael for a lovely evening last night and Chris, Suzanne, Michael and I are invited down to Tilly’s for dinner tonight but I’m not too sure if we’ll make it or not. Stay tuned!

16 January 2018
What a cracking morning that turned out to be!

Well, that turned out to be a really fun morning when expectations weren’t the highest! It snowed between ten and fifteen centimetres overnight, which gave us something to play with, and it was snowing this morning meaning flat-light along with a howling that definitely played its part today. We took a face full when exiting the Olympique so Chris, Thomas and I all started on the Face du Bellevarde, which was protected from the wind, and perfectly groomed with 10 -15 cm’s on top, and perhaps even more down low. (See photos) From there we skied a couple of runs on the piste off the Grand Pres before heading down the Epaule du Charvet and into the Santons. My team took the last bubble up Solaise before they closed it for the day (Chris was behind us but they made them get out of their bubble) and we had a coffee before skiing into the L and having it all to ourselves! From there we joined Thomas and Chris up in the Fornet trees where I haven’t skied in ages and it was really good fun. We ended up skiing until one o’clock and a cracking morning was enjoyed by all! (TJ was out there as well but I’m not too sure where he ended up after the Santons.)

Chris, Tansy and I had our afternoons cancelled with the school children as it is pretty wild out there now. The wind is howling in my chimney and it’s a nice afternoon to not be out there! Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

PS It turns out that TJ was up at the Fornet as well.

15 January 2018
Unexpected sunshine and a change of scenery!

We had unexpectedly clear skies this morning and we profited with a jolly good ski and appreciated the ‘bonus’ day of sunshine. Chris, TJ and I did a ‘double -skin’ to the Crete du Genepy and Mont Roup and the skiing was excellent and a nice change after three days the Fornet. Thomas went off toward Tignes and the Sachette while Andreas skied Mont Roup then headed to the Fornet to ‘skin’ into the Grand Vallon from the Pyramid, but just when he was getting ready to ‘skin’ they opened the poma. What a result that was!

I had two new skiers this morning, Ed and his sister Emma from Scotland, and boy could they ski! Chapeau to you both and we look forward to skiing with you again sometime soon. (See photos)

It’s a short one today as I’ve a paperwork and French bureaucracy nightmare going on and it’s no fun!

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow and we should be skiing in fresh snow, flat-light and hopefully not too much wind!

PS And thanks to Geoff and Inga for a superb evening and meal last night. It was funny Russell and I speaking about how long it will take the Teli-ski to open to access the Grand Vallon, Combe du Signal and Vallonnet and we both thought it would be ages with another storm looming. Just show what we know!

14 January 2018
Slightly overcast but great skiing!

We had high cloud cover this morning but enough light filtered through to allow us to ski positively for the most part and everyone had a great morning. Chris and I headed back up to the Fornet because it’s the best snow in town and we did a ‘double-skin’ in the Pays Desert, which was excellent, followed by the Col Pers and out through the gorge. The Lechoir is more wind affected than the Pers side so we stayed in the Col Pers and found some great snow before cutting right towards the bottom.

Sandy and Stuart-the-Sea-Captain started their season’s this morning and I had a couple of new young Vikings along, Johan and Andreas, as well as Vitas, who is Canadian.

I went to the Baraque last night to have a drink with Tilly and Peter H, and Tilly had to leave because she was cooking for Sylvie, but Peter and I stayed to listen to an excellent 4-piece band. Peter had to peel out as well for a YSE dinner (which you don’t want to miss!) so I stayed for another half-hour listening to the music. They are really good and tonight (Sunday) is their last night so if you have the time Carol do go and see them, kicking off at 7:30.

Hopefully we’ll have another sunny day tomorrow before the snow moves in. The forecast was calling for up to two metres of snow but they are backing off a little now and it shouldn’t be that disruptive. Fingers crossed and stay tuned!

PS Millie played golf this morning and is pretty happy with her game at the moment and Gill and the girls are going to the cinema this afternoon. Have fun!

13 January 2018
Le retour de Jean!!!

The sun shone again today so Chris, Thomas, TJ and I headed back to the Fornet for another excellent morning. Chris, Thomas and I ‘skinned’ out into the Pays Desert for some fantastic snow without too much effort, and then finished off the morning by going over the Col Pers and heading out to the Tour du Lechoir before exiting through the gorge. The snow in the Lechoir wasn’t as easy as the brilliant snow in the Col Pers yesterday, but it was still pretty jolly good and the type of snow you’d kill for at times during the season. (Like three or four days ago!)

Meanwhile Andreas headed up to the Col des Fours with his team and they had a terrific morning with great snow and ambience and were rewarded for their efforts as it’s not a freebie, and Henry was out there somewhere but I’m not too sure what he skied.

It was a pleasure to have Jean R along today for his first ‘Alpine’ ski of the season. His knee held up well and he was pretty pleased with the way he felt and his confidence is growing. He said that he’s lost between 3 and 5 kilos and that it’s made all the difference with his knee. (There is a lesson to be learned for people who are overweight and have knee problems but that is probably a politically incorrect statement these days!.) (See photos)

Sports Report- I’m extremely pleased with the Calgary Flames who have won 6 in-a-row and beaten three of the top teams in the league during that run. My beloved Steelers are in action tomorrow in the NFL Playoffs and of course it’s a huge day for the Hammers as they play Huddersfield in one of those dreaded ‘6-pointers’. Come on boys! And of course Roger will try to defend his Australian Open title that kicks off on Monday and the Ladies LPGA gets started soon as well. So much to look forward to!

Hopefully we’ll have another sunny day tomorrow before it all starts to change and we may see another metre of snow next week. Stay tuned!

PS I quite enjoyed that ’6-pointer’!!!

12 January 2018
Maximum-turns and sheer quality!!!

After being closed for several days the Pissaillas Glacier at the Fornet opened this morning and with sunny skies we savoured a mega-morning of great snow, long pitches and very few stops. (I guess that adds up to a maximum-turn’ morning!) My team warmed-up with two runs of ‘low-hanging-fruit’ under the Cascade chairlift and with pretty much non-stop skiing top-to-bottom it almost finished us off before we even got started! From there we followed Thomas and Chris into the Combe du 3300 and as luck would have it they opened the drag lift at the bottom just when we thought we’d need to ‘skin’. We then ‘skinned’ up for 10-minutes or so to access the Pays Desert (T-bar still shut) and it was brilliant. By this time we’d already had a huge amount of skiing but because I wasn’t working this afternoon Chris and I decided to head over the Col Pers, and with info from Thomas who had skied down the Grand Torsai earlier we knew we could make it through the gorge, which was a wonderful finish to a stunning morning. Eugene and Anthony went off for a Michelin Star lunch to celebrate as a plate of frites would have been a bit of a let- down after all that! (Chris, Thomas and TJ were all up at the Fornet and everyone went over the Col Pers at some stage) Meanwhile, Andreas and Henry headed off to Tignes and had a fantastic morning as well skiing the Chardonnet Couloir followed by the couloir in the Sachette, both with excellent snow, and I think it would be fair to say that an exceptional morning was enjoyed by all! (See photos)

I’ve never seen so much avalanche debris over the Col Pers before out towards the Lechoir. It must have purged itself from the Point Pers to have travelled so far across the flats and it almost reached the last pitch to the bottom!

Sun is forecast again for tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it already! Stay tuned!

PS And thanks again Piers for hosting Dav’s Memorial drinks last night!

PPS I’ve borrowed some Salomon MTN 88’s from Jean Sport and I must say that they are stunning skis! They are fantastic in soft snow and surprisingly good on the piste and I’ve really enjoyed them. If you’re looking for a new pair of skis I’d definitely try them as they are seriously fun to ski on and I don’t give 10/10 ratings very often! Merci Didier!

11 January 2018
A lovely Memorial get-together for Dav!

What a brilliant day that turned out to be! The sun was shining and after so much flat-light everyone was just happy to have blue skies, views and perfect visibility to tackle the snow. There is some great snow around but also slopes of wind-compressed snow and the odd patch of ‘educational’ snow, but it all adds up to great skiing. This morning we headed into the Tour du Charvet onto TJ’s Shoulder, all of which was pretty jolly good although TJ’s Shoulder was tricky, then Chris and I skied the Lower Borsat before heading into Tignes for two off the Genepy. Andreas headed up to see what was happening at the Fornet and I’m not too sure what Thomas, TJ and Henry skied.

This afternoon Chris, Tansy and I skied with the 5-year-olds from the local school and as usual it was really good fun and a rewarding way to do our community service. I had the pleasure of having Michael Rosen assisting me and I think Michael really enjoyed it. Thanks Michael.

Next up was a hot bath and before heading straight up to Le Petit Danois to see the first-set of the Guinea Pigs, and I thought they were fantastic. The first-set was made up of songs I haven’t heard them play before and they have a great connection between them, which is fun to watch and I think they are getting better and better each week. Peter H and Tilly came along, as well as Carol and her team, as well as Chenko and some other regulars, and I’m looking forward to next Thursday night already!

What really made the day special was the Memorial drinks for Dav held at Chez Piers. Dav, who was a brilliant bloke, full of life and only 31-years-of-age at the time, died in an avalanche 20-years-ago this week. It was wonderful to see so many faces that I haven’t seen in years and a lot of those there tonight used to play at my regular Sunday afternoon baseball sessions where we had some fantastic fun often followed by a BBQ, and always followed by drinks. Some people came a long way to pay their respects and to see old friends, such as Alex and his wife Gill who came all the way from New Zealand, and faces I haven’t seen in ages included Baz, Beast, Scott, Bromey, Nipper, and quite a few others. It was great to see Piers, Clare, Cai, Graham and to meet Dav’s brother, and I’m mad at myself for not taking my camera because I’m forgetting quite a few. Thanks very much Piers and Clare, it was a great occasion and I’m really glad that I was there.

We’ll enjoy the next couple of days as the sun is forecast to shine before more snow moves in next week. Stay tuned!

10 January 2018
That was seriously good fun!!!

The slow opening of 9:25 was quickly forgotten as we were treated to a pretty stunning morning of powder skiing. After a couple of warm-up runs off the Verte we skied two great runs off the Fontaine Froide just as it opened, then hit the Epaule du Charvet for a fantastic run before it became popular. From there the team headed up Solaise and we were first into the Arcelle as the Manchet chair was closed and it was brilliant top-to-bottom. On our first descent we skied it with only three stops so each of the pitches were over 100-turns and everyone’s thighs were absolutely screaming for mercy! It is very rare to be able to ski such long pitches one after the other and it was seriously good fun and a great first ‘Alpine’ ski for Bryon from Dublin, and a return to ‘Alpine’ for Simo. The second time down we spread our wings a little and took our time choosing and skiing pitches, and it was so good Chris and Henry circled back around for a third run! Andreas, Thomas, and TJ were also in the neighbourhood and it was a cracking morning.

I skied with Sally, John and Dick again this afternoon so we started our technique lesson with a trip down the Marmottons before cutting out towards the bottom. The snow was so nice and it was brighter above the Manchet so it just had to be done! We finished up the afternoon with some more traditional-type technique on Bellevarde and I didn’t get home until 4:45.

The road to the Fornet has finally re-opened so Chris and Suzanne will be able to sleep in their own bed tonight. It was really fun having them the past couple of evenings and I have the feeling it won’t be their last camping trip this winter!

The avalanche risk has been dropped to 3/5 and we are expecting some sunshine and good visibility tomorrow, so stay tuned!

PS It was nice to look around to day and see how much of the mountain has purged itself. Very impressive and great news!

9 January 2018
What a brilliant afternoon!

As predicted the resort was in shut-down Tuesday morning with all lifts closed as well as all roads in-and-out of town and around town closed, the Sports Centre was closed and it was all pretty delicate as this has become a ‘once-every-thirty-years’ storm and the security services are taking it very seriously.

It brightened up around 9:30, which was a huge relief for everyone trying to secure the village, lifts and roads, especially those dealing with dynamite. We may get some skiing in this afternoon so stay tuned for another update later.

Suzanne and Chris spent the night at my place last night and we had a great evening including drinks upstairs with some of my neighbours. Philip who is about 85 has been in Val d’Isere since 1952 and he always has some good stories of days gone by. I slipped out to finish dinner and it took Chris and Suzanne 30-minutes to extract themselves as they were having a really good time.

This morning we walked around town and took some photos and with it brightening I’m preparing to ski this afternoon and I’m now awaiting a security update.

I ran into Baz this morning and he’s in town for the 20th Anniversary of Dav’s death. Dav was killed in an avalanche 20-years ago today on the Lores. Dav was a fantastic guy and many of his friends are congregating in town this week to remember him. (Photos and the story of the day are in my book)

After walking around town taking photos this morning I was ready to go when they announced a 12:30 opening on Solaise followed by 1PM on Bellevarde. I turned out to be a terrific afternoon with Sally, John and Dick as we skied a few gentle pitches off-piste on Solaise in surprisingly good snow followed by a very positive technique session on Bellevarde in the sun. TJ was out skiing with Mike and I’m sure they had some great skiing because the snow off-piste was very good and with a cold night ahead we should have some fantastic snow tomorrow.

I was disappointed in the behaviour of too many boarders and skiers this afternoon. The security services did their best to get some runs open in extremely high avalanche conditions hoping and perhaps trusting the public to respect the situation, but skiers were traversing into the notorious Spatule and boarders were spreading their wings off the closed Face du Bellevarde. Idiots!

Anyway, with any luck it won’t snow too much tonight and we can get out there in the morning because I’m certain some wonderful skiing awaits! Stay tuned!

8 January 2018
The black flag was flying!!!

The retour d’Est hit hard last night and with a metre of fresh snow on Bellevarde there could easily be 150 and 200cm’s up at the Fornet on the Pissaillas Glacier. The road to the Fornet closed last night around 4AM but naughty Chris and Suzanne snuck into town this morning as Chris had a group and Suzanne is baby-sitting young Zac while Fay and Jeremy ski with us. Bravo to you both and hopefully no one recognised you!

As for the skiing, we finally got going around 10 and we were on the first Funival of the day and enjoyed some pretty good, but challenging skiing. (See photos) The light was very flat and the snow was heavy but we persevered until noon when I decided I’d had enough because I didn’t want to hurt myself so I headed home with Sylvie while Jeremy and Fay went back up for another. Chris kept going until one, bravo, and Chris and Suzanne are bunking down at my place tonight as the road to the Fornet remains closed.

I think that this morning was the first time ever that we’ve skied while the black flag was flying. It’s rare to see the black flag at all but never while the resort is open. More heavy snow is forecast for the rest of the day and during the night so who knows what tomorrow will bring? Stay tuned!

PS We had 140km/h winds on Solaise last night!

7 January 2018
A transition morning as a huge snowfall looms!

After a glorious day of sunshine that helped recharged the batteries of everyone involved it was back into the flat-light as another huge snowfall approaches. The southerly wind was clocked at 110km/h this morning at 7AM but the wind did die down and although windy on the summits many lifts were operating and the wind wasn’t too cold. It started to snow heavily towards the end of the morning and as I write at 1:15PM big flakes are falling but being buffeted about by the wind and it’s snowing even harder towards the Fornet where between 75 and 150cm’s of snow are expected!

I spent my morning with Richard, Sylvie, Fay, Michael and Tilly working on technique and we did venture off a few times to ski supporting snow with a little soft snow on top. Back in the ‘skinny-ski’ days we’d often work on technique when the weather was bad or the snow was difficult because people needed good basic skills to cope with the conditions, but now days when people struggle instead of working on their fundamental skills they just reach for a pair of even wider skis. Anyway, it made a nice change and was a positive use of a tough morning.

Chris was about but seemed to disappear around 11AM and Andreas went up to the Fornet and skied some nice supporting snow off the Mangard and Pyramid. (By supporting I mean that what was wet heavy snow or rain-crust has now frozen and supports your weight and where it’s smooth is lovely skiing with a few centimetres on top)

Bravo boys for a good showing this morning and tomorrow we should have more to work with. It didn’t snow last night and just started this morning so the only fresh snow today was what fell during the morning and with flat-light it wasn’t the conditions to be wandering too far from civilization! Stay tuned!

PS Yesterday I needed to delete some photos to make room for new ones and going back towards the beginning of the season it’s amazing how good of skiing we had when everyone thought there wasn’t any snow! Well, there wasn’t much snow at all but it was still jolly good!

PPS And thanks Stocky for the coffee machine, it’s fantastic and much appreciated!

6 January 2018
A cracking morning in the sunshine!!!

Wow, that was more like it! The sun was shining and it made all the difference as we had a ‘maximum-turn’ type of morning. It wasn’t a powder morning but after what we’ve been skiing in flat-light it all felt pretty good. Michael asked me what type of snow it was and I replied, “Good question Michael”. The snow was definitely wind pressed combined with humidity, heat, moisture, rain and who knows what else? But it skied really nicely and had just enough ‘trickery’ in places to keep everyone on the toes and concentrating. For the most part we stayed on the surface but we did have places where we went in and could leave some good tracks. (See photos)

I’m skiing on my new skis and yesterday I had a tough first day on them so I took them into Jean Sports and Thomas put them through the new machine, and I must say they were so much better this morning. Whenever you have new skis don’t just think that they’re perfect and ready to go because they often come out of the factory needing some work. In years gone by you’d never ski on new skis without hand-tuning them and although factory finishes are much better these days it’s not uncommon for skis to need some work. Thanks Thomas!

After a wonderful day in the sunshine we are expecting a retour de l’est and the Fornet could see between one and two metres of snow over the next few days. After all this snow the gorge should be filled in and ready to go but who knows when they’ll be able to get the Glacier open. The Laisinant Express is out of action at the moment due to an avalanche down the Danaides that took about 100 trees with it and some of them have piled into the lift, and it will take another day or two for them to sort it out.

Sorry for the late update but I’ve been to Bourg shopping.

PS TJ arrives tonight!

PPS Unfortunately some of today’s photos won’t upload. I’ll keep trying as there are a few good ones!

PPPS Updated the photos after needing to delte a few!

5 January 2018
At least we were skiing

After a couple days of sitting around it was nice to get back skiing again today, even with a limited opening and very little to do. The snow lower down had a nasty rain-crust and was to be avoided, while many of the upper slopes were inaccessible, but the mid-altitude slopes off the Verte were really good. Chris and I ended up ‘skinning’ up the closed Borsat piste to get away from the crowds and the snow was pretty good at that altitude but other than that it was a matter of scratching around and making the most of it. After skiing in flat-light all morning the sun has come out this afternoon but it is extremely warm and I don’t think many people will be venturing off-piste.

Thanks to Richard and Susan for a lovely drinks party last night and it was fantastic to see the West Ham result before bed. Stay tuned for hopefully some more stimulating ski news soon!

4 January 2018

As predicted we didn’t ski this morning as the resort is in lock-down and the security services are understandably more interested in the security of the village than trying to get the resort open. With an avalanche risk of 5/5 above 2500 and 4/5 below there really isn’t any point.

The roads in town to the Fornet, Chatelard, and the Rue du Balme are closed as well as the road to Tignes and the road to Bourg. The rain limit is forecast to rise to 2600 later in the day, which will help to stabilise the mountain in the long term but doesn’t do much for those who are here now.

It’s 11:28am and the snow has just turned to rain and it’s looking pretty grim out there. Stay tuned for further updates during the day.

I’m just posting a few photos and check out the Radio Val’s photos of yesterday’s avalanche acorss the road to the Fornet. Blimey!

PS 11:36am, back to snow….. just!!!

PPS The Guinea Pigs won’t be playing at Le Petit Danois tonight for obvious reason. Bummer as I was really looking forward to it! I’m thinking of Chris as I listen to Marianne Faithful’s classic album ‘Broken English’. It’s one of his favourites and not for the faint-hearted, brilliant album!

PPS Just dug out Meatloaf’s ‘Bat Out Of Hell’. Haven’t heard this one for at least 15-years!

3 January 2018
Not an easy week for holiday-makers!!!

I didn’t hear the wind last night and was optimistic that we’d get in some skiing today after Meteo France had forecast a delay in the arrival of the storm, but the wind got up and with it raining up to around 2300 metres it was a no-go this morning! I did one run on the Rogoney with Adam and Tom to try my new skis and to keep my ‘run’ going but anything that wasn’t pisted smooth was dreadful and really quite dangerous for the knees. They did open the Funival but the pisteurs said it was ‘un-skiable’ so I headed home to do paperwork and go to the gym.

Thanks to Richard and Susan for a fantastic evening last night with great wine, lovely food and lots of laughs, and laughs are definitely a good thing during this trying time weather-wise! And to top off my evening the Hammers scoring a 94th minute winner sent me to bed extremely happy!

Another metre of snow is forecast with the rain/snow limit going up-and-down like a yoyo so we’ll have some more testing times ahead over the next few days. Stay tuned!

PS Chris was the star performer today as he stayed out and didn’t get home until 12:30 as he did a beep search with Michael, Leah, Dave and Suzie S and Suzanne. They tried to get up the Funival but by that stage everything was shut down tight.

The road to the Fornet has been closed to all circulation and a significant avalanche has come across the road and is estimated to be between two and three metres deep! Unfortunately they think there is a car underneath and the pisteurs have been up there with dogs and probes. Fingers crossed on that one! Stay tune for more news as it develops.

PS It turns out that the debris was up to six metres deep! As far as I know there was no car involved so that’s seriously good news. What a bummer for the pisteurs who have been working like hell and then needing to probe for hours as well as deal with the idiots on the Face du Charvet a couple of days ago. These people don’t get paid enough!

2 January 2018
More snow and wind on the way!!!

I could hear the wind humming in the chimney and rattling the windows last night and with 30 to 40cm’s of fresh snow mixed in it was always going to be a slow and limited opening this morning. Chris, Thomas and I started on Solaise and made our way to the Laisinant and eventually the Fornet while Andreas started on Bellevarde before joining us later on. There was some great skiing to be had in places and not so easy in others but it was another good day in somewhat difficult conditions. (Difficult conditions meaning crowds, slow and limited opening, bus problems, flat-light, some tricky snow here-and-there, and an avalanche risk of 4/5.)

Tomorrow’s forecast is dreadful with 140 km/h winds predicted at 2500 metres so who knows what we’ll be able to do in those conditions! I’m in need of a morale boasting Hammers victory today!

I’ll probably be on my new skis tomorrow as I finished off my beloved 4th pair of Bond/Vertex’s today. It’s a bit tough skiing with an edge hanging out! Stay tuned!

1 January 2018
Back in the saddle!!!

After the toughest day of the season yesterday it was a great reward for those skiing again today as just enough snow fell to keep us afloat and it made for some seriously good skiing. With the northerly wind blowing all night the southern slopes in the lee loaded up beautifully and we had some excellent powder up high but still needed to deal with patches of a thin rain-crust below around 2200 to 2300 metres. Chris, Thomas and I were on the first funicular up the Motte in 2018 and were rewarded with a good 30 centimetres of fresh light snow and I skied two rotations while Chris and Thomas circled around three times. I’m sure it was good up there yesterday but we never had the chance to find out with the funicular shut all day long.

I had a great trip to Geneva with the girls and Ray yesterday with clear blue skies and empty roads. It’s snowing hard again at the moment and I’m so lucky to have been travelling with yesterday’s weather as compared to today or Saturday’s! I’m missing thr girls already but thank goodness for Face time!

And a big thank you to Geoff and Inga for an absolutely divine New Year’s lunch with great food, stunning wine and wonderful company! I’m beautifully sedated as I write this blog and then move on to my Valdinet update, which will be posted tomorrow morning so log on and have a look. It can be found under Snow Report, which is just an extension of ‘Wayne’s World’! Stay tuned!

PS The Guinea Pigs are playing at Le Petit Danois Thursday night at 5:30. See you there!

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