Wayne's Daily Diary Archive

20 June 2007

31 March 2009
The sun did shine again this morning but with a threat of clouds rolling in from Italy

The sun did shine again this morning but with a threat of clouds rolling in from Italy (Fornet-way), and we all chanced the weather for the better snow option and headed to the Fornet. Chris and I wanted to ski the Col des Fours and I got off to a flyer from the Rond Point and made it to the Col in record time. But, when I went to put my skis on I found the bindings were miles to big because I’d taken Tony W’s ski and poles. Tony just happens to have the exact same everything but fortunately Henry was coming to the Fornet as well and we could swap. Sorry Tony, normally it’s only real berks who do that sort of thing! In the meantime Jean R led the team down to the Pont de Neige to put on the ‘skin’ and I caught them up. (Gill and Henry made it to the top in about 55 minutes, which is going some and way to quick for me.) Anyway, I was proud of Philip, Henry, Alex, Adam, Jean, and Gill as they skied brilliantly in tougher-than-expected snow and made it look easy with perfect tracks. We then had some excellent snow over the second little Col and some great ambience along the rocks and through little couloirs. Henry and Andreas also had good mornings in the Fornet while Thomas is skiing with Adam’s children. I then took Chris and his sons Joe and Sam for an adventure around the Borsat West from the top. Anyone who knows that route knows it can be a little ‘delicate’ at the best of times and the boys handled it well. Bravo! Ray is still injured and is now doing the school run with Millie and Katie, both drop-off and pick-up. Thanks Ray. The wind picked up and clouds rolled in this afternoon so the 10cm’s of forecasted fresh snow tonight looks like a real possibility.

30 March 2009
We were greeted with grey murky skies this morning.............

We were greeted with grey murky skies this morning but Radio Will promised a sea of cloud in the valley and clear skies above 2300/2400metres. Sure enough we broke through the clouds on the way up Bellevarde and everyone’s spirits soared and the expectation levels rocketed. We warmed up with a nice run off the side of the Mont Blanc piste and after skiing in brilliant sunshine most of the way we plunged down into the sea of cloud for the last 100 metres to the Borsat. It was very atmospheric but made you appreciate the fact that we’d be in sunshine for the rest of the morning. It was a ‘maximum-turn’ type of morning with my team skiing an excellent Borsat from the middle entrance, followed by the Chardonnet, the big face of the Balme, a run off the Leisse, another off the Genepy, followed by a Familial to finish. I had two brother acts this morning, Philip’s 16-year-old twin sons Henry and Alex, and Tom and Fred (their Dad Tim skied with Chris), and everyone skied really well. Jean mentioned that the average age of the group had dropped by 35 years and he and Philip kept up really well and enjoyed the pace. Chris and Henry were in the same neighbourhood skiing similar slopes and a wonderful day was had by all. (A mention to Rob and Caroline and Huw and Jane who are skiing with Chris). Andreas was skiing with the twins Mum Lindsay who is recovering from knee surgery, and they were on a confidence building mission before she joins the boys later in the week. Thomas has a private with some youngsters and I haven’t heard what he skied this morning. The feeling is we may have another sunny day tomorrow before more snow moves in on Wednesday, but in the meantime we’ll definitely savour today! (Check Jean R’s photos on the website under links. Jean puts up two or three photos every day.)

29 March 2009
I must admit to being a little uninspired this morning......

I must admit to being a little uninspired this morning with the change of time and flat-light looming, but Penny, Jean and I had a great morning. There was no one about at 8:45AM as you can well imagine and we warmed up on-piste with a lovely cushion of fresh snow. At mid-altitude the light was flat but long-range visibility against rocks and distant mountains was decent so although we needed to be careful of dips and bumps, navigation wasn’t a problem. After an excellent Borsat we rode the Col des Ves (slowest lift in the resort) to access the big North Face of the Balme. We were totally alone and had a smooth base with about 15cm’s on top with great ambience. From there we skied the Combe des Lanches and I was a little worried that there may be some bumps after the ten-day stretch of sunshine, but it was smooth and turned out to be a good result. The Balme was too good to not ski again so it was back up the Ves to access the couloir just before the big face and it was the best skiing of the morning. We arrived and a cloud bank rolled in leaving us in a white-out, but with the rock walls we could ski and navigate without any trouble. I needed to use a little ‘sluff control’ as the top 10 to 15 cm’s was sluffing along with me, which was very atmospheric and jolly good fun (‘Sluff control’ is when you ski a few turns before peeling out to the side so that the accumulating snow can pass you by before you re-enter the slope and keep skiing. You don‘t want to leave it too late or you can get knocked over by the sluffing snow if it‘s deeper than anticipated) It was really good top-to-bottom and we then finished up on-piste as Penny had a flight this afternoon. My brilliant morning was temporarily ruined after reading the Mountain Echo (Clive B’s son Mark’s weekly), which reported that heli-skiing was about to become legal again in France. I phoned Andreas with the bad news and he replied, “Sounds like an April fool’s joke to me”! Anyway, he phoned Mark to find out and much to my relief it was a joke and I’d fallen for it hook, line and sinker. Mark, you son-of-a-gun! More of the same is forecast weather-wise, meaning light snow with some sunny spells, followed by cloud banks moving in and out. That’ll keep most of the fair-weather off-pister’s at bay!

28 March 2009
The day started off overcast.........

The day started off overcast but the visibility was decent and the wind had calmed down significantly. I started with a good Borsat en-route to the Sachette, which was wind-compressed but a good ski. It was nice to have Peter and his daughter Gillian along over the past few days, and Margaret joined us this morning as well. Andreas and Thomas skied the Borsat, then the Chardonnet and Col des Ves. It was a pretty good day topped off with Katie skiing the Verte down to the Folie Douce on her own. At 3-and-a-half she has a lovely little stance and is really at ease on her skis. Bravo Katie! We were skiing in a white-out this afternoon on top of the Borsat with some nice snow falling so hopefully we’ll be in good shape for tomorrow as light snow is forecast during the morning followed by a sunnier afternoon.

27 March 2009
I’m a bit bummed because I’ve just spent 20-minutes on the up-date to have my computer shut itself off and now I’m starting over

I’m a bit bummed because I’ve just spent 20-minutes on the up-date to have my computer shut itself off and now I’m starting over. C’est la vie! Anyway, just when it looked like we were in for great visibility this morning the clouds closed in rapidly our vis was in-and-out for most of the morning. Andreas, Thomas, and Chris all headed towards Tignes skiing the Petit Lavachet, Sache and then the Familial on the way home, all in good snow. Henry and I skied up at the Fornet and opened over the far shoulder in the Combe du Signal followed by the Combe du 3300 on the Pissaillas and then the Pays Desert. The snow was excellent but we were shut-down because of high winds, which was unfortunate as the skies were starting to clear and our visibility was about to improve drastically. I had a sticky moment when feeling my way around a cornice in flat-light. I found the edge and started side-slipping down when my bottom ski dropped into a hole and wedged itself in. My upper body almost went head-first, which would have broken my leg or torn my knee. Thankfully I didn’t go over the top and managed to balance myself until John Ellis could get above me and pull me up with my pole. It was a very uncomfortable moment and just shows how quickly things can go wrong. Thanks John! Henry was below and took some photos so they may be on his blog. It cleared up this afternoon but the wind continued to be a factor and when Millie and I went out for a cruise both the Borsat and Tommeuses were closed due to wind. Ray is still injured and took not only Millie and Katie to school, but their little friend Anna as well. Thanks and Bravo Ray! I’m not too sure about tomorrow’s weather as the forecast has been pretty hit-and-miss over the past few days, but there is some good skiing to be had out there.

Ski Club Report- The Ski Club have a pretty interesting debate going on and personally I think it’s good for everyone involved as there is lots to think about. Anyway, someone commented about ‘Alpine’ skiing with ridiculous spacing. We space out however far we feel necessary for the conditions. This might be 10 or 20metres, or it may be 100 metres or more. We ski big slopes after a snowfall one-at-a-time because the Golden Rule off-piste is to ‘only expose one person at a time’. If the day arrives and the mountain decides to let go, hopefully our spacing will keep us in a situation where six skiers are looking for one, not one searching for six. Off-piste is a dangerous pastime and avalanches do happen, no matter how careful one might be or how experienced one is. If you spend enough time off-piste you will be involved in some way or another. The late Giles Green (one of the founding members of Alpine Experience) used to say, “Neither God nor the mountain knows that you’re an expert”. As for flat-light, and the day everyone is talking about was as flat as it gets, you shouldn’t be on big slopes unless you’re very confident of the stability. In a white-out I may only ski ten turns of so, so that the first one down has me in sight, or will do after a turn or two. If I was on a slope without any dips and hollows and I was with advanced skiers I might ski a bit further, but I would never give people any chance of losing me. In a white-out you need to keep your skiers close, which is why one needs to be sure of stability and your group should be a reasonable number. So whoever it was that thinks we ski a ‘ludicrous’ distance apart is very uninformed!

26 March 2009
What an unexpectedly brilliant ski we were treated to this morning!

What an unexpectedly brilliant ski we were treated to this morning! After looking out the window at clouds it was looking rather ordinary but the skies cleared and by the time we left the Gourmandine the sky was blue and it was game on. We started with the Face du Bellevarde as nothing else was open and although it was hectic it was the only show in town. Then it was trying to work out which way to go, trying to judge what lifts would open first, which isn’t exactly an exact science. I went back up the Olympic to find the Borsat still closed so after deciding to back-track to the Fornet headed down to the Grand Pre to ski some great north-facing powder on the meadows and then continued down to the Epaule du Charvet. I thought the Epaule would be ‘scratchy’ but on the lee side of gullies and little slopes the snow was deep and although a little warm, surprisingly good. From there we bussed towards the Fornet to join Chris just as the Signal poma opened giving us access to an excellent Combe du Signal. From there we headed upstairs to ski a really good Combe du 3300 before an absolutely stunning Pays Desert. (Check Jean R’s link, photos under March 8) It really was gob-smacking! (Chris then took Corrine over the Col as it was her last day and she’s never been through the gorge.) Thomas joined us at the Fornet and he skied the Combe du Signal a couple of times followed by the Grand Vallon. Bravo Thomas! Meanwhile Andreas had Mark G’s family for an initiation morning and they had a wonderful time around Bellevarde and towards Tignes. Henry went Tignes-way as well before heading back to the Fornet for the afternoon. It was an amazing ’bonus’ day and the best morning we’ve has in quite some time. It clouded over during the afternoon and has started to snow lightly and we’ll wait and see what tomorrow brings.

25 March 2009
We did have some clear skies for about 45 minutes this morning...

We did have some clear skies for about 45 minutes this morning but it was enough to get us up and running before the clouds and a another snowfall arrived. There was some excellent wind-compacted snow here and there and lovely powder in the gullies and on certain lee-slopes. (The lee-slopes unfortunately are the sunny exposures so you needed to be high enough to stay off the crunchy rubble underneath.) Chris headed to the Fornet while Andreas and I skied Tignes-way and Thomas skied around the Grand Pre and Borsat. I’m not too sure what Henry skied but he was out there as well. I thought it was a cracking good morning and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Ray missed the morning with a calf injury so hopefully he’ll be back on deck tomorrow. It snowed all afternoon without too much wind and we definitely have a new canvas, with unsettled weather forecast for the next few days meaning off-and-on snow during that period.

24 March 2009
Ten to fifteen cm’s fell overnight

Ten to fifteen cm’s fell overnight but the wind was ferocious with gusts of 100+kph on the summits of Bellevarde and Solaise and 140kph on the Pissaillas Glacier. Leaving home I thought we’d be lucky to get any skiing at all but the Funival opened on time and the skiing was much better than anticipated. We skied out Bonnevie’s drag in very good snow while Chris skied the Face du Bellevarde and ended up towards the Fornet. We had nice wind-compacted snow off the edge of the pistes as very little was open due to the wind but we enjoyed some pretty good visibility from 10:30 until noon and profited. The wind and snow were a welcomed change from two weeks of straight sunshine but on top of Bellevarde the wind was cold and punchy enough to frost-bite exposed noses and cheeks. (Anyway, today put a stop to 10-days of ‘skinning and gave our legs a rest.) Unfortunately it stopped snowing during the afternoon (it was forecast to snow 15-20cm’s during the day) and a clear morning is on the cards tomorrow followed by a stormy afternoon.

23 March 2009
If the forecast is right we enjoyed the end of our sunny streak today

If the forecast is right we enjoyed the end of our sunny streak today and had another excellent ski this morning. Thomas had an initiation group and had a great result after a little ‘skin’ to the Borsat West. Chris skied the first pitch of the Borsat West then decided to climb to the top of the ridge and had fantastic snow from the top. Nice ‘sniff’ Chris! Andreas went down to Ste Foy and had a good outing on the Foglietta while I took my team to the Glacier Pers for some very good snow. It’s difficult getting over the Col at the moment so we had the entire areas to ourselves, which always adds to the ambience. I forgot Mother’s Day yesterday and Ray was feeling guilty as Gill had asked him to remind me and he forgot, so he took the girls into town to buy Gill presents and make cards at his place. Well done and thanks Ray! There was wind on the summits this morning, which really picked up this afternoon as clouds started to roll in and everyone is desperately hoping for some snow tonight. Stay tuned and dance a jig to the snow gods!

22 March 2009
Our sunny spell is coming to an end with stormy weather and snow forecast for Tuesday

Our sunny spell is coming to an end with stormy weather and snow forecast for Tuesday, but we another great ski today under clear blue skies. Chris skied some nice snow on the Rosolin en-route to the Tour du Balme and the big North Face, where he had some lovely ‘chalky’ snow. (Suzanne was back in action after skiing with Laura and Bridget last week.) Andreas and John headed up to the Col des Fours and I haven’t had a report but Jean R said his Col yesterday was “superb” and I’m sure Andreas will have ‘sniffed’ something out. (Definitions of ‘superb’ can change drastically according to what’s on offer and merci Jean for being appreciative of what we deal with.) I skied some good snow on the front of the Borsat before a little ’skin’ to the Borsat West, which was fantastic. It’s not a huge ski but the snow quality really was excellent. (Thomas and Henry took it easy and didn’t ski today.) Gill took Katie out to the Nursery Slopes this morning and Katie skied the poma 9 times on her own, much to the delight of Millie who is very proud of her little sister. On the sports front, what a win for Liverpool who seem to have found another gear and are putting a fright up the Man U supporters. I still think United’s game in hand will make the difference and they’ll hold on for the title. Meanwhile, bad news for Newcastle fans! They couldn’t really go down, could they! Stay tuned as we enjoy the last of the sunshine before getting some much needed snow and a new canvas to work with.

21 March 2009
Fortunately the wind died down and the skies cleared leaving us with another sunny day...

Fortunately the wind died down and the skies cleared leaving us with another sunny day, but it was much cooler. No new snow fell overnight but that really wasn’t a surprise and was always just wishful thinking. We had another cracking good day out of nothing this morning as Chris and I ‘skinned’ up to look for ‘scraps’ over the Col des Fours. When we arrived it looked a little rough but we managed good strips of frisset top-to-bottom. I then ‘skinned’ over the second little Col and had really good snow there as well. Ian N thoroughly enjoyed the trip and it capped off a great week for him. Thomas had an initiation group including Sharon’s husband and they ‘skinned’ to the always scenic Glacier Pers. Andreas joined him with John D and all in all it was another top result. Katie took another big step forward with her skiing today as she skied the Grand Pre on her own and she’s extremely proud of herself. Congratulations to Fred and Liz on their 45th wedding anniversary and apparently it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow so I’m in trouble! Thankfully another sunny day is in store for tomorrow with some snow mid-week.

Sports Report- All eyes are on the rugby this afternoon as Jean R is planning on watching all three games. I was happy with the Hammers point away while United fans are starting to get nervous. Speaking of nervous, Stocky will be feeling the heat as Boro are now in big, big, trouble after losing to Stoke. Chelsea blew their chance of chasing down Man U and it’s looking like it’s all up to Liverpool to keep it interesting. And well done Ireland for winning the Grand Slam for the first time since 1945-or-so. TF2 switched to their news broadcast leaving us unaware of what happened during the final 20 minutes.

20 March 2009
It was much colder this morning........

It was much colder this morning and with the wind chilling it down Jean R was wishing he hadn’t left his hat at home. Still, we stayed out of the wind for the most part skiing an excellent Lavachet way out to the right where I haven’t been in years, followed by a good Sachette. I had Jules M with me along with her friend Annie G, and it was great to ski with Jules again after about five years. (She’s been swanning about in Verbier, naughty girl!) Meanwhile Thomas ‘skinned’ up to the Col des Fours for another good result and Chris had a day in Italy doing the piste-and-pasta-thing. He had Arlette along and it was nice to have her skiing with us again. Andreas took the day off and sugared-off for a game of golf where he shot 3-over par with a mulligan on the first. (You can hardly begrudge a guy a mullie on the first hole of the season can you?) Henry kept his life in order with one of his once-a-week ‘admin’ days. Good going Henry as my ‘admin’ life is a total mess! Anyway, clouds rolled in an we may see a few flakes of snow tonight, which would be very welcome indeed.

19 March 2009
Blue was the colour again today as the sun continued to beat down for about the seventh consecutive day

Blue was the colour again today as the sun continued to beat down for about the seventh consecutive day. Chris went off for an old fashioned Tour de Tarentaise, but I haven’t yet heard how he got on. Andreas had an initiation group and skied Tignes-way looking for gently pisted off-piste while Henry skied in Tignes as well. Thomas had a great day after ’skinning’ up to the Lores and skied lovely frisset top to bottom. Bravo Thomas! I took my team up to the trusted Glacier Pers and the only tracks were my group’s from a few days back, and it was very good again. It wasn’t dead easy everywhere but plenty ski-able and Clive picked up a ’skier of the morning’ award. Henry made an interesting comment at the Gourmandine this morning about the on-going discussion about the Ski Club. Apart from the debate about whether their Reps have the experience, knowledge and training to be guiding off-piste or not, Henry mentioned how often he has seen un-professional behaviour off-piste by so-called ‘professionals’. I have to agree with him as I’ve witnessed some incredibly bad ’group management’ over the years by ‘professions’ and I’d like the Ski Club members to know that I do report these stories in this diary. Good point Henry! As for the weather, the north wind started blowing this afternoon and is forecast to continue throughout the night and into tomorrow at 70kph. Bummer as that will ruin some of the north-facing frisset that we’re searching for at the moment.

18 March 2009
The sun continued to beat down today......

The sun continued to beat down today but we all still managed to ski powder snow again this morning. Henry went down to Bonneval and had a great day out while Thomas ‘skinned’ up to the Col des Barmes de l’Ours to ski lovely frisset. Chris and I skied excellent snow in the Lavachet before ‘skinning’ out then had really good snow in the Sachette. Andreas also skied the Lavachet and Sache but took it easy on his group and missed out the ‘skinning’. Gill and I skied with Millie and Katie this afternoon and Katie skied her way to a ‘skier of the day’ award as she started turning for the first time. Bravo Katie! We’d like the Ski Club to know that we don’t take any offence to any of their comments and we’re very interested in their debate. Thanks to Mike and Laura for a great meal last night and it was lovely to see Bridget again. (For those of you who don’t know, Bridget was married to Giles Green who was a founding member of Alpine Experience. Giles sadly died of a brain tumour in 1995 and I dedicated my book to his memory) After thinking about Giles the weather seems trivial but another sunny day is forecast for tomorrow with a chance of a few flakes Friday night.

17 March 2009
What a great day!

What a great day! Andreas and Henry went down to Ste Foy with some Vikings and Chris and I joined them with our teams and we all had a great ski on the northern side of the Foglietta. We needed to change fall-lines here and there to avoid tracks and winded snow but there were enough clean strips to give us excellent snow (skiers snow in places) and some spring snow to escape on at the bottom. Chrissy creamed it top to bottom and picked up a ‘skier of the morning’ award while Fiona C put in a huge effort on the walk. All in all it was a really good result as the heat-wave continues and only the northern slopes are offering any powder. We stopped in the old village (Le Crot) and enjoyed a wonderful drink of spring water as everyone was thirsty after the hot climb and it was like nectar. Thomas stayed in town and I haven’t had a report from him but I’m sure they had a good time. The sunshine will continue for a few more days with colder temperatures forecast for next week and a few flakes of snow on Saturday night. The Hammers picked up a good point at home last night against last-placed West Brom. They played poorly and are hit with injuries so escaping with a point was a decent result.

PS We’ve had some interesting feed-back about comments made by Andreas and I on March 6th. Here’s Andreas’ view of what he saw;

‘At the top of the Signal lift I saw a big group of 12 people with a Ski Club Rep. I thought to myself, ‘surely he’s not going in to Combe de Signal’ but sure enough, they went around the avalanche danger sign and into what we call the “sunny bowl”. It was a complete white out, you could hardly see at all and there where over 50 cm of fresh snow. I was going in to ski a particular line that I trust safe even in those conditions and had very good skiers with me. I had people who I knew and trusted, and I knew their capabilities. It was a morning for people who knew exactly where they were, and even for the experienced it was tough navigating. As I entered the bowl I caught up with the back of the Ski Club group and saw at least 3 or 4 fallen over in the powder as they where all skiing and falling together, which is why I could see them in the flat light! I said something to one of the last members of the group and he justified being there was safe because they had seen guides skiing it before! This is outrageous to me since you can’t make a call on those grounds and a lot about skiing off piste is how you behave and exactly how you ski a certain slope and manage your group, and just because there are tracks doesn’t mean that a slope can’t avalanche!!

The week after I saw another Ski Club Rep in the Familial with 60 cm of fresh, dense snow and once again, people were falling over and struggling. Anyway, as Wayne pointed out, we’ve seen more and more Reps in the off piste, and not just off the side of the piste but in some fairly serious places. I also spotted a Rep leading group of teenagers in a “ski school snake line” at half term, which I captured on video.’

To be a professional in the mountains takes many years of training and experience and the fact that the Reps are taking people off piste and for no cost is disrespectful to the qualified professionals working here, and to the Ski Club Members as well.

We have spoken to many ski school directors and president of the Mountain Guides Association and dear Ski Club member, please don’t think that Alpine Experience is alone in thinking that it has gone a bit too far!

We think the Ski Club is a great organisation. You have done much for the sport of skiing and you organise wonderful trips and information for your members. You have an excellent social guiding service for members, which no one has a problem with and everyone can accept, but only if it remains on the piste and there is no teaching involved.

Any comments from Ski Club Members / Reps / Directors are very welcome! It is a very interesting debate you have going on your website!

16 March 2009
It was another stunning day without a cloud in the sky......

It was another stunning day without a cloud in the sky and with snow new snow on the horizon everyone is enjoying the sunshine. We had another great day as Chris’ team laid some excellent ‘Alpine’ tracks on the Col des Fours, which stood out really well from the top of Bellevarde. Thomas and Andreas skied Tignes-way and had a good outing although I’m not too sure what they skied, and Henry was out there somewhere as well. My team ‘skinned’ up to the Glacier Pers to find a trackless mountain, no people, and pretty good snow as well. Even the bottom section had narrow strips of ‘ripples’, which worked quite nicely all the way down. More sun is forecast for tomorrow as we are planning on a trip down to Ste Foy to ski the Foglietta. If I had the energy I’d go to the Pacific to watch the Hammers match tonight, but I’ll probably stay in and watch Gladiator with Gill instead. (Pretty romantic choices there!)

15 March 2009
The heat-wave continued today.......

The heat-wave continued today and as Chris had a new group he returned to Mont Roup for another really good ski. It had warmed up a little since yesterday but was still jolly good, and Chris mentioned that after today it will be ‘cooked’. I took my team to Col des Fours and birthday-boy David R did the business in some surprisingly good snow and we had a great ski top to bottom then ‘skinned’ up to the next little Col for some bonus turns. I had a quick ski with Millie this afternoon as some big cumulus clouds rolled in but we’re expecting warm sunny weather again tomorrow. During my brilliant day yesterday I also ran into Bridget (Giles’ wife) and I hadn’t seen her in way too long so we had a nice cuddle on the piste and I’m looking forward to seeing her here in Val d’Isere more often in the future. Thomas also had a great ski down in Ste Foy yesterday on his day off. Stay tuned for news tomorrow as conditions get a little more difficult each day.

14 March 2009
Everyone at ‘Alpine’ had an absolutely brilliant day today.....

Everyone at ‘Alpine’ had an absolutely brilliant day today and I’m really proud of the team for a job well done. With the combination of tracks, wind and heat, our options are limited and good snow isn’t entirely evident, but we took some calculated risks this morning that really paid off. Henry ’skinned’ up to the Cols des Fours with his team and had a great outing, some of which was ’skiers snow’, and his group handled it really well. Andreas had a group of youngsters and they had a couloir session, skiing Couloir#3 off the Balme and Mickey’s Ears, both in excellent snow. Hats off to Jamie, Charlie (4 weeks skiing), and Sanil ( 6 weeks skiing), all of whom really did the business! Chris and I chanced Mont Roup thinking the northern exposures off of east would still be powder, and we had stunning snow top to bottom. We knew no one had skied Mont Roup from the Borsat but didn’t know how many might have arrived from the Grand Pre, and it was wonderful to find only three or four tracks, all of which had gone the wrong way leaving the entire place to us. When we arrived at the top of the Manchet I looked across towards the Crete des Leissieres and spotted some clean snow and was trying to work out how we could get to it when Ray said, “have you noticed the 3000 poma is open” to which I replied, “no, but thanks Ray”. So off we went judging that the snow a little north off the west facing slopes would still be soft . I mentioned to the team that I had better be right or we’d look like a bunch of ass——- standing under the up-and-over chair in sun-crusted snow. Anyway, the snow was still good (just) and the team did a fantastic job skiing down under the watchful gaze of everyone on the chairlift. Once down Derek looked back at our tracks and remarked, “that’s better advertising than giving out brochures!”. I then had a very enjoyable afternoon with Stephen C and Cristian while every neutral in the land will have loved Liverpool’s 4-1 thrashing of Man U at Old Trafford, although it won’t change the outcome of the Premiership title. Then I picked Millie up at the Perdrix from Big Millie’s 7th birthday party and had a couple of beers at the bar and some great laughs about times shared 28-years ago with my friend Hoove. It was great to hear from Dave and Tamsin that Millie had been an absolute delight and incredibly polite, which is a total contrast to life at home at the moment. Good girl Millie, well done team, and what a day!

13 March 2009
Friday the 13th turned out pretty well considering the conditions we have at the moment

Friday the 13th turned out pretty well considering the conditions we have at the moment. With 150kph gusts at altitude a few days back combined with heat and tracks, our options aren’t totally obvious and the boys did a great job today. We had a good warm-up in very good snow off the Verte followed by great snow in the lower Borsat. Then Henry, Andreas and I headed up the Chardonnet for some really good ‘skiers snow’ while Chris went directly to the Sachette. Jean R posted today’s photos on his site (see links) and I was proud of my team’s performance as they made ‘skiers snow’ look quite easy. Bravo team and well done Penny for a good effort on the climb! From there Henry and Andreas joined Chris in the Sachette while I doubled back to the Col des Ves where we found strips of excellent snow. We then skied off the Leisse and Cairn before joining the boys in the Familial to finish. All in all it was a great ski with ambience and brilliant sunshine. Gill took Millie out for a ’girls’ ski this morning and Millie ‘creamed’ her first Face du Bellevarde before joining Liz and Katie on the Nursery Slope where Liz really enjoyed watching her grand-daughters in action. More of the same is forecast for tomorrow and it’s that tricky time of year when we need to take judgements on what slopes have taken a sun crust and which ones haven’t. (Not that big of deal unless you’ve decided to walk to get there.)

12 March 2009
After a good cold night the snow dried out nicely....

After a good cold night the snow dried out nicely, which made snow that would have been impossible yesterday ski-able today, and in some cases jolly good. We headed to the Fornet and had a good warm-up off the Laisinant before skiing the Combe du Signal form the Pyramid (Signal was unfortunately still closed). From there we skied the Combe du 3300 and Chris and Andreas then went over the Col while Henry and I dropped back down to ski the Combe du Signal and Grand Vallon. It was pretty good skiing for the most part with some good steep and deep thrown in, and the clear blue skies didn’t hurt. I heard a horrible story about Vivien Leeming who went to Canada with her husband Mike to celebrate his 70th birthday, so if you’re eating turn away now. On their second day she was taken in an avalanche and buried up to her waist. Unfortunately they had set her bindings on 7 (she is fairly slight) and her skis didn’t release so when she came to rest both her feet were pointing back behind her, tearing all the ligaments in both knees. Ouch! We all at ‘Alpine’ wish Vivien a speedy and full recovery and can only imagine what she’s been through. Speaking of avalanches, in the Savoie yesterday a guided group had four people were killed in an avalanche measuring 500metres across and 900metres long, which is enormous. Anyway, another sunny day is forecast for tomorrow.

11 March 2009
With 40 to 50cm’s of fresh snow since yesterday afternoon....

With 40 to 50cm’s of fresh snow since yesterday afternoon I was totally surprised this morning because some of the lifts opened on time and the avalanche risk was only rated at 3/5. We were expecting a slow start and enough risk to be somewhat confined but the morning turned out to be quite brilliant. Chris and I were on one of the first chairs up Solaise at 9:00AM (bang on time) and had a superb almost-non-stop run on piste with 20 cm’s on top. At the bottom I mentioned to my team that we could go home happy now but 9:15 is a little early to be packing it in so we waited fifteen minutes and were on the first gondola up Bellevarde. From there we opened up the Face du Bellevarde, again on-piste with 20+ cm’s and it was excellent. It was then time to move on so we headed up Solaise again to venture off- piste for the first time of the morning by skiing the Super L, which was steep and deep. It’s rare when you see snow flying over Red Ray’s head and Jean R needed to close his mouth to keep the snow out. Derek, who has been to Canada heli-skiing recently said, “I haven’t skied snow that deep for a long, long time”. By this time we really could have called it a day as it wasn’t going to get any better but 10:30AM is still a little early for lunch so we skied the Super L again, but the ‘people-factor’ was coming into play and the best of the morning was behind us. We then opened up the Combe du Signal from the Pyramid chair and enough was enough so we skied to the bottom and called it a morning. With all the new snow the best skiing was really off-piste on the piste because you needed steepness to even begin to work through the depth of snow. Anyway, it was a great morning and with -15C forecast tonight the snow should lighten up significantly for tomorrow.

10 March 2009
The wind did drop off significantly and we had a pretty good morning

The wind did drop off significantly and we had a pretty good morning, which started off brightly before clouding over and finishing in a fairly heavy snowfall. Andreas, Chris and I played off the Verte before skiing a couple of good Bonnevie’s drags, a little Spatule, a very good Campanules, then two excellent runs off the Genepy/Cairn and the Familial. I was astonished by how deep the snow off the edge of the Genepy was and we only skied down a short way to avoid the steep roll-away, which would have been seriously dangerous today. Meanwhile, Thomas did a great job with his initiation group skiing around the Borsat and Grand Pre. It has snowed heavily all afternoon and I hope it stops soon before the danger levels rise to the point of shut-down tomorrow. The risk went up to 4/5 today although I wouldn’t have rated it that high, but tomorrow will be a totally different story and it’s shaping up to be a potentially dangerous day.(The forecast of 30 to 50cm’s this afternoon is starting to look more like 50-plus) Stay tuned!

9 March 2009
To say it was a tough morning would be an understatement!

To say it was a tough morning would be an understatement! It was blowing gusts of over 100kph on the summit of Bellevarde and we were surprised that at 9:20AM the Funival was open for ‘nutters’ only. After arriving up top I mentioned that the Funival would be closed by the time we reached the bottom, but I was wrong and three trains later we called it a morning. We had some good snow here and there in protected areas and some trickier bits when going from pisted snow into drifts, and three runs was enjoyable but enough. It was amazing how many ’nutters’ were actually out there skiing and as the Funival was the only show in town big queues developed, which made our decision to stop easier. Well done to Pascale, Sharon, Chris, Inga, Geoff, Chris E, Ray, Jonathan, and Jean R for showing up this morning and having a go. Bravo! Gill missed the morning as she went down to Lyon to pick up her Mum Liz so Ray took the girls to school while I went to meet our brave skiers. Thanks Ray and I noticed the girls took him on the ‘short-cut’ through the deep snow up the steep hill, which isn’t the regular route. Cheeky little monkeys! Andreas, Peter and Olivia were given a nice write-up by Deborah Finlay on the Finlays website. Check it out on our link and there a few great photos too. Also have a look at Jean Ribart’s link as he posts photos every night on his site. Hopefully the wind will drop and 15 to 30cm’s are forecast for tomorrow, with clearer weather on Wednesday.

8 March 2009
It cleared overnight with -9C

It cleared overnight with -9C and we had a stunning day with beautiful sunshine. Chris and I returned to the Fornet for another great ski starting off the Laisinant Chair followed by a superb Combe du Signal and then straight over the Col for an equally good Col Pers down to the refuge. We then skied another Combe du Signal and finished with an excellent Pays Desert way out wide. Near the refuge we spotted the body of an unfortunate chamois that had been taken over a cliff by an afternoon sluff, however we did manage to see some living creatures in the form of chamois and bouquetin later on. Thomas had an all-day session and started off Tignes-way with the Borsat and Chardonnet en-route to the Sache and he was planning on coming Fornet-way in the afternoon. It was Rob W’s 49th birthday today and what a wonderful way to celebrate with a fantastic morning of great snow and ambience. It was really nice to see Rob and his wife Louise, who answers to Squeeze, again and I look forward to skiing with them again soon. Jean R has returned and what a start for him, Inga was on good form, and what a finish for Richard H. It was Ray’s 80th morning of his season and Red is planning on staying until the end of the season unless someone offers him silly money to go back to work. Gill and Niki took Millie out of a big ski in Tignes this morning before a Chevallot lunch on the terrace. Jean Marc and Olivier had another successful trip touring in Norway and I’ll let you know where they are off to next. The forecast was for clouds rolling in and snow down to 600metres tonight but at 4PM there isn’t a cloud in the sky, but who knows?

Updated Update. Thomas had such a good time in Tignes he stayed there all afternoon as well, deciding that it was too far to track back to the Fornet. Good choice Thomas as the Fornet is totally tracked-out after this morning and you need to be ready to walk.

7 March 2009
Although it was clear during the night it started snowing big flakes around 6:30 AM

Although it was clear during the night it started snowing big flakes around 6:30 AM and the better visibility that was forecast was nowhere in sight. Just as we were leaving the Rond Point a bit of blue above the Charvet appeared so we decided to head to the Fornet via Solaise knowing that more snow had accumulated at that end of the resort. Upon arriving at the summit of Solaise the Arcelle was basking in sunshine so Andreas, Thomas and I dove over the side of the Madeleine and had knee-deep snow to the bottom. You could feel the ‘spring base’ at times but it was an easy trade-off for sunshine when the rest of the resort in cloud. Anyway, from there we worked our way back to the Fornet to ski an outstanding Combe du Signal in deep, light snow. It was socked-in and we couldn’t see a thing but it really was good! Chris then radioed to say the Pissaillas Glacier was in sunshine so we headed up to join him for some of the best snow we’ve had in the Pays Desert for quite some time. Four runs later it was time to call it a morning as everyone was late for lunch. Deborah Finlay was skiing with Andreas and it was nice to have her along while Suzanne was back skiing again with Chris and Rob Cochran had a great morning with Chris a few days ago. It started to clear for the afternoon but fortunately the clouds came back in and light snow started falling so we should have another wonderful day tomorrow.

6 March 2009
The wind picked up overnight and we had similar conditions to yesterday

The wind picked up overnight and we had similar conditions to yesterday, meaning flat-light. Andreas, Chris, Henry and Thomas all headed to the Fornet for a change of pace and had great skiing with limited visibility. I returned towards the Grande Motte and had really good skiing in the Borsat en-route to the Motte cable-car. Fortunately we had some sunshine upstairs giving us great visibility but the snow took some wind last night and was much more compact than yesterday, but it was still good skiing nonetheless. My best snow of the morning was in the Spatule where it was really deep and light, but unfortunately it was our flattest light of the day. C’est la vie! Meanwhile back at the Fornet Henry was getting some better luck light-wise in the Grand Vallon and reported deep snow and wonderful skiing. Andreas skied all-day as it was Bumble and Richard’s last day of their Honeymoon and they had some excellent runs in the Combe du Signal this afternoon. Andreas said he saw a Ski Club Rep (not allowed to ski off-piste with guests) groping around in the flat-light in the Combe du Signal. Andreas wasn’t impressed as the Ski Club seem to be skiing off-piste more and more with clients, as well teaching on-piste, which is another no-no. We may need to approach the Ski Club, along with some of the other ski schools and the Bureau des Guides, and put a stop to their shenanigans. Anyway, it remained overcast most of the afternoon, which is good news as the ‘track-trashing’ will have been kept to a minimum and we should have some excellent skiing tomorrow as better light is forecast.

5 March 2009
Finally after what seems ages we awoke to fresh snow laying on the ground

Finally after what seems ages we awoke to fresh snow laying on the ground and it was wonderful to have a soft ‘feel’ underfoot again. Radio Will announced ten centimetres but in places there was at least twenty and everyone had a great morning. (Radio Will forgot to mention the 1-0 West Ham victory last night but I’ve forgiven him).The sky was overcast with light snow falling all morning long but towards Tignes there was a ‘light-bulb’ shining through the cloud cover and the light for a flat-light day was really pretty good. It was a ‘maximum-turn’ type of morning and for example my team skied off the Verte, followed by a really good Borsat, then a great run from the top of the Grande Motte cable car, then two off the Leisse, followed by a Cairn/Genepy and a Familial to finish. It was nice to have Rob and Louise W back skiing with us and well done to you both! Andreas and Chris were in the same neighbourhood with Chris skiing the Motte also while Andreas skied the Chardonnet (I think) before re-grouping for the Cairn and Familial. One thing that was very noticeable was how quiet it was this morning. Take the sun away and all those ‘mountain trashers’ were nowhere to be seen leaving us totally alone on the mountain and the ambience was wonderful. Thomas did an excellent job with his initiation group and Gill’s friend Niki is having a fantastic time skiing with him as well as visiting and playing with the girls. Another 30-plus centimetres should fall between this afternoon and tomorrow morning and we’re looking forward to another superb ski tomorrow.

4 March 2009
After three days of lovely sunshine today took a turn for the worse with grey skies and strong winds

After three days of lovely sunshine today took a turn for the worse with grey skies and strong winds. We did however do really well for the most part, heading Sachette-way towards the best light available and protection from the wind. Thomas, Chris and I started with the Lavachet and I skied the steep little couloir towards the bottom before ‘skinning’ back out. I had three new skiers with me, Neil, his son Nick and their friend Julian, who informed me at this point that he’d only skied for four weeks! Incredible! I’ve never seen anyone ski that well at four weeks during my entire skiing life. Bravo Julian! Meanwhile Andreas started with the Borsat and Chardonnay and we all then had a really good Sachette with decent visibility and no wind. It wasn’t until we came up from Les Brevieres that we realised what a foul day the rest of the resort was suffering. The Aero-ski was closed and it was freezing going up Les Tufs and everyone was happy to get down at the end of the morning. All the snow we were promised a few days back seems to be avoiding us and the new forecast is calling for about half of what we were expecting. We might be lucky to get 10 to 15cm’s where at one point earlier in the week the forecast called for up to 65cm’s during the week. Bummer! Finger crossed that something happens tonight because strong winds and grey skies are forecast for tomorrow.

3 March 2009
Another grey day was expected........

Another grey day was expected and for the second day running we had stunning blue skies and all the joy that goes with sunshine. We headed up to the Fornet hoping that more snow had fallen that way as it has been socked-in and grey towards the Col de Galise, but thankfully I didn’t bet my apartment on it. Still, the Glacier Pers was lovely with a smooth base and a few centimetres on top, along with the ambience of such a beautiful place. Gill’s childhood friend Niki loved it as she’s never been to Val d’Isere before and it was her first time ’skinning’ as well. (Gill unfortunately missed the morning as Millie had a fever and couldn’t go to school) Pat M had a great day and skied really well picking up a ‘skier of the morning’ award. Well skied Pat! My Frenchman Olivier also thoroughly enjoyed himself as it was his first time as well in that area and first trip through the gorge. Andreas had the company of the ‘Green Team’ during his descent and Peter H had a right go at one of them for not only ‘track abuse’ but ‘track-ambience-and-mountain-abuse’ combined. Peter never was one to keep his opinions to himself, well done Pete! Anyway, on to this evening and the last torch-light descent of the season. Thanks to the World Championships the Face de Bellevarde had a few patches of ice that were incredibly slick, and I personally had a few hairy moments. The first was skiing down in the dark before ‘ignition’ and just as Andreas radioed to say, “Watch out, it’s icy down here”, I hit a plaque of ice and did a 360 degree spin and just managed to keep it together. Then just after we lit our flares I hit some ice and went down like a sack of s—t and had a little slide but thankfully didn’t go very far or burn myself. Good one to miss TJ! Then arriving at the bottom the unlucky ones (myself included) skied straight onto a patch of dirt and gravel lift behind by the World Championship’s construction/take-it-all-away team. It sort of wrecked my monthly ski tune I had a Jean Sports last night. Anyway, we all survived and are looking forward to more fun tomorrow!

2 March 2009
The forecast was for flat-light this morning......

The forecast was for flat-light this morning and instead the skies cleared and we enjoyed blue sky and great visibility. The better light first thing was towards Tignes so the entire team headed that way as the Fornet was looking pretty murky. Andreas and Thomas (perhaps Henry as well) skied the Tour du Balme with Andreas finishing up with Mickey’s Ears and Thomas the Familial. Meanwhile Chris and I skied off the Leisse en-route to an excellent Borsat West and I went on to the North Face of the Balme and the Familial. Considering what we were expecting it was a really good morning and the few centimetres around the Motte made for a softer ‘feel’ and a really enjoyable ski. It clouded over this afternoon and has been snowing lightly off-and-on so better conditions are coming our way. Yahoo! I’d like to give Joe a mention and also say thank-you to Waga Waga Tim for the great vest. I’ve worn it most days and it’s a very useful and versatile bit of clothing. Thanks Tim! And Happy Birthday to my Mom Ruth, who turns 75-years-young today. Happy Birthday Mom and thanks for not only introducing me to skiing all those years ago, but actively encouraging me when some Mom’s might have wanted a son with a ‘proper’ job.

1 March 2009
No new snow fell overnight and with extremely grey skies first thing it was fairly uninspiring

No new snow fell overnight and with extremely grey skies first thing it was fairly uninspiring. Chris and I headed towards the best light on offer and skied piste en-route to the Sachette. It was decent skiing up top but pretty ‘scratchy’ down low, and we ended up cutting out early. Andreas played around the Borsat West while Henry entertained Gill’s friend Nicky who was skiing off piste for the first time, along with Pat M. Just when you thought it might start snowing properly the clouds thinned out and it was really very pleasant this afternoon as Millie, Ray, Nicky and I had a rip-roaring piste session. Meanwhile Gill was taking the plunge and getting herself a new pair of injected boots from Wilkie at Surefoot. After 12-years her boots didn’t owe her anything and they were starting to hurt. Up to 65 cm’s of snow are forecast this week with the bulk of it (20cm’s) falling Wednesday night. As Henry said, “Bring it on!”.

Sports Report- My really good day became even better when I logged-on to find that the Hammers had beaten City 1-0 and moved up to 7th place in the Premiership. Well done West Ham! Stocky’s bliss over Boro’s move out of the relegation zone yesterday after their great win over Liverpool was short lived as Blackburn won to drop them back into ‘no-man’s land’. Boy it’s ugly down there! Bolton had another good win and are feeling better than they were a couple of weeks ago and Stoke picked up a big point while Hull who once looked sure to stay up, are now in big trouble. Jean R will be pleased with the French display against Wales, TJ will be pleased to not win the ‘wooden spoon’ and John D won’t be too pleased with the state of English Rugby. Ah, I almost forgot Man U’s win against Tottenham in the Carling Cup.

Find us on Facebook