Wayne's Daily Diary Archive

20 June 2007

30 April 2009
After two difficult days we were due a bit of a break and Ray and I enjoyed a great morning up at the Fornet.

After two difficult days we were due a bit of a break and Ray and I enjoyed a great morning up at the Fornet. After a good freeze the wet snow of the past two days set-up just enough to give us a fragile support layer with 10 to 20cm’s of winter snow on top, and with the sun shining for the first time in days we really profited. We had a nice run off the Laisinant chair and then another good run off the Pyramid while waiting for the Signal to open. Once on top we had two excellent runs in the Grand Vallon, followed by a terrific Combe du Signal. There have been some big slides in the Combe du Signal, which takes me back to around 17 years-ago, when the entire bowl slid at this time of year. It was the biggest avalanche I’ve ever seen with a fracture line about 300 metres wide and at least two metres deep. It took the debris at the bottom until mid-October to melt and Chris has some fantastic photos on file somewhere. Anyway, back to the skiing and as mentioned there was a light under-crust, which supported but we needed to be on our toes because any lack of concentration could be costly. From time to time we’d go from comfortable skiing with 20cm’s to a couple of tricky ‘educational’ turns where the snow was suddenly less-deep and the under-crust more of a factor. From the Combe we went upstairs to check out conditions on the Glacier but the snow wasn’t nearly as appetizing as what we’d been skiing so we went directly over the Col for a very good Col Pers. The top was good powder, then we needed to search out strips of winded winter snow before arriving back on supporting snow at the bottom. Ray’s knee was bothering him so he went home while I went up Bellevarde to check out conditions on that side of the resort. I’m hoping it gets hot enough to transform the fresh snow of the past few days into spring snow or we could be in for an ‘in-between’ day tomorrow. (meaning not quite powder and not quite spring, which equates to bummer!) Anyway,today was a fantastic outing and we’ll hope for the best and have a test of the snow in the morning.

29 April 2009
You may well be logging-on to check out yesterday’s skiing news, but here’s today’s as well.

You may well be logging-on to check out yesterday’s skiing news, but here’s today’s as well. Ray and I went out for the shortest ‘Alpine’ ski on record, skiing from the top of Bellevarde down to the half-way station at La Daille where we took the bubble-lift down. We were in good company as we met Rob C at the top of the Olympic and then again for the trip down in the bubbles. A strong north wind was blowing right in our faces and with the humidity it was jolly cold and very uninspiring, so after a half a run we all happily called it a day as we’ve packing and cleaning to deal with over the next few days. We did step off the piste for a test to find an un-supporting crust, which although it was bad for today, it will be better tomorrow. It’s snowing at the moment and ten cm’s on top of today’s crust will make for good skiing tomorrow. It is forecast to snow lightly until around mid-night and the sun should appear to help us put on a good show for the final weekend of the season. Yahoo! I watched the Barca-boys totally dominate Chelsea last night but the Blues managed to hang-on for a draw. Barcelona look incredibly slick and what a final it would be against United at their best?

28 April 2009
Bloody hell, what a morning!

Bloody hell, what a morning! It had to be one of the toughest skis of the season after 60cm’s of heavy snow fell overnight. After a slow opening we had two excellent runs skiing 10 to 30cm’s of winter snow on pistes such as the OK, and even down to the bottom it was warm but still good skiing. But once we needed to ski off-piste it was a totally different story. The snow was knee deep and in places un-skiable, and when the sun came out the snow thickened even more instantly. When the Grande Motte cable-car opened in front of us we had to give it a go, but even at the top of the cable car it wasn’t easy. Preston, who I first met here 28-years ago, was trying a pair of K2 Pontoons, which are banana-shaped and about ten inches wide, and he managed to turn in places where the rest of us were seriously struggling. Once back on piste Preston was cursing them saying, “I’ll never ski on these damn things again”, although he did enjoy them for a pitch or two. Chris was skiing today with a group who’s guide cancelled their tour due to dangerous touring conditions, and Chris was happy to arrive home in one piece as well. Who knows what tomorrow will bring but I’m really looking forward to Barcelona vs. Chelsea tonight!

PS. I forgot to mention that Dan and Denise were leaving beautiful ‘Alpine’ tracks in their wake this morning. Nice one!

Sports Report- Andreas had a good day winning the lowest score in the Annecy Open yesterday. He won a Wilson Driver but didn’t get the Cup, which went to a high-handicapper. (Most high-handicappers fib about their handicap as well, which makes it all the harder) Anyway, bravo Andreas!

27 April 2009
In what was pretty uninspiring conditions we had another cracking good ski!

In what was pretty uninspiring conditions we had another cracking good ski! It was grey again this morning, with +5C in town at 8AM, and although the wind had died down considerable, the foehn was still blowing. After spending the past seven days away from the Fornet I decided it was time to return and have a look at what’s developed up there in our absence. By the time we reached the summit of the Pyramid Chairlift I’d seen enough. Surprisingly very little snow had accumulated and the base underneath was uneven and nasty looking so I returned to where I knew the base was smooth and clean so Ray, Penny and I skied the piste and did a U-turn back towards Bellevarde. From there we skied an excellent Lavachet from the top, which was so good we circled back around and skied it again. From there we skied a good Campanules before finishing off with a lovely Familial. It started to snow harder around 11PM and the light became flatter, so we finished up around 12:15 and had lunch at Les Tufs. Chris and Suzanne had Clive, Ray, Penny, Jean, and I over for dinner last night, and we enjoyed a great evening. Thanks very Suzanne and Chris! Jean R put a team photo up and it will be his last until next season. Thanks again Jean as your photos have really spruced up my diary and you have many regular viewers. Speaking of photos, there a few of Penny in great form looking strong through her downhill foot, bravo Penny! Ten to thirty centimetres are forecast by tomorrow and by the look of it at the moment (2:10PM) 30 will be a real possibility. PS Latest forecast shows 15 to 50 cm’s.

Sports Report- I watched the 2nd -half of the Blackburn V Wigan match yesterday and was seriously impressed with Blackburn’s spirit and togetherness in defending their lead. Paul Robinson was brilliant in goal and looked like the keeper he was at Leeds several years ago. With performances like that he should be getting an England re-call at some stage soon.

26 April 2009
Wow, what a fabulous morning!

Wow, what a fabulous morning! It had to be some of the best spring snow, without the sun, that I can remember in quite some time. Only a centimetre or two of fresh snow fell overnight, but it was enough for the new snow to ‘eat into’ the surface layer and soften it to a nice texture without the warmth of the sun being needed to melt the frozen surface. It was +5C at 8AM with grey skies and a foehn wind of up to 80kph blowing it didn’t look like it was going to be such a good ski, but once on the snow I knew we were in for a good day. We started out with an excellent Alti-port/Lavachet, followed by a good Cocaine Sud, then a stunning Cocaine Nord, and then a superb Lavachet but from the top through the avalanche barriers. From there we skied a funky Familial to the bottom arriving around 1:20PM to finish off Jean R’s 93rd and last morning of a terrific season. We’ll miss his company and his excellent photographic input to the website. Merci beaucoup Jean! Chris was also in action this morning and he skied the Alti-port/Lavachet followed by the ever-faithful Sachette. He had one skier who has only skied for five-weeks and his team thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Chris, Suzanne, Rob C and I had a fantastic evening last night with Jean, Nicole, Nicola, Juliette, and their three children in their home above the shop. We didn’t leave until mid-night, which at this stage of the season is late, but it was a lovely evening and we managed to behave ourselves. Just! Anyway, Merci Juliette and Nicola. It’s snowing lightly and blowing as I write at 3PM and who knows what tomorrow will bring. And Clive was at Les Tufs in good spirits and is on the mend, although it could take 4 to 6 weeks before he’s able to play golf. Fingers crossed for him!

Sports Report- What a belting second-half performance by Man United yesterday. Tottenham were hanging on to a two goal lead when United were given a poor penalty decision, which they fully took advantage of. From there they just outclassed a very good side and they were very impressive to watch as they scored another 4 goals. (Even if you’re pulling for Liverpool to win the title.) Anyway, you can hardly begrudge them their penalty when they lost their FA Cup semi-final to Everton when they weren’t awarded an obvious penalty. Harry wasn’t very happy though!

25 April 2009
Before reporting on today’s skiing I must back-track to yesterday....

Before reporting on today’s skiing I must back-track to yesterday when Mick D created a new and fortunately rare award, the ‘splash du jour’. After a stunning Sachette Mick managed to spin himself around and ended up with a splash in the little creek. He was soaked but in good spirits and was impressed with the wicking qualities of his clothing. Nice one Mick! As for today, a few centimetres fell yesterday but we did get a good freeze and with it another excellent morning. Chris’ team of Gron, Myfanwy, Graham, Rupert and Suzanne had a big outing skiing great snow over the Col des Fours followed by a perfect Lores. Well done and you deserved your beers in the Sport Bar afterwards. Andreas was back in action with John D and Co. and they had a great morning around the Charvet and Manchet. My morning was a little more complicated. We started with wonderful Kern, which was very atmospheric as well as having lovely snow. From there we skied a very good but fragile Face du Charvet and then I decided to back-track towards Tignes. We were traversing across avalanche rubble into the Spatule when Clive hit some debris and fell head-first down the mountain, landing on more debris. It took a few minutes to get Clive on his feet and we ended up needing a pisteur to cart Clive off to Doctor Al’s in a blood-wagon. Penny phoned Mark to meet Clive at Al’s and we continued on to ski a terrific Campanules, followed by the bowl off the Fresse, and then the Spatule (passing Chez Clive) to finish. It was another top day except for Clive’s injury and Ray and I went up to Doctor Al’s after lunch to see Clive. He was in good spirits and it seems he has torn some muscles leaving him very sore but not too seriously injured. As for the weather, our sunny run is over and it looks like off-and-on snow for the next five or six days. Hopefully it will clear up in time for the last weekend as it’s too late in the season to deal with too much flat-light. Stay tuned for some sporting news if the Hammers get a good result against Chelsea!

24 April 2009
Yesterday’s heat finally melted and compressed the snow.....

Yesterday’s heat finally melted and compressed the snow enough to give a good depth of transformation and combined with a good cold night it was game on this morning. Chris and I skied in Tignes starting with an excellent Altiport/Lavachet, which was perfectly clean. From there the Super Cocaine was also superb followed by a as-good-as-it-gets Sachette. We then had some bonus turns off the edge of the piste en-route to the Aero-ski and finished with a lovely Familial. We saw about three other skiers all morning, which always adds to the experience and it was a wonderful ski. (Nice photos Jean) I had a great lunch with Blue, Nina and their friend Bill but after last years ‘chemical reaction’, which was of proportions not experienced since my days here with my brother Denny, along with Hort, Stretch, and Webby, I took it easy and escaped undamaged. (Blue is a great chap but a dangerous lunching partner!) It snowed lightly during lunch and hopefully the clouds will disperse so that we can get another good freeze tonight. At the moment it’s 50/50 whether we get our re-freeze followed by sun tomorrow. Fingers crossed! PS Will’s latest weather report shows a better chance for a cold night.

23 April 2009
I awoke at 4AM because of a glass or two too many after a spontaneous dinner party

I awoke at 4AM because of a glass or two too many after a spontaneous dinner party with Chris, Suzanne, Ray, and Jane Seaford, who is visiting from New Zealand. Anyway, at that hour I looked outside to see cloud cover and knew we were in for a minimum freeze and a potentially tricky morning. Having doubts about how set-up the spring slopes were made it a tough decision but after testing some lovely snow off the Verte Chris and I decided to take a chance and ski ‘Val d’Isere classics’. My team started with a good run off the Borsat en-route to the Grand Pre where we skied an excellent top-half of the tour, way out skiers-right. We were an hour early but still at mid-altitude the snow was becoming fragile so instead of exiting through the Couloir du Mont Blanc we cut out early to change exposures and find firmer snow. On the way out we came across a carcass of a dead chamois, which had been stripped to the bare bones by feasting animals and birds. From there we had a really good Cugnai and even though the snow was on the firm side, you could still punch your pole through as the support layer wasn’t very deep, confirming our theory about it not being perfectly set-up yet. From there we skied two from the Col du Madeleine and we just made it to the bottom on the second run as the ’freeze’ was starting to give out. We finished with the top of the Marmottes before cutting out above the cliffs and back to the piste. Chris opted for a little ’skin’ to Mont Roup and I would have bet £100 that he wouldn’t have made it, especially after needing to cut out of the Charvet. Anyway, Chris’ team had fragile but wonderful run and that just shows how much I know and bravo Chris’ team! Chris also finished with the top of the Marmottes and cut out to avoid ‘quick-snow’ at the bottom and we all had another great outing in potentially tough conditions. Unfortunately Blue is still out with his injury after hitting a nasty snowball on the piste and won’t ski off-piste again this holiday. Blue sky is forecast again for tomorrow with a chance of some snow towards the Galise. Now that’s cutting it fine on the forecasting front! (Please check Tony’s link on top of news page)

22 April 2009
The morning started off cloudy but Radio Will promised that it would clear quickly

The morning started off cloudy but Radio Will promised that it would clear quickly, and how right he was. It was another in-between day, meaning the only powder left would be dead-north and extremely high, and after the amount of snow that’s fallen, the spring slopes haven’t really had time to transform properly, except down at lower altitudes. So even with a minimum freeze Chris and I decided on the alti-port/Lavachet, which was excellent followed by a rather superb Sachette, which worked right to the bottom. From there I tried a Campanules, which just worked but was really fragile and justified why we chose the lower slopes while Chris finished with a Familial. It was a cracking good ski and thoroughly enjoyed by Steven and Kaye, who had a trip skiing in Kashmir in January. Hopefully it will have ’baked’ enough this afternoon to transform the higher slopes, as the Face du Charvet, Tour du Charvet and the Manchet sector all beckon and are clean. I have my doubts and think we may need to wait another day but we’ll be testing the snow first-thing tomorrow to see if we can head that way. Another minimum freeze is forecast for tonight, which doesn’t really help very much. Stay tuned! PS United fans will be thanking Arsenal for last night’s stunning match and Liverpool dropping two points.

21 April 2009
We had a nice surprise this morning as the sun made an unexpected appearance

We had a nice surprise this morning as the sun made an unexpected appearance and it was great to see blue sky again. We all headed up to the Fornet again, but the amount of snow up there is quite incredible and after one knee-deep-but-slightly-educational run I did another U-turn and returned to Tignes. Chris continued on with Tejina and Suzanne for a couple more runs before heading to the Motte and Henry tried his luck on the Glacier but with 120cm’s of snow it was hard work. My team skied a good run off the Borsat en-route to the Motte where we skied 119-turns on the Rosolin and Chris had a great run off the Little Face Nord of the Motte before ‘skinning’ out. Thomas had a special day today skiing with Pierre Tardivel, who is a famous extreme skier with many first descents world-wide to his credit. (Google him for more details) Thomas had a superb day skiing nothing but steep-and-narrow and needed to be roped into a few places and was seriously impressed with Pierre. Kristina also had a great day free-riding in the Grand Vallon and said, “fat skis and speed was the only way to do it today”. Well done Kristina! Radio Will has been down the valley having a foot operation and we wish him as little pain as possible and a speedy recovery. Sebastian, who some of you may have skied with this season, had a climbing accident on the indoor wall and broke his L-1 vertebrae . He’s been down in the hospital in Grenoble for the past twelve days and is being moved to a re-hab centre in Marseille tomorrow. Kristina says he’s positive and really looking forward to getting out of the hospital. Good luck Sebastian and everyone at ‘Alpine’ wishes you a full and speedy recovery. A sunny day is forecast for tomorrow so hopefully we’ll get a decent freeze so we can ski good spring snow at lower altitudes. (With the amount of snow we’ve had it will take some time for a proper transformation up.) If I had the energy I’d watch the footie tonight but I need to hide from Clive and Ray for a couple of nights!

20 April 2009
It snowed cricket-ball size flakes at times during the night

It snowed cricket-ball size flakes at times during the night and being somewhat optimistic we headed up to the Fornet. After a quick ‘feel’ and the usual slow opening Henry, Chris and I decided to make a U-turn and bus back to Bellevarde en-route to Tignes. From there we skied a nice run off the Verte, followed by an excellent Borsat Nord from the top. The Fornet was socked-in so we were well pleased with ourselves as the snow was much lighter and the visibility was significantly better Tignes-way. We then had two great runs off the Leisse before skiing the Rosolin, where the snow as cold and wintry, but a bit of work to get to and exit. From there we skied the Cairn and finished with a surprisingly good ‘funky-Familial’ to finish off Tony W’s 47th birthday ski. Happy birthday Tony and well skied Alex, who has made some serious progress over the last couple of seasons. Anyway, it was another pretty good outing and after moments of sunshine this afternoon followed by massive snowflakes, who knows what tomorrow will bring?

19 April 2009
Another five to ten centimetres fell overnight

Another five to ten centimetres fell overnight and we awoke to light snow falling and flattish light. Chris, Thomas and I decided on Tignes and it became apparent pretty quickly that it didn’t snow enough to cushion the base underneath and that we’d need ‘clean’ snow underfoot to have comfortable skiing. The only place we were going to find a perfectly smooth base was the Sachette and although the new snow insulated against a re-freeze it still froze enough for us to ski excellent snow right to the bottom. We had some powder turns on the first pitch before needing to turn to the spring slopes, which had about 5cm’s on top of a nicely supporting base. We decided to continue on to the bottom where is was fragile but still keeping us afloat. Unfortunately Blue hit a big ice-ball on piste that had been left behind by a piste-basher, and he needed to take a taxi home. Hopefully he hasn’t damaged himself too badly but it doesn’t look like he’ll be able to ski for a day or two and I’ll update you when we find out the extent of his injuries. Thomas had a new client Pascale skiing with him this morning and it is her birthday today. Happy Birthday Pascale and what a good ski to celebrate with! It’s now 3:46PM and huge snowflakes are falling out of the sky with the forecast calling for 40cm’s by tomorrow morning. At this time of year 10 to 20 cm’s would do nicely so that we’d have a morning or two of powder before the new snow could transform to spring snow. Forty cm’s will make for potentially dangerous skiing in places and that volume of snow takes a long time to transform back into spring snow. Anyway, we’ll have to deal with it and don’t forget your air-bags! A Blue and Sports Report will follow later.

18 April 2009
Five centimetres of snow fell over night.....

Five centimetres of snow fell over night and after yesterday’s heat Chris, Henry and I had a good chat about conditions at the Gourmandine. Chris decided to go for a walk in search of powder up high and north and had a great result in the Col des Fours with Tejina and Suzanne. They then had some bonus turns over the next little Col and then headed to the Grande Motte this afternoon for more winter snow. Well done Chris’ team! Henry and I stayed low and skied mostly spring snow and my team skied off the front of the Borsat followed by a beautiful Lavachet way out to the skiers-right. From there we skied the Cocaine Sud followed by an excellent Jardinie. Henry started off the Borsat as well and then stayed on the Val d’Isere side of the mountain, and I’m not too sure what he skied. Anyway, we all had a really good ski on a morning that could have been in-between and tricky. Gideon finished his season today and made some great progress this winter and Jane skied with me this morning while Kev took care of their children. It was very warm this afternoon so even more spring snow will be setting up although we my see a few more flakes of snow tonight. (I’ll come back with a Sports Report if the Hammers get a late equaliser).

Sports Report- Yes, yes, yes! Late goal for the Hammers for a 1-1 draw away to Villa and a big point. And well done Stoke and Sunderland for massive wins!

17 April 2009
The skies cleared during the night so we all headed up to the Fornet

The skies cleared during the night so we all headed up to the Fornet to take advantage of yesterday’s snowfall. (check photos on Jean’s link) We needed to stay dead-north on anything except gentle terrain as it cleared briefly yesterday afternoon and the heat put a crust on what would have been great snow. I started in some lovely snow off the Laisinant before trying the Combe du Signal. It was ‘touched’ and we needed to traverse all the way across to the northern exposures before the crust disappeared , but once north the steep slopes were excellent. From there we skied two great runs in the Pays Desert before heading over the Col. Andreas had Peter and Clare C with their children, Niamh, Tara, Rory, Caitriona, and their pal Ross, and they laid perfect ‘Alpine’ tracks all morning long. Bravo Equipe Campbell! I had Ellie and Mike C along, and Mike wants David B to know that he missed a good one today, very cruel Mike! Neither Ellie nor Mike have skied much powder for a year or two and they both skied really well. Gill and the girls are back in England after an emotional farewell at the airport where Millie and I were blubbing. I miss them already but boy is it quiet around here! The forecast is for a clear night and colder so tomorrow will be interesting. After today’s heat we need to decide if it’s worth chasing powder high and north, or has it transformed to spring snow lower down? Tough call and stay tuned.

Kevin Watch-
Day One- Falls and goes for a slide on the Lavachet. Saves himself with a brilliant ‘self-arrest’.
Day Two- Falls traversing in the woods and kisses a tree. Lips and face aren’t seriously damaged and Suzanne pulls him out.
Day Three- Clean Sheet-Bravo Kev!
Day Four- Loses a ski and Suzanne finally finds it after entire team pokes about for awhile.
For more, check pages 93 and 94 in my book.

16 April 2009
Light rain fell throughout the night with it turning to snow around 8AM

Light rain fell throughout the night with it turning to snow around 8AM. The foehn was still blowing but we decided to head towards the Fornet anyway, as that was where the most accumulation of snow would be. We were rewarded and had a great morning of powder snow although the visibility was a little tricky at times. Chris and I skied the Grand Vallon, Combe du Signal, two off the T-Bar on the Pissailles and a Col Pers to finish. Chris did a great job navigating over the Col as it was pretty white in places and it wasn’t easy. Well done Chris! Meanwhile, Andreas and Henry had an excellent morning concentrating on the Glacier as the best snow was up high. Gideon skied really well today and picked up the coveted ‘skier of the morning’ award. Nice one Gideon! Kevin had a quiet day today after he followed up his self-arrest on day-one by kissing a tree yesterday. Pat Z invited Chris and I to Top Ski for drinks as Peter CB, who we worked with twenty-plus years ago, is in town with his family visiting from New Zealand. We had a great evening and it was probably only the second or third time we’ve been in Top Ski since we left all those years ago. Merci Pat for a top evening! It started snowing huge flakes around noon and I’m a little worried about the roads as I need to drive to Lyon to drop Gill, Millie and Katie off as they fly back to England tonight. And brilliant wins for Arsenal and Man U last night, with Ronaldo scoring an absolute cracker!

15 April 2009
It was Gill’s last morning of the season as the girls leave tomorrow

It was Gill’s last morning of the season as the girls leave tomorrow, and we had another really good ski. Radio Val reported +5C at 7:30 and the clouds were arriving from the Galise aided by 50 kph foehn winds. The only sunny area in the resort was towards the Aiguille Percee so the entire team headed towards the sunshine. I started with an excellent Alti-port/Lavachet before skiing the big face off the Aiguille Percee en-route to the Sachette, which was great top-to-bottom. From there we had a few bonus turns off the Aiguille Rouge chairlift before finishing with a lovely Familial. Andreas skied the Cocaine Sud before arriving for the Sachette and Chris did a little ‘skinning’ in the Sachette to access some longer slopes. Considering the minimum freeze along with the clouds and wind, we all had great morning making the most of our options. Bravo boys! Andreas had Clare and Ewan G along this morning and it was nice to see them both again. Millie is spending her last afternoon with her boyfriend Achille so I hope she won’t mind having Katie and I along. Anyway, we should see a little snow above 2200metres this evening, especially towards the Fornet. And what a football match last night! Liverpool did themselves proud scoring 4 goals away and almost pulled off what seemed impossible before game time. Hopefully tonight’s games will be just as good, although I won’t be able to watch them.

14 April 2009
Gideon summed up the morning perfectly when he said, “that was awesome!”

Gideon summed up the morning perfectly when he said, “that was awesome!”. The sun was blazing again and with Radio Val announcing +1C in front of the Tourist Office at 7:30AM, we knew it was cold enough last night and it was game-on! I opened up with an excellent Face du Charvet followed by an even better Tour du Charvet, way out skiers-left and then through the Couloir du Mont Blanc. From there we skied a good Col du Madeleine before finishing with a superb run off the 3000 poma. Andreas ’skinned’ to the Crete du Genepy and then Mont Roup, where he found excellent skiing before joining in on the Arselle-side of the spring tour. Henry also skied the Face du Charvet and Tour en route to the Arselle and Thomas skied ‘classic’ Val d’Isere spring snow as well. Chris had an adventurous morning as Kevin fell on the Lavachet and needed the ‘Giles Green Self-Arrest’ to stop himself from ending up in the lake below. We all know that Kevin is experienced with this sort of thing as he features on pages 93 and 94 of my book. Bravo Kev for not panicking and keeping it together under pressure! Anyway Chris’ team continued on for a great Cocaine Sud followed by the Sachette and Familial. Pietro finished his holiday with a Col du Montet and everyone at ‘Alpine’ had a cracking good day. I put on shorts, sandals and a t-shirt and walked around town with the girls this afternoon while they biked. We stopped for ice-cream and drinks on the terrace of the Perdrix and had a great time soaking up the sun. Meanwhile Gill was having lunch on our terrace with Bonne Sante’s excellent team of physios, Louise, Laura, Emma, and Ginny. The Perdrix reminds me that we had a good wildlife show this morning as we saw several Perdrix Blanches and a Lievre Blanc, and then some marmottes. A similar day is forecast for tomorrow with potentially some rain/snow later in the week.

13 April 2009
The sun returned in all its splendour this morning so we all headed to the Fornet...

The sun returned in all its splendour this morning so we all headed to the Fornet to get the last of the powder before it turns to ’wishbone’ snow as it transforms to spring snow. It turned out to be an action-packed morning as three local skiers (they call themselves ‘riders’ these days) decided to ‘skin’ up to the Point Pers. Andreas had warned them to think again as a plaque on the same exposure had already popped out and the warning signs were there. Anyway, they triggered a slab about 350metres wide (fortunately it wasn’t too deep) and all three were taken. All three were equipped with air-bags and the two that pulled their handles and inflated the bags stayed on top, and the one who didn’t inflate ended up buried. (An excellent advert for the air-bags I’d say) Pietro, who was returning from a tour just happened to be the first to the rescue and found him immediately and dug him out. Well done Pietro! Andreas and I were there fairly quickly but Pietro had it under control and we went off with shaky legs to continue our morning. As for the skiing we had a great run in the Pays Desert with powder up high and more spring-like snow at the bottom, followed by an equally good Tour du Lechoir and an exit through the gorge. Millie went skiing with her cousins Wils and Rosie, followed by lunch at Les Tufs were she apparently took fifteen minutes deciding what to have, much to the annoyance of the waitress. Little Madame! I’m not too sure about the forecast but it looks as if we’ll be in for another sunny day again tomorrow, which won’t be too hard to take! (Wishbone snow is crusty and tries to rip your leg off!)

12 April 2009
The day started early with Easter Eggs and Chocolate Bunnies!

The day started early with Easter Eggs and Chocolate Bunnies followed by opening Gill’s birthday presents. Meanwhile, outside it was +4C, grey, windy and it had been raining lightly during the night, but no one arriving at the Gourmandine was really expecting a superb ‘maximum-turn’ morning. After several great days in Tignes it was time to test the new snow up at the Fornet, so Chris and I headed up into the cloudier weather and were rewarded with excellent skiing. Although it was overcast the light was good enough to easily navigate and ski and we covered a huge amount of terrain. My team skied the Pyramide, two in the Grand Vallon, one Combe du Signal, a Combe du 3300, and a Col Pers through the Gorge to finish. Brilliant! The snow varied from 10 to 35cm’s, mostly slightly compressed, but excellent snow for mid-April, and it was lovely to make tracks again. Gill had a birthday ski with Millie, Wils, Rosie and Rob this afternoon while Katie and I toured town. Andreas had the day off and enjoyed a family ski and I forgot to mention that he and Peter skied an excellent Couloir des Pisteurs yesterday to finish. Well done boys! Thanks Radio Will for Gill’s birthday message this morning and besides happy birthday to Gill, also a big happy birthday to Oscar, TJ’s son and my god-son. And thank-you Laura for my most exquisite steak last night, absolutely mouth-watering! The sun is forecast to appear tomorrow morning after another mild night with a minimum re-freeze. Stay tuned as the good skiing should continue!

11 April 2009
It rained lightly in town overnight and snowed a few centimetres above 2200metres.....

It rained lightly in town overnight and snowed a few centimetres above 2200metres and the new snow will help tidy up the spring slopes enormously. As for today, the new snow worked as an insulator against the re-freeze so this morning the snow was much more fragile than yesterday. The wind was blowing up to 90kph up at the Fornet where it was also very grey so Tignes was the obvious choice again today. We had 5 to 10cm’s of lovely snow off the Verte to warm-up in and then similar in the bottom of the Borsat and down into Tignes. From there we skied an excellent Lavachet but it was fragile towards the bottom, which indicated that we didn’t want to try skiing any lower. I headed up towards the Motte where the wind was fierce so after a run off the Leisse we came back down via the flats on the glacier towards the ‘wall’ as it used to be know, and then into the Combe du Lanche. (The Combe wasn’t the best call of the morning as it was a little rough underfoot.) From there we had a pretty good run off the Col des Ves then skied piste back to Les Tufs. Meanwhile Andreas skied Mickey’s Ears with Peter C before joining Thomas on the Lavachet. From there I think they went off to ski the Cocaine Nord and I’m not too sure what else after that. All in all it was a pretty good morning for a potentially tough day. Jean Marc returns from his tour today and Pietro is here on holiday touring with Sue and Mark J. Chris had a day off as he had a touch of the gastro the other night so hopefully he’s feeling better today. I won Gill the Chevallot Birthday Cake for tomorrow on Radio Val this morning (it helps having Radio Will answering the phone) so we’ll be looking forward to that. Millie is out skiing with Gill while I take care of Katie who has a nasty little cough. The forecast is for 20cm’s of snow at the Fornet this afternoon and hopefully the ferocious foehn wind will die down so we can get up there and ski it. And come on’ you Hammers!

10 April 2009
It was +5C in town at 7:30AM

It was +5C in town at 7:30AM and the sky was grey with a strong foehn wind blowing, but what a morning we had. It turned out to be one of the best ‘spring’ mornings of the season, both as far as snow texture and the fact that we skied clean slopes all morning long. Because a dusting of fresh snow fell the new snow ‘ate’ into the frozen surface and combined with the warm night all exposures felt good right from the start.(The sun was in-and-out so we had pretty good visibility most of the morning.) I started off on the meadows on the front of the Borsat for a little ‘tester’, then had an outstanding Lavachet, and equally good Cocaine South followed by an even better Cocaine Nord, and a very good Familial to finish. Andreas, Thomas, Chris, and Henry were all in the same neighbourhood and skied the same or similar variations. I was truly stunned by the quality of snow and a little surprised at how low we could ski on such a minimum freeze as the partial cloud cover and wind help keep the snow good to the last drop. I then went out with Millie, Wils, Natasha, and Anthony again this afternoon for another big ski and was a little frightened by the ‘air-time’ my 5-and-a-half-year-old and her pal Natasha seem to seek. Thank goodness they aren’t boys! It’s been socked-in up at the Fornet all-day long and I’m sure some snow has been falling up there, but we’ll need to wait and see what happens with the visibility tomorrow. Anyway, I’m still smiling about this morning’s brilliant outing!

PS Some of Andreas’ team were looking a little jaded this morning after he had his team down to his place for a BBQ yesterday afternoon, which became rather ‘jolly’. The Lavachet certainly woke them up and got them in the mood!

9 April 2009
After a really good re-freeze it was game-on.....

After a really good re-freeze it was game-on and all the boys showed their teams a cracking good ski. Chris, Andreas and Thomas ‘skinned’ to the Crete du Genepy and had superb snow before continuing on with the ‘classic’ Val d’Isere spring tour. Well done boys! The cold night with clear skies today will have been fantastic news for Jean Marc as he’s day-two into his four-day tour. I had a bit of a ‘funky’ start today with a very atmospheric Kern, way out skiers-left above the cliffs with a great views and impressive exposure. From there we skied ‘Adrian’s Couloir’ on the Lavachet, followed by the big face on the Aiguille Percee, the Sachette, and the Familial to finish. I watched an ESF group ski by this morning with, get this, 18 children in the group. I double-checked to see if there was another instructor at the back but the leader was solo and had his hands full. Ray skied his 100th day with me this season, well done Ray. And thank you very much Joe for the fabulous piece of venison you gave us, it was fantastic. Thanks also to David and Chrissy for Gladiator, really looking forward to it. I didn’t get home until 5:45PM after a huge ski with Millie, her cousin Wil, J and M’s grand-daughter Natasha and son Anthony, and Rob and Rosie. It was really great fun while Gill took Katie out for a big ski as well. The forecast is ’iffy’ with a minimum freeze, strong foehn winds and potential cloud cover as well. Wish us luck and stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

8 April 2009
Radio Val announced +5.5C at 7:30 AM

Radio Val announced +5.5C at 7:30 AM (too early for Radio Will) and with light cloud cover it was looking to be a potentially tricky day. Jean Marc started a four-day tour this morning and we wish him luck and some decent weather with some cold nights ahead. This morning Chris headed to Tignes and skied the big slope of the Aiguille Percee before skiing the Sachette and Familial to finish. It held up for him and they had a really good result. Andreas and I chose the Fornet for a change of pace and hoped that a few flakes fell yesterday afternoon and evening, which would soften the surface of the spring snow without needing direct sunlight. We were right but unfortunately when we arrived on the Glacier a thick cloud-bank arrived as well leaving us in nearly white-out conditions. We didn’t fancy that so we headed over the Col into better visibility and had good skiing in the Col Pers with Andreas exiting through the gorge and my team over the Grand Torsai. We then both circled back towards Bellevarde to finish the morning. It turned out to be a pretty good morning, which beats a ‘stinker’ any day. Millie and Katie are now on holiday and their cousins arrive tonight, so I’m really looking forward to skiing them all over the next few afternoons. It cleared during the afternoon so hopefully we’ll get a good freeze tonight, especially for Jean Marc’s sake.

7 April 2009
Wow, what a day!

Wow, what a day! It was cold enough overnight to give us a decent re-freeze and the sun appeared and stayed with us most of the day. So much for forecasts! A foehn wind blew all-day long, up to 50kph in exposed places, but for the most part it helped as it cooled the snow and kept us afloat all morning long. Andreas skied an excellent Mont Roup while Chris and I ‘skinned’ to the Crete du Genepy and we all had superb spring snow. We all then joined Thomas and Henry, who were skiing ‘classic’ Val d’Isere spring and we had some great skiing off the Cugnai and the Marmattons. Henry and I ended up finishing around 1:30PM as another Cugnai just needed to be done. You can easily forget how big and impressive those Arselle/Cugnai slopes are from the top, and there is no doubt that you want to stay on your feet as falling over isn’t really an option. Jean Marc did a couloir off the Motte and then ‘skinned’ up to the Col de la Sana, and again he also enjoyed excellent snow. David B is having a wonderful time and is in his element because although he loves his powder, he also enjoys to ‘work’ his skis and today’s snow was perfect for that. Gideon is also enjoying the big slopes and is being pretty brave as he suffers mildly from vertigo, and for those who are affected it can be very debilitating, Bravo Gideon! The forecast is for a few flakes above 2000metres before it clears during the night and hopefully gets cold enough to give us another great ‘spring’ day again tomorrow.

PS. We’ll be thinking of TJ tomorrow as it’s the 2nd anniversary of his avalanche.

6 April 2009
It was another great day on the mountain as Ray celebrated his 100th morning of the season

It was another great day on the mountain as Ray celebrated his 100th morning of the season. Nice one Red! After a cloudy night with a minimum re-freeze it could have been a tricky day but all the teams enjoyed good skiing. Jean Marc was off for an excellent day skiing the Col de la Calabourdane, the Col des Fours and the Lores, with Tony W, Chris and Matt E, and Kristina. (It was a nice change for Tony to get away from the Rond Point with his own equipment) Andreas had a new group so he re-traced his steps of yesterday and skied the Sachette and Henry skied Tignes-way as well. Chris and I were off to ski powder but after testing the snow off the Verte decided to divert to ‘Plan F’ and ended up skiing excellent spring off the Borsat, followed by Mont Roup , then variations off the Arselle and Lessieres. Mont Roup was delicate and we needed to play with the exposures to avoid ’quick snow’, but we managed to stay afloat and had a really good ski. It clouded over during the afternoon and an even lighter re-freeze is forecast for tonight with the possibility of a little rain around 2200metres and a few flakes above. The forecast also calls for cloudier skies over the next couple of days so we may have a couple of difficult days ahead, but who knows? This place rarely fails to deliver and we’ll hope for the best.

PS Update from Rob Cochran on Jean U.

“I revere Jean Ughetto, the eponymous Jean of Jeansport. He can repair anything. He comes from a generation when you repaired things. Now, you just replace them. My crappy fridge is a mute testament to his skills. Two of the three “balcons” inside the door broke, each time I took them out to clean. Jean glued the cracks but also curved and glued thin sheets of plastic to re-inforce the glued cracks. Bulletproof ever since. In wood, he built an ever so clever set of shelves for my hi-fi, tucking into a hidden corner of my tiny apartment (“so this is the clothes closet” as an american visitor assessed it. “Where do you and I live…..?” )Well, this weekend, I have seen him do the ski repair of all ski repairs. My next door neighbour is a french doctor from Montpellier. He had damaged the tail of a new Dynamic 8000 ski. Damaged…? All the professionals who looked at it said “How did you do that?” Imagine shooting a point thirty eight bullet at the tail of your ski, close to the edge. No, make that a .45. Is this respectable doctor a secret freerider? You would need to drop 5 metres onto a suitable sharp rock to obtain a crater like that, 8 metres even. The edge was badly battred and, on first sight, looked as if it was cracked. On myoptic inspection with JU, we noted that it was scored and scratched but not broken. “Yes, I think I can mend that,” says the ever modest JU. Well, the result…..I wish I had taken a “before and after” photo. It looked like a new ski. If you didn’t know where the big hole had been, you would never find it. The only evidence was a hardly visible scratch mark on the vertical of the edge. His charge for the repair? “€15…no, make that € 10 – it wasn’t that difficult.” Jean Ughetto – the magician.”

5 April 2009
We enjoyed another absolutely wonderful morning...........

We enjoyed another absolutely wonderful morning combining some powder pitches with perfect spring snow. It was slightly overcast with a minimal freeze overnight but Tignes promised the best chance of sunshine so the team headed that way. After testing the snow off the Verte we had a nice powder slope in the bottom of the Borsat before bussing over to the Palafour. We skied the big steep slope to the left as you ride up to the Aiguille Percee, and it was smooth with just the right texture. From there we skied two excellent pitches of powder in the Sachette before skiing as-good-as-it-gets spring snow right to the bottom. Then we all finished off a great morning with a really good Familial. Andreas had Derek L’s children Tina, Heather, and Gregor, and they had a fantastic time and put in a top performance. Well done! And Happy Birthday to Dawn, and what a ski to celebrate! Gill took Millie out for another ski this afternoon as their time here is now winding down as the girls leave on April 16th for Millie to re-start school on the 20th. It turned grey this afternoon but the forecast is for a good re-freeze tonight and we should have excellent skiing again tomorrow.

PS Jean Marc skied a brilliant Couloir 3500 off the back of the Grande Motte and neutral hearts were broken while United fans went ballistic with Man U’s 95th minute winner. Liverpool hearts will have stopped as well! I’ve also started writing a more detailed account of yesterday’s avalanche (besides what’s below) but don’t want to publish anything until I’m happy with it, as it is a very sensitive subject.

Avalanche Update- Yesterdays avalanche involved a guided ESF group with a father and his two sons, one 16 years-old and the other 21 years-of-age. All four were buried and three are now out of danger, but the 21 year-old was transported to Grenoble in a coma. The avalanche took place between two lifts, the Cugnai and the Glacier Express on the Tete du Solaise sector, in full view of the rescue services. Had it taken place out of sight of the Pisteurs all four would have died before help could have arrived.

4 April 2009
What a day!

What a day! It was another day of superb skiing and happy faces and also a day of tragedy. For the good news first, after a cold night we all headed towards the Fornet for some great skiing. Although it was cool yesterday there was enough heat to put a heat/sun crust on what was perfect powder yesterday, and nothing but dead-north with altitude worked today. Andreas did a double ‘skin’ and skied the Glacier Pers and then up towards the Gros Caval, while Chris skied the Glacier Pers. Jean Marc had a day trip over the Col du Montet and up to the Grande Aiguille Rousse, and Henry skied off the lift system. I also had a double ‘skin’ as we skied the Pointe Pers followed by the Glacier Pers. It was another really good days of powder skiing as there isn’t much left because of the heat and rain from a few days back, and we may need to turn to spring snow in a the next day or two. It’s now official (for those of you who didn’t already know) that I am a total ‘berk’. For the second time this week I took Tony W’s skis and poles from the Gourmandine and fortunately again Tony’s team was heading the same way and we could swap without causing any serious delays or stress. Sorry again Tony! At least I saved Anthony Ellis from the ‘berk-of-the-day’ award as he skied the Pointe Pers in ‘walk-mode’. Nice one Anthony! I had a wonderful ski this afternoon as well with Millie, Natasha, Anthony E, and John E. Natasha is John and Margaret’s grand-daughter and we really covered some ground. Finally on the good news front, I was fist-pumping as Radio Will read off West Ham 2- Sunderland nil, as the injury-plagued Hammers continue to please me. Now for some very sad news. There was a serious avalanche today involving an ESF-guided group who were caught on the front-side of the Cugnai. Details are sketchy for the moment but a group of four were taken together and buried very deep because of a terrain-trap. There wasn’t a run-out zone and the snow accumulated against an embankment leaving them deep enough for the Pisteurs to really struggle to find them with their beeps. All four were buried but the first three were dug-out alive and the last was found up-side down and not breathing. He was flown to Grenoble and I’m not sure whether he survived or not. I’ll up-date you tomorrow when the details emerge.

3 April 2009
The sun reappeared this morning towards Tignes............

The sun reappeared this morning towards Tignes but after a cold night we headed to the Fornet knowing the snow would have dried out, and we were rewarded with a stunning day of the highest quality. We warmed-up in great snow right from the start off the Laisinant Express, then had a good ski in the Combe du Signal en-route to the Glacier, which was absolutely brilliant and knee-deep in places. We skied just about every variation of gullies, couloirs and big slopes and as Jean R said, “It was 20 out of 20”. Although it was clearer in Tignes we had enough visibility to really travel and ski at ease, and the in-and-out cloud cover helped to keep the snow cold. Hats off to Lyndsay who had a great week shaking off her demons after a serious knee operation, and Andreas, Philip, Henry and Alex were well proud of her! Robert and Caroline had a wonderful two-weeks and made some real progress, as did Chris and his sons Joe and Sam. Thomas is still skiing with Adam’s children and finishes with them tomorrow. Ray skied for the first time in a week because of a calf injury and after a massive morning took Millie out this afternoon for a ski. They must have had a great time as they didn’t return until 5:15PM after a huge ski followed by hot chocolate and tiramisu at Chevallot. (They both seemed very pleased with themselves although Millie gave the game away pretty quickly) The forecast according to the Val d’Isere website is for ‘a largely sunny day and the wind will be weak and the temperature will be sweet’. Funky!

2 April 2009
It rained heavily during the night.......

It rained heavily during the night, up to about 2400metres, and it was still raining this morning. The sky was grey, the wind was howling, and we had an absolutely brilliant day! The wind was stronger towards the Fornet and there was a rumour of 60+cm’s on the Glacier so we all headed to towards Tignes. (60+cm’s is too much with the warm temperatures and wind) We warmed up off the Verte before skiing two crackers on Bonnevie’s drag while waiting for the Borsat to open. Then the Borsat was excellent as was the Cairn and Genepy off the Motte, and Henry and Andreas did a little Spatule and Familial. Needless to say the snow down low was very warm and heavy but it was good skiing anyway, and the snow up top was really pleasurable. The afternoon was even better as the visibility was much improved and I skied with Robert and Caroline until 4:45 and Chris’ team was in the same area as we saw his tracks everywhere we went. Lucky Henry had a group 5 lovely young ladies this morning, chaperoned by David N, brother of Harry and Ian. Jean Marc has arrived in town for a week after a successful trip to Morocco and it will be nice to have him around for a bit. Some sun is possible tomorrow morning and hopefully it will calm down up at the Fornet or it might take them ages to get open up there. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow.

PS The twins Henry and Alex tried the old ‘swap-jackets-and-fool-everyone trick’ this morning, but we were fairly astute and didn’t fall for it a badly as Mark B’ stunt a few days back.

1 April 2009
No joking, I was half expecting a ‘stinker’ this morning after looking out the window at 8AM

No joking, I was half expecting a ‘stinker’ this morning after looking out the window at 8AM to see grey skies and drizzle accompanied by a strong foehn wind. It wasn’t looking too good but when we arrived at the top of Bellevarde there was a patch of sunshine around the Borsat and the snow was supporting with some fresh snow in the gullies and on the lee-side of little rolls. Andreas, Chris and I all had a great run off the front of the Borsat in some lovely soft snow and the three sets of ‘Alpine’ tracks really stood out. We then skied the Lavachet en-route to the Sachette as it was clearer that way and we enjoyed sunshine and good snow all morning long when the rest of the resort was in cloud. Henry was doing a ‘HAT’ day and was in the same sector but I lost track of him. Chris skied off-piste with Tim and Gill in the afternoon while I skied with Chris, Joe and Sam. At this time of year the snow becomes a little more ‘educatif’ in the afternoon but it was jolly good skiing anyway and the sun continued to follow us around. Thomas is working hard entertaining Adam P’s kids who like jumps, bumps and everything else youngsters enjoy. Hang in there Thomas! Strong south and south-east winds are forecast this evening with a decent amount of snow, especially towards the Fornet, so fingers crossed!

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