Wayne's Daily Diary Archive

20 June 2007

31 December 2009
How good was that?

After what seems an eternity of leading in flat-light, which is incredibly wearing after a while, we were blessed with excellent light and a wonderful, wonderful ski this morning. It was a ‘maximum-turn’ session of quality and everyone was extremely pleased with themselves. Andreas, Henry, Chris and I all skied in the same areas with all the groups having ten-out-of-ten skiing around Bellevarde, the Borsat and eventually Tignes. My team warmed-up in great snow off the Verte followed by two superb non-stop Fontaine Froide’s. We then skied off the Verte again en-route to a very pleasing Borsat followed by the lower shots off the piste into Tignes, which were un-skiable yesterday but very good today. From there we skied a stunning Combe du Lanches and after the teams had finished there were four lovely sets of ‘Alpine’ tracks in our wake. After that we all went upstairs to ski a great Cairn before finishing off in the Familial in a white-out. The snow was really good but it made everyone appreciate how lucky we were to not have needed to deal with flat-light all-morning long. Andreas had a tricky moment, which he got himself out of nicely, but I knew exactly how he felt after Chris’ and my adventure yesterday. I took Millie out for her first ski of the season and she found her feet quite quickly, while Ray took care of Katie. Thanks Ray! Meanwhile, Andreas and Chris had off-piste groups and Andreas skied the Borsat from the top with Philip, Tasha, and their friend Trevor. It was a great effort from Trevor, who is fairly new to off-piste skiing. And to top of the last day of 2009, thank-you Penny for a superb drinks party and to Chrissy who spent her afternoon helping Penny prepare such a brilliant selection of taste treats. Absolute class and very much appreciated. Happy New Year to you all and don’t make too many promises that you’ve no intention of keeping!

30 December 2009
A surprisingly good day!

After all the rain and warm weather expectations were lower than normal, and as is often the case in these situations, the skiing was much better than anticipated. After spending five of the last six mornings in the Fornet Chris and I skied the Bellevarde sector en route to the Grande Motte for a change of pace. We skied a couple of lovely runs off the Verte and knew then that we were in for a pretty good morning. From there we skied a Bonnevie’s drag, one under the Mont Blanc, a Familial, then a Borsat before heading upstairs to ski the Cairn off the Motte. We ended up in a total white-out and needed to ‘feel’ our way back to civilization, and it’s so nice to arrive back on the piste in those situations. Meanwhile Henry and Andreas were up at the Fornet and I’m sure they too had a great morning. Thomas is on-piste this week with a family so we haven’t seen too much of him lately. Millie is hoping to get out skiing tomorrow afternoon so hopefully the weather will be a little kinder. We seem to have a pattern of some early morning vis until around 11 o’clock followed by some pretty flat-light and snow afterwards. This afternoon the snowflakes were the size of tea saucers and what a sight they were. Talk about a winter wonderland! It’s forecast to be much colder with clear skies overnight, but the overcast skies are due to return in the morning. Let’s hope they get that wrong.

29 December 2009
30cm's and just enough light, but did I hear wedding?

It was forecast to rain in the village today, which it did this afternoon, but not before we enjoyed a cracking good morning. About 30cm’s fell overnight at altitude and with the sun was peeking through at times we were set up for a surprisingly good ski. Henry, Chris and I took our teams to the Fornet while Andreas had a good ski in Tignes. My team warmed up nicely on the Mattis piste, which had about 5 to 10cm’s on top. From there we followed Chris into the Grand Vallon, then we skied the Combe du Signal, both of which were very good. We then headed upstairs to ski an excellent Combe du 3300, with a brilliant patch of sunshine to light the way. Unfortunately warm weather is forecast over the next few days with the rain/snow limit fluctuating between 1800 and 2100 metres, and not much sunshine. It’s very fatiguing leading the way in flat light day after day, and anytime that ‘light bulb’ appears overhead it is very much appreciated. And now for some fantastic news. That old bachelor Henry has proposed to Ginny and the two of them are planning to tie the knot! They haven’t confirmed a date yet but hopefully it won’t be too far away. Good man Henry!

28 December 2009
The girls have arrived!

We were teased this morning with a bright sky but the clouds moved in by the time we arrived on the top of Bellevarde and we had flat-light with falling snow for the rest of the day. Andreas had good skiing in the Chardonnet and his team climbed up to do it twice, while Chris and I skied the Sache. We all warmed up off the Verte and then skied a good Lower Borsat en-route into Tignes. The top of the Sache was a little trickier than we were hoping for but it was the flat-light that made it tougher than it needed to be. Enough fresh snow fell last night to cover the rain-crust, which has been such a problem at lower altitudes over the past week, so we had better snow towards the bottom. Both Red Ray and Tony ‘Lance’ W had a superb ‘park-and-fly’ yesterday, with both men being ejected and flying through the air like Superman! Fortunately both of them were fine and they dusted themselves off and carried on. I picked up the girls last night and we stayed up until 1:30AM decorating the tree and having a chat. It was great to see them and they’re very excited about being here. It snowed all afternoon and they really aren’t too sure about the forecast so we’ll just wait and see. No Sports Report tonight as the Hammers lost and our euphoria didn’t last too long!

27 December 2009
Fantastic ambience and no people

The ski was cloudless this morning and with the great visibility Clive was ready to rock and roll. We all headed to the Fornet to avoid the crowds in Tignes as much as any other reason because with the start of the holidays it would have been very busy. After a nice few turns off the Col we had an excellent Pays Desert where I traversed out further than we’ve needed to so far this season. The scenery and ambience were stunning, and the snow was pretty good as well. The top looked winded but it hadn’t toughened-up yet and it had a ‘creamy’ feel to it. From there we found some great snow in Margaret’s Gulley, where we filmed Snow Job six or seven-years ago, and it really was good skiing. The bottom section, like the top, looked winded but skied nicely and all-round, it was a very satisfying result. Olivier, Andreas, Thomas, Chris, and myself all skied the Col Pers next and it had some good snow in places and was rather ‘educational’ in others. John E had a problem with his bindings and was incredibly lucky to not loss a ski in the gorge. We were on a steep pitch above the gorge when someone shouted, “Ski”. I looked up and John’s ski was hurtling straight down the mountain so I tried to cut it off but never had a chance of getting there in time. I was also thinking it was going to be impossible to stop and probably stupid and dangerous to even try. Anyway, just as the ski was about to launch itself over the cliff and into the gorge, the tip dove and it just stopped. It had travelled about 200m’s so John had to slide down on his backside. It came off a couple more times and turned out to be exhausting and not John’s best-ever Col Pers. (Memorable but not the best!) There were several big slab avalanches over the Col and many of the slopes above the road have purged themselves, which is good news. The clear skies slowly gave way to clouds and around 3PM it started to snow lightly, which is wonderful news except I’m driving to Lyon tonight to pick up Millie, Katie and Gill, and I’m hoping to avoid needing chains at 1AM. Still, some fresh snow will help enormously as we start the busiest week of the season. Stay tuned!

Sports Report- If I wasn’t going to the airport you’d find me at the Pacific watching Arsenal and Villa. It should be a great match and it’s very important to both teams.

Tragic news- Last night a local man was killed in Tignes when his piste-basher broke through the ice. He was preparing the cross-country track on the lake and they found him 22 metres deep. After weeks of -25C at night you’d think the lake would have been frozen and since they’ve been doing it for years, it came as a total shock.

26 December 2009
A wonderful day finished off with a Hammers victory!

It wasn’t as sunny as forecast this morning but we still had good light, which was very welcome. We also benefited by the wind dying down and it wasn’t a factor today after blowing us off the mountain yesterday. Chris and I headed up to the Fornet and had a fantastic morning. We skied two excellent Combe du Signal from the Pyramid, then the Combe again from the top, followed by a lovely Combe 3300, and then the Pay Desert to finish. (Great photos Jean!)Unfortunately Jean Marc’s wife Maryse hurt her knee ligaments in the Combe on her final day of her holiday. We wish her a speedy and full recovery. Thomas skied a very good Col du Palet in Tignes, followed by a wonderful Chardonnet, while Olivier also skied the Chardonnet with his family before diving over the Col into the Sache, which was good on top but effected by the rain crust further down. Andreas and Tansy finished their 9-day engagement with their lovely Thai clients, and he’ll be back off-piste tomorrow. A cold night without any snow is forecast followed by a sunny morning tomorrow. I finished my painting this afternoon and just in time as I’m picking up the girls in Lyon tomorrow night. And thank-you Margaret for taking care of me and cooking such a superb Christmas dinner last night. Jean’s wife Raya really enjoyed a English Christmas feast and Suzanne made it back just in time after a gruelling drive.

Sports Report- All Hammers fans are breathing a huge sigh of relief after our 2-0 win over Portsmouth, which lifted us out of the bottom three. Man U and Arsenal fans will also be rejoicing as Chelsea drew for the second week in a row. I forgot to mention England’s fine fighting draw against South Africa in last week’s cricket, well done boys!

25 December 2009
Merry Christmas and 'maximum-turns'

The rain turned to snow around 3AM and enough snow accumulated to give us a fresh canvas, and not only a clean mountain but 30cm’s in places! It was a fabulous morning of two distinct halves. Before 11 o’clock we were surprised with sunshine and very little wind, and after 11 the lights went out and the wind picked up dramatically. Before 11-bells it was a ‘maximum-turn’ outing with my team skiing a good Face du Bellevarde, three superb Bonnevie drags, one under the Mont Blanc chair, another Bonnvie drag and an excellent Fontaine Froide. Coming back up the Fontaine Froide the wind was ferocious and in our face so went in for a Christmas hot chocolate. After our break we skied a very good Familial but the light was very flat and we needed to feel our way down. While I was cutting a track under the Mont Blanc, 82-year-old-ex-film-producer-playboy-Jacques J followed us in, used my track and passed the entire group then dove in front of me to take first tracks. Cheeky monkey! Chris, Thomas, Henry and Andreas were all in the same sector and everyone had a fantastic Christmas ski. Olivier and Jean Marc were both skiing with there families and they worked their way from Bellevarde to the Arcelle and then Solaise. They were in good spirits when we saw them at the top of Bellevarde and they’ve had a lovely holiday. Suzanne is on her way back from Normandy in poor driving conditions so we wish her luck and hopefully she’ll arrive in time for dinner at Margaret’s. It snowed lightly during the afternoon and a clear night with -10C in town is forecast for this evening, followed by blue sky tomorrow morning. Rock on! Merry Christmas to all and my girls arrive in two days. Yahoo!

PS Sorry Jean for not giving you time to get your camera out. It was too good to stop!

24 December 2009
A much tougher morning

The wind was fierce yesterday afternoon and it blew well into the night, damaging the snow throughout. Thankfully we had some good light first thing this morning and enjoyed some pretty good skiing considering. We had some very acceptable snow off the Fontaine Froide and then a nice ski in the Lower Borsat. Then the wind started to pick up while the visibility deteriorated and suddenly the morning became tougher. We skied a decent Combe des Lanches and then Olivier, Jean Marc and Thomas headed up to the Chardonnet, while Henry, Chris and I galloped back towards the stables. It was so windy on the Tufs Chair that my hat blew off and disappeared forever, but it was much cheaper than Gideon losing his helmet a week or so ago. We then opted to protect ourselves and ski the piste down giving the Familial miss. It was a fairly good morning for a day that was always going to be difficult and we’ll all look forward to easier conditions soon. As for the forecast, the rain/snow limit is at 2300m tonight and dropping to 1500m tomorrow morning, with winds decreasing to between 15 and 20kph from the west. Fingers crossed for tomorrow and Bonne Noel!

23 December 2009
Bravo Margaret and Wils!

About 20cm’s of snow fell overnight and we were blessed with a stunning light that gave us excellent visibility. We all ended up at the Fornet and enjoyed a brilliant ‘maximum-turn’ type morning. My team had two runs under the Vallon de L’Iseran lift, which were superb before skiing one in the Combe du Signal from the Pyramid. From there we skied the Combe du Geant, the Combe du 3300, followed by the Pays Desert. Olivier and I were side-by-side for the first few runs of the morning and it was nice to ski with him again. Oli was skiing with his family, along with JM’s son Johan, and a family friend, all of whom are having a great holiday. I met Andreas in the Combe du 3300 with his Thai clients, and it seems ages since I’ve seen him on the mountain. Margaret picked up a ‘skier-of-the-morning’ award for skiing beautifully as well as keeping up with a really steady pace all morning long. Bravo Margaret, Lars was impressed! I skied off-piste with my 12-year-old nephew Wils this afternoon, and he skied really well. He was a little worried when he lost his ski in the Borsat but he used his noodle, didn’t panic, and managed to find it before I needed to put on my ‘skins‘ and climb up to help him. Well done Wils! A few centimetres of snow is forecast for tonight with 40kph south-westerly winds, and we’re expecting broken cloud cover with some sunshine in the morning. (Don’t forget to check Jean’s photos of the day)

22 December 2009
20 to 40 centimetres are forecast for this evening

It was +1C in the village this morning, and what a contrast from the -22C of a couple of days ago! With decent light Thomas, Chris and I all headed up to the Fornet and we had a cracking good ski up there. In places it was 30cm’s deep and in others we had 10 to 15cm’s on a smooth base. I was a little surprised by the quality after yesterday’s high winds and it really was good. We skied the Combe du Signal followed by a couple in the Pays Desert and Thomas skied a lovely Combe du Geant. Jean Marc went to Tignes and skied an excellent Chardonnet followed by the Sache. I’m not sure about what Henry and Olivier skied but they too headed towards Tignes. I had a 4-hour painting session this afternoon as Millie, Katie and Gill arrive in a few days time. Andreas’ father has made the trip down from Sweden and is here for Christmas, while JM and Oli have their families here as well. Suzanne drove up to Normandy in appalling road conditions to take delivery of their furniture, which has arrived from Australia. A skier was killed in the Savoie yesterday in an avalanche and with 20 to 40cm’s forecast tonight accompanied by south-westerly winds gusting to 70kph, it will be heating up around here. It will definitely be ‘handles in’ and take extra care tomorrow!

The ‘Alpine’ team would like to say a big hello to Pat Mitchell, we’re all thinking of you. Also get well soon to Dave Stockill and Mike Leeming.

21 December 2009
Our new secretary Charlotta has arrived

It snowed a little more than forecast last night and the day started with decent light that deteriorated from about 11 0’clock on. JM, Chris and I all headed to the Fornet and had a great morning in the Grand Vallon and Combe du Signal. Jean Marc has a ladies team of Marilyn, Ali, and Jo H and he’s travelling in good company. Thomas had a fantastic day with a new French family around Bellevarde and Tignes and Olivier skied the Tour du Charvet and Arcelle sectors with his family, while Andreas continues with his Thai clients.Henry was in action with Megan and Paul, both of whom are skiing with us for the first time. It snowed lightly most of the day and hopefully we’ll see more snow tonight with a rain/snow limit around 2000m. Some warm snow wouldn’t be a bad thing as with all the goblet that has formed during the cold snap the weight will help the mountain to purge itself, and the sooner the better. Although the avalanche risk is only 2 or 3 out of 5, big slopes are demanding much more respect than that, as the base is rotten. We also had high winds from the south-east in places today so there will be plaques developing on top of the weak layer.

Our new secretary Charlotta has started in the office so she’ll be at the other end of the phone. She doesn’t know the clients yet so let her know who you’d like to ski with if you have a preference. And please give her a good old fashion ‘Alpine’ welcome.

20 December 2009
-22C in the village but don't forget your swim suit

The sky was a perfect blue this morning and Radio Val announced -22C in the village at 7AM. Burr! Anyway, Chris, JM and I opened up on the Kern and it was so warm in the sun that Gideon and Jean took a layer off. They were both sorry about 30 minutes later when we arrived back on top and felt the wind again and were reminded that it was still a jolly chilly day. We had a pretty good day skiing the Kern, Lower Borsat, Col du Palet, the top of the Glattier, and the Familial. Chris snuck in a Chardonnet and Olivier and JM ‘skinned’ to Mont Roup. Thomas was out there somewhere and Andreas has the pleasure of working with Tansy as they entertain their Thai clients who are big on proper lunches. I must say the weather is perfect for wonderful dining! Thanks to Jean for taking photos the past few days because you need to be a brave and dedicated man to take off your gloves in this weather. Chapeau Jean! The forecasted clouds rolled in right on time this afternoon and light snow has been falling ever since. The forecast is for a cloudy day tomorrow and much warmer with maximum temperatures of -3C at 2000m and -5 at 3000m.

Sports Report- Rejoice all you Hammers fans! I took time off from my painting to watch West Ham fight hard for a well earned point. It could so easily have been three, but any self-respecting Hammers fan would have gladly taken a point before kick-off. It was a proud performance from a team under huge pressure.

Don’t forget your swimming trunks.

The new pool, which opens tomorrow, looks absolutely stunning! I’ve never seen a better looking facility and the children are going to love it with its slides. There is a fitness area and spa as well and I’m sure the new complex is going to be a huge hit.

19 December 2009
The toughest day of the season

The cold snap continues and today was bitter because of a fairly punchy northerly wind. We had some decent skiing off the Borsat in wonderful light but after freezing on the Fontaine ‘tres’ Froid we had a hot chocolate and called it a morning. (I’d ‘twigged’ my back and was feeling a little fragile but everyone was rather keen for a hot bath) Oli tells me that JM had a good afternoon up at the Fornet with his ladies team, you brave people! Wills and Rosie have arrived with their Dad Rob and Gill, Millie, and Katie arrive on the 27th. Olivier’s family arrives tonight for a holiday and Jean Marc’s family is coming for Christmas as well. I’m busy trying to finish my painting project and have one week to go, so wish me luck! More of the same is forecast for tomorrow with a chance of snow early next week.

Sports Report- Interesting results in the Premiership with Man U losing to Fulham and Portsmouth beating Liverpool, which is bad news for the Hammers. If we lose tomorrow against Chelsea we’ll take over the bottom spot in the table. Terrible!

18 December 2009
A good trip to the Fornet

We were lucky with the visibility this morning as the forecasted poor light didn’t arrive until the afternoon. It was slightly warmer this morning so Chris and I headed to the Fornet for a change of pace and skied a very good Pay Desert from the Combe du 3300 before ‘skinning’ out. We then tried the Col Pers for the first time this season and it was Robert and Caroline’s first-ever trip back-side. The snow was surprisingly good and it wasn’t as rocky as we thought it might be, and we were fortunate with the light. Oli and JM finished up their touring week and JM ‘skinned’ to the Lores but ran into bad light and he was worried about the snow pack so he avoided the big slopes. Thomas skied Bellevarde-Tignes way and Andreas has a piste week with his Thai clients. Although it was warmer this morning it was bloody cold this afternoon and cold weather is forecast again for tomorrow. We did have a few flakes floating about today and we’ve probably had about 5cm’s of snow.

Snow Report- The extremely cold weather during the past week has been weakening the bond in the snowpack as goblet has been forming. There are now signs of instability and a 2 on a scale of 5 avalanche risk should be revised and extra caution is a must.

I forgot to mention yesterday that Red Ray has arrived and his warm-up for the season was a hike up to the Glacier Suspendu. Bonjour Ray! And Gideon’s helmet came off his backpack near the summit and it slide about 200 metres so we waved good bye as it was too steep to consider retrieving. Bummer!

17 December 2009
Wow! What a day!

We had another cold day with -18C in the village at 8AM, but again if you stayed in the sun it was really quite warm in places. Chris and I ‘skinned’ up to the Glacier Suspendu (Terre Rouge) and had an absolutely stunning decent from top-to-bottom. It was warm enough to ski without a coat and in just a headband, and the snow was wonderful. We skied the big slopes back into the Sache while Thomas and his lovely girlfriend Muriel traversed left and skied down into Les Brevieres on a reconnaissance mission. Andreas had a great morning with the Browne family skiing the Kern, Tour du Charvet, and the Combe du 3300 at the Fornet. The hard-core boys JM and his pal Oli ‘skinned’ 1200 vertical metres (4-hours) with their groups on the Sassiere, and they too had a fabulous day. It clouded over this afternoon and a few flakes were blowing about and another cold day is forecast for tomorrow but whether we have good visibility remains to be seen. Stay tuned and don’t forget to check Jean’s photo link!

Tiger Woods Report- I was lying in bed wondering if after all these years Tiger’s annoying fans will finally stop shouting, “Get in the hole”? After having a laugh with Andreas about it at the Gourmandine Andreas chipped in with, “Tiger had a great round the other day, he had six birdies”!

PS- I forgot that Henry had some students from Meon Cross School in Southampton and showed them a really educational day out. He had the co-operation of the Pisteurs who organised burying a couple of students (with a Pisteur) and watching the dogs search as well as beeper work and snow science. Good one Henry!

16 December 2009
25% off on-line rentals at Jean Sports

I felt cold in bed last night and wasn’t surprised to hear it was -17C in the village this morning. Still, we didn’t need to seek shelter and I went from hat to headband during the first run. I had a bit of a funky morning skiing a very good Kern, followed by a slightly tricky Lavachet, then a nice Super Cocaine, followed by some good bits and pieces on the way home. Chris skied similar runs while Andreas skied off the Borsat and then the Sachette, with Erik, Jackie, and their thirteen-year-old son Fergus. It’s been a good week for youth as we’ve had Justine (12), Luke (15) and Fergus (13), and they’re all good skiers who aren’t afraid of a little walk. Bravo and there are some proud parents out there! Thomas had a good day as well around the Borsat before heading to Tignes and JM and Oli had a big day touring up to the Pointe de la Sana. It makes me tired just thinking about what those hard-core boys have done this week. Well done! More sunshine is forecast for tomorrow but we could really use that snow that the English don’t need.

Jean Sports Report- Jean Sports are giving a 25% reduction on ski rentals when you book on-line. Since many of you need to rent touring gear when you get here save yourself some money and book on-line. You’d be crazy to not take up Didier’s mad offer!

Sports Report- I’m too bummed for a report.

15 December 2009
Come on you Hammers!

Radio Will announced -13C at 8AM in the village but by the time we arrived at the end of the traverse on the Borsat we had stripped down a layer and never really felt the cold. Chris and I skied another brilliant Mont Roup and 12-year-old Justine handled it beautifully. In my group 15-year-old Luke had the pleasure of ‘skinning’ and skiing powder with his 72-year-old grandparents. How cool is that! Gideon started his season in style today and features in Jean R’s photos of the day. Meanwhile JM and Oli skied the Lores via the Cold des Fours, and gave their touring groups a great day out. Andreas also skied the Col des Fours with his lovely wife Tansy, ‘Johnny Alpine’ and his son Robert, and Peter B. It sounds as if the exit at the bottom from the Col des Four is in need of some snow but unfortunately it might be a while coming. Thomas had a very good day as well with a group of Vikings skiing the Face du Charvet before heading back towards Tignes and skiing the Chardonnet. Another cold but sunny day is forecast for tomorrow.

PS. Jamie from Peak Photographics skied with Chris this morning and took some great photos. We’ll have a link soon to Jamie’s site for those of you interested in seeing yourself in action.

Sports Report- It’s a massive match for the Hammers away at Bolton tonight and it’s make or break time for both teams. We often have problems at the Reebok and I’ll be watching nervously at the Pacific, cheering my boys on. Come on you hammers!

PS. After all that it turns out the televised game is Birmingham v Blackburn. I think I’ll go back to my painting.

14 December 2009
Cold and clear and another great day on the mountain

Well, it’s 10:35 and I’ve skied until 4:30, painted until 6:30, then had a fantastic meal at John and Margaret’s with a few glasses of wine, so hopefully you’ll get a somewhat coherent update. It was even colder today with -16C in Val Claret around 10 o’clock this morning, but without any wind it didn’t really feel that cold. We spent all morning and the entire afternoon without needing to go in for any hot chocolate stops, and it was really rather pleasant. Andreas had a big day today as he went up to the Glacier Suspendu (Terre Rouge some call it) for the first time with Oli and JM, and had a fantastic time. It’s a stunning place and with excellent snow he and Tony W had a great time. Bravo boys! Meanwhile, Chris took John F and his son Robert for a lovely Mont Roup while my team were the first into the Sachette this season. I had 12-year-old Justine with me and she did brilliantly well, both skiing and walking. Well done Justine! (She just happens to be the British under-13 fencing champion as well) Her Mum Julie picked up a ‘skier-of-the-morning’ award for some very impressive progress over the past couple of days. Gillian T led the way on the first slope in the Sachette as I stayed behind to coach and Jean has kindly posted a few photos for me. Merci Jean! (Well done to both Mike, Robert and Caroline as well.) More cold weather is forecast without any sign of snow on the horizon, so we’ve switched into walk mode and will make the best of it. Log-on for more news tomorrow. And thanks for the e-mail Pete!

13 December 2009
I forgive you Pete

Fortunately the overcast skies never materialised and we were grateful for a cold but sunny day. It was -12C in the village this morning but without any wind to speak of it was a very pleasant ‘cold’. Chris and I warmed up to test the snow off the Verte and conditions had loosened up since yesterday and we then headed to the Motte via the Borsat. We had a couple of good runs off the Leisse with pockets of powder, strips of creamy snow on a supporting base, and the odd ‘sticky’ turn for good measure. We skied home off-piste on the Genepy, which is still closed and hasn’t been groomed, then finished with a much improved Familial. Andreas helped with the races and said that it was so icy he should have had crampons, while Thomas watched the racing this morning. Oli and JM have moved down to the Chalet Colinn as a base for a week of touring and Oli skied Mont Roup again today but I haven’t heard a report. The forecast is for cold weather all week, and mostly clear skies. (At least the cold will improve some of the tough snow)

Sports Report- Well, it’s tough times for Hammers fans and I must blame my good friend Pete for dragging me into this West Ham thing all those years ago. Anyway, my beloved Steelers are also in melt-down in the NFL and looking fairly sad but at least the Calgary Flames are playing great Ice Hockey. And a nice win for the Gunners tonight, which keeps them in the hunt while seriously questioning Liverpool’s ability to make an impact this season.

PS I was just looking at Jean’s photos for today and we did have some atmospheric cloud drift by on our first run off the Leisse and it was quite spectacular.

12 December 2009
First Sache of the season

It was the coldest night of the winter last night and when I left Chris and Suzanne’s around 9PM it was already -12C. There was some cloud cover first thing this morning with the forecast for thickening cloud giving way to some light snowfalls towards the end of the morning, and that is exactly what happened. We knew the Aiguille Percee sector was opening today so Chris, Andreas and I all headed that way via the Little Lavachet. There is unfortunately still some rain-crust about so we couldn’t ski across the meadows because of it but thankfully the main slopes supported with ten cm’s on top. It wasn’t the easiest snow but it worked and could have been much worse. From there we were the first people into the Sache this season but by then the light was slowly deteriorating , making it a little more difficult. (With the varied snow it helps enormously if you can see well enough to read the snow but we had flattish-light the rest of the morning). The main slope in the Sache was pretty good with a very slight surface crust that you could ski through quite easily, but it needed confidence and commitment. From there we had some slopes of lovely soft snow and others that had a little surface tension, which you couldn’t see coming. Surprise, surprise! Anyway, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds and we did have some good skiing mixed in with some trickier moments. I had Luke, John and Margaret’s grandson and he creamed it. Well done Luke! JM and Olivier finished a very good week with the Ski Club today but I haven’t had a report from them. Hopefully the snow will continue but we aren’t expecting a lot, and hopefully the Hammers can pick up some points in Birmingham today.

11 December 2009
An old faithful comes up trumps

It was wall-to-wall sunshine (as Radio Will would say) and after a cold night it warmed up very quickly, especially on the southern exposures. Oli, JM, Chris and I all headed to Mont Roup and were rewarded with excellent snow top-to-bottom. Mont Roup rarely lets us down, especially when times are tough, and today was no exception. Fiona L skied better and better as the morning went on a picked up a ‘skier-of-the-morning award’. Well done Fiona! Thomas had an afternoon lesson on-piste while Andreas spent his day trying to finish up some of his building projects. JM was skiing with a lady named Yvonne who skied with me 20-plus years ago in my old Top Ski days. It was nice to see her again and I must say JM’s Ski Club group had some really good skiers. There was a World Cup race today but I don’t have a clue who won. In the street there was some good ambience with music and prize giving going on. There are two more races over the next couple of days so tune into Matt C on Ski Sunday and see Val d’Isere in it’s full glory. More of the same is forecast weather-wise but a few key lifts should open tomorrow, which will open up some options for us. Stay tuned.

Sports Report- Sad news for Hammers fans as Dean Ashton has announced his retirement after failing to recover from an ankle injury suffered while training with England. He was going to be a great player and with he and Carlton Cole West Ham would have had a poor-man’s version of Anelka and Drogba. They would have been a hand-full together. Bummer!

10 December 2009
Great tip Olivier and merci Jean Sports

There was some high thin cloud overhead early on this morning but it cleared away quickly giving us another lovely sunny day. Chris and I reverted to an early season trick we used well a couple of seasons ago after Olivier had a little ‘sniff’ around the Aiguille Percee yesterday. That sector is still closed so the only access is by ’skinning’ up and taxiing out. From the Aiguille Rouge chairlift we walked up for about ten minutes then traversed around to ski the Super Cocaine, which was untracked and excellent. We then circled back around and went over the back to ski an equally good Jardini and then continued to ski all the way down to Les Boisse. The snow was very good top-to-bottom apart from a 20 metre patch of stiff stuff, and we all had a beer at the Cordee waiting for our taxi to arrive. Meanwhile JM and Oli headed up to the Fornet and were rewarded with the Signal poma opening around noon. JM skied a fantastic Vallonnet and like the rest of the resort, the best snow was down on the lower sections. The boys had a great day with their Ski Club parties and they have another two days with them. Pietro finished today and heads back home to Italy tomorrow. He had a wonderful time skiing and catching up with friends but we may not see him again this winter. Take care Pietro! More sun is forecast for tomorrow and it’s ‘walkies’ time.

Gastronomic Delights

We enjoyed a stunning evening of lovely wine and outstanding food with the Jean Sport team and their families and our ‘Alpine’ crew at the shop last night. Holly and Mark J and Rob C were along as well and it was a jolly merry affair. Pietro brought some mouth-watering parmesan cheese from Italy while JM and Oli brought superb foie gras and magret de canard along. There was also some lovely bread and pate and Jean produced some splendid wines. Jean isn’t a big drinker but when he has a glass or two it’s always of the highest quality. Every morsel that passed the lips deserved total concentration and I personally was doing a lot of “umm-ing”. Thank-you Jean Sport for a fantastic evening!

PS Don’t forget to check Jean R’s photo gallery on either the ‘Links’ page or the ‘News’ page.

9 December 2009
'Educational' at times but a jolly good ski

The sun was shining and thank goodness as there was some tricky snow here and there this morning. After a warm-up and snow test off the Verte it was evident that last night’s wind had worked the snow and what was easy skiing yesterday was much more demanding today. We all headed to Tignes and I had some interesting skiing off the Motte with a mix of creamy winded snow, which worked nicely with good pivoting and side-slipping skills, and ‘skiers’ snow that you needed to apply yourself in. We left great tracks, which is a tribute to John, Margaret, Stephen, Robert and Jean because it was ‘educational’. Olivier had better luck in the Chardonnet but I’m not too sure where he went from there and skiing all-day as JM and Olivier are with the Ski Club in today’s conditions would be hard work. Bravo boys! Meanwhile Thomas had a group of Vikings, Pietro skied with Maeve and Adrian, Chris skied with Gillian, Susan and Jim, and Andreas took the morning off. After all that it was still a very enjoyable morning and things should improve with another cold night as the rain-crust that formed a couple of days ago is starting to break-up, which will give us a few more options. It’s Chrissy’s birthday today so best wishes and enjoy your meal out tonight! Sunny weather is forecast again for the next few days.

We know many of you are having trouble with an ‘error page’ popping up and apparently it has something to do with having a favourite marked from the old site. Chris is finding out how to get rid of it and I’ll post instructions in the next day or two when he gets the proper procedure from our server. Sorry for the inconvenience and I know how you feel as mine was driving me nuts before Chris sorted it out for me.

Sports Report- I didn’t see the game but I was well pleased for Michael Owen as he scored a hat-trick last night in the Champions League. I’m a fan of Owen and wish him well, and Sir Alex did well picking him up on a ‘free’. I did however see Ronaldo’s wonderful strike for Real last night. One must admit that the self-loving git is a hell of a player.

8 December 2009
What a surprise

It started snowing lightly around 6:30AM and I could hear the wind howling outside my window. My first thought was a potentially tough morning, so much so that I phone Margaret and gave her the option of staying home. Anyway, by the time we arrived at the summit of Bellevarde the sun was breaking through and before too long we had clear sunny skies for the rest of the day. Oli and JM spent an excellent day up at the Fornet, mostly on the Glacier, then finished around Solaise. (They ski all-day with the Ski Club). Andreas, Pietro and I opted for Tignes but never arrived as we spent most of our time around Bellevarde, the Borsat and the Familial. The little snow that did fall made a big difference and covered over yesterday’s wet snow very nicely, and on lee slopes there was 20 to 30cm’s accumulation in places. There was enough snow in places for some decent sized plaques to pop out and one could get in trouble if one tried hard enough. It was another really good morning with the bonus of unexpected sunshine, which always brightens the spirits when flat-light looks likely. Sunshine is forecast again tomorrow with North-Easterly winds up to 40kph.

7 December 2009
Decent visibility but way too warm

Today resembled a powder morning in the middle of April with warm humid snow and +7C at the bottom of the Funival at noon. Still, it was good skiing considering the conditions and we were grateful for decent visibility again today. Oli and JM entertained the Ski Club while Pietro finished skiing with Fiona, who had a wonderful time. Andreas and I ‘sniffed’ around Bellvarde, the Chardonnet and the Familial and it was a pretty good morning of ’April powder’. It was incredibly difficult cutting through the snow to arrive in the Chardonnet as the track we’ve been using was covered over with 30 cm’s of warm snow and I was sweating like a squash player. Horrid! Anyway, snow and colder temperatures are forecast for this evening so we should have better conditions again tomorrow.

PS Jean Ribart starts skiing tomorrow so be ready to log-on to his link for his season’s photo story. And thanks to Peter c and Paul W for dinner last night.

6 December 2009
Another lucky day with the visibility

We had another bonus morning where we were expecting overcast skies and flat light, but the clouds lifted enough to give us good light most of the morning. Pietro headed back to the Fornet to do some ‘skinning’ with Fiona, and I’m sure they had a great ski. Chris, Andreas and I decided on Tignes and had another excellent morning. After some nice snow off the Verte we skied the Campanule, which was good but we needed to traverse all the way across to get fresh snow. Andreas then skied the Chardonnet with great conditions while I headed up to the Motte for the first time this season. The snow at altitude has been lightly ’touched’ by the wind but it was still great skiing. Chris arrived and we skied some lovely snow off-piste on the Genepy piste, although you couldn’t really tell where the piste actually was. We skied a fantastic Familial to finish another great day. It turned very warm this afternoon and I could feel a few drops of rain while walking up to the shop. JM and Oli arrived today and Oli is staying until the 27th and JM until the 3rd of January. JM has some wonderful photos of their trip to Greenland that will wet the appetite of you adventure seekers out there. Warm and wet weather is forecast for tomorrow, with the rain/snow limit around 2000metres.

5 December 2009
And Happy Birthday to you too Tansy

We awoke to clear skies but the forecast was for clouds rolling in quickly with a chance of snow by noon, so we weren’t expecting great visibility. We decided to head up to the Fornet and were rewarded with fantastic snow and just when it looked like the sky was going to darken, the skies cleared and we had sunshine all morning long. So much for the forecast! My team warmed up with one under the Pyramid Chair while waiting for Derek to sort out his lift pass, then we skied four excellent Combe du Signal’s (from the Pyramid Chair), one Combe du Geant on the Glacier, then an very good Arselle where we needed to walk out, followed by good snow off the Verte en-route to the Lower Familial. Andreas skied pretty much the same and he had Tansy along for a birthday ski. I watched her ski a pitch in the Combe du Signal and I must say she’s a beautiful powder skier. Lovely shape to her turns, nice rhythm and quiet feet. Brilliant! Fiona, who was skiing with Pietro has made enormous progress and she skied beautifully this morning. Meanwhile, Chris, Suzanne and John ’skinned’ up on the Glacier and skied a wonderful Pays Desert before ‘skinning’ back out. We were even luckier as it turned out that Tignes had power trouble and much was closed until noon. All in all, it was another top day even though I watched the Hammers get hammered by United, with a United fan. Painful! Thomas is predicting similar weather again tomorrow, which would be nice.

I must apologise to Roddy Finlay for including a six-year out of date phone number for Finlay’s Ski on the website. I sorted it last night and the number is now correct.

Kristina sent us a nice e-mail last night and she is now in Medical School. Good girl! I’m not too sure where she is but the sun rises at 9:20AM and sets at 1:20PM, and as she says, “It’s going to get worse”. (Sounds somewhere North to me.) Anyway, she misses us all, is studying hard, is enjoying it and will come to visit in January. Thanks for your news Kristina.

Crime Report- Peter and Clare C were burgled last night when they were sleeping. Peter had left the door unlocked, which he won’t be doing again and fortunately only Peter’s Airbag was taken and no one was hurt. Peter went to the Police who said that professional thieves worked the town last night and they even had the nerve to break into some apartments full of Army Personel who are here training.

4 December 2009
Happy Birthday Suzanne

I didn’t ski this morning and spent the entire day painting my apartment as I’ve a massive project on the go. Meanwhile Andreas, Chris and Pietro had a fantastic morning as another 15cm’s of light snow fall overnight, and the visibility was better than forecast. Chris headed up to the Fornet for the opening day up there and although the light wasn’t as good, the snow was wonderful. John F said it was the best start he’s ever had and was well impressed by making his first turn of the season in powder. Suzanne skied her first morning as well and what a birthday present! Not too much is open up at the Fornet but more should open with another snowfall or two. Peter and Clare C started their season with equal aplomb with Andreas around Bellevarde, the Borsat and towards Tignes, and they satisfied smiles on their faces when they passed by the shop tonight. Pietro also had a great morning skiing Tignes-way with Fiona and he is here for just over a week, while JM and Oli should be arriving in the next day or two as they have the Ski Club next week. I’m not too sure about tomorrow’s forecast except that it should be around -10C tonight. (Wish me luck as the injury-riddled Hammers take on the Mighty United tomorrow.)

3 December 2009
The Chardonnet as it's best

We were expecting a cloudy day but we awoke to clear skies and Radio Will forecast a deterioration during the morning with snow starting by late afternoon. John, Margaret and I profited with the good light and had a stunning morning. After warming up off Verte we skied a very good Campanule en-route to Tignes. From there we skied a Lower Chardonnet, which was so good we circled around and climbed up to do it from the top. I traversed out skier’s-left to pass over the little Col and access the big steep slope, which was atmospheric with great snow. From there we skied piste en-route to a lovely Familial to finish. Andreas started at 11 o’clock and skied until 3PM as Mark had a business call. I haven’t had a report but I’m sure they had a wonderful time as well, especially with the cloud cover holding back allowing good light most of the day. We’ve been lucky so far as the early-season snow quality as been better than last season, although it was right about now that we had the big dump that set us up for the season. And with similar timing twenty centimetres of snow is forecast tonight!

Gastronomic Report- Chris, Suzanne and I were invited up to John and Margaret’s last night for dinner, and what a meal! Margaret cooked roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with gravy, roast potatoes, pureed carrots, broccoli, and cabbage. Superb! We then had some lovely cheese followed by fruit salad and ice cream. Thank-you Margaret as Chris and I are still talking about how good it was.

2 December 2009
Thirty-five cm's of fresh....

We had a wonderful maximum-turn morning at a very felaxed pace in 35cm’s of stunning snow. I skied with John and Margaret while Andreas entertained Eileen and Mark, and with an empty resort we could take our time and really savour the morning. We started off the Verte before skiing three or four Fontaine Froide’s, followed by the Campanule, Lower Chardonnet, and then the Familial to finish. It was our first ten-out-of-ten session of the season and we had sunshine to start and even though some high cloud drifted overhead the visibility was good all-morning long. We had the pleasure of Pietro’s company for coffee at the Gourmadine this morning and it was nice to see him on such good form. He’s here for eight-days doing some private touring and is really looking forward to it. Snow is forecast again tomorrow, which is fantastic news as we need some more snow, especially at lower altitudes, to protect us from those lurking rocks.

I’m having computer problems at the moment so if there is a delay in responding to your e-mails, sorry but it’s not because of a lack of trying. I’ve decided to paint my entire flat before Millie, Katie and Gill arrive on December 27th, so I’ve loaded up my plate so to speak. What a sucker for punishment!

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