Wayne's Daily Diary Archive

20 June 2007

31 March 2010
Absolutely brilliant!

After a tough but enjoyable outing yesterday we were rewarded with a stunner this morning. Chris and I headed to Tignes as we’d skied the Fornet four-days-in-a-row (besides yesterday) for a change of pace. The plan was to ski the Borsat then bus towards the Sache but that quickly changed after testing the snow. After a good warm-up off the Verte I cut underneath the Borsat chairlift and was surprised at how much snow had accumulated on the lee-side, realising that slopes that would have been avoided like the plague yesterday were loaded up with snow deposited mainly by the wind. After a good Borsat we then skied a lovely Col du Palet before hitting the jack-pot on the Motte, where we skied my shoulder three-times in outstanding snow. The top was slightly compressed but as it became steeper we had a good 30 to 40cm’s of light winter-powder, but the best was yet to come. On the way down from the Motte the steep slopes off the Genepy were even deeper, with 50cm’s that sent snow up into the face with each turn. (I even had my tape-measure out to make sure I wasn’t exaggerating) We then finished off with a ski-able Familial to top off a great morning. Chris had 12-year-old Christian who skied really well, as did Tony, while Richard and Sharon did the business as well. Meanwhile Thomas, Andreas, Henry and Jean Marc all went up to the Fornet and had a fantastic time skiing ‘classics’. Henry started off in the L and between them they skied the Combe du Signal, Grand Vallon. Combe du 3300, Pays Desert and Col Pers. Ray helped me with Millie and Katie this afternoon as we skied in falling snow, which bodes well for tomorrow. It’s snowed all afternoon and we should have enough snow by morning to cover all of today’s tracks giving us another fresh canvas. Stay tuned!

30 March 2010
The most difficult morning of the season!

It was never going to be an easy morning but we made the best of it in pretty tough conditions. The forecast was for Foehn winds of up to 100kph, which ruled out the Fornet, and 30cm’s of snow starting this afternoon. We all headed to Tignes hoping for the best and with flat-light it didn’t make life any easier. As soon as we tested the snow off the Verte it was evident that yesterday’s heat had done some damage and I decided after the Borsat to head upstairs to the Grande Motte in search of some winter snow. Chris and I tried our shoulder off the Leisse, which was winter snow and pretty good, but it was testing navigation-wise as we started off in a cloud and couldn’t see much at all. From there we had a nice 85-turn pitch of soft creamy-type snow on the Rosolin before ‘skinning’ up to the Tour du Balme, which gave us an atmospheric mission for the day. (See Jean’s photo’s) The tongue of the glacier was good winter snow that turned from supporting on top to 20cm’s of fresh snow towards the bottom, followed by a nice winded-shoulder in the gully, then some surprisingly good powder on the big face to finish. Chris skied the Hour-glass Couloir with James B, who was having an initiation to Alpine Experience, and what an experience he had this morning. Well done James as it was probably the most difficult day of the season and you seemed to have really enjoyed the outing! I’m not too sure what the rest of the boys skied but everyone was doing their best prodding around in the flat-light trying to ‘feel’ something soft to ski. Bravo boys and well done to all who participated this morning. Chris carried on this afternoon with Chris and his sons Joe and Sam, and as I write at 3PM it’s snowing hard and the visibility up on the mountain must be zero. Good luck Chris and team! Grey skies are forecast for the morning but the wind should calm down and if we receive 30 centimetres of snow, all will be forgiven.

29 March 2010
More compacted snow but great skiing anyway!

Yesterday’s extravaganza was always going to be a tough act to follow, but we made a pretty good job of it this morning. It warmed up overnight with 0C reported in the village at 8AM, and the question at the Gourmandine was whether to go the Fornet towards the light and stay high or go towards Tignes for a change of scenery. Andreas and Thomas chose Tignes and had excellent skiing in the Borsat, Chardonnet and Sache, while Chris and I headed to the Fornet. We had a good warm-up run off the Laisinant and knew then that the snow wasn’t too damaged by yesterday’s heat or last night’s wind. After a great run on the steep in the Combe du Signal my team skied a very good Combe du 3300 while waiting for the T-Bar to be sorted out, followed by two lovely runs in the Pays Desert before finishing up with the shoulder in the Combe du Signal. Meanwhile, Chris skied the Pays Desert before heading over the Col Pers for an excellent descent to finish his morning. Colin skied his last morning of a superb week and thank goodness his first-day injury wasn’t more serious. Jean Marc went off ‘skinning’ to the Col des Fours and walked up the entire time in the clouds, but was rewarded with the skies clearing in time for his team to enjoy a wonderful ski in the sun. (We all had flattish light until towards the end of the morning) Although the snow today wasn’t as light as yesterday it was still a fantastic morning of skiing. Hopefully the afternoon sun won’t do too much damage as it was forecast to snow this afternoon. Clouds and light snow are forecast for tomorrow morning. Gill is slowly improving and is now able to walk into town and take the kids to school, although she won’t contemplate skiing for awhile yet.

28 March 2010
As good as it gets!

Another 30 cm’s fell overnight on top of yesterday’s fresh snow and with decent visibility we profited from a ‘maximum-turn’ session of the highest quality. We were first just about everywhere we skied and we started with a superb non-stop on Solaise. On the way down the gun-barrel at the bottom we had cheers of encouragement from the chairlift as snow was flying up behind us. Next up was a very good Face du Bellevarde before skiing a fantastic Super L en-route to the Fornet. (Gideon was caught out by the time-change but caught up with us for the Super L) After a good run off the Laisinant Express we skied a great run under the bubbles from the Pyramides before skiing the Combe du Signal on our way to the Pissaillas. We then skied two excellent runs in the Combe du 3300 and finished with a fabulous Combe du Signal. Everyone’s legs were shot by the end as we didn’t stop all morning long and it will be a day long remembered. (Andreas was back after a couple of days off and what a return to action, and Tansy managed to ski as well because of a cancellation, while Thomas and Chris were also in the same sector.) Jean Marc has arrived to do a week’s touring in and around Val d’Isere, as Olivier did last week. It snowed lightly during the afternoon and a little sunshine is forecast for tomorrow morning, which is good really as too much sun ruins the snow rather quickly. Stay tuned!

27 March 2010
Back to winter powder!

Today was the opposite of yesterday as far as the visibility went when we skied in a white-out only to have it clear in the afternoon. This morning the light was more than adequate and Thomas, Chris and I profited with a stunning morning up at the Fornet. Chris and I arrived to find the Signal Poma still closed so we traversed onto the shoulder in the Combe du Signal for a lovely warm-up en-route to the Pissaillas. On the Glacier we had a superb Combe du 3300, and an even better two runs in the Pays Desert. Meanwhile, Thomas had a couple of great runs in the Grand Vallon and Combe du Signal before joining us on the Glacier where he skied a Combe du 3300 and a Pays Desert. All the teams then went over the Col for a fantastic Col Pers and it was wonderful to ski 25 to 30cm’s of winter powder again. It started snowing around 2 o’clock when Ray and I took Millie and Katie for a little ski. Katie was singing, “I’m in the powder and having lots of fun”. Bless her! Anyway, it was a brilliant day, except of course for the dismal West Ham result, and tomorrow is shaping up for another good one!

Thanks very much to Louise at Bonne Sante who has been looking after Gill. At last today she is feeling a bit better, and looking a bit straighter ! She’s a brilliant Physio and runs a great practice so don’t hesitate to contact her if you’re in need.

26 March 2010
Wow! What an adventure!

It was +6C in the village at 8AM again this morning but believe me, it was a winter’s day at altitude! Henry, Chris and I headed to the Fornet to try to take advantage of the falling and blowing snow in that sector over the past twenty-four hours, and we weren’t disappointed. We were rewarded immediately with a nice cushion and a good warm-up ski in the Combe du Signal en-route to the Glacier. The plan was to ski a Pays Desert or two before going over the Col but the T-Bar was having technical problems and closed for the day, so Chris and I decided to go over the Col and ‘skin’ to the Glacier Pers. At this moment in time the visibility was decent and as soon as we passed the Col we knew the skiing would be good as 10 to 15cm’s of fresh snow had already accumulated. But by the time we arrived at the top of the Glacier Pers it had really started to snow, the wind was getting up, we couldn’t see a thing, and we knew it was going to get interesting. The Glacier Pers is a comfortable ski in flat-light because it doesn’t have any nasty surprises, which allows you to relax, let your skis find the fall-line, and really let yourself go. There was at least twenty centimetres to ski and although we were skiing blind it was excellent. Once down off the main pitch we needed to ‘feel’ our way over the hump to ski the next gulley before turning left to find our way back to civilization. We followed the contours and it took us quite some time to arrive back in the Col Pers where we skied some more good turns before climbing up to the Grand Torsai. From there down we found lovely gullies of soft snow and skied to the bottom without really feeling the hard frozen base. It was a fantastic ‘travelling-safely-in-the-mountains’ adventure with great teamwork as well as a cracking good ski, and we finally arrived at the Fornet Cable Car a 1:40 with some hungry skiers. It was a wonderful finale for Joy and Al, as well as Gerald, who has just completed his first off-piste week at 71-years-of-age. Bravo Gerald! Henry also had a great morning skiing the Combe du Giant before heading over the Col Pers, and I haven‘t heard what else Henry skied. Unfortunately the sun came out about 2:15 and many slopes will have taken some heat as well as being heavily skied, but a fresh canvas is awaiting!

Sports Report- After losing our last ‘must-win’ game, tomorrow’s must-win game against Stoke has become one of the most important games in the Hammers recent history. Come on boys!

Jean’s Link- For those of you who don’t know about Jean’s daily photos you can find them by clicking on the Links page, then to Jean Ribart’s Photos, then to the month in question. The latest photos are at the bottom of the page.

25 March 2010
Not the easiest morning!

When Radio Val announced +6C at 7:30AM in the village and the skies were overcast, my first thoughts were of the toughest morning of the season. It wasn’t the easiest ski of the season but we did get in some good skiing with Jean capturing the morning very well with his photos. We had a nice run in the Jardin du Borsat (north-side) before skiing a good clean shoulder on the edge of the Borsat. From there we headed upstairs and had about 25-turns on the Rosolin before the snow ‘turned’ and became ‘educational’, so we then traversed out and ‘skinned’ up to the Tour du Balme. The wind was blowing a gale for Gerald’s first-ever ‘skin’ and the skins were flapping about in the breeze and the odd bit of plastic mesh went missing in the gusts. Anyway, we skied down the tongue of the glacier before working our way onto the big face of the Balme, which was in pretty good condition. From there we skied the bowl off the Fresse then skied piste home for a 12:30 finish. Joy said, “Thanks for a great morning”, which was nice as conditions were tough but it was still enjoyable. Andreas was skiing similar runs to me and Chris ‘skinned’ to the Little Borsat West, while Thomas probably had the best of the morning’s conditions in the Sachette. There were some appreciated moments of brightness and sunshine up to around 11 o’clock before it turned grey for the rest of the morning, and although it was incredibly windy in places all the lifts remained open. It cheered up this afternoon for Joe, Brian, and David’s technique session and late this afternoon it looked as if a few flakes may have been falling up at the Fornet. Hopefully we’ll get enough snow over the weekend to make a difference.

PS. Colin made a recovery although he skied through pain today. Vince Lombardi (legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers who once said, “There’s a difference between pain and injury) would have been proud of you. Hope you’re feeling better tomorrow Colin!

24 March 2010
Following the sun!

It looked to be a sunny start but the Foehn started to blow and the clouds began to roll in from the Fornet by the time we left the Gourmandine. We all headed towards the sun and skied some nice spring snow off the Fresse while waiting for Tommeuses to open, followed by the Little Lavachet. From there we skied an excellent Sachette with a few soft-snow turns up top before turning to lovely spring snow all the way to the bottom. The clouds finally blocked out our sun around noon on the way up from Les Boisses but we finished with a very good Familial to top off a great morning. I had a few mishaps during our outing with Gerald taking out Jean on a nice spring pitch early on, then Joy noodled herself and smacked her head and lost her water bottle, which flew out of her backpack and slid away forever, then Jean crashed on the piste, and to top it off Colin hurt his knee and ankle about 100 metres from Les Tufs. I said, “Never congratulate yourself while you’re still in motion”, and he replied, “I wasn’t, I was thinking about sex!”. Then he said, “At least I didn’t break my cock!”. Hopefully he’ll be able to ski tomorrow as it was a nasty looking fall. Meanwhile Thomas had a good outing ‘skinning’ up towards the Crete du Genepy and Henry was heading towards the Col des Fours and Lores. Hopefully the clouds didn’t spoil Henry’s day as it was pretty socked-in around that sector. I skied with Millie and Katie this afternoon as Gill rested and that’s about it for today. I won’t mention the Hammers and the weather for tomorrow doesn’t look great either. Stay tuned!

23 March 2010
Hot, hot, hot!

We had a slightly better re-freeze last night, which opened up some options but many slopes are still in transition somewhere between powder and spring. Chris and Thomas ‘skinned’ up to the Glacier Pers for some nice powder up top before needing to change angles for supporting snow towards the bottom. Good result boys! Andreas and I went straight over the Col Pers and skied some powder on the first long pitch before needing to head to the sunny-side in search of spring. (I exited via my funky route above the gorge for the ambience and Chris followed suit at the end of his morning) Andreas and I had planned on skiing the Vallonnet next but the bottom looked pretty unpleasant so we changed our minds. Andreas went back up to the Pissaillas to ski the Pays Desert way-out wide and ‘skinned’ out while I headed to Bellevarde to ski the Familial and Spatule. Unfortunately Gill has hurt her back and has been house-bound the past few days and hasn’t been able to do anything let alone ski. She now has some drugs and will continue to rest for a couple more days at the very least. Thanks to Joy and Al for taking the girls home for tea tonight so Gill can rest. Another sunny day is forecast for tomorrow but the weather is changing and we should get some more snow by Friday.

Sports Report- It is a massive night for the Hammers tonight as we take on Wolves at home, in a must win game. We then have Stoke at home on Saturday and a minimum of four-points is needed to ease the pressure. Losing really isn’t an option!

22 March 2010
Madness on the Banane!

There was a light re-freeze overnight, which set-up the support layer nicely allowing us a cracking good ski this morning. The visibility was excellent all morning long, which made the difference and we could ski at a pretty good pace. We all headed to the Fornet as it was necessary to remain at altitude and skied the Combe du 3300 and a couple in the Pays Desert before finishing with a very good Grand Vallon. It was nice to have Thomas back after a week’s holiday with his girlfriend Muriel. Muriel had a bad case of frost-bite and hasn’t skied for a month and may well miss the rest of the season. She was getting cabin-fever sitting around while Thomas skied everyday so he took her to the south of France for a break. Bravo Thomas! Olivier showed up at the Gourmandine this morning and he’s heading off to make home at the Refuge des Fours for the next few nights. Good luck Oli with a few good cold nights! I had a new client Gerald this morning, and at 71-years-of-age Gerald can really ski. Well done Gerald! Gill and I watched Katie’s cross-country skiing up at the Manchet this afternoon and witnessed five avalanches. We walked down from Le Chatalard and one came down directly above us and after watching it for a few seconds we decided to move just in case. It didn’t reach the road but for a moment or two we weren’t too sure. There was an Italian lady behind us who was clapping her hands with glee as she’d never seen an avalanche before and we well impressed. We also watched in astonishment as three idiots skied the Banane at 2:30. About 15-minutes later a good piece of the Banane dropped off not too far from were they were skiing. Incredible really! A slightly colder night is forecast with a couple of sunny days ahead. Hopefully it will start to freeze properly sooner than later as quite a few spring slopes are dropping off the mountain, taking away spring snow options later in the season. (It’s also a pain when you need to traverse across avalanche debris) Cross your fingers for some cold nights and stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

21 March 2010
Stinker? Not a chance!

It was raining fairly hard in the village this morning but credit to all our clients, everyone showed up ready to go and hoping for the best. Chris and I were the only ones in action again today and we headed to the Pissaillas Glacier via the bus, cable-car and bubbles to avoid getting wet. We arrived to 10 to 15cm’s of fresh snow with decent visibility and started with three runs of 65-turns off the T-Bar before cutting a track into the Pays Desert. The light was very flat heading in and we needed to feel our way down until we cut through the little passage in the rocks and from there down the visibility was much improved. After a second trip in the Pays Desert my team made our way down for a 12:30 finish while Chris went up for another run on the T-Bar. All in all it was an excellent morning, especially when it all started out so bleak. Olivier has arrived in town after cancelling his Haute Route trip because of dangerous conditions and will tour around here instead. It will be nice to see him as we haven’t had his company since Christmas. It may cheer up a little weather-wise for tomorrow but we could use a cold night to help stabilise the snow pack. (No photos today as Jean had the morning off)

PS I forgot to mention the Jonathan left today after one of his best ski holidays ever. He stopped by Joy and Al’s to say goodbye this morning singing, “The rain in Val falls mainly on Joy and Al”. Al was pleased to get the last laugh with an excellent morning skiing fresh snow!

Sports Report- Well, no miracle for the Hammers, especially after missing the penalty. Jean R will have enjoyed his Rugby-feast yesterday and the French, Scots, and Welsh will all have been celebrating. It was a great finish to the Six Nations for the Scots who were low after losing to Italy but came back to draw with England and beat the Irish. Well done TJ and Ian!

20 March 2010
Brilliant until noon!

Our wonderful run of beautiful weather finally came to an end today. We awoke to grey skies and drizzle but there was a few centimetres upstairs and pretty decent light as the sun popped in-and-out during the morning and we enjoyed a really good ski. Chris and I were the only ones on the mountain today and knowing that yesterday’s terrain would work well again today, we headed to the Motte via another good Borsat. From the top of the glacier we worked our way down to the Rosolin where we had a 100-plus-turn shot before ‘skinning’ out to the Tour du Balme. The steep pitch on the tongue of the Glacier was excellent, as was the Combe leading to the big face, and the big slope was even better. From there we returned to the top and had another good ski across the Glacier to the ‘Wall’, which was also good, but from there the snow became really sticky forcing us to cut back to the piste and skied piste back home. Ironically it was the sunshine hitting the fresh snow that spoilt our ski but iOur wonderful run of beautiful weather came to an end today. We awoke to grey skies and drizzle but there was a few centimetres upstairs and pretty decent light as the sun popped in-and-out during the morning and we enjoyed a really good ski. Chris and I were the only ones on the mountain today and knowing that yesterday’s terrain would work well again today, we headed to the Motte via another good Borsat. From the top of the glacier we worked our way down to the Rosolin where we had a 100-plus-turn shot before ‘skinning’ out to the Tour du Balme. The steep pitch on the tongue of the Glacier was excellent, as was the Combe leading to the big face, and the big slope was even better. From there we returned to the top and had another good ski across the Glacier to the ‘Wall’, which was also good, but from there the snow became really sticky forcing us to cut back to the piste and skied piste back home. It was great skiing until about noon so we felt we’d made the best of the day, which wasn’t looking too inspiring at the Gourmandine. More rain and snow is forecast for tomorrow so stay tuned as a fresh canvas is on the cards! (I’m hoping for a miracle against the Gunners tonight, as are all Chelsea and Man U fans!)

PS. Bye to Phil who had a great six days.

19 March 2010
Wow! The best non-powder day in ages!

There was early morning cloud cover that quickly disappeared giving us another gorgeous day. The forecast was for maximum temperatures of 10C at 2000m’s, and it didn’t take long to feel the effects of the warmest day of the season. Chris and I headed towards the Motte via a very good Borsat, and already we could sense that the warmth was giving the snow a lovely ‘feel’. We went upstairs on the cable-car and had a great run skiers-right down to the Leisse and eye-balled the newly formed couloirs at the end of the Glacier, which looked incredibly inviting. I went back up to think about it (as we’ve never skied there before) and when Chris arrived he dove straight in to find fantastic ambience and snow quality. (I came back around for a second run up top then skied the couloir as well.) The snow supported because it was wind-compressed but with the heat of the sun it felt like perfect spring snow. We had a short ‘skin’ out and will definitely pass that way again one day! We then skied some nice soft snow across the Glacier en-route to the ’Wall’, which has become a bit of a forgotten place. The entrance was easy enough and the ski down and into the Combe des Lanches was brilliant. Steep and smooth with a perfect texture that you could really relax and attack in, if so inclined. The steep pitch in the Familial was a great finish and I thought it was an outstanding outing and one of the best non-powder days I can remember in a long time. Andreas had a wonderful day as well with his Viking Team as they skied Lorenzo’s Couloir, the Sache, the Balme, and then the Familial to finish. Rain is forecast for tomorrow but the rain/snow limit is around 2000m’s, which means we should be in for a long-awaited fresh canvas. ( Although I’d take another sunny day and similar ski today as it was stunning)

Penny and I went down the valley to visit Clive, who looks well, is in good spirits, but is really looking forward to going home. Hopefully he’ll be on his way tomorrow. Good luck Clive!

I forgot to mention the accident at the dreadful Folie Douce where a huge speaker fell off its perch and landed on top of a party-person down below. The injured person needed to be helicopter away and was intensive care for a few days. In another accident, the skier injured on the Bellecote last week fractured their skull and five vertebrae. She is a British physic and apparently it was her first time off-piste. I’ll keep you posted if I hear anymore news on those accidents.

18 March 2010
A Pays Desert with a difference!

The day looked a little gloomy around 7:15PM but it slowly cleared giving us another lovely day with great visibility. Andreas had a couple of new Vikings who wanted to go for a walk so he headed up to the Col des Barmes de l’Ours for another excellent ski. Well done as it’s a good old hike up there! Meanwhile, Chris and I headed to the Pissaillas via the Combe du Signal and had a fantastic Pays Desert from the ridge near the Ouille Noire. I’d never been to that exact spot before so we ’skinned’ to the summit to admire the views before skiing down. We had some soft snow to lay tracks in up high, with nice creamy snow and some spring snow over the ‘flats’ followed by deep goblet at the bottom. The powder near the bottom was trickier today because the support layer is starting to break up. Instead of skiing in 20cm’s on a smooth base the support layer is giving way and if you pressure the snow too abruptly you drop into the deep goblet underneath. The support layer had changed drastically over the past four days from the last time we skied the same slope. Then you could feel your tails breaking the support at the end of the turn but today it was much more exaggerated and you could end up in up to your knees if you were rough. It just shows how dangerous some of the big slopes are now, such as the lower Lavachet, which has been rotten goblet all season long, and in such places the 2/5 avalanche risk is deceptively low. Anyway, I finished with a Grand Vallon to show the team where Millie skied yesterday, and Phil said, “You must have been one proud Daddy”, which of course I was. The Grand Vallon is pisted-by-ski but the snow quality is fantastic with some nice smooth steep slopes, and with the sun on it it’s great skiing. The weather is changing but hopefully we’ll get another sunny morning before the clouds roll in tomorrow afternoon, which should bring rain in the village and some snow further up. (Anything falling out of the sky will be welcome so bring it on as they say)

I spoke with Clive who really appreciated Jean R and David and Chrissy’s visits. He’s resting well and says it hurts much less than he was expecting, so Clive is pleased about that. He may be flown back to England tomorrow, but if not I’m going down to see him in the afternoon. He’s very much aware of everyone’s concerns about him and is impressed with the ’Alpine’ community. I’ll keep you posted.

17 March 2010
Well done Millie!

Considering it hasn’t snowed in ages and with all the wind we’ve endured the skiing is amazingly good. There is a good mix of very pleasant soufflé doux, soufflé dur, supporting snow with a few centimetres on top, the odd pitch to lay proper tracks in, and with each passing day a little more spring snow. Today Chris and I skied the Borsat en-route to an impressively steep and atmospheric run of soufflé doux on the big face of the Balme. From there we bussed around to ski a lovely Sachette with some pitches of soft snow and spring snow towards the bottom followed by a very nice steep pitch entering the Familial. Gill and I had a great afternoon skiing off-piste with Millie this afternoon. We strapped a ‘beep’ onto her and skied the Super L, a shot off the Laisinant, the Grand Vallon, and then the Pays Desert. Bravo Millie as the Grand Vallon skiers-right was especially impressive! Jean R went down to see Clive this afternoon and David and Chrissy are going down tomorrow to visit on their way home. Another sunny day is forecast for tomorrow and after debating whether we should leave the resort or not, we’ve decided to stay in town. Stay tuned!

16 March 2010
And the beat goes on!

The sunshine continues, although for about twenty-minutes this morning it looked as if it might cloud over but it quickly cleared again, much to everyone’s delight. Chris took his team to the Sachette and enjoyed a nice mix of winter snow with some spring snow lower down followed by a good Familial to finish. Andreas ‘skinned’ up towards the Col des Barmes de l’ Ours with Peter and Clare C on their last morning, along with a couple of Norwegians. (Thomas and Andreas have done really well drumming up new business with the Scandinavians, well done boys!) Anyway, I thought I saw their tracks, which means they had a good ski down. Meanwhile, my team ’skinned’ up to the Crete du Genepy and we had a good mix of soft snow with a couple of spring snow pitches lower down. We then had some nice soufflé in the Super L and the shoulder front-side on the Borsat leading into some nice powder turns in the bowl off the Fresse. We then finished up with an excellent steep pitch under the chair into the Familial. The team have done a great job mixing it up and finding fantastic skiing considering the state of the resort. Bravo boys! I should know better than to congratulate ourselves while we’re still in motion but I do have confidence in the team. We have another few days to go before we get any relief falling from the sky, and even then very little is forecast over the weekend.

Clive had his operation this morning and Mark said that it went well. I’ve tried to get in touch with Clive this afternoon but could only leave a message.

PS. I forgot to mention that another skier fell into the gorge a couple of days ago but fortunately they were rescued without serious injury.

15 March 2010
A great trip to Bonneval and some training in the steep!

There was some unexpected cloud cover this morning but fortunately by 9:30-or-so it had burnt off leaving us another beautiful day. It was colder today as well and many of us were caught out having dropped a layer or two. Andreas’ team took a trip to Bonneval and had a great day out. They had some powder up top followed by spring snow towards the bottom, then a few powder turns in Bonneval after lunch. The pilot was nervous about some unexpected cloud cover moving in during the afternoon so Andreas’ team needed to fly home early but it didn’t dampen an excellent outing. Well done! Meanwhile, back in the resort Chris’ team had a lovely outing ‘skinning’ to the Crete du Genepy for some smooth spring-like support with a few centimetres on top followed by a short ‘skin’ towards Mont Roup to ski some powder on the northern-side. Good result JC! I went for a change of scenery and started with some nice soft snow on the front-side of the Borsat off the traverse, then back-tracked towards the Grande Motte. From the Motte we had a nice ski across the Rosolin before ’skinning’ up for a tour du Balme. The big face on the Balme has firmed up nicely and is excellent training for skiing the steep. I gave the couloirs a miss because of the ‘whipper’ factor as the couloirs have some rocks in the fall-line and falling could be disastrous. From there we had a few powder turns in the bowl off the Fresse followed by some more steep training under the lift in the Familial. More sunshine is forecast for tomorrow and we’re still finding good skiing. And a big Happy Birthday to David R!

Clive just phoned to say he’s in good spirits before his operation in Chambery tomorrow morning. (He was moved during the night from Bourg) He has a vertical fracture and needs three screws, and will need to be non-weight bearing for three-months, which as you can imagine he is not looking forward to. Clive will be in Chambery until at least the weekend, and I’ll keep you posted.

14 March 2010
Fun in the sun!

The high-pressure system seems pretty well installed as we enjoyed another stunning sunny day. As it hasn’t snowed for awhile our options are getting more and more limited with each passing day but the team has responded and we’ve found the best skiing available during this ‘dry’ patch. Andreas and Chris went travelling today with Andreas skiing the Tour de Tarentaise while Chris went for a cruise to Italy for a lovely pasta lunch with Arlette, Francis, Ian and Fiona. The ‘Tour’ was a return for Clare Campbell who had a nightmare ski there 16-years ago but she had a great day out this time around. Andreas reported that a guided group had an accident on the Bellecote where someone went for a ‘whipper’ and either hit some rocks or went over a cliff, and needed to be evacuated by helicopter. The Bellecote is a scary place when the snow is firm, whether it be wind-blown or spring snow, and there are many places where staying on your feet is imperative. Anyway, Andreas’ team had a good and safe day out. Back in town my team had an excellent ski on the Crete du Genepy. We ‘skinned’ up for about 30-minutes then skied two nice pitches skiers-left of the ridge. The snow was between 3 to 5cm’s on a smooth base so it was pleasant skiing, almost spring-like. We then put our skins back on and climbed up again for 15-minutes before skiing skiers-right of the ridge where we had good snow all the way to the bottom. To finish we skied some smooth chalky soufflé in the Super L before cruising the L at fairly high speed. This afternoon Katie skied her first Familial with Millie and her friend Anna. She loved it and is doing really well for such a little person. Millie asked me in the middle of the Familial if I knew where I was, not knowing of course that I‘ve probably skied it a thousand times over the years. Anyway, she seemed quite relieved to find out I knew the way down! I then skied until 5:15 with Millie, Anna and Kiera after Gill skied Katie home. Clive missed the trip to Italy because he fell on the icy pavement yesterday and hurt himself quite badly. We’ve tried to find out how he is but there is no answer at his place, and I’m hoping that means he’s at the Blue Note having a drink with his son Mark. I’ll keep you posted when we get some news on Clive’s condition. Sun is still forecast for the next few days with the chance of snow nearer the weekend. Stay tuned!

PS I’ve just had a call from David R who reports that Clive is in the Bourg hospital with a fractured neck-of-femur and is awaiting surgery. Clive fell outside his apartment on the lethal icy pavements and crawled home, which took him quite some time. It’s a sad, sad situation for a much loved ‘Alpine’ faithful. We all wish him well and a full and speedy recovery.

I’m personally disgusted with the state of the pavements in this town and Clive isn’t the only one to suffer serious injury. Guy’s wife Christine broke her hip a couple of seasons ago and needed a hip replacement and people hurt themselves here on a regular basis. There are links to the Office of Tourism and the STVI on the ‘News’ page of the website if you’d like to voice your concerns.(It makes the ‘dog-shit’ situation, which is also foul, look rather insignificant.)

13 March 2010
Another excellent Pays Desert!

Yesterday was so good I had no doubt about where I wanted to ski today. We returned to the Fornet and hiked back up to the top of the Pays Desert for another excellent run with stunning scenery and ambience. My team cut further left than yesterday and we had clean and great snow top-to-bottom. (Thanks for the photos Jean!) Andreas also skied the Pays Desert before we both skied a good Tour de Lechoir. Meanwhile Chris opted for a ‘skin’ up the Glacier Pers with his team. It was another beautiful day and Gill, Millie, Katie and I made the most of the wonderful conditions this afternoon. Millie is flying now and it’s great fun to roar around the pistes with her. Ian N finished his week this morning and he’ll be especially pleased with the rugby result at England’s expense. Speaking of sports, I allowed myself a glimmer of hope with the half-time score being 1-1, but Chelsea took the Hammers apart in the second-half. No surprise there really! Another sunny day is on the cards for tomorrow and for most of next week as well, with a chance of some snow next Friday.

12 March 2010
A fabulous morning at the Fornet!

It was another stunning day with brilliant sunshine, warm temperatures, no wind to speak of, and great skiing! Chris and I headed up to the Fornet and had a wonderful morning. My team started with a nice shoulder of soufflé doux in the Combe du Signal before joining Chris for a fantastic Pays Desert. We hiked up to start from as high as possible and both teams left perfect ‘Alpine’ tracks side-by-side in 20+cm’s of perfect powder. From there we stayed way out left for some more soufflé before ‘skinning’ up for ten-minutes to access the big slopes at the bottom, which were lovely powder snow. After ’skinning’ out my team finished with a good Vallonnet to round off a top morning. Andreas was back in action after two-days off and he had great skiing as well ski in Tignes with his team of Vikings. As far as I know they skied Mickey’s Ears, followed by the Balme, the Cocaine Nord, and the Familial to finish. Thomas was off and Henry has a week of privates, while JM and Olivier will be finishing up two excellent weeks in Norway. I had a good old fashion technique lesson with Joy, Al and Alex S this afternoon, and conditions were perfect with sun, well groomed pistes and very few people about. It was nice to be out enjoying the sunshine instead of hiding indoors from the cold and vicious winds of a few days back. More sunshine is forecast for the weekend and although some fresh snow would be welcome, no one is going to complain about another beautiful day or two.

PS Thanks Chris for taking Gill this morning.

11 March 2010
Wow! What a lovely day and great ski!

Hallelujah! The sun was out in full force and we savoured a warm beautiful day with clear blue skies. The wind had also died right down to a very gentle breeze and after the last few days everyone’s spirits were soaring. Chris, Thomas and I decided on a little walk and headed for Mont Roup. The ski down from the Borsat was lovely with some nice creamy snow and it was a relatively easy ‘skin’ of about 35-minutes. The snow is starting to turn but we played with the expositions and managed some excellent powder of about 20cm’s for the top two-thirds. From there we skied strips of soufflé doux for a cracking good result. Chris and I then skied the Arcelle on supporting snow with a few centimetres on top and my team followed that up by skiing similar snow in the Marmottes where we skied the big slopes down through the couloirs, while Chris, Tejina and Suzanne came around the other way from the Marmottons. (Not too sure how Thomas finished his morning.) Although there is very little deep-ish snow about the skiing has been very good. The supporting winded snow with a few centimetres on top has been similar to spring skiing, where you can ski fairly quickly on the gentle slopes as well as take on some impressive slopes. All very enjoyable. Catherine skied very well today and Emmett finished off an excellent 6-days. (Both are here on a Medical Conference and I can vouch for both of them, honest!) It looks as though we should have some sun again tomorrow and that would be a welcome start to the day! Stay tuned!

PS Great photos today, thanks Jean!

10 March 2010
Not nearly so nasty!

The wind wasn’t nearly so nasty this morning and with only -4C compared to yesterday’s -11C in front of the Tourist Office at 8AM, we almost felt warm! Just when it looked as if we’d have another flat-light day the ‘light bulb’ appeared and we were thankful for pretty good visibility during most of the morning. Chris, Thomas and I started on the Face du Charvet for the ambience and the hope of some soft snow on the lee-side and the top section was pretty good, but I must admit the bottom sucked! From there Chris and I skied a really good Borsat from the middle entrance while Thomas skied the Kern before joining us in Tignes. I followed Chris’s route in the Col du Palet as he ‘sniffed’ out the only good route to be found. Well done JC! From there Chris skied the big face of the Balme while my team skied the Hourglass Couloir before skiing a funky route in the Familial to finish. Thomas ended up in the Palet and Balme as well and we all had another good morning in difficult conditions. Andreas cancelled his morning due to sore feet and went straight to Jean Sports to get his boots sorted. Hopefully he’ll be feeling more comfortable tomorrow after Jean has had a go at relieving the pressure points. Thomas’ girlfriend Muriel has missed the last two-weeks because of a bad case of frost-bite on her feet and we hope she’s feeling better soon. I skied with Millie and Katie until around 4:45 as the pistes were fantastic and relatively empty, so we took advantage of a lovely (comparatively) afternoon. We received only a dusting of snow last night but it did help and another couple of centimetres fell during the day today, but no snow is forecast for the night ahead. Stay tuned!

9 March 2010
A testing but satisfying morning!

Fortunately the sun was shining again this morning, but Radio Val announced -11C at 8AM with gusting southerly winds of up to 80kph, and as you can imagine it was bloody cold! The reasonable thing to do was to stay low and as sheltered as possible so Thomas and I skied the Borsat then headed towards the Sachette via the bus. We were protected most of the time (especially in the bus) but the wind had managed to damage a few slopes. Still, we had some good powder up top before needing some supporting soufflé, then we had another lovely powder shot before a little ten-minute ‘skin’ accessed another nice slope. We realised how windy it really was on the way back to Les Tufs when it blew in our face all the way home. Chris ‘skinned’ to Mont Roup with Tejina but I haven’t had a report while Andreas’ plans altered after the Tommeuses Chairlift broke down. I’m not too sure what he skied although the last I heard he was heading towards the Sachette with his team of Vikings. Joy and Al are back, along with Clive, Jonathan S, Alex S, Catherine, Emmett , Fiona and Ian, and Ian N. (Sorry if I missed someone) It clouded over by around 1:30PM and as I write at 2 o’clock it looks as if it might start to snow soon. Fingers crossed although only a few centimetres are forecast.

PS Jean Ribart is back after his injury and so are his photos on the links page. Log-on and have a look.

8 March 2010
Toughest conditions of the season but no 'stinker'!

We had a stunning day with no wind, clear blue skies and sunshine that had some warmth in it, and with the weather we’ve endured over the past few days it was very much appreciated. After spending several days in a row in Tignes, Thomas, Chris, Andreas and I decided on heading up to the Fornet for a change of scenery and the hope that there would be some soft snow in the gullies. At the top of the Laisinant Express the landscape looked lunar and we gave the Pyramides and Signal a miss and took the bubbles directly to the Pissaillas hoping for better conditions. Upstairs it looked slightly better but we knew then we wouldn’t be skiing powder snow for the first-time all season. We traversed out into the Pays Desert and the snow was much better than it looked as we skied strips of soufflé doux, which were quite pleasant. From there we went over the Col Pers and again skied nice strips of supporting snow and I skied my funky exit run above the gorge for ambience. Andreas and I then skied similar snow in the Vallonnet to finish. Chris ’skinned’ up to the Pointe Pers for the first time this season, and as you know the Pointe Pers is always atmospheric. Although we didn’t ski powder this morning, I enjoyed it and thought it was a pretty good ski with interesting slopes, great ambience and no people to speak of. Jean R will be back in action tomorrow as will Joy and Al, who haven’t skied for three seasons. Hopefully we’ll get another day of sunshine as no snow is forecast overnight.

PS Don’t worry, the only reason that we didn’t ski some form of powder is that we changed sectors because I’m a optimistic git and we needed a change of pace. We’ll be back to softer snow tomorrow.

7 March 2010
It was bitter by the end of the morning!

It was another windy day that was bloody cold by the end of the morning! The wind was coming from the Fornet plus it was murky up that way so Thomas, Chris, Andreas and I all headed towards Tignes. After the Borsat I decided to migrate towards the sun and bussed around to the Palafour. From there my team skied an excellent Cocaine Nord, followed by a lovely Sachette. Chris and Thomas also passed through the Sachette and we spent most of the morning in the sun and somewhat protected from the wind. Andreas skied the Balme and Mickey’s Ears before swinging back to ski the Cocaine Nord. The end of the morning turned very cold as it was into the wind all the way back to La Daille and the Aeroski was closed making our journey even longer. Although it was another good morning everyone was pleased about arriving at Les Tufs at the end of the morning. After warming up I spent an hour this afternoon with Millie and Katie at the climbing wall, which was a relief as I thought I might be in for a swim, which after the morning wasn’t appealing in the least. The wind is forecast to die down overnight with some sunshine tomorrow morning. That would be nice!

6 March 2010
Overcast and cold, but another good ski!

At 6:30AM this morning it looked as if we were in for a beautiful sunny day but by ‘show-time’ the sky had become overcast. Still, we had enough visibility for a cracking good morning even with -15C in town a 8AM. Henry skied with Jonathan and Neil who took the overnight train, skied all day, watched the Fulham match at the Pacific, then taxied down to Bourg for the train home. Wow, fabulous effort boys! Andreas also has a cast of characters including Jerry, Jeremy and Ginger (Ginger‘s a bloke) and they skied the Borsat, Chardonnet, Sache and Cocaine Sud. Well done boys! My team skied the Altiport/Lavachet, Sachette and then the Familial while Chris was on-piste with Tejina and Claire. I skied this afternoon with the girls and tonight we had a great evening at the Perdrix for their friend Anna’s 5th birthday. They had a wonderful time, which help make up for the Hammer’s poor performance against Bolton. Hopefully it won’t cost Zola his job! Not sure about the weather tomorrow so we’ll wait and deal with whatever comes our way. A demain!

5 March 2010
Winter returned with cold temperatures and chilling wind!

The forecasted clear blue skies didn’t arrive first thing this morning and we started off in atmospheric clouds but banking on the visibility improving as the morning went on. Chris, TJ and I headed towards the Motte via the Borsat and had a good ski into Tignes. TJ then went up the cable-car to the top while Chris and I had a good run on the Leisse shoulder before we all passed our various ways through the Cairn. TJ and Chris then bussed around to ski an fantastic Sachette while I decided to stay put and skied a lovely Col du Palet, followed by the big slopes on the Balme before finishing with a Familial. Meanwhile Andreas’ team including a couple of interesting Norwegian characters, braved the elements and ‘skinned’ up to the Col des Fours for an excellent ski. Skoal! It was the coldest morning we’ve had for awhile and a few people had a touch of frostbite just when it was starting to feel as if spring was just around the corner. Happy Birthday to Vicky, who skied with TJ this week and me this afternoon. Speaking of TJ, he’s busy making the rounds saying goodbye as he’s off tomorrow morning. TJ’s had a great time and has skied really well, and we all look forward to his return sometime next winter. He promises to get organised early and let me know his dates. Also au revoir until next February to Tony who’s had a great two-weeks. Hopefully we’ll get some decent visibility tomorrow morning before it clouds over again, but as least it shouldn’t be quite so cold. Come on you Hammers!

4 March 2010
A good day at the Fornet after yesterday's wind!

We all headed up to the Fornet for a change of scenery, the better light, and towards yesterday’s storm hoping for a few extra centimetres of fresh snow. I started off in the Combe du Signal, which was pretty good before traversing over to the shoulder where we had some supporting soufflé doux followed by some softer snow to leave tracks in. From there we had an excellent run in 10cm’s from towards the top of the Pays Desert into the Combe du 3300. We then went over the Col with TJ’s team for a wind-compressed Col Pers then my team finished off with the Grand Vallon, which was better than expected with some nice strips of soft snow and some good ‘skiers’ snow. We skied a shoulder above the Cabin, which was about two-metres wide, and Moira showed her strength and technique with some lovely short-turns that were very impressive to watch. Bravo Moira! Andreas’ team skied the Col Pers, Vallonnet, and Grand Vallon and we haven’t seen much of Thomas as he’s been on a private all-week. Chris returns tonight and is working again tomorrow morning as TJ will be finishing his 4-week stay. We did have the best of the visibility this morning and it started to snow lightly this afternoon and hopefully it will continue before the forecasted sunshine and blue skies hopefully arrive for the morning. Fingers crossed!

3 March 2010
Still another potential 'stinker' avoided!

It was overcast, windy, and fairly uninspiring, but we avoided the potential ‘stinker’ with a pretty good morning. Andreas and I opened up with the Borsat, which wasn’t as soft as yesterday but still supported and was a decent ski. From there we bussed around to the Palafour where we met TJ, and we all headed to the Sachette for some very satisfying snow that had been protected from the wind. I then ‘skinned’ for ten-minutes to get another pitch of lovely snow and it was Martin N’s first time with ‘skins’. He’s been a pleasure to have along this week and I’ve also had Graeme, his brother Andy and Andy’s wife Moira, who is a bit good really. I asked Andy if she raced as a kid and he just replied, “British Team”. We finished with the Familial and pushed out against the wind blowing down from the Fornet, which hopefully means a little more snow in that sector for tomorrow. Chris and Suzanne return Thursday night while TJ is preparing for his departure on Saturday. It’s been great having him around again and we’ll miss him when he’s gone. Jean R will also be back in a few days and hopefully he’ll be strong and confident enough to start off-piste again soon. The wind is forecast to die down by tomorrow and we may receive a few more flakes in the meantime, but overcast skies are also expected. Stay tuned! (I’m off to the pool with the girls now)

PS Thank-you for all the e-mails about Canada’s fine performance in the Olympics. Katie thinks it’s rather funny when I sing Oh Canada with outstetched arms and watery eyes. Bless Her!

2 March 2010
A few centimetres of fresh snow makes the difference!

About five centimetres of fresh snow lay on the terrace this morning and immediately I felt we were in for a good morning. The new cushion would make a huge difference as many slopes had a firm-ish base underneath that would support nicely with the fresh snow on top. It was snowing lightly as we set off but it was forecast to start to clear up by mid-morning so although the visibility was decent we were hoping for better light by the time we arrived in the Sache. TJ, Andreas and I all warmed-up off the Verte before skiing a pretty good Borsat. TJ then went upstairs towards the Motte and had some great skiing around the Cairn while Andreas and I had a surprisingly good ski in the Chardonnet. There was an unexpected 20 to 25cm’s of good powder and we profited with an excellent descent. Just as we arrived at the Col to enter the Sache it started to clear and after the first slope, which was good but a little tricky, the sun broke through giving us blue skies for the rest of the morning. After the top pitch the snow improved drastically and we had brilliant snow all the way to the bottom. TJ’s team skied the Sachette before he and I finished with a lovely Familial. Andreas had two Vikings with him and they climbed up to ski the Familial via Mickey’s Ears. Meanwhile, Henry skied up at the Fornet and I’m sure he had a great morning as well. We had a beautiful sunny afternoon but the forecast is for cloudy skies tomorrow morning with a few centimetres of snow in the afternoon.

Correction on yesterday’s report- Yesterday’s accident in the Gorges de Malpasset turned out to be a father with three sons. It was one of the sons, a 43-year-old, who fell over a cliff from the summer path and was killed by the fall.

1 March 2010
The Gorges de Malpasset claims another life!

After two consecutive days of 4/5 avalanche risk and strong winds and very warm temperatures the risk was dropped to 3/5 this morning, which I found surprising. Anyway, after the wind and the heat the snow on most slopes was very compressed, but the best of it was very creamy and lovely to ski. We all headed towards the Fornet, mostly for safety reasons, and we ended up with some excellent skiing amongst surprisingly few people. TJ, Andreas and I all warmed-up off the Laisinant en-route the Combe du Signal followed by the Pays Desert before skiing the best of the morning in the Col Pers. Around noon someone set off a plaque in the Combe du Signal and I feel for whoever it was as it was pretty bad luck as compared to being in a silly place. I then returned to Bellevarde to have a look at the rest of the mountain and I must say we made the most of it this morning as the rest of the resort seemed to have less soft snow than the Fornet. (I finished off the Verte followed by a good Familial.) It was Millie and Katie’s first day back to school and Niki and Gill enjoyed a great morning skiing with TJ. Thanks Niki for taking such good care of the girls this past week and they’ll really miss you! It looks as if we’ll get some sunshine in the morning, which would help enormously as being able to ‘read’ the snow will be important tomorrow and over the next few days if it doesn’t snow.

Tragic news- The Gorges de Malpasset claimed its second victim of the season today as a German was killed late this afternoon. A father, brother and two sons were trying to pass through the gorge after being warned against it, and they eventually needed to climb up to the summer path to avoid the rushing water. The father then slipped and fell back down over a cliff to his death. I’m not sure if he was killed by the impact or whether he fell into the water. About six-weeks ago a Frenchman was swept into the water by a small sluff and drowned. (I’ve reported the story as I’ve heard it but it should be fairly accurate.)

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