Wayne's Daily Diary Archive

20 June 2007

30 April 2010
Back to the Fornet!

The horrible day that was forecast never happened and we were blessed with a decent freeze and lovely sunshine this morning. I debated between Tignes and the Fornet but decided on the Fornet as Paul W’s friend Peter had never been to Val d’Isere, and with today being possibly the last of the sunshine this season and if you’re afforded only one look, the Fornet is the place to be. We started out with a nice Pays Desert way-out wide and Derek mentioned he’d never been that far out before. From there we went over the Col for a fantastic Col Pers and we then cut right and skied down towards the refuge before walking out on the summer path. It was getting fragile towards the bottom but we made it without finding ’quick-snow’, but another twenty-minutes or so and it would have been tricky. Andreas ’skinned’ up towards the Gros Cavel with Peter C and Cormac and they had a great ski down to the refuge as well before joining us on the summer path. Stephen, Kaye and I savoured our third dandelion salad in the past five days while Derek, Peter, Paul, Peter C and Cormac went to Les Tufs to warm-up for Colin’s arrival this evening. I feel sorry for Peter who felt rough enough this morning and he’s never had the pleasure of Colin’s company on a ‘boys’ weekend! The forecast for tomorrow is for grey skies with light rain down low and light snow above 2500m’s, but they missed today’s forecast by a mile so wish us luck!

29 April 2010
An unexpected tour of Tignes!

We were not only lucky enough to get a better freeze than forecast but also another beautiful sunny day. Stephen fancied a change of pace in Tignes so he, Kaye and I did a u-turn and had a cracking good morning. We skied a nice shoulder on the Borsat en-route to the Chardonnet and from there the couloir just before the Sachette, which was excellent. I decided to give the Familial a miss and instead we skied the Spatule to finish before having a beer at Chez-Gus. Meanwhile Chris and Suzanne had a fantastic time skiing the Col du Montet and they rewarded themselves with a dandelion salad at Les Crozets. (I must say these salads are a gastronomic delight and shouldn’t be missed. Sheer delight!) Fortunately they’ve laid on some buses, which makes life much easier after walking out on the summer path, or just getting down from the Col Pers for that matter. Andreas skied with Tansy and they skied Tansy’s first Col Pers for several years, which she loved. (We sometimes take for granted the stunning scenery over the Col.) They then skied the Pays Desert with great spring snow before having lunch at the Edelweiss. Nice! I spent the afternoon packing, doing paperwork, banking and generally trying to tidy-up my life here before returning to my other life. I’m slowly getting there! The forecast for tomorrow isn’t great but I’ve a feeling that it will freeze tonight and we’ll see some sun in the morning. Fingers crossed as the forecast is for grey skies and warm temperatures. (It was 20C in front of Radio Val at 6PM)

28 April 2010
Truly wonderful!

For the first time in a few nights we had a good re-freeze, which allowed us to enjoy an outstanding morning of spring snow. Stephen, Kaye, and I ‘skinned’ up the Crete du Genepy and had sublime snow top-to-bottom. From there we headed to the Fornet via up-and-over chair and skied some lovely bonus turns down to the Col Poma, then at 12:15 we skied an excellent Col Pers to finish. It held up nicely to the bottom and from our funky escape above the gorge we could see Chris and Suzanne walking out on the summer path. They’d ‘skinned’ up towards the Gros Caval and had a great ski down to the refuge. Meanwhile, Andreas ‘skinned’ to the Col des Fours with Jamie (who takes photos and runs Henry’s beep searches) and they had a fantastic morning as well. The road down from the Pont St. Charles is lacking snow now and with each day the walk gets a little longer, and getting out of the Charvet isn‘t getting any easier either. (Between the lines it reads we’re working for our turns at the bottom of the mountain) There are some huge avalanches about, right down to the ground that really make you sit up and take notice. A second slide has gone in the Combe du Signal, and although it is nowhere as big as 18-years ago when the entire bowl went during the night, it’s impressive nonetheless. Hopefully we’ll get a freeze tonight although it’s forecast to be a light freeze at best. Anyway, today was stunning and after a dandelion salad and a bottle of Rose at Les Crozets, it would have been a good day to finish on. Fingers crossed for more of the same these next few days!

27 April 2010
Powder? What powder!

Light rain fell all afternoon and into the night and Chris and I were excitedly expecting between 5 and 15cm’s of fresh snow at altitude, giving us powder snow and a fresh canvas. Chris stayed at home to finish up some paperwork but I could tell he really wanted to come while Kaye, Stephen and I headed to the Motte for altitude and a change of scenery. I was expecting a nice little cushion off the Verte but there wasn’t a flake to be found and the snow was already fragile at the altitude. We then took the chairlifts up to the Motte and it didn’t take long to realise our powder morning wasn’t going to happen. Instead we skied some lovely spring snow on the Rosolin before ’skinning’ out followed by some good snow towards the ‘Wall’. After that we had an excellent technique session, which I haven’t done during a morning for years, and we ended up finishing around 1:30 at the Trifollet, where we had a lovely lunch. Thanks Stephen! I radioed Chris at 1:20 on the way to lunch and said that we were just finishing. His response was, “How much did you have up there”? You could tell he thought we’d finished late because we been skiing powder and he was feeling bad about missing it due to paperwork. He felt better when I reported, “Not even a centimetre”! Anyway, it wasn’t the morning we were expecting but we had a great time and used the morning positively. A better freeze is forecast for tonight followed by a sunny day tomorrow, so I’m not expecting another technique session in the morning.

PS. Good luck Ray on your operation today. We wish you a full and speedy recovery!

Sports Report- Andreas had a great time playing golf yesterday and peaked early on the booze-front, allowing him to get home by 9:30PM. He played well (best score over-all) and ended up four-over-par, but was piped for the trophy by a 13-handicapper who played to seven-over. I’m feeling relieved about the Hammers staying up and I’m really looking forward to the new owners putting their money where their mouths are and seeing some good new players arrive, while keeping hold of our best players. Hopefully Zola will be given another chance as well. I’m having an early night in front of the TV watching Lyon vs. Bayern Munich. Bliss!

26 April 2010
Bonne Appetite!

Radio Val reported +6C at 8AM in the village so the options today were fairly limited. The sun was shining again, which buoys the spirits and Kaye, Stephen and I headed up to the Fornet for some lovely skiing. Fortunately there was a dusting of snow, which helped soften what would otherwise have beeen a very firm surface, and we had great spring snow out-wide in the Pays Desert. From there we skied over the Col Pers for more of the same and we made it down to the Grand Torsai as ‘melt-down’ wasn’t too far away. Between wind or ski compacted snow we made it down the bottom section without any problems and headed off for an excellent lunch of dandelion salad at Les Crozets. Mixed in were bacon bits, croutons, a fried egg and a beautiful dressing. We were lucky as you apparently need to reserve but we were there early and they took great care of us. Chris was busy doing paper work and feeling a little fragile after his drinks party, while Andreas was playing golf, and I’m not too sure what Thomas and Henry were doing. It looks like we’ll get another dusting tonight followed by another sunny morning tomorrow, and hopefully it will be cold enough for a decent freeze.

PS. There have been some big avalanches where the goblet that’s been laying underneath all season long has finally collapsed and the snow has slid right down to the ground. The Combe du Signal is a good example and it’s a wake-up call as the season isn’t over yet.

Sports Report- It was celebration time for West Ham fans as the last team mathematically able to catch us was soundly trounced and eliminated by Liverpool. Hopefully Zola will keep his job as he’s a class act and going to be a great manager.

25 April 2010
I missed it this morning!

It was a lovely sunny day again, which was a lovely surprise as the forecast wasn’t great. Today is the first day all season that I haven’t skied, and for just a moment this morning I missed it. I phoned Chris and if he’d had a colder temperature reading I was going to suggest a ‘skin’, but we decided to leave it for a day and get some paperwork, packing, and that sort of thing done. The next few days should be decent weather-wise, meaning some sun in the mornings, but the really important factor now is how cold it gets during the night. A good re-freeze means great skiing, while a minimal freeze means limited options and a short morning.

I’m waiting to hear how Blue got on with the auction for ‘Helping the Heroes’. He’s donated a sculpture and is hoping for a high bid. Well done Blue on a very generous gesture with your time! Check Blue’s website on www.blacksmithonline.co.uk

Sports Report- Andreas has the Val d’Isere Open tomorrow and he’ll be looking to get his hands on the Cup again, which will be difficult if a high-handicapper has a great day. It doesn’t leave Andreas with much room for error but good luck Andreas and don’t drink too much on the bus trip home! Dan S came third in his age category today in the local’s end off season ski race. Well done Dan! I’m hoping Liverpool can eliminate Burnley this afternoon with either a win or a draw, which would guarantee the Hammers survival. Come on you Reds! Burnley need to win all three of their remaining games against Liverpool, Tottenham and Birmingham, which is a big ask. I can’t see them doing it but the sooner they’re relegated the better! I finished the Agassi autobiography this morning and it brought tears to my eyes. (Mind you I blub pretty easily) It was a great read and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

24 April 2010
A massive Hammers win to top off a wonderful day!

We had much better conditions today after a light freeze and yesterday’s greyness was replaced with sunshine. Chris and I headed up to the Fornet and had great skiing with a lovely Pays Desert out-wide on clean supporting snow. In places there was a centimetre or two on top and in others it was just good smooth spring snow. From there we went over the Col Pers and traversed out-wide to the right to ski excellent spring snow all the way down to the Grand Torsai. The freeze was starting to go and ‘melt-down’ wasn’t too far away so we took the non-touristy route and found support where it had been wind compressed then at the bottom where it had been compacted by skiers over the past few days. We called it a day at 12:15 and I went for a cracking good lunch at the Brussels with Blue, Nina, and Jonathan, while Chris and co. went for dandy-lion salad at the Fornet. Meanwhile Andreas started off heading towards the Col de la Balme de l’Ours but backtracked because of the weak support and came up to the Glacier as well. I know he skied the Pays Desert but I’m not too sure what he skied after that. Thank you Thomas and Muriel for organizing an excellent drinks party at Jean Sport last night. Rob C and Henry and Ginny came along to join the Jean Sports team. I’m now hanging on by my fingertips as West Ham have just taken a 3-2 lead late on against Wigan. Hang in there boys! Tomorrow’s forecast doesn’t look great with warm overnight temperatures and grey skies in the morning, but I’m not too worried as we all have the morning off tomorrow.

Sports Report- The Hammers produced a wonderful result today by beating Wigan 3-2, and combined with Hull losing West Ham have virtually secured their Premiership status and can now only be relegated if Burnley were to win their remaining three games with the Hammers losing theirs. Brilliant and well done Zola! Man U are keeping it interesting with a great win over Tottenham and Chelsea will be feeling the heat. I’ve been reading the Andre Agassi autobiography, which is absolutely superb and a must for any tennis fan. Even if you don’t like sports you’ll enjoy this book, and if you’re already a fan of Agassi, you’ll love him even more.

23 April 2010
+7C at 8AM in the village! Help!

With grey skies, a temperature of +7C in the village and a Foehn wind blowing, expectations weren’t particularly high at the Gourmandine this morning. It was miserable looking towards the Fornet so Chris and I headed towards the ‘light bulb’ hanging above Tignes and we had a pretty good morning. The pistes were excellent as they had a soft feel as compared to the frozen corrugated surface you normally get first thing in the morning at this time of year, and we skied quite hard and gave ourselves a good work-out. We then skied the Sachette knowing we wouldn’t make it all the way to the bottom before ‘meltdown’ and had great snow all the way before cutting out at the hut. From there it was more piste skiing en route to an early 12:15 lunch at Les Tufs. Thanks Harry! Thomas has organized a get-together with Jean Sports this evening so I’m off in 5-minutes. We should get a minimal freeze tonight with some sunshine tomorrow morning, which is good news after today.

PS. Millie and Katie started school again today back in England.

22 April 2010
Perfect spring!

Chris and I were the only ones working today as the season is seriously winding down. It froze again last night and with the sun shining we searched out some stunning spring snow. Chris chose Mont Roup had enjoyed a superb run way-out skiers-left on the big slopes and ran into Maurice-the-fox at the bottom. From there they stopped for a drink before skiing the ‘L’ en-route to the Grand Vallon, where they had some great skiing out-right on the shoulder. I started off with some lovely snow in the Fresse bowl before ‘skinning’ up to the Crete du Genepy, which was perfect. The snow was holding up well so we skied the steepest pitch above the pond, which had great ambience as you couldn’t see the bottom from the top as it rolled away. The team of Margaret, Rupert, Jonathan, Harry, and Blue all did the business in a no-fall zone. Merci! From there we took a chance on the Cugnai hoping to find some decently clean snow and it was excellent for the most part and a good result. The forecast is for clouds moving in this afternoon giving us a couple of iffy days without good freezes and if we’re lucky we’ll get a little snow at altitude to make life easier. Flat-light isn’t very appealing after such good weather, especially if we’re not rewarded with a fresh canvas. Gill and the girls made it back to England last night and the plane was only half-full, which was surprising with all the stories of people being stranded. Anyway, bravo Easy-Jet! (I must say it’s jolly quiet around the apartment today!) Log-on tomorrow for more news as Chris and I are back in action.

PS. I’m missing logging-on to Jean’s link to the photos-of-the-day, which greatly enhanced the Diary during the season. Thanks again Jean!

21 April 2010
A hike out on the 'summer path'!

After a good freeze the sun was shining again this morning and the weather these past few days has been stunning. Andreas, Chris and I all headed to the Fornet for the last of the powder as after today’s heat the only powder left will be at altitude on steep northern slopes. We all ‘skinned’ to the Glacier Pers and skied some powder up top before needing to change exposition for some lovely spring snow. Chris and I skied down to the refuge then hiked out through the gorge on the ‘summer path’, while Andreas took the regular route over the Grand Torsai then went back up to ski the Vallonnet, where he had a few powder turns at the top. We missed Jean today and we’ll certainly miss his photos, but it looks like he’ll be able to make it to Egypt for his diving holiday at the weekend. Speaking of flying, it also looks good (fingers crossed) for the girls flight back to England tonight, which is a huge relief as Gill isn’t looking forward to the alternative, which is driving back alone with the girls. Come on Easy-Jet! More sun is forecast for tomorrow and we’ll be searching for spring snow in the morning. Stay tuned! Must go and get ready to go to Lyon. (I thought ‘skinning’ and hiking the ‘summer path’ was a good easy day before six-hours in the car and returning after midnight. What an idiot!)

PS. Well done Rupert for skiing so positively on your first morning of the season. Rupert’s first turns were in the last of the powder after a ‘skin’. Bravo!

20 April 2010
Thank-you Jonathan for Gill's great ski!

For the first time since March 19th Gill was able to have a morning off-piste, and after such a long time without skiing she thoroughly enjoyed herself. Thanks ever so much to Jonathan who gave up his morning to take care of the girls and give Gill the chance to ski. He did a cracking good job and the girls took him to the farm to see the animals and Jonathan thought the pigs looked particularly delicious! As for the skiing today Chris and I headed to Tignes for a change of scenery and had a lovely morning of spring snow. I started off with excellent snow in the bowl off the Fresse while waiting for Tommeuses to open then skied piste into Tignes. We then skied under the big face on the Aiguille Percee before joining Chris for a great Sachette. The top section was good powder followed by perfect spring lower down, and we were the only ones in sight. Hats off to Chris’ team who all pooled together and drove down due to the cancelled flights. Well done Mick D, Gron and Myfwanny, Graeme B, Damon and Heather and Blue as well from my group for your efforts! Meanwhile, Andreas skied up at the Fornet and after a good Pays Desert had a fantastic Col Pers to finish, with powder up top followed by spring snow down below. It was Jean R’s last day of a stunning season and I, and everyone else will miss his company very much. He’s a great asset socially and knows the score as far as the potential of each day, taking each day as it comes and appreciating the tough days as well. We’ll also miss his photos, which are getting better and better as he does a great job capturing what each morning is about, both snow-wise and ambience-wise. Merci and bravo Jean! I took the girls out for their last ski of the season as they’re either flying tomorrow night or taking the car and driving Thursday morning. (If there is anyone in town who’d like to share the journey back let us know) It rained/snowed lightly off-and-on this afternoon so we should have a little fresh snow up high, and sunshine is forecast again for tomorrow morning.

PS. Great last photo Jean!

19 April 2010
A lovely day of rest!

The skies cleared overnight giving us a good freeze and a beautifully sunny day today. Chris and I headed up to the Fornet Glacier via a nice warm-up off the Laisinant and Pyramides and had excellent skiing. We went way-out in the Pays Desert, which had ten centimetres of powder on a smooth base up high, followed by lovely spring snow the rest of the way. From there we went over the Col Pers and traversed out right and skied 15 to 20cm’s on the steeper sections before skiing 5cm’s with support on the lower sections. All in all it was another great result and we were surprised at how few people went over the Col. The place is like a ghost town at the moment and a real pleasure! After walking five-days-in-a-row it was nice to have an easy ski today with great snow and very little hiking. Meanwhile Henry and Andreas returned to the 3500 off the Motte and had a wonderful ski with impressive ambience. I could hear Henry over the radio saying, “Look out, falling rock, sorry!” Andreas had lunch with his family at Solaise so all must have gone well with Henry missing with his missile. Gill skied the afternoon with Millie while I relaxed and tidied the terrace with Katie. The girls are now thinking of driving back if there flight doesn’t go Wednesday night. Another sunny day is forecast for tomorrow and come on you Hammers tonight against Liverpool!

18 April 2010
Great photos Jean in atmospheric conditions!

After spending 3-days-in-a-row at the Fornet it was time for a change of scenery this morning. The question was whether to head upstairs in search of powder or give in and ski spring snow in the Sachette, but after testing the snow and finding 10cm’s of powder on a smooth base on the shoulder in the Borsat we choose altitude in search of winter snow. The problem was the clouds moving in-and-out giving us everything from flat-light, to a white-out in cloud, to lovely sunshine and everything in between. Still, it was a really good morning skiing mostly powder, but we mixed in some spring slopes as well. After the Borsat Chris and I skied 10cm’s of winter snow on the Rosolin with atmospheric cloud drifting in-and-out, before ‘skinning’ out for ten-minutes. We then skied spring snow off the Leisse en-route to a ten-minute ‘skin’ to a variation off the Borsat West, where staying dead North we skied a lovely pitch with 25cm’s of good powder, which was a cracking result. I then skied spring snow in the bowl off the Fresse before some warm powder in the Jardin de Borsat Nord to finish, while Chris finished with a good Familial. Andreas’ plans went out the window due to poor visibility as he wanted to ski the Couloir 3500 off the Motte. He was heading to the ‘Wall’ last I saw him and I’m not too sure what he skied after that. We’ve had moments with huge flakes falling during the afternoon interspersed with clearer periods, but I think enough snow has fallen already to give us some welcome options tomorrow. It’s forecast to be clear tomorrow with some sunny mornings on Tuesday and Wednesday as well. Yahoo! Unfortunately the eruption has caused havoc with travel arrangements and many clients aren’t able to get here, while Gill, Millie, Katie, Jack (Grandson of John ad Margaret), and many others are all stuck for a few more days at least. Obviously things could be worse but it’s still a pain!

Sports Report- What a great win for Button in the Chinese Grand Prix as well as a shock late victory for Wigan over Arsenal. Just when the Hammers looked to be reeling in a couple of teams above them Bolton and Wigan win massive games. Buggers!

17 April 2010
Another cracker after a shaky start!

It was a funny start to the morning, meaning I wasn’t sure which way to go and when I finally decided on the Fornet, I almost turned around after arriving at the Col to see huge clouds on the horizon. I chose the Fornet because it was snowing lightly yesterday at noon and looked socked-in all afternoon so the hope was that a few centimetres of snow fell. (Also because the Glacier Pers has been superb that past couple of days) We started off with a pretty good Pays Desert with 5 to 10cm’s on top of a supporting base on the upper section, followed by a mix of spring snow and a few soft-snow turns as well. The light was flattish until the final big slope above the poma, and surprise, surprise, everyone perked up immediately when the sun poked through. (Meanwhile Chris and Thomas were skiing in the sun in Tignes so seeing the sun made me feel better and stop worrying about going the wrong way!) From there we went over the Col and ‘skinned’ up the Glacier Pers for about 20 to 25 minutes in sunshine, and again it was excellent skiing. There has been some wind that’s rearranged the surface but it was still good top-to-bottom, with the bottom-half being improved by the fresh snow and wind. Chris had a lovely ski in the Sachette with Maeve and Adrian, while Thomas finished his two-weeks with the Parker family. Gill made it skiing again this afternoon with Millie and Katie as we’re trying to make the most of the travel disruptions as the girls are here until at least Wednesday. A grey day is forecast for tomorrow but the past two-days have been much better than predicted so we’ll wait and see and hope for the best.

A big Happy Birthday to Richard H and we’re sorry he’s not here to celebrate.

Sports Report- It could have been better for the Hammers today, but it could have been much worse. Fortunately Burnley lost but Hull drew against Birmingham when I was hoping for a Birmingham win. Wolves picked up a good point and Bolton saved themselves with two late goals against Stoke. The big news of course is Man U’s winner at the death against City and as I write Tottenham are leading Chelsea 1-0 and a Spurs win would certainly get United fans believing again. You’ve got to love the Premiership!

16 April 2010
Driven by guilt!

I felt incredibly guilty yesterday while skiing fantastic snow in the Glacier Pers because Stephen and Kaye had never been there before and they’d forfeited their morning to take Millie and Katie skiing. To make up for it we returned this morning and had another outstanding ski in fabulous snow. (Great photos Jean!) A few centimetres of fresh snow fell overnight, which improved the gentler slopes and we skied quite low before cutting-out and ‘skinning’ back to le Grand Torsai. I had Roger skiing with me and the last time I saw him was 28-years ago when he used to work here. I sold him a pair of stunning Blizzard-Team skis, which he bent in the Solaise bumps on day-three and we joked about whether I‘d sold them to him already bent or not. Chris’ team also skied the Glacier Pers with his team of Simon, Louis, Adrian and Bruce L, who we haven’t seen in twenty-years when he last skied with TJ. Andreas had a great morning starting off with an excellent Crete du Genepy. Philip N was aboard and Andreas missed skiing with his sons Alex and Henry, even if they call him gay for using tinted sun cream. Adam P came into the shop and said what a wonderful time his family has had skiing with Thomas during the past two-weeks. Thomas had them on ‘skins’ and spent a good deal of time off-piste with them and Adam was very grateful. Well done Thomas! I saw Tansy with Ness this afternoon and she was having a great time and Andreas has the morning off tomorrow to spend time with his Dad and Aunt who are here visiting. Thanks to Jonathan, Stephen and Kaye for taking the girls swimming this afternoon. (Yes, they are still here and hopefully will make it out next Wednesday) It looked as though light snow fell at the Fornet all afternoon and sunshine is forecast for tomorrow morning. Sounds good!

15 April 2010
A fantastic Glacier Pers but worried about tonight's flight!

After skiing lovely powder yesterday around the Motte it was game on for powder again today. Andreas, Chris, and I ‘skinned’ to the Glacier Pers and skied great snow all the way to the cut-out area. We then skied the funky exit above the gorge, which is always atmospheric and today we had some spring and a few soft-snow turns on the way out, and a couple of Perdrix flew up in front of us, which is always a nice bonus. Thomas ‘skinned’ to the Crete du Genepy with Adam P’s family and had some excellent spring snow, while Henry spent the night at the Refuge des Fours with a group of army blokes. The volcanic eruption is playing havoc with the air-travel and at this moment I’m not sure whether I’m driving the girls to Lyon or not this afternoon. Many people’s flights have already been cancelled and unfortunately I don’t think Richard H is going to get here for his 60th birthday ski. At the moment we’re just keeping an eye on the web to follow what’s happening. Thank-you Kaye and Stephen for giving up your morning off-piste to ski with Millie and Katie, on what was supposed to be their last day. They really enjoyed it and will miss you. I’m not too sure about tomorrow’s weather but stay tuned!

Update- The girls flight was cancelled so we invited ourselves to John and Margaret’s for drinks before having dinner at the Perdrix, where we ran into Jumbo, Jane, Angus, and Stuart, as well as Simon and his family and Teady and co. It was a cracking good evening although the girls were mentally prepared to be visiting Nana and Grandpa Fred.

14 April 2010
A lovely combination of spring and powder!

It was very cold last night giving us an excellent freeze and we awoke to another beautiful sunny day. After testing the snow off the Verte I decided to go high and north and look for a morning of powder skiing. On the shoulder of the Borsat we skied some nice winter snow, which confirmed that above that altitude on due north slopes the snow would still be cold and powdery. Off the Leisse we skied some good spring snow before heading out to the Rosolin to ski a lovely 85-turn pitch in good powder before ‘skinning’ out for 10-minutes-or-so. We then skied another run in excellent spring snow off the Leisse en-route to ‘skinning’ up under the Borsat West where we skied some great powder on the most northern expositions. (Jean captured the morning beautifully on his link) Meanwhile Chris ‘skinned’ to 10-minutes up the Crete du Genepy to access some perfect spring snow en-route to ‘skinning’ up Mont Roup, where he joined Andreas. They then traversed way-out left and had a wonderful run on the steep slopes. They ran into Maurice (the fox) at the bottom and Maurice will be in for a shock when the lifts close and his free lunches come to an abrupt end. Speaking of foxes, my team spotted a beautiful fox with a red coat sitting patiently above a Marmottes den while we were riding Les Tufs chairlift. I’ve never seen so many foxes as in the past couple of weeks. I skied my last afternoon with Millie and Katie for this season as Gill and the girls are returning to England tomorrow afternoon. We had a great time and for the first-time in 25-years or so I returned to the Piste Perdue (everyone tells me it’s fantastic for kids) and what an adventure it turned out to be! I had no idea how narrow it was in places and we needed to take off our skis and scramble through rocks. I nice French bloke on a board took Katie on his lap and shuffled down on his bum. (Jean’s link) He smelt as if he’d had a good lunch but he seemed pretty confident and I had my hands full as it was so I left him to it. Anyway, we made it down and went back up the Funival for the girls first-ever run in the Snow-park. What an afternoon! Stephen and Kaye are taking them out tomorrow morning while Gill packs and they’re really looking forward to that. A sunny morning is forecast before clouds move in during the afternoon bringing a chance of snow tomorrow night.

13 April 2010
A great morning of 'clean' spring!

After yesterday we all knew that a smooth surface was imperative and the ‘cleanest’ snow about is in Tignes, so the team all headed that way. Henry and Chris skied a good Lavachet en-route while Andreas, Thomas and I skied some nice powder in the Borsat before bussing the rest of the way to the Palafour. It snowed much less in Tignes and instead of skiing 10cm’s of fresh snow in the Sachette it was excellent spring snow all the way for the rest of the morning. There was early cloud cover and a cool breeze, both of which slowed down the melting process so after a great Sachette we had options we wouldn’t normally have at this time of year. Andreas returned to the summit of the Aiguille Percee to ski the impressive ‘Toothy Rock’, with his so-called initiation team of Stephen and his sister Caroline. It was Stephen’s 50th and Caroline brought him along for his present. Well done you two! Meanwhile Henry, Chris and I skied first Par-avalanche, which was superb and we all finished up with the Familial. I skied with Jane and Jumbo’s sons Angus and Stuart this afternoon (12 and 9 years-of-age) and we had a wonderful time leaving great ‘Alpine’ tracks in the Lower Borsat and the Cairn. (Don’t tell the health visitor) I then visited Pav and his wife Abigail in the Perdrix, along with John E, Jane and Angus, and it was great so see then both again. Thanks to Jonathan for baby-sitting the girls last night so Gill and I could drink too much at Gill’s birthday dinner at Kiera’s, and thank-you Kiera for a great evening!
Snow was forecast this afternoon but very little fell and I’ve the feeling we’ll see the sun again tomorrow morning, meaning we’ll be searching for spring snow.

12 April 2010
A fabulous Birthday ski for Gill!

It was Gill’s birthday today so I took the day off and had a wonderful ski with the girls, including Gill who skied for the first time in three-weeks. She couldn’t resist as ten to fifteen cm’s of fresh snow fell overnight and the morning dawned sunnier than expected, so after a Chevallot breakfast off we went. After arriving at the top of the Funival Katie shot off the edge of the piste yelling, “I’m off to ski the powder Daddy”. That set the tone so the Watson family skied the Jardin de Borsat Nord twice, leaving perfect ‘Alpine’ tracks and Gill and I were truly amazed. (She hasn’t seen the girls ski for three-weeks and couldn’t believe their progress) Jean has kindly posted our photos on his link so do have a look. Thanks Jean! We ran into Tansy who had Ness along in her group and they were skiing some powder turns as well. Elsewhere, Thomas and Chris were up at the Fornet and the trick today was to find smooth snow under the fresh snow otherwise you’d be jarred by the frozen tracks underneath. They did their best and had some nice skiing for the most part. Bravo boys! Meanwhile Andreas was warming up for the Val d’Isere Open with a round of golf down the valley after staying up half the night watching the final round of the Masters. It stayed sunny for the afternoon but it looks like we may get a few more centimetres tonight with some very light snow off-and-on tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Sports Report- Lee ran out of gas but what a great four-rounds he put in. He’s getting closer and hopefully he can win a Major this year before he gets the dreaded Montgomerie-Syndrome. And well done Pompey for knocking off Tottenham while Blackburn certainly spiced up the race to the wire with a goal-less draw again Man U yesterday.

11 April 2010
The coveted 'double'!

With clouds covering the sky off-and-on during the night the re-freeze was much lighter than the previous two evenings. Fortunately there was a misty cloud cover first thing this morning that slowed down the thawing process giving us some extra time to get to the spring slopes before ‘meltdown’. I decided to try to take advantage of the early cloud cover by ’skinning’ up to the Crete du Genepy and then continue on to Mont Roup. There was a mist that made navigating potentially tricky but it was moving in-and-out and forecast to clear and by the time we arrived near the top the skies had cleared. Tony W, Richard, Jean, and I enjoyed perfect spring snow and had a great ski down to where we’d put our ’skins’ back on to climb Mont Roup. It was heating up quickly and after a 25-minute walk we started off immediately after packing our gear away as we didn’t really have any time to lose. We traversed back to where Henry and I skied yesterday and arrived just in time to ski wonderful snow for the top-half and as we descended the bottom section was getting fragile. Tony and Richard did the business and skied it gently enough to stay on top. Bravo boys as fragile spring is a wonderful educator! (For Jean it wasn’t a problem as he’s had experience in fragile snow and isn’t an aggressive skier) Maurice-the-fox was waiting again at the bottom and sugared-off when presented with a delicious looking baguette. He’s going to get fat at this rate! We should have stopped after Mont Roup as superb is difficult to follow up but we tried a Col du Madeleine, which was on the firm side and not as smooth as I would have liked. (We did however follow that up with a good blast down the Solaise piste to finish.) Thomas skied with the Parker clan and started off with the bowl off the Fresse, then into the Charvet, followed by the Cugnai. (Thomas and I were the only ones working on a very quiet day.) Another big thank-you to Stephen and Kaye who took Millie and Katie out skiing all day long again, including lunch. The girls adore them and have really enjoyed their two days together. Jean had a lovely surprise visit from his daughter Catherine this afternoon. She had been in Val d’Isere with the Club Alpin Francais this past week touring to the Col des Fours, the Mean Martin, and the Pointe de la Sana to name a few. Jean was extremely happy to see her and hopes that she comes and skis with him in the future. I’m off tomorrow for my first full-day off of the season, which just happens to be my lovely wife Gill’s birthday. Yahoo! Millie won Gill the Chevallot Birthday Cake on Radio Val this morning so we’ll be enjoying that tomorrow. Chris is back in business tomorrow after a couple of days off and it’s snowing beautifully at the moment show he should have some great skiing tomorrow. Good luck Lee Westwood and well done Pompey!

PS. Happy Birthday Becky!

10 April 2010
An outrageous finish to Gideon's season, and three priceless points!

For the second consecutive day the sun shone after a good freeze, and I must say it was the best spring day I can remember in a long, long, time. My team ‘skinned’ up Mont Roup along with Henry’s gang and I cut a traverse through the avalanche rubble to the steep slopes on the far side skiers-left. The slopes out there are very steep and with perfectly ‘clean’ spring snow it was impressive as well as fabulous skiing. At the bottom Jean said it was perhaps the best Mont Roup he’s ever skied, including in powder and that’s quite an accolade as we’ve all enjoyed some stunning powder days on Mont Roup. Coming out through the gorge at the bottom we came upon Maurice the fox who has twigged that being fed by skiers is easier than hunting. Incredible! (Check Jean’s photos) Henry’s team and mine both stopped for 20 minutes-or-so for a drink to allow the Cugnai to soften, and we were rewarded with a great ski. (Nice sniff Henry) Henry then circled back for another while I skied a passage between the Marmottons and Marmottes that I spotted with my binoculars yesterday afternoon while watching Millie’s school’s cross-country outing. It was brilliant as well and Henry finished off with a similar run. It was a stunning finish to Gideon’s season and an incredibly satisfying outing. Andreas skied with Derek and his son Gregor and they had a great ski in Tignes. I’m not too sure what they skied but I know they were still at the Folie Douce around 4PM after a good lunch and a bottle or three of wine. Nice one boys! Thomas is skiing with Adam P’s kids and is mixing in some off-piste with their piste skiing and showing them a great time. Good work Thomas! I spent the afternoon skiing with Millie and Katie and we had some lovely skiing in between the odd tantrum. Gill wanted to come but didn’t want to risk her back so she sat in the sun instead. It’s been tough on her as she hasn’t skied in three-weeks now! It clouded over around 5PM but a partly sunny start to the day is forecast for tomorrow, so hopefully it will freeze tonight.

Sports Report- The Hammers made my wonderful day perfect with a hard-fought 1-0 win over a good Sunderland side at Upton Park. With Burnley upsetting Hull away West Ham’s chances of survival have been given a massive boost. Thank-you boys! And on the golf front it’s nail-biting at Augusta as Lee and Ian have a great chance of winning the Masters. (I’d prefer to see Westwood win but anyone but Tiger would do. You don’t think the big fella could possibly have forgiven him already do you?)

9 April 2010
Yesterday's stinker is a distant memory!

We rebounded from yesterday’s ‘stinker’ with an absolute stunner this morning! There was a good freeze overnight followed by beautiful blue skies and the all-important sun to soften the spring slopes and give us a perfect texture. I didn’t make up my mind until the top of the Borsat and decided to head Tignes-way with Chris via a lovely run in the bowl off the Fresse. I then caught up with Chris for the big face to the left from the chairlift to the Aiguille Percee, which is an impressive slope, especially for Chris’ young Jack who has only been skiing six-weeks. Bravo Jack! (Along with Joe and Keith) We followed that up with an excellent top-to-bottom Sachette, then some bonus turns in the bowl off the Aiguille Rouge and a funky Familial to finish off a great morning and Michael R’s last ski of his season. Andreas ’skinned’ to Mont Roup for some fantastic skiing, while Henry and Thomas skied ’classic’ spring around Bellevarde, the Borsat/Charvet, and Manchet. Jean Marc and Peter C started off at 5:30AM to ’skin’ to the summit of the Tsanteleina, which is a massive undertaking. Well done boys on a great job! (JM now returns to the Pyrenees to rest up for some more touring adventures later in the spring, so log-on to the touring link and have a look) Another good freeze is on the cards for tonight followed by a lovely day again tomorrow.

Sad News- Dave Carr phoned last night with the news of JD’s death from prostate cancer. JD was a much loved Val d’Isere faithful who spent many seasons here while working on the rigs, then later on returned for all his holidays with his wife Sarah and daughter Florence. He was a great guy and will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

8 April 2010
Finally on the 132nd day of the season- the dreaded stinker!

Wow! What a tough morning. It was +3.5C in the village at 8AM and it was overcast with very little chance of the sunlight getting through to soften the spring slopes, and yesterday’s heat ruined what was left of the powder. Everyone tried to come up with a solution with some heading to altitude while some chanced mid to lower altitude. After our normal test off the Verte I tried a patch in the Borsat that was lovely powder yesterday but it had totally ‘turned’ so I decided to try spring snow at lower altitudes. The only places I could think of that would be ‘clean’ were the Cocaine Sud and the Sachette and I was hoping for a little sun poking through a the millimetre of fresh stuff last night to help soften the surface a little. First shock was the state of the traverse into the Cocaine. It had slid yesterday afternoon and we had some nasty snowballs and debris to negotiate. (I warned Chris so he came underneath and avoided the rough-stuff) Once on the slope it was smooth but firm and we had a good ski taking it easy in the flat-light. From there we tried the Sachette, which supported on the sunny-side but no-where else. We tried our best but all in all it was the toughest morning of the season and difficult to put too positive a spin on it. The weather is forecast to clear overnight so hopefully we’ll have better conditions with a good freeze and some sunshine in the morning.

I forgot to mention that a British boarder was taken over the cliff in the bottom of the ‘Couloir-to-Nowhere’ by a small avalanche at around 4:45 in the afternoon on Tuesday. I’m not too sure if he’s still alive but he was in very bad shape. We also witnessed a helicopter winching an injured man out of the Piste Perdue this morning. It was impressive flying as the pilot was hovering with his blades very close to the rocks and trees on either side. (Unfortunately Jean had gone home via the Olympique and missed the best photo opportunity of the day.)

7 April 2010
A good result on a 'transition' day!

After a cloudy start it cleared leaving us with great visibility for most of the morning. It was an in-between day, meaning the spring slopes haven’t yet properly transformed and many of the powder slopes are starting to crust over, but we came up with a pretty good result. I started off with a creamy shoulder on the Borsat before finding a little powder pitch way-out left in the Borsat Nord. From there we bussed around to join Andreas, Thomas, and Chris in the Sachette, and as usual the Sachette came through. We skied a lovely powder pitch up top followed by a few more winter-snow pitches mixed with some warm spring snow, all of which worked nicely. Andreas and I finished up in the Familial while Chris skied the Spatule, and everyone finished a good morning around 12:30-ish. Jean R had the day off so sorry to say there will be no photos today, but Jean is back skiing tomorrow. Jean Marc ‘skinned’ to the Col des Fours and had a pretty good day as well with Jeremy Cole’s team. I had a short ski this afternoon with Millie, Katie, Anthony Ellis, and Natasha (John & Margaret’s grand-daughter). The reason it was short was Katie’s tantrum so thank-you Anthony and Dawn for continuing on with Millie. A murky grey day is forecast for the morning with a light freeze, so wish us luck!

PS. Stephen took a few photos, which Jean has kindly posted. Merci boys!

6 April 2010
Another terriffic ski and beautiful weather!

We enjoyed another stunning day with bright blue skies and comfortably warm temperatures. Andreas and I had a superb day in Tignes after a nice warm-up off the Verte and Borsat. My shoulder off the Leisse was excellent with deep cold snow and after a couple of runs there we then skied a great run off the Cairn. After bussing around Andreas skied a brilliant Sachette while I skied the Cocaine Nord into the bottom of the Sache, and we both then finished with the Familial. Meanwhile Chris’ team ‘skinned’ to the Col des Fours and David B, Julian, Mandy, Richard, and Rory were fantastic in their support of James, who was ill because of the heat. Chris said it was a great team effort and he very much appreciated everyone’s help. Jean Marc had a long day ‘skinning’ to the Col de Monet as they needed to ‘skin’ back out from the refuge as JM deemed the summer path too dangerous to attempt. Thomas is on-piste with Adam Parker’s children and he was heading off to the Borsat West this afternoon with a private client. I forgot to mention that the Marmottes are out at the Fornet and I saw a fox a few days back prancing along hunting sleepy and not-quite-with-it Marmottes. Good idea as they are pretty slow this time of year. A change of weather is on it’s way but we should see some sun in the morning, which will help enormously as tomorrow could be a tricky in-between day. Wish us luck and stay tuned!

PS. I was just watching the video we shot on Gideon’s camera today. A bit shakey but not too bad for a first attempt.

5 April 2010
Happy Birthday Dawn and Kaye!

The wind was ferocious during the night and unfortunately did some serious damage. Fortunately the sun was out but the wind continued to be a factor until around mid-day when it finally died down. Jean Marc headed towards the Fornet thinking about a Col des Fours but he was blown off the mountain and circled back around to ‘skin’ up Mont Roup, which was excellent. After a warm-up off the Verte the Borsat was closed due to wind so the rest of us headed into Tignes via Tommeuses. From there Andreas and I went up the Funicular and skied a good Cairn before skiing a fantastic Combe des Lanches. I then skied a wonderful Col du Palet and onto the big slope at the bottom that arrives in Combe des Lanches, followed by a great shot in the bowl off the Fresse, before finishing with a ski-able Familial. After Combe des Lanches Andreas peeled off for the Chardonnet, which I imagine was lovely, then he skied the Familial as well. Chris decided on peace and quiet and had a nice morning in the Sachette before passing through the Familial on the way to lunch. It was a good team effort as everyone had a really good day when conditions were pretty tough in most places. Bravo boys! Another sunny day is forecast for tomorrow with cool temperatures for this time of year.

I’d like to thank Stephen and Kaye for taking such good care of Millie and Katie today. They took them out skiing at 9:30 and skied them to lunch at the Ferme in Le Lavachet, then delivered them home at 4 o’clock. It was a great help to Gill allowing her some much needed rest. According to Millie it was Kay’s birthday today so Happy Birthday Kaye and thank-you both very much.

4 April 2010
Flat-light but another great ski!

We enjoyed a bonus morning of great skiing today as it was looking a little gloomy at the Gourmandine. It didn’t start snowing until around 6AM and we weren’t expecting too much but we had a pleasant surprise when arriving upstairs to a lovely cushion of new snow, ranging from 10 to 30cm’s depending on the exposition. Andreas, Chris and I chose Tignes as we’ve spent quite a few days Fornet-way of late, while Henry and Jean Marc headed to the Fornet. We had lovely warm-up off the Verte and knew immediately that we were in for a good morning and from there we skied a fantastic Borsat from the middle entrance while Andreas hiked to the top. Chris and I then skied the big face of the Balme, which was atmospheric but not quite as good as we were hoping for. We then went upstairs for a very good run off the Leisse, followed by an excellent Genepy and a nice Familial with the best visibility of the morning to finish. After the Borsat Andreas skied the Chardonnet, the Familial and a Little Spatule. JM and Henry had wonderful skiing at the Fornet but didn’t have much luck with the visibility until the end of the morning. Gill has had a relapse with her back and can hardly stand up forcing her to miss dinner at Laura’s tonight. She hasn’t skied in two-weeks and was just starting to think she might be able to start within a few days, but……. Sunshine is forecast for tomorrow, which will be appreciated but we’ll find out how many people are lurking about the resort.

PS. Great photos thanks Jean!

Sports Report- What a vital point for the Hammers playing away to a very good Everton side. After being a goal down twice the boys battled back for a well deserved draw. Bravo Zola!

3 April 2010
A great morning in more difficult conditions!

We awoke to clear skies that were totally unexpected as the forecast was for flat-light and light snow. It did cloud over fairly quickly but we did have enough visibility all morning long to make the most of the conditions. With traffic tracking out slopes and the heat taking away other options we didn’t have the same opportunities as the past few days, but we did manage a pretty good morning. We all headed to the Fornet to stay high and as north as possible as after yesterday’s sunshine anything else wouldn’t work. Both Jean Marc and Chris ‘skinned’ to the Glaciers Pers for some wonderful snow while Thomas, Henry, Andreas and I skied an excellent Pays Desert out-wide. I ‘skinned’ for about ten-minutes to access the last big slope down to the poma and it’s a good reward for very little effort. The teams then dove over the Col Pers for a very good finish and we all managed clean snow, even after yesterday’s onslaught. Andreas had 13-year-old Rory C this morning and Rory did the business. Well done Rory! I had a great afternoon skiing with Millie and we covered a lot of ground in a short time. It started to snow lightly around noon and has continued all afternoon, which is good news, and it should keep snowing through the night.

Sports Report- Thank-you to Stoke for beating Hull and to Arsenal for sneaking past Wolves. And appreciated help in the late game as Burnley were thrashed 6-1 by Man City as City leap-frog Tottenham for 4th place. Most neutrals will also be pleased with Chelsea’ s 2-1 win over United, which makes the race for the title much more interesting. Time for bed after too many glasses at Chez Penny!

2 April 2010
Running out of superlatives!

The sun finally showed itself but fortunately it was -10C in the village this morning and it never really warmed up that much at altitude. Jean Marc, Henry, Thomas, and Andreas all headed towards Tignes for a change of scenery and had a fantastic ski around the Motte. JM had a ‘maximum-turn’ session skiing the Borsat, the Leisse from the top of the cable-car, Wayne’s shoulder twice, the Cairn, the Chardonnet, the Sache and I’m sure they probably skied the Familial on the way back for a 2 o’clock finish. Nice one JM and great to have you back in town! Meanwhile, Chris and I went back to the Fornet skiing a great warm-up off the Laisinant Express before skiing an excellent steep shot in the Combe du Signal before cutting onto the shoulder. We then skied two beautiful runs in the Pays Desert where we found Kaye and Steven leaving lovely ‘Alpine’ tracks. Speaking of tracks, Chris’ team was on fire leaving absolutely perfect ‘Alpine’ signatures behind them. Bravo to Tilly and James R, Chris, Joe, and Sam, and Andy and his 12-year-old son Christian. Impressive! Both teams then went over the Col Pers for a great finish to another wonderful day. Gideon said, “I’m running out of superlatives to describe the skiing, you can only try to describe amazing so many times”. The weather is forecast to close in again tomorrow with more snow to come. Hopefully it will stay cold as this type of powder at this time of year, day after day, is a bit special. Log-on for more news tomorrow.

PS. I forgot to mention that John Ellis slipped on some ice in Bourg and chipped a bone on his hip. Fortunately it’s not too serious and hopefully he’ll be able to ski. Please do pay attention the streets are still nasty!

Breaking news from JC- Apparently 11 people were rescued from the gorge this afternoon. With skiers touring and heading down to the refuge people are following their tracks and ending up in all sorts of trouble. I think there is a lesson to be learned there, n’est pas?

1 April 2010
Another cracker!

There was just enough visibility again today to navigate, and the lack of direct sunlight kept the snow cold giving us another extraordinary morning in an extraordinary season. We seem to be the only ones in town who are not disappointed with the lack of sunshine. However, it is fatiguing leading in flat-light day after day, but the reward being this quality of snow more than makes up for it. Jean Marc, Thomas, Andreas, Henry, Chris, and I (not a bad line-up if I say so myself after a few glasses) all headed up to the Fornet for yet another wonderful ski. I started off with a Super L en-route to the main event. We then skied two fantastic runs in the deep and steep in the Combe du Signal, and the fact that we couldn’t see didn’t matter too much. From there we skied two excellent Combe du 3300‘s, followed by two great runs in the Pay Desert. We had some bright patches mid-morning that were totally appreciated and used to the maximum advantage. All the boys skied similar runs with JM and Chris heading over the Col Pers, well done boys! Thomas, Chris, Andreas and I were all out again this afternoon and I had 17-year-old Alex for New York who skied much better than his initiation billing. Bravo Alex! These last few days have been a well deserved reward for the ‘Alpine’ team and clients who weathered the three-week dry patch that was testing, but at the same time we had some great skiing although not the powder snow we seek each day. Sun is forecast for tomorrow morning followed by more snow, so stay tuned for more powder news!

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