Wayne's Daily Diary Archive

20 June 2007

31 December 2010
Another wonderful ski with brilliant sunshine!

The sun was out again and we had another wonderful day of skiing. We’re still nervous but slowly feeling a bit more comfortable and starting to enjoy the skiing again. In fact Jean R had a grin from ear to ear at the end of the morning and David would have loved this morning’s ski. Andreas, Jean Marc and I headed to the Glacier Pers and it was absolutely brilliant. Chris, Henry and perhaps Thomas skied Mont Roup, and they also had fantastic snow. Penny commented on the perfection of our tracks from top to bottom and it was nice to leave our signature again.

I got my poles mixed up during the rescue the other day and have ended up with one of mine and one of David’s, and feel I’m taking a part of him skiing each morning. We’ll be toasting David and Chrissy, as well as Sasha and Jeremy at Penny’s annual New Year’s drinks party.

I’d like to say well done to Thomas for cutting a perfect traverse into the Glacier Pers yesterday as well as choosing a good line out. Bravo Thomas!

Chrissy wants any money that may go to flowers for David to be put towards the Mountain Rescue Fund and we’ll get details for anyone who wants to contribute. Thankfully Jeremy has arrived home and is with Chrissy now.

Here is just one out of over one hundred similar e-mails showing the huge support that we’ve all had.

Proud to be Alpine!

Hi Wayne

I have been reading the events of the past week and wanted to offer my support to you and all involved.

Over the past 3 years I have felt touched by the spirit of everyone I have met through alpine and the friendships I have found.

The way the past few days have progressed and the feelings I get through reading your blog make me proud to be associated with such strong sensible people.

We are all willing you to find the strength to see you through these unfortunate times and have the confidence in you to allow us to keep doing that which we love.

I am looking forward to skiing with you again soon and will hopefully be coming out in January.

Take care

Mark Weller

Thanks to you all!

Have a great evening and a Happy New Year!

30 December 2010
Mont Roup was outstanding!

I awoke around 5AM with my head spinning and worked myself up over the day in front of me. I had my regular off-piste morning, followed by a lovely family who wanted an initiation off-piste in the afternoon, then a torch-light descent in the evening.

I decided to take it a stage at a time and ended up having an incredibly positive and enjoyable day. Andreas, Jean Marc and I all headed to Mont Roup, which was stunning. The walk was calming, the snow was superb, and the skiing was so good that everyone had a smile on their faces again. I must say bravo to all the clients who have hung in there and supported us all since the accident. We as guides are looking at every slope differently, but so our our clients, and their faith in us hasn’t wavered, which is humbling and has given us the courage to carry on.

My afternoon with Hugh, Ailsa and their Dad Andrew was a nice mix of a little off-piste with loads of technique, and the torch-light was the best one ever as there was a nice feeling of community and camaraderie. ( It was great to meet you Sam)

Then I had Wils, Rosie and their dad Rob visiting with the girls singing with Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music playing on the DVD player in the background. All in all it was a very positive day and much needed.

Elsewhere on the skiing front Chris skied the Sachette with the Ross family while Thomas took his group for a lovely Glacier Pers. Henry was also in action and thanks Henry for your comments on your blog.

This has been very tough on Gill as well and she had some relief tonight with a girls night out at Doctor Laura’s with Suzanne, Margaret and Dawn.

Jeremy sent a lovely quote, which I’ll post when I’m sure of getting it right and thanks again for all your support as it means so much to everyone on the Alpine.

29 December 2010
A better day today!

I’m pretty exhausted at the moment, as is the rest of the team because this tragic accident has affected everyone at Alpine, but today was a better day. The sun was out, which everyone appreciated, and we had a pretty good morning off-piste. I was first into the Sachette with an interesting entrance and although my heart was beating away and my legs were a little rubbery it felt good to be back in the mountains and doing what I love. Andreas skied the Chardonnet from the top before joining Jean Marc in the Sachette, while Thomas skied the Borsat, Lower Chardonnet and Familial and I’m not too sure what Henry skied. All the boys felt better about their skiing today and a step closer to being able to relax and not suspect every slope you look at.

Thanks again for your e-mails and Chrissy and Keith were here this evening again reading through a few of them and all of us appreciate your support more than you can imagine. Chrissy is going home tomorrow and will be seeing David’s son Jeremy who is just returning from the Sydney-Hobart race, and our thoughts are with his daughter Sasha as well.

I’m going to log-on to Jean’s photos of the day then go to bed.

Sports Report- I’ve hardly noticed the brilliant Ashes win and the Hammers picking up 5 points in three games.

28 December 2010
Reflect on the past and cope with the future!

I skied off-piste again today to try to get back to some form of normality although things may never be normal again. There was a lovely reception at the Gourmandine, very emotional as you can imagine and then Chrissy bravely arrived to speak to friends, give me support and see us all off skiing. She has been amazing!

It was nice to be on the snow again and I’ve been overwhelmed with the support Chrissy, Alpine and I’ve received from so many of you who’ve skied with us over the years, and from some who have skied at Top Ski. Chrissy and Keith were at our place this evening having a glass of wine and Chrissy was looking through some of your e-mails. She was incredibly touched by your kind words and the volume of e-mails that have come in, and your concern means the world to both of us and everyone at Alpine.
(I haven’t even began to answer e-mails so please accept our gratitude)

I’ll finish tonight with a quote from one of today’s e-mails, “We all know the risks but all hope it’ll never happen. Sometimes it does and it’s now more to do with how we cope rather then dwelling on the event.”

27 December 2010
Farwell to a good friend!

I am so sorry to tell you that David past away this afternoon with his wife Chrissy and best friend Keith by his side. As you can imagine it’s been the worst 36-hours imaginable and it’s going to take a long time to come to terms with.

I’ve had some very moving support from local guides, moniteurs, clients and friends, which has helped enormously, and having Gill and the girls here has been a huge comfort. All my Alpine colleagues have been incredibly supportive both on the mountain taking those who wanted to ski today, as well as behind the scenes with paper work and company. I was very touched by Pat Zimmer passing by the Gourmandine this morning, as well as his brother Jean contacting the shop.

I spent two hours with Chrissy this evening up at John and Margaret’s along with David’s friend Keith, Dawn, Jack and Luke. Chrissy was amazing yesterday as I dug her out and was incredible tonight. She brought along David’s favourite wines and we spent two hours drinking and toasting the things David loved most in life. She is being so strong and brave and taking strength from the fact that David has ended his life amongst friends, in a place he loved, and doing something he was passionate about.

Andreas has been in touch with David’s daughter Sasha and son Jeremy, both who ski regularly with Alpine, and our thoughts are with them both at this sad time. Jeremy is in the middle of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race and will finish the race before flying home.

I skied with Millie and Katie this afternoon and it was important to get back on the snow, and I’m going to ski off-piste again tomorrow morning.

The only thing I have left to say tonight is would you please all consider wearing an airbag, and doing one of Henry’s avalanche talks/ beep searches.

26 December 2010
Not the best of days!

This is the hardest update I’ve ever had to write as we had a serious avalanche today in the Combe du Signal. David R and Chrissy were taken and Chrissy pulled her handle and inflated her air-bag, which led me directly to her. David didn’t manage to inflate his bag and we needed to find him with our beeps. David was taken by helicopter to Grenoble and Chrissy has been taken to the hospital to join him by John E, Jean R, and Penny. We are now awaiting news.

I’m pretty shocked as you can imagine and Chris and Jean Marc are taking care of me this afternoon and JM is kindly going to take me to Lyon to pick up Gill and the girls tonight, who’s company I’m now in desperate need of.

Pray for David and we’ll keep you posted.

PS. Please don’t inundate the office with phone calls.

25 December 2010
Wow! Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and what a Christmas ski we had today! It was overcast again with that nasty little fog layer at mid-altitude, but for the most part the visibility was slightly better than yesterday and Chris, Henry, JM and I all took our teams back to the Fornet. We all started off the Mattis and arrived to the Signal Poma being closed so Chris and I cut into the bottom of the Combe du Signal and headed up to the Glacier for better visibility. From there we had a great run in the Combe du Geant followed by two fantastic runs in the Pays Desert, where we worked our way through the rocks onto the big slope towards the bottom. Meanwhile JM stayed down below and skied the Grand Vallon three times in excellent snow.

Chrissy brought along some Tesco’s Best Mince Tarts, which I must say at the end of a long morning tasted wonderful. We tried to talk the lift operator into having one but he reclined. (Big mistake)

Andreas is having today and tomorrow off to have some time with family and relatives, and after a long hard summer and fall building, he’s in need of a rest. Thomas is also off.

We may see some sun tomorrow and with the snow quality at the moment we should be in for some more outstanding skiing.

Tomorrow’s update may be short as I’m off in the afternoon to pick my beautiful girls up at the airport.

24 December 2010

As far as flat-light days go it doesn’t get any better than that. It snowed 10cm’s in the village overnight but between 30 and 40cm’s at altitude and the snow quality was superb. We had such a good day at the Fornet yesterday and had a good feel for the lay of the land so we all headed up that way again via some great skiing above the ‘L’ and on the Mattis. We started off in the Combe du Signal, which was in a cloud making choosing a line and avoiding haggis traps tricky to say the least, but it was so good it had to be done again. (There is flat-light above the tree line, which is tough enough but nothing compared to being in a cloud/fog where it is so easy to become disorientated or ski into a hole or off a drop-off) Chris and I decided to head higher to the glacier in hope of better visibility and we rose above the fog bank and had two great runs, first off the T-Bar and the second into the Combe du 3300, where we had just enough visibility for comfortable navigation. Meanwhile Olivier and JM arrived and after a run in the Combe du Signal they skied the Grand Vallon, as did Andreas.

It was a stunning morning of great terrain (although you couldn’t see it), wonderful snow, and that sense of adventure and camaraderie that comes when you know there aren’t too many other people in the resort skiing around in such flat-light. Bravo boys!

I had an e-mail from Denise L who is in Canada skiing with my old friends Erich and Barry, who are guides for Mike Wiegele in Blue River. I spent a lot of time with the boys back in my Banff/Lake Louise days and it was great to hear from them. Denise somehow found out about my book, read it and ordered ten copies for her pals, which I sent to Australia. She read about Mike Wiegele in it and has ended up skiing with Erich and Barry. Small world! We look forward to meeting Denise as she promises to come and ski with us next season.

It has snowed all morning and continues as I write at 2:20PM and it looks set to continue.

Jean will be back skiing tomorrow so log-on for some action photos and check out his scenic photos that he took while walking this morning. Thanks Jean!

23 December 2010
+4C and wind but no stinker!

Wow! What a terrific morning, especially when expectations were fairly low with +4C in the village, it had been raining and a Foehn wind was blowing. Andreas, Chris and I all headed to the Fornet for shelter from the wind and altitude because with the warmth the lower part of the mountain was going to be a non-starter. We knew we were in business from the first turn in the Combe du Signal where we found smooth creamy snow thanks to a little help from the wind with a few centimetres on top. It got better though as we savoured two 60-turn pitches off the T-Bar on the Glacier with 15 to 20cm’s on a smooth base. From there we had a great run in the Combe du 3300 from the T-Bar, followed by an excellent run in the Pays Desert. We had decent light for the first run before it started to snow lightly and by the end of the morning the light was pretty flat, but we could still navigate without too much tension. All in all it was a great morning of skiing in high quality snow, and with very few people.

I was expecting just John E’s daughter Dawn this morning, but John himself and Stocky showed up, and the rest of today’s cast were Peter and Clare C, Pascale, Lars, Linus, Jon and a couple of French ladies who I haven’t met.

It has brightened up a little this afternoon and it is forecast to cool back down towards more seasonal temperatures and hopefully we’ll get a few flakes as well.

I’m really looking forward to my girls arriving on Boxing Day. I’ve Skyped them a couple of times over the past few days and it’s been fun to see them on the screen. I’d better get back to my preparations, so a demain!

22 December 2010
Another really good morning!

It warmed up enormously today and by the afternoon it was around +6C in the village. After three days in the Fornet it was time for a change so we headed towards Tignes and some protection from the strong Foehn wind that has been blowing over the past 48-hours. After a scratchy warm-up off the Verte I skied a good a Lower Borsat followed by a nice shot off the Grand Huit chair en-route to a very good Sachette before finishing with a funky Familial. Chris skied the same runs with a Lower Chardonnet thrown in and Andreas skied a nice Chardonnet from the top and the Sache. There isn’t that much good powder about at the moment and the boys did a great job making the best of the conditions again this morning. Bravo boys! (Thomas was boarding and I’m not too sure where he was and I haven’t yet heard from Oli and JM.)

We were lucky with the weather as the sun seemed to follow us around amongst some clouds, which made for a very pleasant morning. We had some excellent snow but the trickier bits are always easier and less intimidating when you can see. The sky has clouding over late this afternoon and hopefully it won’t rain with these mild temperatures.

I’m busy trying to get organised for the girls arriving on Sunday and thankfully my broadband connection is now working at home, which will save me a lot of time.

Jean had the day off so there won’t be any photo updates. In fact Jean may be off for the next few days with family arriving.

21 December 2010
Finally some visibility!

I had some company today as Thomas, Chris, Andreas and Henry were all working and the team headed up to the Fornet, where the skiing in the flat-light has been excellent the past couple of days. The Foehn wind unfortunately worked the snow over last night and for the first time all season the Combe du Signal had stiffened up a little, turning it into ’skiers’ snow. Needless to say we creamed it anyway but you needed to be on your toes! From there we headed into the Pays Desert where the snow had remained protected and it was excellent form top to bottom. Then we dove over the Col Pers, which was lovely all the down to the Grand Torsai but unfortunately below that it was jolly tricky and hard work. John, Margaret and Jean R peeled out at the bottom but Chrissy, David and I went back up for another in the Combe du Signal. All the teams skied similar runs and a great morning was had by all.

Olivier has been having a wonderful time with his friends and family and rumour has it they can be seen skiing around in a group of fifteen! Oli has shown them most of the classics and everyone is suitably impressed. Bravo Oli!

Red Ray just phoned to say he’s arrived in Geneva and will be having an easy ski tomorrow to test out his knee. Hopefully Gill, Millie and Katie will make it on Boxing Day and Suzanne is now coming in convoy with Doctor Laura on the 28th.

We had good visibility today, which was welcome and I was well impressed with my team’s tracks from yesterday when they couldn’t see much. They laid them side-by-side as if the sun was shining, well done team! It’s clouded over, warmed up and we may see some snow/rain tonight. In fact a few flakes are drifting about as I write at 4:30PM and the wind is picking up. Stay tuned!

20 December 2010
Not much light but wonderful snow!

I’m laying in bed at 6:30 wondering what the day will bring. It’s a little lonely out there in the flat light as no one else is working. People missing flights hasn’t helped but I’m lucky enough to have apartment owners such as John and Margaret, Jean R, David and Chrissy, Pascale and Dave St, all of whom are already in the resort. (Mind you Stocky is out of action with his self-inflected injury walking the streets late at night) Maybe I’ll see Olivier out there today as he’s skiing with his family.

5:15PM It turned out to be another great morning, although we had to deal with flat-light again. I headed up to the Fornet via the Mattis trees and back to the piste, which was a nice little starter. From there we skied a surprisingly good run in the Combe du Signal en-route to the Pissaillas where we had two fantastic runs in the Pays Desert. We didn’t see a soul all morning long, which is rare up at the Fornet and it added greatly to the ambience. The light moved in-and-out but for the most part there was just enough light to navigate and avoid planting yourself in a hole. Unfortunately it started to clear up just as we were finishing so hopefully not too much track damage occurred this afternoon.

Andreas was out with Clive’s son Mark so I’m sure they had an interesting time, while Oli was skiing with family and friends, and JM is skiing with family as well. Thomas was skiing this afternoon with some Vikings and most of the team will be working again tomorrow. Sophie had a bad crash being greedy in the powder (her words) a few days ago and hasn’t skied since, but should be back in action shortly, as will Dave St.

Chris and I Skyped Jean Pierre Carnal last night and had a good laugh and chat. I worked with JP at the Banff Springs Hotel for CMH in 1978 and we enjoyed a fantastic winter together followed by a trip to San Francisco when I was en-route to New Zealand. JP has since worked with Chris all these years in Australia and helped with their Gite in Normandy last summer. It was great to speak with you JP!

I think we’re in for some sunshine tomorrow, so we’ll see how many people are now in town!

19 December 2010
Good luck with your flights!

The day started off overcast but a good 10 degrees warmer than the past four days or so, and I headed up to the Fornet for a change of scenery. Our first run was in the Combe du Signal and the light was very flat, making it difficult to see where yesterday’s tracks were so I needed to traverse a long way skiers-left to get a good line and avoid the rocks. While cutting the traverse I was too close to a rock wall and kicked out a little slab, which took me about two metres. It was nothing serious but for a split-second when the snow is breaking up around your feet and you start to move you think, “Oh shit!” Anyway, that woke me up and got the heart pumping. We ended up having three excellent runs in the Combe before heading upstairs to the Glacier where we skied one off the T-Bar before skiing a very good Combe du 3300 from the top of the T-Bar. Thankfully the light improved with each run making for a very enjoyable morning.

Jean had a fantastic time with his brother Bernard, who fitted right in and was well impressed with Jean’s skiing routine!

Henry ended up on the Glacier around noon and Olivier was skiing with his family, as was Jean Marc. Chris was having a well deserved rest after his day at the races yesterday, and Thomas and Andreas were also off.

I’m not sure about tomorrow’s weather but the weather in England seems more important with people on tender hooks about whether they can fly or not. Good luck to you all and hopefully you’ll all make it for your long awaited holiday.

Casualty list so far: Wils, Rosie and their dad Rob, John and Margaret’s daughter Dawn and grandsons Jack and Luke, Dave Stockill’s wife Suzie and son Ben. (not sure about Richard H)

If you’re arriving in town do be careful as the sidewalks are lethal. It’s criminal the state they’re in and concentration is a must. To take your eye off your next step is asking for trouble!

18 December 2010
Beautiful sunshine to take the edge off!

Jean Marc’s promised sunshine was beating down on us today and we all had thoughts of the Fornet until John E reported minus20C on his terrace. High and north is no place to be when it’s that cold so we all headed to the sunny slopes in Tignes. After a warm-up off the Verte JM and I skied the Campanules and I didn’t see or hear from Jean Marc for the rest of the morning. I headed up to the Motte for an excellent run off the Genepy but then paid the price with some trail breaking. From there we had a great run in the Combe des Lanches followed by my funky route in the Familial to finish.

Henry was skiing with some Vikings along with his wife Ginnie while Thomas had a group of boarders. Chris was helping with the races and after a 7AM start I’m sure he’ll be happy to see the back end of the racers. Andreas had the day off and had a nice time with his children and he’s off again tomorrow with a family due in Albertville. Dave St missed yesterday and today with self-inflected injuries after meeting Clive’s son Mark and Tony W in the Blue Note. Bad boy!

Both JM and Olivier’s families are arriving today for a holiday, my girls arrive on Boxing Day, and Suzanne should be arriving any day now.

Unfortunately my niece and nephew Rosie and Wils have had their flight cancelled, which is a bummer! I was really looking forward to skiing with them but I’m sure there will be others who will be delayed.

I’m not even going to mention sports and hope for a change in fortune!

The weather is forecast to close in again tomorrow.

PS Just listened to the finish of the Hammers game at Chris’ house, and a point will do after being down 1-0. And the Ashes are up for grabs again after a poor performance by England. I imagine the boo-birds will be back in action!

17 December 2010
A fresh canvas!

Hallelujah! It snowed a good 30cm’s overnight and the snow continued until about 2PM, although we had to deal with a punchy gusting wind that kept the opening of lifts to a minimum. Still, no one was complaining as it was wonderful to have soft deep snow underfoot again and we had a ‘maximum-turn’ type morning at La Daille. Even though it had warmed-up by 10C we still had spots of frost-bite due to the wind and cooled down at one point when we were stuck on the Mont Blanc chairlift for fifteen minutes. I’m looking forward to tomorrow as Jean Marc is promising some sunshine so we should be able to spread our wings a little and enjoy our fresh canvas.

Today’s races were cancelled due to snow, but what else is new! If you want snow, all you need to do is organise and pay a fortune for a World Cup Downhill, it works just about every time. They should have better luck running it tomorrow and poor Chris has a 7AM meeting at the Funicular to help with the race.

Bummer about the cricket!

16 December 2010
Global warming?

We had a great day today even though it was minus21C when we arrived at the bottom of Val Claret around 9:30. Chris and I took our teams for the first Sachette of the season, and besides pretty good snow the ambience was terrific. It wasn’t straight forward getting across from the first Col where a slab had ripped out the snow down to a slippery sliding surface mixed with rocks. (Same spot that slid on Geoff and Inga one Christmas day many years ago) To avoid the mess and stay safe we needed to cut underneath then ‘skin’ up to the entrance for the Sachette where we had to negotiate the traverse above the couloir. The couloir had also slid but fortunately there was still some soft snow and it was fairly easy to get across. From there the first half of the bowl had purged itself, which made for a safe traverse to some strips of really good soft snow, followed by some supporting snow in the gully (skiers-right back towards the couloirs) where it had slid as well, then to the bottom on a spring-like surface. It was a cracking good ’travelling safely in the mountains’ sortie mixed with some excellent skiing. Andreas skied with Nick T and his 14-year-old son Ben, and young Ben skied himself into a ‘skier of the morning’ award. Bravo Ben!

In all my years here I’ve never seen so much natural purging of the mountain, and signs of avalanche rubble are everywhere. The conditions were delicate before the rain and it just shows how dangerous the snow pack was with the natural slides that are everywhere. This rain has done us a power of good and the mountain is now ready for some more snow, which may happen tonight. Speaking of slides the soldier taken in the Sassiere has died and the skier in the Couloir des Pisteur remains in a induced coma.

PS The forecast is for 30cm’s tonight and more snow throughout tomorrow morning. Yahoo!

15 December 2010
A good 'sniff'!

It was even colder this morning with the thermometer reading minus18C in the village. Burr! Anyway, off we went and the skiing was excellent and no hot-chocolate stops were needed. Jean Marc, Chris and I all headed up Bellevarde and ’sniffed’ about off the Verte and the Borsat before heading up the Funicular to the Grande Motte. Chris and JM went up the cable car while my team skied off the edge of the Leisse on a mix of supporting souffle and a few strips of frisset. We then ’skinned’ up under the Little Borsat West and had some great snow to leave ’Alpine’ tracks in all the way back down to the piste. JM and Chris caught us up and we all had a good ski in the best snow around while keeping ourselves above the cloud bank that was creeping about in the valleys below. (Quite a good result really)

Someone set off a good sized plaque from the top in the Borsat West yesterday. The fracture line was roughly 60cm’s and the accumulation at the bottom was between 3 and 5 metres. Ouch! The Military had a avalanche yesterday while on a training mission around the Sassiere and one soldier was quite seriously injured, but I don’t know anymore than that.

Thomas and Andreas froze themselves half-to-death helping with the World Cup preparations. I was too cold to be standing about and Andreas was too pleased with the organisation, or lack of. It was minus20C when I headed down around 3:45 with my Lambert/Cook team, and the volunteers were still slide slipping the course and were kept out for a while after that.

There is a rumour of some snow tomorrow night so pray to the snow gods as we are now in need!

14 December 2010
Burrr! That was a chilly one!

At 7AM the sky was clear but by show-time a misty cloud cover had arrived leaving us with flattish light most of the morning before an improvement around noon. Radio Fred (boy I miss Radio Will) announced minus 14C this morning and without the sun to warm things up and with a little wind it was jolly cold. I tried taking my Lambert/Cook team over the Col Pers but the Glacier was closed due to technical problems, and probably just as well as it was bordering on too cold for such an excursion and the closure made the decision for me. We ended up having two excellent runs on the shoulder in the Combe du Signal leaving nice ’Alpine’ tracks before venturing into the Grand Vallon for ambience reasons. (I didn’t think we’d find much but it was a little ratty) Justine survived a lunch-time tantrum to ski really well this afternoon as Caroline, Sophie, Justine and I had a good, hard piste bash plus a couple on Millie and Katie’s ‘funk‘ run.

Chris took his team including Stocky, Linus, Jean R and Jean’s brother Bernard to Mont Roup and they had decent light and pretty good skiing, while Andreas had a good trip taking Duncan and some Vikings to the Sache and back.

Times are tricky at the moment and any snow you can leave tracks in is appreciated, but there are strips of creamy snow and souffle as well that allows us to travel off-piste. Light snow has fallen off-and-on all day and there will be areas that will benefit and make our lives easier. ( What I love about you ‘Alpine’ skiers is that you know the score and appreciate our efforts and what we find for you. It makes dealing with the tough times enjoyable and rewarding. Bravo! )

Not having broadband or any connection at home at the moment makes it impossible to check the weather forecast before writing, so I’m going to guess. Another cold day with clearer skies is on the cards for tomorrow.

Thanks Johnny Alpine for a great curry and the United vs. Arsenal match last night. The Dunn brothers, Eric H, Chris E, Johnny Alpine himself and I few more of you will be over the moon with your position, especially with how it looked six-weeks ago before Chelsea’s collapse. No mention of the Hammers!

13 December 2010
What to do?

I’m sitting at the computer at 8:05AM and Radio Fred has just announced minus 13C in the village. Thankfully the wind has died down to between 30 and 50kph but we’ll need to protect ourselves somewhere, and having a twelve and thirteen -year-old I’ll need some sunshine. Better go find something to ski!

There is not a better place for protection than Mont Roup, and if there is going to be good snow anywhere, Mont Roup rarely lets you down. JM (with Jonny Alpine), Andreas (with Jeremy and Jerry), Pietro (with Fiona) and my team of the Lambert’s and the Cook’s all headed to Mont Roup and had an excellent morning. The scenery was stunning, the walking was easy, and the snow was pretty good considering the wind we’ve endured. The top was a matter of using anything that worked, but the middle section was 10 to 15cm’s of lovely soft snow, and the bottom had a spring-like base with a few centimetres on top. It wasn’t MR at it’s best, but considering the alternatives it was very well received. (Well done to Justine and Sophie as it’s quite a walk for 13 and 12)

I told my group to watch Jean Marc walking ahead of us and it was a very good lesson in economy of movement. He looks so relaxed and tension-free while moving in slow motion, and like a North American Indian, he doesn’t make a sound. (unlike some who tromp around, picking their feet up and banging them back down again while rushing about). Anyway, thanks for the demo JM!

Chris was skiing with Linus and Dave Stockill and they skied the Borsat, Sache and Familial. It was nice to see Dave back in action after his op last year. Jean R was warming-up his brother Bernard on piste so there will not be any ‘photos of the day’.

Colder weather is forecast for tomorrow with cold and sunshine for a few more days.

12 December 2010
An unwanted wind has been blowing!

The sun was out again, and just as well as a northerly wind was blowing and it was jolly chilly in the shade or in exposed areas. I skied with Mike and Julie Lambert and the 13-year-old daughter Justine, along with their friends Robert and Caroline Cook and their 12-year-old daughter Sophie, and we had a terrific day. We started off the Verte, followed by the Borsat en route to my first Sache of the season, and the Familial to finish. Bravo to Justine and Sophie who dealt with everything the mountain the at them!

Meanwhile JM and some of his Ski Club group, Olivier and his son Sasha, Andreas, Jeremy and Jerry, all skied the Chardonnet en route to the Sache and the Familial on the way home. Pietro and Fiona were heading to the Col des Fours but I haven’t heard if they stuck with their plan or how they fared. Chris was skiing with John, Margaret and Jean R and they skied similar routes to my team and their adventures will be on Jean‘s photos of the day.

The wind has toughened up some of the snow but there is still some nice strips and pockets of really good soft snow and the lower slopes where it’s been protected from the wind have a lovely support layer with a nice cushion on top. Unfortunately the wind picked up during the afternoon but sunshine is forecast for the next few days. Stay tuned!

11 December 2010
First Col Pers of the season!

It was another stunning day with -8C in the village at 8AM, beautiful sunshine and the wind had died down significantly. Yesterday’s touch at the bottom of the Grand Vallon meant that the lower slopes would support on the layer of frozen wet snow and rain, and with 5to 15cm’s on top we were confident that the Col Pers would be a good option. My team were the first ones in this season, followed by Chris and Pietro, and it’s always a treat to see nothing but virgin snow. The entrance was easy and we skied straight down on slightly wind-compressed snow, and as we skied lower the snow loosened up and became better and better. Once we arrived at the Grand Torsai it felt like a spring base with a lovely cushion on top and it was about as good as it gets, unless you are the first ones in on a powder day. It was Gillian’s first trip over the Col and with the solitude, virgin snow and beautiful scenery I’m sure she’ll remember it for awhile!

Andreas’ team started with the Pays Desert before coming over the Col and they finished up with a variation off the Spatule, Thomas was in Tignes boarding with Mike and Peter, and I’m not too sure what JM and Olivier skied on their last morning with the Ski Club.

Sports Report- You may see the Men’s World Cup highlights sometime today from the Face du Bellevarde. It was a perfect day for racing and the ambience at the bottom of the Face was pretty lively. I’m not sure who plays who today in the Premiership but my boys are desperate for some points. Come on you Hammers! I’m looking forward to Arsenal and United on Monday night and hopefully I’ll get an invite from Johnny Alpine.

10 December 2010
Back to winter!

It snowed between 5 and 10cm’s last night and after a seriously warm period we welcomed back winter. It was Chris’ first day and he came up to the Fornet with my team and we had a fantastic morning in the Combe du Signal and Grand Vallon. It was deserted up there and the Combe came up trumps again with my team doing four rotations while Chris and Linus did five. (My team stopped to have a wee-break and warm up.) The top third of the Combe was slightly compressed but you skied straight through it and then the snow just got better and better towards the bottom. The Grand Vallon was incredibly atmospheric as it has slid from the top and most of the way across, all the way down to the flats at the bottom. Impressive and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it purge itself like that before. We skied strips of what was left, varying from compressed up top to lovely powder towards the bottom, before skiing on the re-frozen layer from the rain with few centimetres on top to give us a ‘spring’ feel down to the road at the bottom. It was a cracking good result and a satisfying finish to a wonderful morning!

Meanwhile Andreas, Thomas, JM, and Oli headed towards Tignes and had great skiing as well. They skied the Chardonnet, around the Aiguille Percee and Familial, although I haven’t had a report. (We saw Pietro early on at the Fornet and he was planning a ‘skin’ with Fiona but I’m not sure where he ended up).

Over the radio Oli reported an avalanche on the traverse to the Sache. Much of the mountain has purged itself thanks to the rain but plaques are still popping out and anything that hasn’t yet slid need to be treated cautiously. Yesterday there was a serious avalanche in the Couloir des Pisteurs, where two skiers broke off a slab of about 60cm’s and were carried 400m’s over rocks and buried at the bottom. The client needed heart-massage and mouth-to-mouth and was flown to hospital where he remains in critical condition. The guide/moniteur was also buried and I believe broke his leg. Seven Pisteurs attended the rescue and dug them out as quickly as possible, but the hospitalized victim is in bad shape.

On a cheerier note, Thomas, Andreas, Chris, Pietro, JM, Oli and I had a great evening at my place last night. We discussed ‘Alpine’ business before getting stuck into a slow-cooked pork dish with ginger, garlic, chilli’s, red and green peppers, courgettes, carrots, mushrooms and onions. We drank a suitable amount of red wine and finished off with a superb gateau from Chevallot that Pietro kindly brought along. We phoned TJ to say hello and we look forward to him coming near the end of January.

Jean R is working on a new format for his photos with a direct like from the Diary. He will have a few ‘photos of the day’ each day, then replace them and store yesterday’s in the file for the month. This will make it easier for you to relate to my blog with the relevant photos coming up first. Thanks Jean! We will also be trying to get a link for some video clips as Andreas like to take a clip every day or two. At the moment he puts them up on Facebook, and many of you may already have seen some of them.

I’d better stop now, a demain!

9 December 2010
Talk about a face full!

At 7AM it was snowing light, which was great news but although the wind was calm in the village it was blowing between 70 and 90kph on the summit of Bellevarde. It was a testing start as we exited the Olympique to flat-light and blowing snow straight in the face, and I admit to having one on the Verte piste to warm-up and get a feel for things. The day changed for the better almost immediately as the light improved and it continued to clear during the morning, leaving us with clear skies around noon. Only a few centimetres of snow fell but the wind helped us out by blowing a nice cushion into the gullies and on the less-side, and even though the strips of good snow were fairly narrow, we enjoyed some excellent skiing with good ambience. The wind kept the Funicular in Tignes closed and I’m sure the Fornet Glacier was also closed during the morning, but there was plenty to ski and after a re-freeze last night we could start skiing some of the lower slopes that we’ve been avoiding. It looks as if we’re in for a couple of days of sunshine as France’s allotment of snow has been dumped on Paris.

Chris arrived last night and we look forward to seeing him at our team meeting and dinner tonight at my place. It’s not often that we have so many of us here at the same time and the only one missing is TJ, so we’re having a quiet little get-together. Log-on for more news again tomorrow.

8 December 2010
Another good day, but some snow would help!

The warm weather continues and we had another great ski today. After a nice warm-up off the Verte the front of the Borsat was excellent and the Little Borsat Nord was equally good. From there we skied the Genepy piste, which hasn’t opened yet and was trackless, but there the snow was a little bit more compressed with humidity and wind, giving it a slightly ‘educational’ feel. (Snow often feels more ‘educational’ than it really is when the light deteriorates) We then headed up to the Grande Motte Glacier, where Oli and Jean Marc had been skiing, for some more good-skier’s turns. Oli and JM stayed up there all day as they have the Ski Club this week while I finished off my morning back at Bellevarde. Pietro finished skiing with Maeve and Adrian (also Tignes-way) and he starts with Fiona M tomorrow. The forecast for tomorrow is for clouds in the morning before gradually clearing up and cooling down. (Doesn’t sound like snow to me!)

The rain has had its desired effect and much of the mountain has purged itself, which will help enormously when it snows again. The Borsat Nord has gone from the top and most of the way across, as has the Combe du Signal, and some good plaques have popped out of the Campanules. The Marmottes/Marmottons, Face du Bellevarde and some parts of the Crete du Genepy have also gone, with the odd plaque in the Arcelle. All good news really but the down side is there is very little snow now at lower altitudes and the sooner it snows the better.

A big hello to Millie and Katie (Gill as well) and I’m really looking forward to seeing you all on Boxing day!

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

7 December 2010
Wow! What a finish!

It cooled down overnight and Radio Val announced an avalanche risk of 4/5. Fortunately there was a break in the weather this morning so we all headed up to the Pissaillas Glacier at the Fornet to get above yesterday’s rain/snow limit and profit from the good light and gentle slopes. We went directly to the Glacier and had some really good skiing in what you’d call ‘skiers snow’. The snow up high had been wind affected and had some ‘surface tension’ as TJ would say, but it was consistent and very ski-able, and we enjoyed six or seven rotations. Jean Ribart skied his first morning of the season so don’t forget to start logging-on to his link to check out his photos-of-the-day. Jean peeled out around noon with fatigue and I then decided to check on conditions in the Combe du Signal and what a finish we had. The Signal Poma was running and Robert, Roger and I opened up the Combe du Signal, which was atmospheric with outstanding snow. It was an interesting entrance to the slope through some avalanche rubble and it was good to see that most of the bowl had purged itself, which is great news for the next snowfall. Anyway, we skied it one-at-a-time and played it as safely as possible with the team following procedures brilliantly and leaving some perfect tracks as well. Bravo boys! The sun poked through towards the bottom and it felt like April with instant heat and I debated with myself about doing another run or not. We ended up circling back for another and although the snow was still good, it had changed drastically from our first run so we stopped there as enough is enough, especially as it was 12:45. (Unfortunately Jean missed the Combe, not only for the skiing but his photos as well)

Pietro was back in action today and will be with us for ten days or so and Andreas, JM and Oli were all up on the Glacier as well. Chris should be arriving any day now and Red Ray received the ‘all-clear’ for some gentle skiing, no ‘bumps’ allowed. I bet that upset him!

I have two air-bags for sale if you are interested. One is a 15-litre bag, which is in excellent condition, for 400 euros, and the second is a well-used but completely functional 30-litre bag, which is going for 100 euros. They start at around 780 euros new so let me know if you’re interested.

Sports Report- What a great result for England in the Ashes Series and although my Hammers are struggling my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers are doing extremely well in the NFL. They beat the very tough Baltimore Ravens 13-10 in a hard hitting contest on Sunday. Check out the NFL.com for highlights if you like American Football, or if you’re curious.

6 December 2010
Buried with just an arm sticking out!

It was the trickiest morning of the new season so far, with +2C and rain in the village. To make matters worse it was forecast for the rain/snow limit to rise to 2500m’s during the day. In the true ‘Alpine’ spirit everyone who was booked in showed up, plus a couple of extras, and we made the most of the conditions, which weren’t as bad as you might think. The avalanche risk was very high and very few lifts were open, leaving us with few options, but we had some nice skiing off the edge of the Verte, on closed or un-pisted runs, and on Bonnevie’s Drag. Although the snow was humid, it was consistent and made for enjoyable skiing. We had one run where we we’re too low altitude-wise and the snow was like glue, so we remained above around 2500m’s for the rest of the morning and finished up at noon after making the most of it. I think more of the same is forecast for tomorrow before turning colder again.

(The conditions at the moment will help stabilise the snowpack so don’t worry. Even though we’ll have a difficult patch it will work out in the end.)

To show how dodgy the snow pack is, we saw three skiers buried beneath us as we rode the Borsat Chair. They’d set off a slab, which took them into a hole and one was up to his knees, the next to his waist and the third was completely buried with just his arm sticking out. When we shouted to him and he replied through a gap by his arm that he was fine so we didn’t worry anymore about them and later saw them returning to the piste. Lucky, lucky boys!

Oli and JM are with the Ski Club this week, Thomas has been working the past few days but needs to do some work on his new place tomorrow, Andreas is skiing mostly on piste this week, Henry is about, Pietro arrives today for ten days, Jean Ribart arrived today, and Chris arrives Wednesday.

I’ll skip the Sports Report today, although I should mention the cricket. Well done boys!

5 December 2010
Saved by the lift!

There was a huge temperature swing this morning with -5C in the village at 8AM compared to yesterday’s -23C. We were half expecting a sunny morning before the forecasted afternoon snow, but it was pretty bleak right from the start, although we were grateful for that ‘light-bulb’ for the first-half of the morning.

Mark, Paul, Derek, Johnny Alpine and I headed up to the Fornet with the intention of ‘skinning’ up to the top of the Signal Poma to access the Grand Vallon, but as I reached into my back-pack for my skins Paul said, “Why don’t we use the lift?” I turned around to see the lift turning and the attendant brushing snow away and inquired about the opening, which was one-hour away. (Totally unexpected as they usually save the Signal for just before the Christmas week. Bravo STVI!) While waiting we had two lovely rotations in the Combe du Signal with some variations off the piste down below, and then arrived for the opening of the Signal. We had an excellent run in the Grand Vallon (skiers-left) and were totally alone form top-to-bottom! We circled back around for a second run, this time way out skiers-right, where the snow was a little trickier and the light had deteriorated, but it was good skiing nonetheless. JM, Olivier and Oli’s son Sasha were also in the Grand Vallon by this time after arriving last night. After two in the Vallon we finished off with a great run from the top in the Combe du Signal, where the snow is still superb. Andreas was skiing with his Thai friend/client who’s apartment Andreas has been renovating all summer, and he’s over the moon with the work that’s been done.

It started snowing at the end of the morning and the forecast is for rain in the village and snow further up the mountain. What the snow/rain limit will be remains to be seen, but anything falling out of the sky will be good news. Fingers crossed!

Good luck to Ray who has an appointment with his surgeon today to find out when he can start skiing again. Hopefully Ray will be able to come out for some easy skiing and a ‘social’ at Christmas, but Ray doesn’t really do ‘easy’ does he?

I’m off to watch the Hammers match with Johnny Alpine so wish me luck, unless of course you’re Ian and a Sunderland fan. And what about those cricketers!

4 December 2010
-23C, but what a morning!

Derek’s epic journey from Glasgow to Val d’Isere via Basel and Geneva, where Paul W picked him up, paid dividends as we had a wonderful ski again today. It was -23C in the village this morning, which ruled out the Fornet, so Thomas, Andreas and my team’s all headed to Tignes. I started of with a shot down the Fontaine Froide, which is filling in nicely, and then to Tignes via the Borsat Nord. I had Daniel who was on his second day off-piste so it seemed appropriate to continue his initiation with the Chardonnet, which was well worth it. (Bravo also to John and Margaret for dealing with the steep climb at 73-years-of-age.) We then had some good turns off the Grand Huit en route to the Aiguille Percee, which opened today. (Normally it opens the week before Christmas.) On the way back we tried the bowl under the Rhododendron, which was very good but thin on snow, before finishing with a funky Familial near the big hole, which was fantastic. It warmed up so much in the sun that Johnny Alpine was dropping layers and there was no question about needing a hot-chocolate stop. Andreas also skied the Borsat, Chardonnet and Familial and I’m not too sure what Thomas skied as it was Maeve and Adrian’s first morning.

Pietro, Jean Marc and Olivier should be arriving today and it will be great to have them around for awhile. Sophie, our new secretary is settling in nicely and please do come in and introduce yourself as she doesn’t know any of you. Chris will be arriving on the 8th after spending some time with Suzanne’s family.

Sports Report- Well done Alistair Cook for a fantastic display against Australia in this Test Series. Hopefully the team can keep up the pressure and retain the Ashes on Australian soil. So far it’s been a stunning team effort, especially after a weak first innings when it looked as if the Aussies were going to go one up.

I’m off to see Physio Lou at Bonne Sante (047906 0727) as I’ve a niggle in my lower back, which kicks in around noon. Louise and her team are brilliant so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re ailing.

3 December 2010
Good luck Derek!

It was -12C in the village but there was some unexpected sunshine this morning, which was gratefully received and we profited with another great morning. My team skied some lovely snow around Bellevarde before heading to Tignes via the Little Borsat Nord, then up to the Motte for our 121-turn shot on the Rosolin, followed by some nice variations on the way home. Andreas had some seasonaires and skied off-piste on the Manchet piste, then headed to the Chardonnet before finishing with the Familial. It was another excellent morning with some wonderful snow and although the bottom of the mountain need more snow, the upper half has been very good indeed.

The mountain is showing signs of instability and there has been a lot of action as far as plaques popping out. There were several yesterday up at the Fornet and a couple of skiers were taken in the Campanules, one of whom needed to be helicopter away with pelvic problems. Plaques have been letting go on various exposures so the warning signs are there for a cautious approach for the time being.

Derek has been having problems getting out of Scotland but somehow managed the last seat on a plane to Basel. How he arrives here and at what time tonight remains a mystery. Bravo Derek! Stay tuned for more Alpine adventures tomorrow.

2 December 2010
Finally some sunshine!

The sun finally returned and we headed up to the Fornet for a great morning of light, boot-top powder snow. The Pissaillas Glacier was closed so we started off with first tracks from the Pyramid down under the bubble lift. From there we had two excellent runs in the Combe du Signal before having a quick hot-chocolate stop. You may have noticed that this was our third such stop of the young season so far, and you may think that I’m softening up in my old age. I have mellowed a little, and it wasn’t my idea, but it was pretty cold. After warming up we skied another rotation in the Combe, where the snow has been wonderful, before heading up to the Glacier, which had just opened. Up top we skied a terrific run from the summit of the T-Bar down and through the Combe du Geante and then skied some nice variations to the bottom. All in all, a pretty good morning!

Andreas was back to his building work today, Thomas has been busy with his new house that he’s bought with his girlfriend, and JM, Oli and Pietro will be arriving in the next day or two. (I think Henry is busy doing what newly-weds do!)

I must be careful of what I write has Millie’s class read the diary once or twice a week, and Mrs. Wolf projects it up onto a big screen. Good old Millie! They’ve been tobogganing today and playing in more powder than we have here, which isn’t quite right. Anyway, enjoy the snow even though it’s causing so much chaos!

Injury Report- Sharon’s ankle injury turned out to be a small fracture at the end of her fibula. What a bummer as she had been skiing the powder beautifully and was taken out on the piste in a tunnel by someone who should have known better. Tony W has broken is shoulder hitting some rough snow on the piste in flat-light, and he will be out for quite some time. Get well soon you two!

We are expecting another flat-light day tomorrow followed by some sunshine on Saturday.

1 December 2010
My legs couldn't take anymore!

Fred on Radio Val announced 60cm’s of snow in Chambery this morning but unfortunately we only received between 5 and 10 in the village. After two days up at the Fornet I headed up Bellevarde first thing with surprisingly good light and had a good run off the Verte followed by an excellent run off-piste on the piste on the Fontaine Froide with the sun poking through the clouds. But by the time we arrived back on the summit of Bellevarde it had closed in and we were in a fog and couldn‘t see a thing, but at least is was snowing lightly. Thinking “what am I going to do now” , we skied Piste H down into Tignes and headed up the Funicular and cable car to the summit of the Grande Motte, hoping for the best. What we found was superb skiing and a real treat. We dove out of the cable car and had a good 30cm’s in the Combe under the cable car and continued down in great snow to where we cut off for the Rosolin. From there we had a 150-turn pitch where I needed to stop due to incredible thigh-burn. The summer lifts are still running on the Motte so instead of walking out we took the T-Bar for two more rotations, one of 107-turns followed by a 120-turn finale! (I skied out of my heel piece hence only 107 on the second run) From there Mark, John, Margaret and I skied quiet pistes all the way home with satisfied grins on our faces. Meanwhile, Andreas was out with some reps from the Swedish tour company Langley and he had a great time showing them around the Fornet glacier, where the light was pretty good for the first part of the morning. There was no one else up there, which really adds to the ambience and they had lovely snow as well. The snow cover below 2400m’s is thin but it has snowed lightly to moderate all afternoon and hopefully it will continue through the night.

Millie and Katie both had the day off school today because of the snow and luckily they could stay and play with neighbours while Gill went to work. It’s hard to imagine that it’s just as cold and snowy in jolly old England as it is here. Hopefully the airports will get open so those hoping to travel this weekend won’t be disappointed. Fingers crossed!

I needed to phone Rob C this morning for my Hammer’s result and was pleasantly surprised at our 4-0 defeat of Man United. Wow! What a result. We’ve now beat Sunderland, Stoke and Man U in this cup run, but there isn’t one West Ham fan that wouldn’t rather have another nine-points. Still, it’s great for the confidence and hopefully we can build on it. How are you Pav? And you Radio Will?

I’m still having problems sending e-mails so please don’t think I’m being unfriendly or rude.

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