Wayne's Daily Diary Archive

20 June 2007

31 January 2011
What a wonderful surprise!

Wow, what a morning! It had been socked-in up at the Fornet for the past 36-hours so we knew a few flakes had fallen, but we didn’t expect to find between 30 and 60 cm’s up on the Pissailles Glacier. (Check Jean’s photos if you think I’m exaggerating!) I thought we’d find between 15 and 20cm’s, which would have been nice, but what a wonderful surprise. Andreas, TJ, Henry and I all skied the Combe du 3300, Combe du Geant, and Pays Desert and TJ and Andreas then went over the Col for a late finish. We skied the morning away in flat-light knowing the rest of the resort had much better visibility and in some places sunshine, but we’ve just had three-weeks of sunshine and it was a pleasure to get something soft underfoot again. My team returned to town via the up-and-over chair (Leissieres Express) and we went from flat-light and deep powder to sunshine without hardly a flake of new snow. Quite incredible really.

Unfortunately it cleared up around 1:30PM so the Fornet will probably be hit hard this afternoon, but we should still be able to ‘sniff’ out some good snow up there for another few days or so. (At least the clear skies this afternoon will make for a pleasant time for Millie and Katie’s ski with the school) Tomorrow’s forecast is for a return to clear skies.

30 January 2011
A day of firsts!

The day was nowhere near as bad as forecast and with the Fornet looking dark and cloudy we headed towards the sunshine and better light in Tignes. Chrissy was back in the saddle skiing with her pals Ginger, Pasty, and Shaun as well as Jean R and Richard F, and we trained on some steep slopes before skiing a couloir in the Sache. We then had a couple of pitches of soft snow before skiing some more steep en-route to the Familial. Brave and well done Chrissy! Meanwhile, Thomas took some Vikings to the Glacier Suspendu (Terre Rouge) where they had a good day out and TJ skied with Doctor’s Mike and Laura, as well as Richard Finlay.

Andreas took his two-year-old son Victor for his first-ever ski in Ste Foy followed by a family lunch, and Victor did the business and managed to stay on his feet. Well done Victor! Meanwhile Millie and Katie (Katie’s first) went ice-skating and had a great time with their friend Anna. I must say for a Canadian I’m an absolutely rubbish skater. In fact I’m embarrassed and blamed my poor performance on the rental skates!

This afternoon Millie had a piano lesson with Gideon and learned her first tune, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, and then played her first recital for Gill and I. Brilliantly played if I say so myself and thank you very much Gideon.

A few flakes fell in the Fornet today and I’m sure we’ll be heading that way in the morning in search of something soft.

Sports Report- Bad day for Andy, good day for the Hammers. And well done Kim C!

29 January 2011
A good relaxing ski and great company!

The forecasted gloom never arrived and we were thankful for another stunning sunny day. After yesterday’s exertions we took it easy today and had some lovely skiing. I took my team to the Sache via some good pistes and we skied the main couloir after climbing straight up from the chair. We then ‘skinned’ for five-minutes to access some nice soft snow then cut-out early to avoid the bottom section. From there we skied more piste before finishing a really good morning with some steep training under the Tommeuses Chair and into the Familial. Meanwhile Andreas finished a great week with his Scottish team up at the Fornet where they skied the Pays Desert and Col Pers. The boys had a fantastic time and walked really well when called upon. Neither Chris’ or TJ’s new clients showed up this morning so along with Suzanne they had a ‘birthday ski’ ski up in the Fornet.

Gill, Millie and Katie had a terrific ski this morning with Kiera and Anna. It’s amazing how much terrain they can eat up in a morning, and it’s now quite rare that any of the girls fall over unless they’re messing about and getting in each other’s way. Bravo girls! We then had a trip to the farm this afternoon and Serge in Jean Sports was complaining that we all smelled like cows!

I’d like to wish Chris and Gill’s Dad Fred a very Happy Birthday today. Enjoy your celebrations this evening boys, with Fred going out for a curry and Chris dining chez Laura’s. Bon appetit!

Today’s uninspiring forecast has now moved to tomorrow but with the clear blue skies we’re enjoying this afternoon it’s hard to imagine flat-light and grey skies.

PS. I just got off the phone from a chat with Thomas and I’m really proud of what he’s been up to lately. He’s been exploring in Ste Foy for a few days and has come up with some good routes and has also been to Les Trois Vallees, where he’s come up with some interesting skiing as well. Good effort and bravo Thomas! Thomas was also hit hard by my accident but he’s recovered well and is doing some great skiing.

28 January 2011
A difficult walk but worth it!

We had a long hard day today but very satisfying. Chris, Andreas and I went down to Ste Foy to ski Montseti and with the Foehn wind blowing in our faces it was a tough walk up. There were clouds trying to roll in form Italy and we thought about aborting our tour early on but decided the clouds would be held back, but it was still a worry most of the way up. Anyway we made it up in just over two-hours with fantastic scenery all the way, and we arrived to good visibility, which made all the difference. The snow was excellent most of the way and by the time we arrived at the bottom of the road it was close to 3PM.

Gill had a great ski with Chrissy, Ginger, Pastie, Shaun while TJ skied with Richard Finlay, and Suzanne has returned from a week sorting things out in Normandy

I had a lovely drink in the Bar 15 with Pippa and Carl and Joy and Al stopped by to say goodbye as they also leave in the morning, while John, Margaret, Richard H? and Clive arrive tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for grey skies and Foehn wind so I’d better get a good night’s sleep!

27 January 2011
A jolly good 'sniff'!

I don’t need to tell you about the weather as nothing as changed, nothing but blue skies and -10C. Chris and I headed up to the Fornet and had a surprisingly good Pays Desert where we ‘sniffed’ out some lovely snow before going over the Col for a ‘pisted’ Col Pers. Meanwhile Andreas took John H’s team up to the Col des Fours where the snow is still good but you need to slot yourself between other skiers tracks. Thomas went down to Ste Foy and scouted out a new route, which was excellent but needs a good two-hours ‘skin’ to get to it. TJ went along as well but needed to take half of Thomas’ group to lunch as they were knackered after the Foglietta.

I had a bit of an emotional day today as we invited representatives from the various schools in town for a discussion after I told my story of my avalanche on December 26th. It was a good social as well as trying to turn it into a learning experience. Thank you to all who attended.

Chrissy has taken a big step and come out for a few days skiing. We had a lovely meal here tonight along with TJ and Doctor Laura and Chrissy is warming up on the piste with her friend Ginger tomorrow before skiing off-piste with me on Saturday. Bravo Chrissy!

Sports Report- Well, with my man Federer gone and Rafa also knocked out, that annoying Scotsman Andy just might win his first Grand Slam. (I’m actually hoping for him now but only because Roger’s out) And what about the Hammers, I went to bed with them ahead 3-1 at halftime only to find them finding a way to throw it away 4-3 in the second half. Come on you Steelers!

26 January 2011
Looking forward to seeing Chrissy!

The sunshine continued today although first thing it looked as if some clouds might have rolled in, but they cleared off quickly. (Thank goodness!) TJ and Chris went out for an adventure and ‘skinned’ up to the Glacier Suspendu (or Terre Rouge depending on what you prefer to call it) and they had a good long morning out. I skied the Sache and Familial while Thomas and Andreas ski on the Motte before a little Borsat West and Familial. We’re all grateful for a few soft turns here and there, which we’re still finding but it is getting tougher each day. Still, everyone is enjoying the solitude off-piste and once you return to the piste you realize how even limited off-piste is much more fun and relaxing than worrying about getting clobbered on the piste.

Chrissy is arriving tomorrow night for a few days and we’re all really looking forward to seeing her again and to get her skiing with her friends. Well done Chrissy, we’re all proud of you!

We may have an iffy morning tomorrow but no snow is on the horizon during the next week. Someone please do a snow dance or something!

25 January 2011
A change of scenery!

The teams spread out today in search of soft snow and it’s getting a little more difficult with each passing day, although we can hardly complain when we come across our own tracks from days gone by. TJ and I headed up towards the Gros Cavel at the Fornet, while Chris ‘skinned’ to the Col des Fours and Thomas and Andreas tried Mont Roup.

For TJ and I it was a matter of a few turns here and a few turns there, mixed in with some good longer pitches, but the scenery was stunning and everyone thoroughly enjoyed being out there on our own. Karl made some very good progress this morning and found some rhythm and patience deserving of a ‘skier of the morning’ award. Well done Karl!

Chris had some great snow but he had to move back and forth to find it as it’s slowly becoming tracked out. Andreas and Thomas were in a similar situation on Mont Roup with John H and Mikkel’s teams.

I had a lovely email from Roddy Finlay today and I just wanted to say how much everyone misses the Finlay’s team in town. They’d been here a long time and had a huge following among Alpine clients. Richard F is arriving this weekend so were all looking forward to seeing him. Thanks Roddy.

No snow is in the immediate forecast although we may have a duller day tomorrow with 1cm of snow. (That’s Gideon’s forecast) I’d rather go without 1 cm and have sunshine instead!

Jean is off for two days so there won’t be any photos of the day.

24 January 2011
Way to go Mel!

TJ had an interesting start to the day as he took Doctor Laura’s mad dog Mel into Chevallot, which was a big mistake as Mel usually waits outside. Mel went wild as mad dogs do and poor TJ had to pay for the gateau that Mel ate. Bonjour TJ!

As for the skiing it was Pippa and Karl’s first morning and we had a nice run off the traverse from the Borsat before a little ’skin’ to the Borsat West followed by the Familial. Chris skied the same along with Dave and Sandy while Andreas took Mikkel and his Viking pals to the Glacier Pers. Although we’re in desperate need of snow we’re still managing some frisset each morning and mixed with some good piste skiing everyone is enjoying themselves. (Rumour has it we may get a few flakes mid-week)

Sports Report- The Steelers won a tight thriller against the New York Jets last night and will meet the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl as the Packers beat the Chicago Bears in the NFC final. Brilliant stuff! The Steelers are my most favourite sports team in the world and have given me enormous pleasure over the past 35-years or so. (It’s much easier being a Steelers fan than a Hammers fan, that’s for sure!)

23 January 2011
Another pretty good morning!

It was slightly warmer today but still -13C in the village at 8AM. The sun continues to shine but unfortunately no snow is forecast over the next few days and we’ll have to continue to make the best of the options. Chris and my teams skied some lovely piste into Tignes before heading up to the summit of the Grande Motte. We had a run from the top before ‘skinning’ for 25-minutes to the Little Borsat West, which was excellent frisset top to bottom. From there we finished off a very satisfactory morning with an excellent Familial, where we narrowly missed being landed on by a trainee pilot practicing his take-offs and landings.

Andreas and Thomas went down to Ste. Foy for the Foglietta and after an interesting entrance that wasn’t for the faint hearted, they had a good ski on souffle followed by frisset towards the bottom. Well done boys!

Gill and I had a great ski this afternoon with the girls.. They are really coming along and it’s wonderful to watch them progress while they laugh and sing as they ski along. The weather has been perfect with bright sunny afternoons and the empty pistes have been a pleasure, although you still need eyes in the back if your head.

Gideon did a great job baby-sitting last night and played his guitar for them, which they thoroughly enjoyed. He’s given them an invitation to knock on his door if they want to learn to play a little piano or watch him in action. Hopefully he won’t regret it!

Sports Report- The Hammers picked up a big point away to Everton, especially when they played with ten-men towards the end. They gave up an equaliser in injury-time or they could have really celebrated. Tonight the Steelers take on the Jets in Pittsburgh and the Packers play the Chicago Bears. The winners will then meet in the Super Bowl, come on you Steelers!

22 January 2011

We had another stunning day weather-wise and some fantastic skiing as well. Chris and I headed up to the Col des Fours and TJ came along to keep us company. TJ was forced into action as Joy and Al had ‘skin’ problems so he stayed behind then guided them down. Thanks TJ! Meanwhile the teams left some great tracks and it was nice to do a bigger tour again. Couteaux were necessary on the last traverse to the Col and we shared them around so everyone had at least one for the left foot.

Andreas ’skinned’ to Mont Roup and had a great ski as well on Peter and Olivia’s last morning. It was also Harry and Ian Noble’s last day and they’ve all had an excellent week. (Thomas has just reported decent conditions on the Foglietta as he did a reccy this morning)

We understand people’s concerns after the accidents so far this season, but the avalanche risk has dropped to 2/5 and believe me, we are taking it easy and skiing gentle slopes for the most part. (In fact, Andreas has just informed me that the risk is dropping to 1/5 tomorrow) It’s unfortunate that certain articles have misrepresented what is really going on here so please don’t be put off from skiing off-piste. (Believe me, 99% of the time you’re safer off-piste than on!)

I’m off for dinner to one of my favourite restaurants in town and Gideon has taken over from Red Ray as girl-sitter. Thanks Gideon!

21 January 2011
Almost Canadian cold!

It was -25C at 3000m’s this morning, burrrrr! Chris and I decided to stay in the sun so we skied some great piste en-route to the Sache where we protected from a chilly easterly wind. The big slope at the top was nice supporting soufflé and after a five-minute ‘skin’ we enjoyed some good frisset to the bottom. (Good photos again Jean)

Meanwhile Andreas and Thomas decided to give the Col des Fours a go and they had some wonderful snow. (Check Andreas’ Facebook page) Well done boys as besides Mont Roup three days after it’s the first time we’ve felt ready to spread our wings again.

TJ arrived yesterday afternoon and had a little putter about this morning and last I heard he was lunching with Dave, Stuart and Ruth and the Noble boys, Ian and Harry were going to join them. That sounds potentially dangerous to me!

The children’s ski school was cancelled this afternoon due to cold weather and the forecast is for more of the same over the next week. At least some forgotten areas are starting to regenerate and places that were un-skiable a few weeks ago are loosening up, which will give us a few more options.

Last night’s torchlight was a moving experience and there was a great turn-out.
There was a minutes silence before lighting up our flares and I’ve never skied the Face so quickly in my life and was well pleased to arrive in one peice at the bottom. Luckily TJ didn’t show up in time because it wouldn’t have been a nice frist-run of the season.

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow.

20 January 2011
Ambushed by the cold!

The forecasted gloom never appeared and under bright skies Chris and I headed up to the Fornet with the Glacier Pers in mind. Big mistake! It was freezing cold, much colder than anticipated so we skied some nice souffle down to the Grand Torsai to get back into the sunshine as soon as possible. From there down it was dreadful as usual and we then bussed around to Bellevarde to finish with a lovely Familial.

It was chilly as well this afternoon and I cut my session a little short with the school children and Chris had his beginners up the mountain. Well done Chris!

I’m in a hurry as we’ve a torchlight parade in memory of ‘lost friends taken by the mountain’. Andreas and Thomas are also coming along while Chris man’s the shop and Henry has a radio interview.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more news!

19 January 2011
Still scratching out some great skiing!

We had another really enjoyable morning and managed some lovely pitches of frisset. After warming up with some testing snow in the little Borsat Nord, Chris and I headed up to the Grande Motte and skied some good piste en-route to the Rosolin. I left Chris with both groups, while I skied down to test the snow because of the ‘dreadlocks’, and after finding the snow wasn‘t fit for connoisseurs I cut out and met the rest back on the piste. From there we sniffed out some nice souffle and a few turns of soft snow here and there before a 10-minute ‘skin’ up to the Little Borsat West. There we had a 15-turn pitch followed by a 55-turn shot in excellent snow, then we finished off with a very nice Familial. Meanwhile Andreas skied the Sache with Peter and Olivia and found some good snow as well before finishing with the Familial.

The girls wanted to go to the new swimming pool this afternoon and they had a fantastic time. I finally got them out two-hours later and dropped them off with Joy and Al, who kindly bathed them, washed their hair, fed them and entertained them. Thanks you two! Adrian and Charlotte were there visiting and thought the girls were absolutely delightful, which is a total contrast to what Ruth, Stuart and Dave witnessed a few days back when Millie threw the worst tantrum of her life! Millie has now settled in at school, which is a great relief, and she is doing really well with her French, while little Katie has taken it all in her stride. Bravo girls!

The forecast for tomorrow isn’t so good with grey skies and wind on the horizon, but we’ll hope for the best.

18 January 2011
Please think carefully about your postings!

(It’s becoming clear that I haven’t totally expressed myself properly below. I’m not feeling sorry for myself as 90% of what’s been written about me has been complimentary. I’m speaking about the way people are throwing comments about, both in the press and on forums, without knowing the facts. I’m concerned about not only myself, but Didier and anyone who may be in a similar situation in the future.)

It’s come to my attention that there is a lot of ‘blogging’ going on through the various European ski websites regarding the recent avalanches here. Unfortunately very few people know the facts and even fewer can form an educated opinion worth posting on a website. Peoples lives are being talked about, their professional reputations, and perhaps even more importantly, how people are going to cope with the future are being affected by what people are now saying.

I’ve had wonderful support and have read every email, card and letter that I received. I’ve avoided reading the papers and have tried to read as little as possible. But I have read selected articles and postings that have been recommended to me by Andreas or others close by, and have very much appreciated postings such as Lou P’s fantastic entry and that of Tom S, and David P on Henry‘s site. The positive emails and postings allowed me to get out of bed after one day off and ski off-piste again. In fact I’ve skied off-piste every day since but two, when I went back to England to be a pallbearer at David’s funeral.

I’d started to sleep at night again and the healing process had begun, but I’m losing sleep again over blogs, discussion forums, and press articles that have been written without the facts. I know exactly what went on in my avalanche, which I’m happy to talk about, and I know what went on in Didier’s from Top Ski. He and Kiera are good friends of ours and Gill and I took care of their daughter for two afternoon/evenings while they had to deal with the horrible things one must deal with in these situations. Kiera told me everything that happened over a couple of afternoons.

I understand these discussion forms are to help keep you skiers informed and to educate, but they can also be dangerous if uninformed opinions are thrown about without adequate thought and knowledge of events. Please refrain from unnecessary comments that may do damage to those who are trying to get through a difficult time.

I know very few Alpine skiers are involved in these forums but I hope this reaches others that may read this diary.

As for today’s skiing, we had another decent day with Andreas skiing the Glacier Pers and Chris skiing the Pays Desert and Familial while I stopped early after the Pays Desert of prepare myself for the school children. (Good photos Jean!)

PS I’m not just speaking about myself as far as blogs go, but about others who have had problems.

17 January 2011
A surprisingly good ski!

The sun continues to beat down with the temperatures remaining unseasonable high, which is wonderful because if it’s not going to snow we might as well enjoy the weather. After wind, heat and tracks there isn’t that much on offer but all the teams enjoyed excellent skiing this morning. Thomas and Andreas went Tignes-way and ‘skinned’ to the Little Borsat West followed by the Familial while Chris and I had a good result in the Glacier Pers. (Jean was snapping away so he should have some good photos) Henry was out there as well although I’m not sure what he skied.

This afternoon I had Katie’s group and poor Chris drew the short straw and had the beginners as we took the local school children skiing. Thank god Gill showed up to help as I had my hands full trying to take care of five kids, non of whom could get on a lift on there own. You realize how dangerous the pistes are when you’re trying to keep such little people out of harms way with lunatics flying about. Bravo to all those, such as Tansy, who make taking care of children look so easy.

Sports Report- The Hammers are in trouble but my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers are playing in the AFC Championship game next weekend with a trip to the Super Bowl at stake. They had a superb win against Baltimore, winning 31-24 after being down 21-7 at halftime. Commiserations to Michael R, and Chris and Mikka, who’s Pat’s lost a tough one to the Jets.

16 January 2011
Tribute to David!

I’m back on the mountain today but today’s update is a reading I prepared for David.

I’ve had the privilege of knowing David for close to ten-years now and we’ve shared some wonderful moments together, not only in the mountains but golfing, at corporate days at Wentworth, at my 50th and at David and Chrissy’s wedding. Besides spending hours commiserating with each other about the plight of West Ham and Southampton, we had a similar taste in music, films, and blondes of course, and always had something to talk about together.

But David wasn’t always easy as he was a perfectionist, and too often he’d berate himself over a bad turn here, or a little tumble there. And when I was brave enough to compliment him I’d often get, “That snow was easy! Anyone could ski that snow. If you can’t ski that snow you shouldn’t be here.” There were times when you couldn’t win for losing with David. But at the end of the day he always made you laugh, either he had that big cheery smile on his face, or you’d have a giggle as he beat up on himself.

But underneath all that he truly loved his skiing. He loved the search for, and the skiing of powder snow. He loved the anticipation when arriving at the top of big slope of trackless virgin snow. He loved the thrill of the skiing and took pride in the team effort involved in laying a perfect set of ‘Alpine’ tracks.

David also adored the sea and his sailing, he loved his cars, and by the way his face and eyes lit up when telling me about his trip to Peru with Chrissy and Keith, he’d also found a new passion in horse-back riding.

But all of David’s pursuits had the common thread of risk. And like many of us here today that element of risk added to the enjoyment and exhilaration of the sport. It made him feel alive. And that element of risk was also what made these pastimes bonding experiences with those who he shared these passions with, and bred camaraderie that most don’t often get in life. It is part of why he has so many friends and loved-ones here today.

But none of us really think that we’ll die pursuing what we love in life. David didn’t want to grow old but he’s been taken from us far too early. He’s paid the ultimate price and because of that we’ll never forget him. He’ll always be with us and a part of us. He’ll be with us when we ski our powder snow, when we head to the Fornet and most certainly each time we ski the Combe du Signal. No matter where we are in the world he’ll be with us each and every Boxing Day for the rest of our lives. He’ll be with us at Penny’s New Years drinks parties. He’ll be with you sailors when you’re on the water and each time you line up for a race. David will be with us when we admire a beautiful car and he’ll be with you equestrians when you saddle up your mounts. He’ll be with us through his music and he’ll be with me each time I hit my lob wedge, which was a gift from David and Chrissy for my 50th.

A quote from Kaye’s e-mail, “ 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. David would want us all to cope and move forward. He wouldn’t want any of us to quit. He’d want us to continue doing the things we love most and he’d want us to savour each moment and cherish our experiences because no one promises us tomorrow. David would want us all to get back in the saddle and continue on.

David was a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend. He was so proud of Sasha and Jeremy and of his grandchildren. He would also be so proud of how strong and brave Chrissy has been since his tragic accident. David was also a true gentleman. Myself and everyone at Alpine Experience are so sorry about what’s happened to David. He will be sorely missed but he’ll live on in our memories and through our pursuits.

David would sometimes quote on tough days from one of his favourite films Gladiator, he’d say, “Wayne, no matter what comes through that door, we’ve got to stick together.” Then he’d punch his left breast and hold his clenched fist over his heart and say, “ Strength and honour, Strength and honour!”

David, may you rest in peace.

15 January 2011
Double Six today

Double Six today. A fiteen minute skin and the little West face of Borsat came up trumps and we had several great pitches. By far the best snow in the area where other places have been heat, cloud and wind affected. Thomas was also in the area but did not use skins. We also finished with a double altiport. Wayne and Andreas are back this evening. And tommorow Wayne is back in the saddle.
Over and out! JC

14 January 2011
Alpine type tracks

Thomas and myself both had small groups today here in Val d’Isere as Andreas and Wayne are both attending David’s funeral today in Hamble, UK. Today we had a mix of snows from wind and heat affected to powder on the altiport and Borsat Nord. The most difficult being the Chardonnet bowl from end to end. The Sache was a case of travelling safely in the mountains and enjoying the environment. Alpine type tracks were seen on Cocaine Nord and South and we are wondering who did them? In this difficult period our thoughts are to everyone. JC
PS. Jean Ribart has posted a “photo tribute” to David and Chrissy on photo of the day. Merci Jean.

13 January 2011
Not an easy morning

Not an easy morning. Warm temperatures and wind has pushed around the great snow we had on the Pissailla. Wayne, Gill and Andreas are making their way to Hamble this afternoon for David Robinson’s funeral. All our thoughts are with with you. JC

12 January 2011
A privilege and an honour!

The day started off with fairly clear skies but the light slowly became flatter as the morning wore on. With an avalanche risk rated at 4/5 we took it easy and skied pretty good snow for the most part on gentle terrain. We all headed to Tignes for a change of scenery and to see what’s been happening to the mountain on that side of the resort as we’ve spent a lot of time at the Fornet over the past two weeks. (Just as well as much of the Fornet was closed due to investigations into yesterday’s tragic avalanche)

I’ve had the honour and privilege to be asked by David’s son Jeremy to be a pallbearer at the funeral on Friday. David’s daughter Sasha is also going to read a reading that I’ve prepared not only my behalf, but the Alpine team and friends. Andreas has been asked to usher at the church and we’re both proud to be involved. Gill is coming as well and the three of us leave tomorrow afternoon after skiing and return Saturday night. Many thanks in advance to Tamsin, Inga and Doctor Laura, all of whom will be involved in taking care of them. Chris will take over the daily diary in my absence so please continue to log-on.

I took Millie, Katie and their little pal Anna out this afternoon and they’re all improving with each outing. It’s great fun to watch and wonderful to se the joy on their little faces. They all love a little powder, gullies and unfortunately for me, jumps!

I’m not sure of the weather for tomorrow but it is forecast to warm up and rain while we’re away. (I won’t miss that one little bit!)

Sports Report- West Ham beat another Premiership team last night, that makes four-in-a-row in their Carling Cup run, but there isn’t a Hammer fan anywhere who wouldn’t trade it all for Premiership points.

(I know the people personally who were involved in yesterday’s horrible avalanche and Alpine will leave it to Henry to report about it on his site.)

11 January 2011
A lovely morning but more desperately sad news!

God, where do I start! I’ll start with the good news, which was another excellent morning in great snow. Chris and I went back up to the Fornet and skied the Pays Desert with the two little ‘skins’ to maximise our turns and we were lucky enough to have brilliant sunshine before the flat-light and snow moved in. We then headed over the Col for a very good Col Pers. Meanwhile Thomas was in the same sector (nice to have him back) as was Henry, who was initiating 7-week skiers Paul and Jane. Bravo! Andreas was skiing with Ian and they had a lovely morning skiing the Sachette and Familial.

I had a lovely surprise today while speaking with Nico and ran into Radio Will. It was great to see him and he’s here for a visit and to play some polo. (Unless he was pulling my leg) Anyway, Radio Val isn’t the same without him and it will be nice to have him around for awhile.

Now for the tragic news. There was a massive avalanche in the Fornet today and four skiers lost their lives. I don’t feel it’s ‘Alpine’s’ place to comment on the details and everyone at Alpine is feeling for those involved.

10 January 2011
A set of tracks for David!

It snowed 15cm’s or so overnight and although it was a little overcast to start with, the clouds dispersed and we had great visibility most of the morning. Chris, Andreas and I all headed to the Fornet and had some great skiing. We needed to pick our spots to avoid old track underneath but we ‘sniffed’ out some excellent pitches. We all skied a very good Combe du 3300 from the top of the T-Bar followed by an even better Pays Desert. My team went out a little further and ‘skinned’ up for five-minutes to access the big slopes at the bottom before ‘skinning’ back out for another five-minutes. The snow was wonderful and well worth the two little walks. Meanwhile Chris and Andreas went over the Col for a Col Pers and Chris’s American guests were well impressed, as was Ian who was spending the day with Andreas. (It was great for Chris and I to have Suzanne and Gill along for their first off-piste mornings of the season)

I’d gone to the Fornet today wanting to ski the Combe du Signal for the first time since David’s accident. It was closed first-thing so at the end of the morning we circled back around and skied it in brilliant sunshine, and the team of Gideon, Derek, Paul, Jean, and Gill laid David a perfect set of ‘Alpine’ tracks. It was very emotional as we stopped where Chrissy and David were found and surveyed the scene.

I’m not too sure about the weather but more of the same would go down nicely.

9 January 2011
That was a tricky one!

It was +3C in the village at 8AM, the sky was grey, there was no new snow to speak of, and with 30 to 80 kph of wind forecast it was never going to be an easy morning. I was the only one working so it was a little lonely at the Gourmandine, but the boys all showed up and we had a go. We skied piste before skiing the Lower Borsat, which was a little tricky in the flat-light before heading upstairs to the Grande Motte. Up high there was that always-welcome ‘light-bulb’ in the sky and the wind was surprisingly calm so we took the cable-car to the summit and skied the souffle with a cushion of snow to the Leisse chairlift. From there we traversed a few dreaded ‘dreadlocks’ before skiing the Rosolin, and even at that altitude you could feel the humidity in the snow, which gave it a slightly ’educational’ rating. After ’skinning’ out for 15-minutes we skied piste back to Val d’Isere and finished about 12:15. (Good photos again Jean and bravo boys for hanging in there!)

Millie and Katie have gone out for a ski with their pal Anna and her mother Kiera so I’ve a quiet afternoon to myself. The girls also had a tobogganing session this morning and they’re really enjoying their winter-wonderland. (Thank goodness Gill took them skiing or I’d be in the piscine right now!)

We are expecting between 15 and 35cm’s of fresh snow by morning and a fresh canvas will be very welcome.

I’d like to thank Rob C, Mac and Lolo, Richard F, and Maxine B for your wonderful letters and I’m in the process of answering your very supportive and appreciated e-mails. Thank you all very much indeed.

Sports Report- Once again, what a brilliant series of cricket the Ashes turned out to be. A few new stars were born and the future looks bright for English cricket. And well done to all the lower-league teams who knocked out Premiership clubs in the FA Cup games yesterday.

8 January 2011
A stunning Glacier Pers!

The forecast for today was a bit miserable but we awoke to unexpected clear skies and everyone was upbeat at the Gourmandine. Chris, Andreas and I took our teams up to the Fornet and over the Col to the Glacier Pers. There wasn’t a track in sight and the skiing top-to-bottom was excellent. It was incredibly mild but the snow down to the Grand Torsai was wonderful but below that, as is often the case, has been erased from the memory bank. (Jean is back in action so check his photos of the day)

Andreas had some of his family members ‘skinning’ for the first time and Sam, William, Hamish and Mike had a brilliant time. (Meanwhile Henry skied in Tignes but I haven’t heard what he skied.)

This afternoon Gill and I took Millie and Katie out for a cracking good ski and Katie has improved enormously since the last time we skied on Wednesday afternoon. How does that work? She’s flying and carving away and she’s suddenly much more fun for Millie to ski with.

We ran into Mike, Laura, Inga and Geoff at the bottom and Geoff had just survived being taken out by a big Russian on a snowboard. Geoff has just started to ski gently has he’s just had a full knee-replacement in August. Bravo Geoff!

I’m not too sure about the weather but we’ll hope for the best and get on with whatever comes or way. Stay tuned!

7 January 2011
That was more like it!

It snowed between 5 and 15cm’s depending on where you were and with some unexpected sunshine it was a cracking good morning. Chris and Henry headed up to the Fornet and skied three off the T-Bar before skiing the Combe du 3300 and the Col Pers to finish. I had a lovely morning with Richard B and his daughter Charlotte and we followed the sunshine around skiing the Fontaine Froide, Lower Borsat, Lower Chardonnet, a good shot of the Huit and some bits and pieces around the Marais. Andreas was in or around the same areas as well before the Sache on his way to lunch in Les Brevieres. Thomas isn’t feeling well and is taking some time off over the past few days and we wish him a speedy recovery.

Millie was much better at school today, which is a huge relief, and I’m looking forward to skiing with the girls in the afternoons over the weekend. Mike and Laura have been taking Gill skiing and hopefully Millie will be settled enough for Gill to start skiing with me next week.

This morning Mike, Laura and Gill had skied the ‘L’ and by the time they’d circled around for another run there had been a slip across three-quarters of the piste from the Danaides side. It came across where the piste becomes wider after the narrow section and thankfully no one was hit by it. It was extremely warm today with a little light drizzle at times in the village

Andreas has been having meetings with the Piste Service to find out what can be done with the money raised in David’s name. We are hoping to have a ‘Beep-checker’ (like they at the top of Toviere) installed at the top of the Signal Poma, which will allow people to verify that their beeps are transmitting as well as making those without beeps to think twice before venturing off-piste into either the Combe, Grand Vallon, or Vallonnet. It would also have an information board and perhaps a plaque. Andreas and Henry had thought a Beep Practice Zone (again like in Tignes) would be a good ideas but apparently there is too much vandalism to deal with. I’ll let you know when we have something definite organised.

Gill and I went up to visit Eric at his hotel and typically Eric was in good spirits and had been busy sorting out who to see when he returns to England. Gill was surprised about how little swelling there is and how good his knee looks on x-ray, meaning the fractures are small but he’ll need an MRI scan to assess the damage to his ligaments so fingers crossed for minimal damage.

6 January 2011
When it rains it pours!

What a stinker! Not because of snow conditions or West Ham losing 5-0, but because Eric H, who I haven’t skied with for years, did his ACL and broke his tibia in two places. He’s now resting comfortably.

David’ funeral will be held January 14th at 2:30PM at St. Andrews Church in Hamble. Instead of flowers or floral arrangements Chrissy would prefer to give money to the Mountain Rescue Fund. For information please contact HD Tribe LTD on 01903234516.

It finally snowed a little this afternoon so we’ll have something fresh to work with tomorrow. Stay tuned! (I’m rushed for time so must sign off)

5 January 2011
A little snow is on the way!

It looked as if the weather was changing yesterday but we were lucky this morning and profited from a largely sunny morning although the clouds started to build up around noon. I had Richard B who I haven’t skied with in years, and his lovely daughter Charlotte and we skied off the Motte followed by their first-ever ‘skin’ to the Little Borsat West. Chris and Henry were in the same neighbourhood and Andreas was up at the Fornet with a group of Swedish ski instructors.

I skied with Katie this afternoon while Red Ray skied with Millie, Michael R and his daughter Leah. Gill opted for a little peace and quiet and went for a walk with Doctor Laura and her mad dog Mel.

It sounds a little iffy for tomorrow with some cloud, wind and perhaps rain in the village. Anything falling out of the sky will be welcome as a fresh canvas is long overdue.

Sports Report- What a wonderful series of cricket and the selectors did a superb job picking Cook, Bell and KP, all of whom came into the Ashes without being in top form. And come on you Hammers tonight away to Newcastle.

(Jean is off for three days so there won’t be any photo updates)

4 January 2011
A wonderful Glacier Pers!

We enjoyed another beautiful day with some stunning skiing. Chris and I headed up to the Fornet again and ‘skinned’ to the Glacier Pers and although there a several sets of Alpine tracks up there, we’d left ourselves plenty of space for perfect tracks in a great snow. Chris had Ben, Louise and Grant who are new to Alpine today, and they were overwhelmed by the wonderful scenery and fantastic virgin snow, and their smiles on the Grand Torsai reminded me of why we do what we do. (Sasha in my group was in a similar state of wonder.) It was another really uplifting day when it was needed most.

Andreas was back in action with a family group and skied up at the Fornet. He had a boarder in the group so walking was out of the question for his team, Henry was off and Thomas has been feeling unwell over the past couple of days and didn’t ski today.

The streets are in horrible condition and it’s criminal the state they are in. I saw a lady fall yesterday and crack her head on the ice and I’ve never seen a better use of a helmet. It will be a sad day when people start wearing helmets in the street but it saved this poor lady. Do pay attention if you’re arriving in town and don’t show up in Cowboy boots!

Gill missed her skiing with Doctor Laura and Inga this morning as Millie worked herself into such a state about school that see threw up. Gill took her home but Millie made such a miraculous recovery she took her back to school where she stayed the rest of the day. I took Gill out for some fresh air this afternoon and we had a nice ski at La Daille.

We may see some snow on Thursday and ten centimetres or so and a fresh canvas would be welcome. Stay tuned!

3 January 2011
A lovely Pays Desert!

The sun continues to beat down on us although it was sneaky cold this morning. Chris and I took our groups up to the Fornet for an excellent Pays Desert way-out to avoid the tracks. There isn’t much left around the resort but we skied fresh snow top-to-bottom leaving great tracks and it was a really good result for two ten-minute-skins. (Great photos again Jean!)

It’s eerie to say the least going over top of the Combe du Signal and looking down on our avalanche scene. It’s amazing how the first plaque triggered the second and everything around the corner as well. Henry saw 10 people grouped together and skiing at the same time the day before our accident but ‘what if’s’ don’t count and shouldn’t be dwelled upon.

It’s pretty quiet at the moment with just Chris and I off-piste, Andreas has a family on-piste but will be back in action tomorrow, Henry is off and Thomas is out this afternoon.

Millie and Katie started school again today with Katie taking it in her stride and poor Millie dissolving into tears. It took Gill a while to free herself from her clutches but she’s in the class she wanted with her friends and she will hopefully settle in quickly.

Thanks again from all the team at Alpine along with Chrissy, Jeremy and Sasha for your wonderful e-mails. They’ve kept us all going, and are continuing to do so. I will now begin to try and start replying to you all. And thank-you to Maxine and friends from the Hurtmore Golf Club for your lovely letter.

2 January 2011
Another beautiful day!

The sun continues to shine and we’re managing to find some lovely skiing on a totally trashed mountain. As you can imagine we are taking it easy and just enjoying each other’s company and simple skiing, as no one feels ready to take on anything too serious. Today’s skiing consisted of some nice powder on a gentle slope off the Verte, followed by some excellent souffle on the Motte and then some great snow after a little ‘skin’ on the Borsat West. (Check Jean’s photos)

The avalanche risk dropped today from 3/5 to 2/5 but nothing has really changed. If anything it is going to get worse with each cold night as the goblet is getting deeper by the day and after the next big snowfall much of the mountain is going to purge itself and the rest won’t take much provoking. It is definitely going to be a case of gentle slopes and not much else.

Pat Zimmer was taken out on the piste a couple of days ago and suffered a concussion, which has kept him in bed ever since. When the resort is busy the pistes are 99% more dangerous than the off-piste and you see people laid out from collisions almost daily. Good luck Pat and we hope you’re feeling better soon.

Andreas is having a meeting with the head of the Piste Service on Monday to look at various projects that could be launched in David’s name from proceeds coming from the Mountain Rescue Fund. We’ll keep you posted as ideas develop and something is decided.

I’ve skied with my girls every afternoon, which has been incredibly helpful as the innocence of children takes your mind off things and allows you to smile and laugh again. Jean Marc, who has been great has now returned home and I’m not too sure when he’ll be back again, and we’ll surely miss him.

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

1 January 2011
Happy New Year!

I was more emotional again today but had a good talk with JM at the Gourmandine, which helped enormously. Gideon was back in the saddle today for his first off-piste session of the season and along with Penny, Jean and Michael we enjoyed a relaxing morning skiing the Lower Borsat en-route to the Little Borsat West, where we had fantastic snow. We had three main pitches of 30-turns, 25-turns, and then 62-turns to finish. We then skied piste with a little technique mixed in and finished around 12:30.

Meanwhile Chris and Henry had lovely trips to the Glacier Pers and Jean Marc was skiing around the Motte where he ran into Red Ray and Millie, who are becoming quite a team. (Gill was out with Katie.) I’m not too sure what Thomas skied and Andreas is on piste for a few days with the Stewart family.

Thank-you Penny for another wonderful New Year’s drinks party and thanks-you to Tim’s sons Dan, Olivier and Freddie for a beautifully sang Panis Angelicus in David’s memory. It was very moving and very much appreciated.

PS Great photos Jean and come on you Hammers!

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