Wayne's Daily Diary Archive

20 June 2007

31 December 2011
Happy New Year to you all!

The wind died down today compared to yesterday’s violent gusts and another 40cm’s of fresh snow fell overnight. The Funival opened quite quickly and we profited with an excellent first run top-to-bottom, although the snow was much heavier than yesterday and it was really quite hard work for the most part. Andreas and I both spotted fracture lines in the trees around the bottom of La Daille on fairly gentle slopes, which meant anything steeper, even in the trees was dodgy. The avalanche risk was 4 moving to 5/5 as the day progressed so it wasn’t a morning for trying to be clever and we skied deep snow on piste or just off the sides. Chris gave Julia a ‘skier of the morning’ award in his group while Thomas’ team of Will, Harry, Liz, Mary, Per, and Geoff were also doing the business. Well done to you all! Unfortunately Ray lost a ski two hundred metres from the bottom of the Face du Bellevarde on the last run of the morning and we won’t be seeing it again until the summer. Bummer!

It snowed all day and a cold night would be welcome to dry out the snow a little to make the skiing easier tomorrow. We may see some sun in the morning before a big snowfall on Monday followed by another on Thursday.

Sports Report- West Ham blew another chance to move level with Southampton at the top of the table as they lost 2-1 away to Derby. That will teach me for having a little dig at Jeremy about the Saints 1-0 loss last night. And I just checked the Premiership scores to find Man U lost to Blackburn at Old Trafford. Ouch! The City boys will be licking their chops over that one.

PS. And a mention to Bill and Ann K who yesterday finished a great week with Andreas.

30 December 2011
What fantastic ambience!

Wow! What incredibly wild weather we were subjected to this morning! In all my years here the conditions at the top of Bellevarde had to rank in the top three for the worst winds ever faced. It was absolutely ferocious and made even standing still very difficult. I almost lost Jean and Ray at the top and Peter and Clare were separated from Andreas and had quite an adventure getting themselves down. I really quite enjoyed it as one doesn’t experience weather like that very often and once we got down to the tree-line the skiing was outstanding. Unfortunately by the time we arrived at the bottom they’d closed La Daille, which wasn’t a surprise. Andreas and I bussed our teams to the Gourmandine for a coffee before Andreas headed up to the Fornet cable car, which was the only lift operating, and my team decided to call it a short but rewarding morning. Henry and JM continued for awhile and I’m not too sure how Thomas and Chris fared.

I returned home to spend a couple of hours with the girls and Ray working on the Fairy Snow Castle and Bobsled run on the terrace. We’ve shifted an incredible amount of snow over the last couple of days and we’re expecting up to another 50cm’s over the next 24-hours. (Photos on link)

If anyone has anything in my cave that they want to keep please let me know as it’s full and we’re about to clean it out. Good gear that I know the owner of is fine but things I’m unsure of risk getting binned! (For example, an old pair of Volkl P 10’s)

29 December 2011
First time for 30-years!

It wasn’t very inspiring looking out the window this morning as the sky was grey and it had just started to snow, which meant no visibility and not enough fresh snow to improve the conditions. Basically, it was a potential ‘stinker’, but the boys came through with a pretty good morning. Andreas, Thomas and I started off with the Little Lavachet, which was really good, and even better down below in the trees. It was interesting getting there through a fog but once on the slope it was great skiing followed by a 15-minute ‘skin’ back out. From there we went over the first Col into the Sache and again had better-than-bargained-for snow. We arrived in a real white-out towards the bottom and I missed the path out and decided to continue down through the canyon instead of climbing back out. The last time I was down there was almost 30-years ago with my brother Dennis and it turned out to be a fun and interesting trip. It was a great last morning for Michael who finished 16-days of wonderful skiing. Well done Michael! Chris and JM were also in action and I know JM skied the Sache and Familial but I’m not too sure what JC skied.

We are expecting anything from 40cm’s to a metre of fresh snow over the weekend so I’d better get out on the terrace and finish clearing the last storm’s worth of snow. Thanks Ray!

Jean was back skiing this morning so today’s photos will be on his link. A demain.

28 December 2011
A great Foglietta!

Last night Andreas and I did the torchlight with Kristina and it was probably the easiest one ever. The views were fantastic as dusk settled over the mountains and it made it all worth the effort. From there it was off to Peter and Clare’s for a wonderful drinks party. Thank you both very much!

On to today’s skiing, Andreas and Thomas went down to Ste Foy to ski the Foglietta and were rewarded with a brilliant ski. The Foglietta is always an impressive place and when the snow is good it’s hard to beat. Well done boys! Meanwhile Chris and I had a great morning making the best of what was on offer in the resort. We started off with a good pitch in the Lower Borsat, followed by a pretty decent run off the Leisse and then we ‘skinned’ up to the Little Borsat West and left good team tracks in our wake. Jean Marc and Henry were also about but I haven’t heard what they skied. (I brought my camera so hopefully I’ll have a few photos)

Ray came out this afternoon with Millie and Katie for some good piste cruising and Katie was miles better than yesterday. We met up with Stephen, Kaye and young Christian, and he’s doing incredibly well as he’s in his first week and he’s only just four. Bravo Christian!

We’ve just opened our presents and I was well pleased with mine, as were Gill and the girls. They just love this second Christmas routine.

A little snow is forecast tomorrow with heavyier snow falls on Friday.

27 December 2011
Time to walk!

I’ll do just a quick update as there’s a lot on. I had a great trip last night to Lyon for the girls as Easy Jet was 25-minutes early and the roads were clear. This morning we had a cracking good ski as Thomas and Andreas ‘skinned’ up to the Glacier Suspendu and had fantastic snow back into the Sache, while Chris took the Ross family to Mont Roup. My team skied the Little Lavachet for the first time in two years followed by a Sache towards the Sachette Couloir. We then ‘skinned’ for ten-minutes to access some lovely snow in the meadows. This afternoon Gill and I took Millie and Katie for their first ski of the season and in 20-minutes I’m meeting Andreas to do the Torchlight Descent, and Kristina is visiting from Sweden so she’ll be joining us. Then it’s off to Peter and Clare’s for a drinks party, which Millie and Katie are really looking forward to, and by then it will be time for bed. (I forgot my camera today and Jean is still out of action so there won’t be any new photos tonight)

Another sunny day is forecast for tomorrow before 10 to 20cm’s of snow is expected on Thursday. With the wind and today’s heat there isn’t going to be that much good snow left so a little top up will be welcome. Stay tuned for a longer update tomorrow.

26 December 2011
Well done Chrissy!

A very difficult day passed really well as Chrissy arrived at the Rond Point with a smile on her face, and that set the tone making it possible for the rest of us to keep it together. The sun was shining and we all had a lovely ski without coming across any other people. Chrissy skied with Thomas this morning and along with Andreas’ team of Bill and Ann, they all ‘skinned’ up Mont Roup and had some great skiing. Meanwhile, Chris, JM and I all headed up to the Fornet, which has been ravaged by the wind, so Chris and I dove over the Col immediately. We skied smooth winded snow for the most part but we didn’t get any of the soft snow of a few days back as the wind had changed conditions drastically. JM was in the neighbourhood and I think he skied the Vallonnet with his team of Mike A, Peter C, and Jean Jacques.

I’ll keep the update short as I need to get ready to go down to Lyon to pick up the girls. Today’s photos are up on my link as Jean is still under the weather. Thank you to Margaret and Penny for a wonderful meal last night, a truly amazing effort and much appreciated by all.

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow and cone on you Hammers!

25 December 2011
See you tomorrow night girls!

Wow! What a fantastic ‘Merry Christmas’ ski this morning turned out to be. We had perfect blue sky with brilliant sunshine, and the snow was jolly good as well! Andreas, Chris and I all headed towards Tignes and we warmed up off the Verte before skiing some great snow in the Lower Borsat. From there Andreas hiked up to the Chardonnet while Chris and I came in underneath and the snow was very good indeed. My team then had a good pitch off the Grand Huit en route to the Aiguille Percee lift (photo of Chrissy) and from there we all skied our first Sache of the season. We had an atmospheric walk along the ridge to get in but the effort was definitely worth it. The top was pretty good but the middle and bottom sections were superb, and it was nice to be back out there again. All the teams finished with a good Familial and it was a perfect Christmas morning. (Jean was ill this morning so today’s photos are on my Photos of the Month link)

Tomorrow will be an emotional day as it’s the anniversary of David’s tragic accident and then after 33-days I’ll be seeing Gill and the girls again as I pick them up at the airport in the evening. Chrissy and I would like to say thanks to Gilly U for her emails, and to everyone in general for your wonderful support. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow and Merry Christmas to you all!

PS Thank you Richard and Suzy for a lovely evening last night. I’m surprised Ray could ski today!

24 December 2011
Something from nothing!

After yesterday’s sunshine it was back into flat-light, which was accompanied by a wicked wind. Fortunately it started snowing lightly around 5AM and the new snow would become a factor during the morning. Andreas and I bussed down to the Funival, which opened as we arrived and once we turned into the wind it felt like it was going to be a tough morning. The first run down was difficult as the wind had ripped any new snow away down to the piste and I thought it was going to be a short morning. Once below La Folie Douce is was much calmer and there was some lovely fresh snow on the pistes to lift the spirits. Back up top they opened Bonnevie’s Drag for us and we profited from 5 excellent runs as no one was about and there was just enough protection from the wind to give us 10 to 20cm’s of soft creamy snow. We mixed in a run or two under Mont Blanc, a couple through the trees to the bottom, back to Bonnevie’s for a couple more and Chris, Andreas and I all finished with the Fontaine Froide onto the Epaule du Charvet. It turned out to be a jolly good morning and was especially satisfying as during the first run it looked like a very tricky morning. (Henry, Thomas, Chris, Andreas and I were all in action this morning.)

I’m on my last-minute preparations for the girls arriving Monday night so sorry for the short update.

After skiing in pretty flat-light all morning it’s cheered up considerably this afternoon and more lifts will slowly open during the afternoon. Tomorrow may be similar to today but then it’s forecast to clear up and be sunny from Sunday through to Thursday.

23 December 2011
First Col Pers of the season!

For the first time in what seems like ages we were treated to clear blue skies from dawn to dusk. It was so nice to see again and to look at the scenery, which we’ve missed for quite some time. Andreas, Henry and I decided on a change of pace so we rolled the dice and headed up to the Fornet to see what was on offer. After all the wind we’ve had there was nothing guaranteed but we managed to ’sniff’ out some great skiing. Andreas and I opened with two really good runs in what I’d call skiers-snow (slightly educational) in the Lower Combe du Signal. I know what you’re thinking, when he says ‘educational’ that means rubbish, but it was good enough to circle back around for another run. From there we went upstairs to the Glacier and had a lovely Pays Desert on smooth winded supporting snow, which resembled spring snow before heading over the Col Pers for the first time this season. The Col was a nice mix of winded up top with strips of frisset in the middle section, and surprisingly well protected 10 to 20cm’s of powder down low. It was a really cracking good result! (Henry’s team skied the 3300 before heading over the Col)

Chris and Thomas started up Bellevarde but I’m not too sure what they skied this morning and I didn’t hear where JM was either. Thomas needed to stay close as Nick and Ben had a taxi to catch a noon.

We are forecast 5 to 10cm’s of fresh snow for tomorrow before high pressure moves in for next week, which will make my drive to pick up Gill, Millie and Katie much easier. Log on tomorrow for more news and photos!

22 December 2011
Much better visibility this morning!

The visibility improved drastically today, although there was some low cloud drifting about that was fog-like if you were unlucky enough to be in it, and we profited with a cracking good morning. We all headed Tignes-way with Andreas, Thomas and Henry skiing the Campanules, Lognan and Chardonnet while Chris and I skied the Borsat and Combe des Lanches. I finished with a Col des Fresse and Familial, and most of the boys finished in the Familial as well. We had moments with some compacted snow and some wonderful pitches of good deep powder, and it all added up to another fantastic morning. The avalanche risk was lowered from 4 to 3/5 this morning as the mountain is slowly stabilising itself. Red Ray has arrived and joined us half-way through the morning and Peter C managed his first off-piste morning due to a very sore back. He did well as they covered a lot of ground plus needed to hike up to the Chardonnet, so bravo Peter! And good work this morning Andreas and Thomas.

I skied with Wils and Rosie and their Dad Rob this afternoon and we’re out to the burger bar this evening. Millie is jealous as it’s her favourite place to eat. I’m really looking forward to picking them up on the 26th, hurry up girls! Meanwhile Andreas’ Dad has arrived from Sweden along with Tansy’s Mum and Dad from Albertville and they’re having a great time down the valley.

Henry wanted me to mention Richard’s ‘skier of the morning’ award yesterday and I must mention Penny’s this morning, who shredded the trickier snow beautifully! I was very impressed Penny!

We all know how you can mend anything in the world with duck tape but Henry came up with a new use the other day. He arrived at the Gourmandine and duck taped all his crevasses. He must have taped up three or four fingers. Nice one Henry! (crevasses are where your fingers spilt along the nail due to the cold and they hurt like hell!)

I must go as the burger bar is waiting. A demain.

21 December 2011
Still 4/5!

It didn’t really snow much overnight and this morning we had a ‘light bulb’ in the distance, which gave us decent visibility for a flat-light day. The wind worked the snow over last night and although it was still very good in places it wasn’t as easy as yesterday when you couldn’t put a foot wrong. I was feeling a little emotional this morning with missing my girls and the anniversary of David’s accident looming, but we managed a pretty good morning around Bellevarde, the Borsat, and Tommeuses. Chris, Thomas and Henry were in the same neighbourhood and Andreas changed sectors part way through the morning and joined Jean Marc around the Mattis area, where they had some excellent skiing down low.

Chris, Andreas and JM are skiing all-day and are still up around the Mattis and the Pyramid as I write.

Although it’s very bright at 2:20 this afternoon there are some nice flakes falling and this incredible sequence of snowfalls continues, although we should start to see some sunnier days soon. I’m hoping for good weather on the 26th so the journey to Lyon and back to pick up my girls is simple and safe. I don’t fancy dealing with slippery roads and chains and fortunately the forecast for Monday is good. Yahoo! And Andreas is looking forward to his Dad arriving this evening for a week’s visit.

20 December 2011
4/5 with flat-light but maximum turns!

Last night I looked out the window before going to bed and the stars were burning brightly in the sky and I thought, “Maybe we’ll be able to see tomorrow”. Fat chance of that! It was dumping it down this morning and it snowed pretty hard all morning long, but what I didn’t expect was perhaps the finest morning of the season so far. Everything that could go right did go right and my team managed to ski virgin pistes with lovely powder all morning long. They opened the Fontaine Froide and Borsat right in front of us, and after a hot chocolate stop when I thought we’d just ski down to finish the morning, they opened Tommeuses just as we were about to pass. Chris was on the first lift and we were a couple of chairs behind and Chris’ and my team had the piste to ourselves top-to-bottom. By the time we arrived at the bottom of Tommeuses they’d already closed it again. I skied my team of John, Margaret, Jean R, Peter B, Michael R, and Richard F really hard this morning, and they hung in there until 1:20PM. Bravo!

Chris skied with the Cook’s and Lambert’s, Andreas had Mark, Hen, Chrissy, Clare, and John D, Thomas was boarding with Ross, JM was skiing with Jo H, and Henry was out there as well. We all skied in the same sector as not too much was open and with a risk of 4/5 off-piste on piste was a great option, with some wonderful snow off the edges and between pistes. What a morning!

Although we enjoyed ourselves immensely this morning there was a tragic accident at 7AM on the road to Bourg this morning. A young woman from Ste Foy hit a big lorry and was killed and her passenger had a heart attack and also died. The road was shut for quite some time and Andreas, Tansy, and Thomas were delayed getting up the mountain while the rescue services dealt with the situation.

My girls are arriving next Monday so I’m off to finish a bit of painting, tidy up, get the tree organized and that should keep me busy this afternoon. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow.

19 December 2011
A good battle for the 'splat du jour'!

It was my last day with the Cook’s and the Lambert’s as they move on to Chris for the next three days and we enjoyed another excellent ski. It snowed just enough to fill the tracks on moderate to gentle slopes and we skied a lovely warm-up in creamy snow off the Verte en-route to the Lower Borsat. Robert picked up what looked to be the ‘splat du jour’ when he hit some rubbish left behind by a piste basher, (that’ll teach us for skiing on the piste) but fortunately he was fine after really piling in. Anyway, the Borsat was very good and the meadows into Tignes were even better. We then went up and skied the edges of the Genepy piste down from the Motte and after last week’s adventure in that area I stayed close to the piste markers. (The Genepy is still closed) We passed some Pisteurs who were pulling out the piste markers that they could find as some had totally disappeared and others had about six-inches sticking up out of the snow. It looked like hard work as the markers were well frozen into the snow. From their we crossed paths with Henry and had a superb Familial to finish the morning.

Meanwhile JM was skiing with his family around the Mattis, as well as Andreas, Thomas and Chris. They all had some wonderful skiing in the Combe du Signal once the Pyramid Chair opened, and they all filled their boots in that area. Everyone had flattish light early on but it cleared around 11:30 or so and that gave the boys some good visibility to let rip in the Combe. Well done Chrissy!

JM, Andreas, Chris and I all skied this afternoon as well. I know Chris stayed and continued cutting into the Combe while Andreas and JM were going to ski the Lievre Blanc. (I’m not too sure what they skied after that) Meanwhile my team headed up Solaise to ski the Arcelle and to walk out at the bottom. It was pretty good skiing for the most part but I did manage to wrestle the ’splat du jour’ award away from Robert. After skiing along quite nicely my skis dove like a submarine avoiding depth-charges and I piled in head-first with my feet coming up-and-over, and I landed with the backs of my skis buried up to the heel pieces. I didn’t feel it at the time but stiffness is definitely going to set in before long.

Sports Report- What a match last night between City and Arsenal! Cracking good football from end to end and it could have ended up 4-3 instead of 1-0. What an advert for the Premiership! And well done to Lee Westwood who won another tournament over the weekend and he took over the World Number 2 spot form Rory. (They’re golfers for those of you who don’t care)

Stay tuned for more skiing news tomorrow. Jean skied with Chris this morning and he’s posted a few photos.

18 December 2011
Dix sur dix!

Wow, what a brilliant morning. We all headed up Bellevarde and we had that ‘light bulb’ above us all morning long, and it turned into full-blown sunshine towards the end of the morning. For the most part we skied on yesterday and last night’s new snow with a supporting base underneath, and it made for great skiing.

I skied with Julie and Mike L and their 14-year-old daughter Justine, along with Caroline and Robert C, and their 14-year-old daughter Sophie, and the entire team left perfect ‘Alpine’ tracks all morning long. Bravo! Meanwhile Andreas skied with Chrissy and John D, while Chris skied with Michael R and James R, and JM was with Johnny ‘Alpine’, Billy, and I’m not sure of the third person’s name. Thomas was boarding this morning and everyone had a wonderful morning.

I’m writing at lunchtime as I’m back out this afternoon, then off to John’s for the City v Arsenal match, then meeting by brother-in-law Rob with Wils, Rosie and Chris C at the Perdrix for dinner, then it should be bedtime. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow.

17 December 2011
Everything's on hold!

The storm is slowly claming down but with so much work to do security-wise to protect the village, skiing isn’t the main priority at the moment. With an avalanche risk at 5/5 the road from the Richards towards the Fornet is closed to vehicles, as is the road up towards the Chatelard. The road from Bourg up to the station is flowing much better today so those travelling today shouldn’t suffer the delays that some did yesterday, where it took up to five hours to arrive from Bourg. Ouch! It’s now 9:16AM and I’m meeting my clients in the shop at 10:30 as they got in late last night and need to get themselves organized. There’s no rush as things won’t open for quite some time, if at all. Stay tuned for further updates later in the day.

PS Chrissy and I went up to Chris E’s and had a great evening with JM, Chris, Catherine K, and Johnny ‘Alpine’. After some good laughs John, Chrissy and I had a lovely walk back into town into the teeth of the storm. It was snowing and blowing and it felt like a privilege to be witnessing such an event. All round good fun!

PSS Poor Chris is still snowed in on his own as Suzanne is in Normandy. I’m waiting for Wils and Rosie and their Dad Rob to arrive sometime this afternoon. Good luck to all!

PSSS No skiing again today but we should get back to business tomorrow. The temperature should drop to -20 at 2000m’s tonight and that will dry the snow out significantly. They’ve just managed to clear the road to the Fornet so Chris will thankfully be able to come out of hibernation. And a great win for the Hammers today!

16 December 2011
A rare and beautiful sight!

Another 60cm’s fell during the night in the village and it’s wonderful to see so much snow. Unfortunately we were shut down today as Tim, Mandy, James, Chrissy, Julian, and Michael all showed up ready to go. Chris was snowed in at the Laisinant so I combined my team with his and we bussed down to La Daille hoping the bubbles or the little chair would open. It became apparent that nothing was going to open so we had a hot chocolate at Les Tufs (thanks Tim), and when the Pisteurs said you’d need a mono ski on each foot to even make an attempt to ski the near-waist deep snow, it was time to call it a day. While waiting for a bus we witness two avalanches coming down on the opposite side of the valley and it’s now nice to be home. (Andreas and Thomas didn’t risk coming up and stayed home with their families. Good decision!)

I forgot to mention Michael R’s superb head-plant yesterday. Erik B and I were worried about him as he went straight in and couldn’t breathe, but he managed to wiggle his way free before Tim and Jackie could get to him.

I’ve taken some photos and there is a new link to my Photos of the Season on this page and they look best if you run them as a slide show. It’s not yet connecting properly as you get to the photos without any problems but you can’t get back into the site directly. Josie will hopefully sort it soon. (I’m sure Jean will have taken some photos from around the village this morning as he had the day off skis)

At noon the snow continues and it’s forecast to keep snowing all day and into the night.

PS The avalanche risk has now gone up to 5/5. (12:30 PM)

15 December 2011
Less adventure but wonderful skiing!

It snowed another 20cm’s overnight and continued to snow during the morning, and surprisingly the lifts opened bang on time. Because of wind at altitude we had a limited choice of lifts but it was enough to give us a fabulous morning of skiing. Solaise opened first so we all headed straight up to take advantage of 15+cm’s on a perfectly groomed base and everyone was grinning ear-to-ear. When we arrived at the bottom they closed both the Solaise Express and the Olympique due to wind so Chris and I skied our groups past Bananas and down the road to the bus stop in front of the cinema. Chris and his group were hassled by the police as skiing in town is a no-no, but they avoided arrest and met us at the bus stop. We arrived at La Daille and went straight up the Funival and had a great run top-to-bottom on piste with fresh snow on top. Andreas, Thomas, Oli, and perhaps Henry all arrived from Solaise and we continued to have lovely skiing all morning long with a mix of off-piste on piste with some off-piste close to and between the pistes. It was a superb morning and a bonus really because when they shut the lifts after our first run it looked as if it was going to be a short morning but everyone skied until at least 1 o’clock.

The really big snow is forecast for the next 36 to 48 hours and we will probably have some down-time over the next couple of days. By tomorrow we’ll surpass last season’s total snowfall with more to come. Hallelujah!

It’s lovely sitting here in my warm and cosy apartment after a satisfying morning watching and listening to the storm brewing outside. I’m going to relax for an hour then get stuck into some painting as Gill, Millie and Katie will be arriving on the 26th and time will go quickly now and I want to finish things off.

Suzanne and Laura’s journeys are going well and Chrissy arrives this evening. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow.

14 December 2011
That was fun but I'm glad it's over!

Wow, what an adventurous morning that turned out to be! We probably had at least 20 cm’s of new snow on the piste so Chris and I took advantage of the Fontaine Froide piste for a cracking good warm-up. From there we ventured off-piste on the Fontaine Froide (skiers left) and had excellent snow right to the bottom, where I managed to ski off a big wind roll in the flat-light and lost my skis and my poles. Fortunately I found them right where I left them and after a few minutes we were on our way again. We then skied off the Verte en-route to the Lower Borsat (another ski search) and then the meadows into Tignes, all of which were very good indeed. We then headed upstairs and skied off the Genepy, where I managed to ski off another terrain trap with a good drop and needed help from Chris to get me out as I was well stuck and was going nowhere. Chris then helped out enormously with the navigation as we were in pretty flat-light by this stage and needed to get ourselves back towards the piste. After arriving to the comfort of the piste markers we had great skiing on the piste (which was closed and empty) only to find that the lifts back to Val d’Isere were all closed. Fortunately they laid on a free bus, which just happened to leave about five minutes after our arrival and we returned to Val by 2 o’clock.

Meanwhile, I know that Oli opened with the Arcelle piste and walked out at the bottom, but I’ve no idea what he and Pietro skied after that. Andreas and Thomas had the day off and I didn’t see Henry this morning. Pietro returns home to Italy this afternoon while Suzanne is driving to Normandy tonight and Doctor Laura is driving back to England. We wish them all luck as it’s not the best of driving conditions.

I decked myself a season’s worth this morning so hopefully I’ve got it out of my system. I was skiing with Simon R for the first time in many years and he said, “Boy, I haven’t seen anyone take that many hits in ages!” Ahh, the joys of going first!

At 2:50 PM it’s throwing it down again as it builds towards a massive snowfall by the end of the weekend. Stay tuned!

13 December 2011
Bliss before the storm!

It cleared overnight, which dried out the snow but by the time we arrived at the Gourmandine it was starting to cloud over and forecast to do so. It was a fifty/fifty call as far as the Fornet or Tignes and after some debate Chris, Andreas, Pietro and I headed up to the Fornet while Thomas and Henry skied towards Tignes. (I’m not too sure what JM skied).

After a good warm-up around the Mattis and Super L I managed to be the first into the Combe du Signal, which was quite poignant for me and everyone was paying attention and following procedures perfectly. Well done team! It was great skiing with ambience and from there we circled back up to ski the Grand Vallon, which was very good as well. We then moved on and headed up to the Glacier and had first-tracks in the Combe du 3300, which was beautifully protected and teriffic skiing. Up until then the light had been superb, much better than forecast and we felt very lucky to have had such good visibility. But the light faded as we finished off with the Pays Desert, which had great snow but we needed to feel our way down. My team of Michael R, Jean, Tim, Erik and Jackie skied and moved about the mountain really well and I was very pleased with them all.

Andreas had a group of Vikings and they enjoyed fanastic skiing and skied the same areas as my team, as did Chris, who had Julian, Mandy, James R, and Suzanne, and Pietro who was skiing with Fiona M. It was a wonderful morning and well done Andreas and Chris for tipping the balance towards the Fornet. (I haven’t heard from Henry and Thomas but I’m sure they had great skiing as well as they both had initiation groups.)

I thought I’d pop down to Bourg this afternoon to do some shopping before the snow moves in and I barely made it back up. The road was getting very slippery and made worse by drivers with summer tyres pulling over to put on their chains. I was thankful to be able to keep up my momentum and get up without the chain hassle.

Speaking of snow, here is last night’s forecast from Meteo France. Today: 5 to 10cm’s is expected but it’s already snowed more than that and it’s snowing moderately now at 5:30 PM. Wednesday: 15 to 25cm’s at 2000 metres. Thursday: 10 to 15cm’s with a chance of some clearer spells. Friday and Saturday: ‘Neige extremement important’. That means we are in for some huge snowfalls with high avalanche risk and very difficult driving conditions. Voila! Good luck to all of you who are travelling this weekend.

PS JM and Oli have been skiing alternate days with Chris E, Catherine K, John F (Johnny ‘Alpine’), Wynne and a new client named Robin. Sorry if I’ve missed anyone.

12 December 2011
Not the easiest!

After yesterday’s sun it was back to winter this morning. It started snowing around 8AM and continued to snow all morning and as I write at 2PM, it’s chucking it down! The wind picked up significantly during the morning and we felt lucky to get back from Tignes before they shut the connecting lifts down.

As for the skiing today, we all took it easy and skied off the Verte, lower Borsat and Chris finished with the Familial, but in between we mainly stayed on the pistes. Unfortunately John E hurt his back and needed to return to Val by taxi. He didn’t fall and his back just went on him while skiing the piste. I’ve tried to call to check on him but his phone has been busy, and hopefully he’ll be able to ski again in a day or two. (Just spoke to Margaret and John’s fine, but won’t ski for a day or two)

Andreas spent one-and-a-half hours doing a beep search with Jeremy and Jerry, so that shows you how tough the conditions were this morning. There isn’t the snow cover yet to have the confidence to ski off-piste in flat-light like we do most of the winter and it was a unanimous decision after a great few days to not push the boat out this morning. Speaking of Andreas’ team, Tim and I ran into them at the Burger Bar at lunchtime. That’s two day in a row for Jeremy, Jerry and Andreas, and two out of three for Tim and I. Addictive!

It’s forecast to snow all day and clear during the night with the temperatures dropping from -1C in the village this morning to -7C tomorrow. We may see some sun in the morning but it’s then forecast to snow during the week.

For you footie fans out there tonight’s match between Man City and Chelsea should be a beauty. I’ve never heard of Man United supporters cheering for Chelsea before!

With John’s injury I’d like to remind you of Louise’s Physio practice. She runs a great clinic and has Henry’s wife Ginnie working with her as well, so if you’ve injured yourself don’t hesitate to call Bonne Sante on 04 79 06 07 27.

PS Thanks Pat W for a lovely drinks party last night!

11 December 2011
Ambience, scenery, wildlife, and outstanding skiing!

Tomorrow’s forecast is for snow followed by snow on-and-off all next week, so we decided to take advantage of today’s beautiful weather and do some exploring. Andreas, Chris, Henry and I all started from the Borsat and skied the meadows down to the Grand Pre, which was a great warm-up. From there we all took various routes down the Tour du Charvet to find good creamy winded snow up top, with softer snow in the middle and some good powder towards the bottom. The scenery out there is wonderful and it’s always an added bonus to have the place to yourself. We also had a good wildlife display with some Gypete hovering above and we spotted a fox hole with signs of activity, and it absolutely stank when you got downwind of it.

We had planned on walking and pushing out at the bottom but they opened the Manchet Express this morning, which saved us a huge effort plus opened up the Arcelle sector for a follow up. We all skied slightly different ways down and Chris and I arrived in time to get into the Combe du Foin with only four tracks in front of us so we had a brilliant ski. And to finish off a fantastic morning we skied a terrific run down the Marmottons into the Marmottes, which is an areas that always gets my juices flowing!

Meanwhile, Pietro left some lovely tracks as he and Fiona ’skinned’ to Mont Roup and I’m not at all sure what Olivier and Jean Marc got up to today. They’ve a touring week this week so they’ll have gone off on an adventure somewhere.

Today’s cast had Tilly and James R skiing with Chris and Suzanne, Jeremy R and Jerry skied with Andreas, while I had John, Margaret, Jean R, and Tim. Dan S also came along to do some filming for his Silver Grey Sports Club website, which is about over 50’s and the various sporting activities that they get up to. He’s done a piece on John and Margaret, Jean R, Rob Cochran, Nikki Pitts, myself and a few others in town, and today he was working on shots with John, Margaret and Jean. (Dan did the interview and skiing video that was linked to the Daily Diary last season)

Anyway, what a morning and what a terrible Hammers result yesterday!

10 December 2011
A great result off the Motte!

The sun was out in full force this morning and although it was tempting to head back to the Fornet Andreas and I decided to try Tignes for a change of pace and to have a look at the mountain. We were rewarded with some fantastic skiing from the top of the funicular as the Genepy piste hadn’t been groomed and there wasn’t a track in the entire sector. The snow was compacted by the wind and had a lovely creamy texture that supported well and you could really let rip on it. Further down the snow loosened up and let you sink in 5 to 10 cm’s and it was excellent skiing top-to-bottom. And just when we need some help the lower section from where you cut out of the Borsat down into Val Claret was beautifully pisted so we didn’t need to push out or scratch around. I skied it three times while Andreas skied two runs before trying the Lower Chardonnet, which was good value as well. Henry started off around the Marais before skiing the Lower Chardonnet en route to join me off the Motte. Henry lunched in Tignes while Andreas and I finished off with a decent Familial, and I’d rate the morning as a top result!

JM and Oli were skiing with Sasha and Johann (their boys) as well as Jo Moss and they skied the le Lievre Blanc before heading up and over the Col Pers, which was interesting. They start a week of touring tomorrow and have Catherine K and Chris E, both of whom were on the South Georgia trip, skiing with them.

I had a great lunch at the Billabong/Roxy Burger Bar with Tim today. My girls will be jealous as it’s their favourite place to eat in town. It’s a really good value lunch and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks Tim! Meanwhile, Andreas was at Clive’s son Mark’s stag party and we all know how Andreas gets when he’s on the razz. Good luck Andreas!

Tansy brought Ness and Victor into the Gourmandine this morning and the two of them are on top form. It’s amazing how sweet other people’s children seem. Anyway, young Victor is chomping at the bit to get his ski season underway.

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow and the football games haven’t started yet so you’ll be spared on of my Sports Reports.

PS Chris skied with Suzanne and Pietro started with Fiona M this morning, and Jeremy will be pleased with Southampton’s 93-minute equaliser.

9 December 2011
What a cracking good morning!

The sky was red this morning and initially it looked as if we were going to be dealing with flat-light. It was a little brighter towards the Fornet so Andreas and I headed up that way to find fantastic visibility on the Pissaillas Glacier. The glaciers has been closed for the past three days so there wasn’t a track in sight when we arrived and although the snow was compacted by the wind it was still lovely skiing in exposed areas, with nice loose powder in the gullies and protected slopes. I started off with the Combe du Geante, which was excellent with great ambience, and Henry wasn’t too far behind. Next up was the Combe du 3300, which was equally as good and Chris and Suzanne arrived and joined us for the ski down. Meanwhile, Andreas arrived from the Mattis area with Jeremy and Jerry, who arrived last night to kick off their season. They ‘skinned’ up to ski the Pays Desert from the top and they had a fantastic ski top-to-bottom, We all met to put on our ‘skins’ as we needed to walk out as the poma is still closed. After yesterday’s congestion it was wonderful to be on our own again and, so far this season, the Pissaillas has been outstanding.

We had a good ‘Alpine’ get-together last night at Chris E’s flat, where JM and Oli are staying. Thanks Chris! Anyway, we had JM, Oli, Andreas, Pietro, Thomas, Chris and myself, with everyone bringing something different such as soup, jambon cru, pizza, bread and cheese, salad, Chevallot desserts, and of course wine. JM and Oli showed us their pictures and video from South Georgia, and it looked like a once in a lifetime trip. (Check out the photos on the link from the Photo Gallery.) Impressive boys!

JM and Oli finished with the Ski Club today and are touring from the Chalet Colinn next week, and Pietro finished with Maeve and Adrian after a great ski at the Fornet. He starts tomorrow with Fiona and will be here for a few more days.

Stay tuned for more news and probably some sports tomorrow, especially if the Hammers win!

PS Henry wanted me to mention that he’s selling my book on his site. He says it’s an ideal Christmas present, which comes with postage, and who am I to argue. Thanks Henry!

8 December 2011
Glorious sunshine but a slow opening!

It was a beautiful sunny day and everyone was excited to see some different sights as we’ve spent most of the season at the Fornet and the past few days on Solaise. Unfortunately, with all the snow and wind it was a little anticlimactic as it took forever for them to get the resort open and everyone was herded into fairly confined areas. On top of that, the avalanche risk was 4/5, and for the most part the snow was pretty dense and slightly ‘educational’. Still, no one is complaining as last week the fields were green but in the past three days we’ve had 152cm’s of snow in the village, and much more at altitude. In fact we’ve had roughly half of last seasons total snowfall already!

I tried some Movement Couloir skis this morning and I must say I was pleasantly surprised about how good they were on the piste. The piste were soft so I’d like to try them on firmer snow, but they seem like jolly nice skis.

Depending on what forecast you prefer to believe we should enjoy some sunshine again tomorrow and with a cold night much of the snow should loosen up a little and make for easier skiing. But, with a risk of 4/5 we’ll need to be very cautious unlike the skiers who are skiing the steep couloirs between the Marmottes and Marmottons at 2PM and getting away with it. Doesn’t seem fair really.

I made a mistake sending yesterday’s photos to Jean so he may post a couple along with today’s as there are some nice shots of Tim and Jean Marc. Merci Jean.

Thanks for the footie last night John. It was a great evening and I thought you took United being bounced out of Europe incredibly well!

PS Quite a contrast between yesterday and today on Jean’s photos.

7 December 2011
That's more like it!

Wow, what a morning after a slow start! It’s like just the old days as the snow is dumping it down with 40cm’s yesterday in the village and between 60 and 80cm’s at altitude. I was travelling light and skiing with Tim this morning and he and I, plus Andreas were on the first lift up Solaise. We wanted to be the first down the front side but the Pisteurs were waiting at the top stringing ‘Ferme’ signs across the entire piste. Andreas took the lift back down to meet his skiers while Tim and I had three runs on the Madeleine, which was jolly nice. We then decided the Pisteurs would have left so we headed back along with Jean Marc’s team to ski Solaise top-to-bottom, and boy was it good. (photos of Tim and JM) After two runs on Solaise Tim was knackered so we called it a morning and I returned home to hopefully finish off my painting. La Daille opened around 11:30 and Andreas went up for a look with the Langley reps he was showing about, and I’m sure JM and Oli will have tried La Daille as well for a change of pace.

It’s forecast to continue snowing all day and most probably through the night as well, and we may have clearer skies tomorrow morning before more snow moves in.

I ran into Radio Will yesterday and he’s in town for a month or so and will be helping Guffy out at the Pacific Bar. It was nice to see him and all listeners of Radio Val miss Will as he’s a hard act to follow.

I’m looking forward to some curry and Champions League Football tonight at Johnny ‘Alpine’s. John takes his curry and football seriously and doesn’t fool about on footie evenings, thanks John!

PS Thank you Millie and Katie for my fantastic Christmas cards!

6 December 2011
The snow continues!

The snow continues and although this weather is exactly what we need, it doesn’t make for easy skiing. Hopefully more will open tomorrow but for the moment only the Tete du Solaise is open and everyone is being funnelled onto a few pistes, and with the flat light we don’t dare venture off the piste as we can’t trust the lay of the land. (The Fornet Glacier has been closed the past two days due to snow and wind) I skied a couple of run before John, Margaret, Tim and I stopped for a hot chocolate, and while at the Datcha Thomas came in with Maeve and Adrian. After warming up we did a beep search, which is always interesting as well as beneficial, then made our way back down. JM and Oli are entertaining the Ski Club while Andreas is skiing with Tansy, Pietro arrives tonight and Chris and Suzanne are not skiing today.

Louise will be our new secretary as of tonight, so please give Louise as much detail as you can until she gets to know you.

It’s been snowing all day and is set to continue through tonight and tomorrow, so it’s nice to see the pessimists proved wrong. Stay tuned!

6 December 2011
5 December 2011
Winter has arrived!

Winter has arrived and John, Tilly, Derek, Tim and I were shut down this morning due to wind at altitude combined with the piste services needed to clear snow. About 20cm’s fell last night and it’s snowed lightly most of the day so far (it’s now 1:30PM) and heavier snow is forecast for this evening. Hopefully they’ll be able to open up La Daille tomorrow to open up some options. There was limited skiing today on the Tete du Solaise after a late opening but with the Ski Club and the UCPA vying for space and with Tilly and Derek needing to get to Geneva, I decided to give it a miss and have been painting our bedroom ceiling instead.

Jean Marc and Olivier have arrived and Pietro arrives this evening, so besides TJ we will all be here together for a couple of weeks, and that’s a rare occurrence these days. JM and Oli are skiing with the Ski Club while Pietro will be skiing with Maeve and Adrian before skiing with Fiona.

I’d like to wish Suzanne a happy-belated birthday from yesterday, and Tansy a happy birthday for today. Since I’ve got myself into trouble a few times over the years I won’t be reporting on their age!

Last night I had a wonderful evening with Peter and Clare C, Tilly, Derek, and Clare Burns at La Casserole. Tilly broke in her new ski boots under the table and we had some good laughs over dinner and wine. Thanks Peter and Derek! Remy and Danielle have arrived we bumped into them at La Casserole, and they both look like they’re on good form.

Not so long ago Red Ray reported that some of the canisters on the ABS-Airbags were faulty and when Chris had his checked a couple of days ago he found that he’d skied last season with a dodgy canister. So take your airbag into Jean Sports to verify that your airbag is working properly.

The village looks fantastic today with snow hanging on the trees and since Jean arrived yesterday I’m sure he’ll have taken some photos to post on the site. Winter as arrived and once again, Val d’Isere has delivered!

4 December 2011
A good result in tough conditions!

Five centimetres of snow fell in the village overnight and our little world looked totally different this morning. It was nice to walk to the bus with a little cushion underfoot instead of the tarmac for a change and it was visually pleasing to see the mountains looking whiter. We could have between 20 and 40 cm’s tonight with more forecast for tomorrow, so with a little luck the next few days might set us up to really get the season underway.

As for today’s skiing it was a little tougher as the Pissaillas Glacier was socked-in and with the poor visibility early on it wasn’t worth trying to go out into the Pays Desert. I decided to try ‘skinning’ up from the Col Poma and ski a little Combe back towards the Combe du Signal (parallel to the poma but out of sight). The visibility was much better below the Col and the top section was pretty good but once we joined the lower third, the snow was excellent. (You can access the same slopes by traversing the Combe du Signal from the top of the Signal poma, which is now closed.) Andreas stopped early because of Peter C’s sore back (and Clare’s slight hangover) so we picked Tilly up at the Signal Café and circled back around to do it again, and while ‘skinning’ Thomas caught us up and joined us as well. It was a cracking good result on a tough day and everyone was pleased with the morning. (It was Tim H’s first morning and he’s here for a couple of weeks while Andy really enjoyed his first taste of skiing with us.)

Sports Report- I wasn’t very happy with the Hammers result yesterday as we missed a great opportunity to move into first place as Southampton lost as well. West Ham totally dominated the game, which makes losing even more frustrating. In the Premiership City just keep getting better while United continue to win 1-0, but three points is three points! Good to see Arsenal winning again and with Tottenham and Chelsea in the mix it should be a fantastic season. I guess I shouldn’t write Liverpool off either for throwing a spanner into someone’s season.

3 December 2011
Much better than expected!

For the first time this season I awoke to grey skies, which weren’t very inspiring. The clouds were hanging low in the valley however and the usually means there will be chance to get above the cloud bank, and fortunately that’s what happened. We had a new cast of characters this morning and I skied with Derek, Paul, Andy (new to ‘Alpine’) and Penny while Andreas skied with Clare C and Tilly and Thomas skied with Maeve and Adrian. Except for Penny it was everyone’s first turns of the season so we had a quick warm-up run before deciding the light was good enough to venture into the Pays Desert. The light improved as we went and all our first-morning-of-the-season skiers were pleasantly surprised at how good the snow was and a good morning was enjoyed by all.

We should get perhaps 10 cm’s of snow tonight, which would help, with the chance of more over the next few days. We really need it now as the Ski Club of Great Britain are arriving and the Pays Desert, which is the only off-piste show in town, can only support so much traffic. The Ski Club ski all day so several groups doing a few rotations per day will eat it up pretty quickly. (Jean Marc and Olivier arrive tonight and will be skiing with the Ski Club this week, and it will be great to see them.)

Millie is unwell and she’s been phoning me and sending me e-cards. I’m amazed with her computer skills as I’m struggling to send her one back. (Not surprising since I have trouble with texts) Anyway, thank-you, love Daddy.

Sports Report- I’m watching Villa v United with Johnny ‘Alpine’ tonight along with Dave Carr and Richard Finlay. It will be nice to see Richard again as everyone in town misses him and the entire Finlay’s organisation. And come on you Hammers!

PS Whoops! I just notice I cut off Paul’s upper body on the photos. Sorry Paul!

2 December 2011
An unexpected find!

We decided yesterday to have a morning on piste today working on technique, and because of the limited conditions it was a nice change and very beneficial . I decided to take the opportunity to try my new boots, and after one-turn I knew I was going to be pleased with them and it was a great start to the day. From there it only got better as the young female pisteur who assisted last December during David’s tragic accident skied up to me and told me she’d climbed into the Combe du Signal during the summer and found my ski. I’d looked for 45-minutes in September when I was passing through town, and when I couldn’t find it I figured I’d never see it again. But because of what happened I’ve never thought too much about the skis and bindings, but since they were three-days old at the time it will be nice to have them back. Anyway, we had a good technical session this morning while Andreas skied the Pays Desert with some of Henry’s HAT team and Henry stayed on piste with some of his team members who just wanted a warm-up and some technique. Tansy was also about blasting around with Nico, and all in all the weather held and we all had a pretty good morning. (Chris and Thomas had the morning off) I didn’t take any pictures today so yesterday’s are still on Jean’s link.

Cross your fingers on the snow front as some people predict snow while others remain pessimistic. It is clouding over this afternoon so here’s hoping!

1 December 2011
Suzanne's first tracks of the season!

There was a slight breeze on the Glacier this morning but once we skied down a little to where it was sheltered it was instantly warm enough to drop several layers. We’ve been repeating ourselves due to lack of options, but the skiing has been fantastic. I tried hard with the photos this morning to give you some different angles, but our man Jean should be arriving next week to take over. Thanks Jean for posting the photos each day, it’s very much appreciated. Anyway, back to the skiing, it was another very pleasurable morning and Chris had Johnny ’Alpine’ along with Suzanne, who was skiing for the first time this season. We’ve done little ‘skins’ everyday so far and everyone involved is slowly getting into pretty good shape. It’s been very relaxing with great skiing and some nice breaks for tea and snacks, and so far we’ve had the Pays Desert to ourselves, which is very rare indeed.

This afternoon I had a really pleasant time with Richard H, who has been training hard over the summer and his skiing has benefited from it enormously. Bravo Richard! For a change of pace Penny, John, Margaret, Richard and I are going to start at 10 o’clock and do a couple of hours of technique tomorrow. (That should make for interesting photos but JC will be on the case!) Stay tuned for more ‘Alpine’ news tomorrow.

PS Millie and Katie have been under the weather back in the UK the past few days. Get better quickly girls, lots of love, Daddy.

PSS I forgot to mention that the World Cup Races have been cancelled.

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