Wayne's Daily Diary Archive

20 June 2007

30 April 2012
Thank you all, what a magnificent season!

At 6AM it was looking like we were in for some good visibility to finish our season, but by ‘show-time’ it had socked-in and we were left in flat-light for most of the morning. Chris, Andreas and I all headed up to the Fornet hoping for some powder but the wind was still howling and Chris and I decided to head straight over the Col for some shelter and ’clean’ snow. The entrance has gone from nothing but rocks all season long to incredibly loaded after days of strong Foehn winds, and we needed to step in carefully. (Just what you need on your last day!) Anyway, once in we had the place to ourselves and it was compacted powder to start with before turning to pretty quickly to supporting snow for the rest of the way down. It was good skiing , great ambience and an adventurous finish to the season.

Pietro is here with Sue and friend and they came over the Col sometime after us while Andreas started with the 3300 and I’m not too sure what he skied after that. It was great to see Pietro again and hopefully we’ll see more of him next season.

I had lunch at the Perdrix with Stephen, Kaye and Penny (thank you all) and I’m now about to get started with my final preparations for leaving in the morning. I’d thought I was pretty sorted but a couple of beers and some Rose at lunch changes one’s perspective and I’m not quite as efficient as I was hoping to be. (I could be a lot worse however as it could have been lunch with Blue!)

Anyway, it’s been a stunning season and everyone at ‘Alpine’ thanks you all for your continued support and loyalty! Stay tuned for news during the summer.

Sports Report- I’m seriously looking forward to the City v United match tonight at Geoff and Inga’s. If it matches the quality and intensity of last week’s Champion League games we’re in for a real treat! And it’s nice to see Fernando slowly turning back into the 50-million-euro-man.

See you soon girls, Daddy’s on his way!

29 April 2012
Stinker? Not today!

At 7AM it looked absolutely dreadful outside. My wooded table had been blown across the terrace by the 150kph winds recorded at 1:30AM and it was raining ropes! At 8AM it didn’t look much better but I headed off to meet the faithful at the Gourmandine and sure enough, Penny, Paul and Derek all showed up ready for action. By this stage it wasn’t raining as hard and we headed up the Olympique to test and snow and after our first turn we knew it as game on! The base was still spongy but with the cushion of new snow we stayed on top and it skied beautifully. Because of the wind very little was open but we had a ‘maximum-turn’ type of morning using the Marmottons Express, Grand Pre and Bonnevie’s Drag. In fact Sarah, yelled, “You idiot”! with a smile on her face when we passed by early on. (At this stage we were the only people on the mountain) It gradually started to clear and we had great visibility most of the morning and Derek and Paul finished their seasons with a cracking good morning.

We all then ate at the Burger Bar and it was Penny’s first trip to Millie and Katie’s favourite resto. (I must admit to being fairly partial to the place as well!) I then went to the Pool and had a fantastic steam, sauna, whirlpool, and swim with Stephen while Kaye and Christian went to little Leo’s birthday party.

I’m off to pack now and hope that my season finishes tomorrow with skiing as good as we surprisingly enjoyed today!

Sports Report- Have you ever seen a better quality hat-trick than the one that little racist Suarez scored for Liverpool yesterday? Absolutely brilliant! And I hope Big Sam can get the boys back to the Premiership through the playoffs, fingers crossed!

28 April 2012
Happy Birthday Paul!

Yesterday we had absolutely no re-freeze and this morning it was even warmer with 11C in the village at 8AM. Ridiculous! Anyway, off-piste skiing was out of the question so I took my team for a good hard piste ski working on some of the things we covered yesterday. We headed towards the Motte (which was closed of course because of high winds) and had two superb runs down from the Funicular. The pistes were excellent and had the feel of perfect spring snow so we could really work our edges. From there we came back to our side of the mountain to avoid being stuck in Tignes as the connecting lifts could have been closed at any moment. We came back to ski the Marmottons Express as the snow quality there was still very good because lower down the snow was getting very sticky. Penny peeled out around 11:45 and Derek and Paul headed for Paul’s birthday lunch around 12:15 and Dave, David, Stephen and I continued on until 1:50. Bravo everyone for hanging in there and making the most of the conditions.

Chris and Suzanne were skiing with Tilly and James R and they went up to the Fornet but I’ve no idea what they skied, what was open or how long they lasted.

Andreas and Henry sensibly returned from their tour a day early as conditions just weren’t safe enough to be out in the middle of the mountains. Without a good solid freeze they would have been at risk if they had continued on and the forecast wasn’t promising, so they returned early this morning from the Fours refuge. As it was they witnessed a slide and everyone appreciated Andreas and Henry’s decision. Well done boys!

I’m packing and cleaning and generally trying to get organised for my trip back to England on Tuesday. With conditions such as they are I’m going to leave early and try to arrive at the decent time Tuesday night instead of 4AM on Wednesday, especially since I’ve an early flight to Calgary on Thursday. Hopefully the weather will cheer up in England so I can take Millie to school on her bike on Wednesday. Missing you girls and really looking forward to seeing you!

Sports Report- I’ve just checked the scores and Southampton are up 2-0 so it doesn’t really matter what the Hammers do. Unfortunately it looks like the play-offs!

PS I only took three photos today!

27 April 2012
Our 'winter powder' run comes to an end!

We’ve had an incredible run this April with perhaps the best powder skiing of the season, but it came to a grinding halt today as yesterday’s warmth and lack of freeze overnight made for tough conditions this morning. There is still powder to be had, but it’s way up high and on steep slopes, which are suspect at the moment. It’s been a long time since we’ve experienced such a lack of re-freeze so high up the mountain, and it’s forecast to be even warmer tonight with winds nearing the 100kph mark. Wish us luck!

As for today’s skiing, I really quite enjoyed it! The pistes early on were superb and I was in the mood for a little ‘technique’, so I subjected my poor team to it off-and-on during the morning. Chris and I took our teams as high as possible and we had a few turns of warm-powder off the Motte, but on the gentle slopes of the Rosolin it was ‘educational’ skiing to say the least, which fit in nicely with my ‘technique’ theme. Derek then gently took out Dave while stopping on the piste and broke his pole in half so I was left skiing the rest of the morning (in ’educational snow) with one pole. We then tried a run of my shoulder, which was pretty good as we found some good winded snow, which supported, and made for a bit of adventure. After that we stayed on piste for the rest of the morning.

Andreas and Henry started their tour this morning and they headed to the Col des Fours to stay the night in the Fours refuge. I think they’ll have had some warm powder on the way down to the refuge and I hope it freezes for them tonight. (And us as well for that matter) Good luck boys!

Sports Report- I just went to check the Hammers score, but of course it’s Friday and I’m a day early!

Please don’t forget to donate to Dave’s charity on the News Page. Thanks!

26 April 2012
A relaxing morning in the sun!

A Foehn wind was blowing a gale during the night but fortunately it died down enough to allow us another excellent morning on the Pissailles Glacier. And for the first time in what seems ages we had a sunny day from start to finish, and believe me it was well appreciated. My team skied two great runs out in the Pays Desert with a ten-minute ‘skin’ each time to access the main slopes at the bottom while Chris’ team skied three runs without ‘skinning’. Today was the first day for awhile where the snow really started to heat up so it will be interesting tomorrow to see what strategy we’ll adopt, whether it’s high and north in search of powder or down low on the sunny slopes looking for ‘spring’.

Meanwhile Andreas and Henry started their ‘intro’ tour today with a warm-up and equipment check around the Pissailles. They’ll stay in town tonight before heading off for two nights in a refuge tomorrow. Good luck boys!

Sports Report- It was another fantastic evening for football fans last night as Bayern knocked out Real Madrid in front of a full-house in Spain, setting up a final showdown with Chelsea in a few weeks time. The final will be played in Munich, which will favour the German side but it should be a great match. Bummer about Henry’s Boston Bruins losing game 7 to Washington, 2-1 in Overtime.

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow and please don’t forget to sponsor Dave S on his 1000-mile bike ride. (Log onto the News Page for details)

PS It’s going to be a tricky one tomorrow as we won’t be getting a refreeze, which rules out spring snow. Fingers crossed that we can ‘sniff’ something out!

25 April 2012
What else can I say?

It cleared up during the night and with cold temperatures we had another morning of superb winter powder. The sky was clear around 7AM and we started off with excellent visibility, but the light deteriorated and became quite ‘flat’ by 11 o’clock. Chris, Andreas and I all headed towards the Fornet for a change of scenery and enjoyed some wonderful skiing around the Pyramid. After several rotations we almost changed sectors because of the slow and limited opening but they opened the Pissailles Glacier just in time and we had some great skiing upstairs in the 3300 and Pays Desert. It was another morning of ‘maximum-turns’, and with an avalanche risk at 4/5 the boys did a good job of finding fantastic and safe skiing. Bravo team!

Chris skied with Damon, Heather and Rupert this morning (along with Louise and Suzanne) and we look forward to Damon’s annual video project. Damon always comes up with something interesting and he had a real cast of characters this morning to work with!

There was a serious avalanche in the Super Spatule/Couloir Central area on the Bellevarde sector yesterday. One skier was taken to hospital but we don’t have any more news than that.

I forgot to mention that Gerard Scaraffioti, the owner of the Casa Scara restaurant, died of a heart attack a few days ago. His funeral was attended by around 500 people, including Jean-Claude Killy and the church couldn’t hold all those who wanted to attend.

Sports Report- Stephen, Dave and David came over to my place to watch the game with me last night, and once Chelsea went down to 10-men and down 2-nil, we figured everyone would be going home at half-time. But what a fabulous fight-back and end to an intriguing two-leg encounter. What a team performance and it will be a travesty if Roberto di Matteo doesn’t get offered the managerial job! (Do you read my blog Roman!) Can Bayern turn over Real tonight? Derek thinks so and it should be another great match!

PS Time is running out to sponsor Dave’s 1000-mile solo bike ride. Please have a look at his link on the News Page (second para down) and donate to a great cause. Even a fiver will help!

24 April 2012
Another brilliant day of December powder in April!

Wow, what a morning! It has snowed fairly hard since late yesterday afternoon and we had a good 50cm’s of fresh powder in places. The avalanche risk was 4/5 and there were winds of 70kph from the southwest and west during the night so it was a delicate day with a limited opening, but Chris and I managed a ‘maximum-turn’ session of the highest quality. We started with two runs on Solaise, which were a great taster before we caught the Olympique just as it was opening to access a terrific run on the Fontaine Froide. From there we had two runs of the deepest snow of the morning on the Grand Pre followed by one off the Verte, two on Bonnevie’s Drag, one under the Mont Blanc chair to the bottom via the Lower Familial, another off the Verte, one off the Diebold, and another under the Mont Blanc and to the bottom to finish. I thought (with Mark’s nod and a wink) that we’d ski a few extra bonus turns in the trees so we dove off the trail into the Lower Piste Perdue, which was jolly good fun but really finished us off. (Chris skied the entire Piste Perdue earlier in the morning) It was a fantastic morning made all the better because the resort is empty!

Thomas and Andreas enjoyed the day off while we saw Henry and Ginnie out for a ski together around the Grand Pre. Nice ‘sniff’ Henry!

Sports Report- It was a great win for the Hammers last night, which still gives us a chance at automatic promotion, although it’s out of our hands and depends on the Hammers winning and a miraculous performance from already-relegated Coventry. And what about tonight’s match between Barca and Chelsea, I can hardly wait!

23 April 2012
It's not over till it's over!

I was raring to go this morning after my day off yesterday, and with the sun shining everyone was in the mood! It was just Andreas and I working today and we both decided to head towards Tignes for powder with the chance of spring snow if needed. I warmed up off the Mont Blanc, which was excellent and that little test showed there was great powder to be had. From there I cut under the Borsat chair en-route to the middle entrance of the Face Nord but the snow was so good we just skied the steep slopes straight down under the chair before coming around into the lower entrance of the Borsat. All the slopes across the meadows and under the Fresse were nice, which is always a welcome bonus on the way into Val Claret. From there we headed up into the Chardonnet, which was a bit warmer but still good fun, then we skied off the Ancolie to the Aiguille Percee chair, where our morning would take on some extra ambience.

For the first time in months we could traverse across the top towards the Sache/Sachette entrances as there is now enough snow there to cut cover the rocks and grass. We went over the first little Col (before traversing further for the Sachette) and skied down a few metres before getting ready to traverse to the left. I gave everyone instructions about spreading out, where to position ourselves, and about only having one skier on the slope at a time. I skied down and it was wonderful. Kaye came down with a huge grin on her face, followed by Mark and Dave. David was the fifth skier and the slope broke away at his feet on the traverse and he and Stephen watched it go before them. Talk about ambience! No one was in it and the slope has such a good run out zone that the snow dispersed to almost nothing, but it was certainly a wake-up call for the rest of the season. (Two crucially important points were that of a good run-out zone and following proper procedures.) After continuing on in the Sache we finished with a good run off the Rhododendron and a cracking run in the Familial.

So far this season it has been incredibly stable, perhaps the most stable conditions I can ever remember in my 30-years here. You’ve pretty much been able to go anywhere and everywhere (within reason as respect and procedures are always important and not to be taken for granted) and this season’s avalanche risk of 3/5 has been a solid and stable 3/5, and totally different to last winter’s very unstable and delicate 3/5. This year we’ve skied places we wouldn’t have dreamed of skiing last season, not until April when it final solidified after a month of heat and re-freezes. Last week I skied two couloirs in the Sachette and it felt stable, but things have changed now very quickly and this season is far from over, and I don’t mean the Premiership! (Today’s risk had dropped down to 2/5 from yesterday’s 3/5, but rising to 3/5 during the afternoon.)

(I got carried away there.) Meanwhile, Andreas started off the Verte before skiing an excellent Borsat Nord from the top and down into Val Claret. He then bussed to the Sache for a great run over the same little Col. He was on his way back up and heard my report and was noticing some natural activity taking place elsewhere so he changed his plans and skied far-skiers-left in the Campanules before heading down for lunch at the Folie Douce with John D, Asa, and Tansy. PS. They had several bottles of wine and John is having another one of his ‘best days of my life’!

More snow is forecast over the next 24-hours but some full blown sunshine to stabilise the mountain and light the way would be my forecast of choice! Anyway, stay tuned as the season isn’t over yet!

PS The avalanche risk has just been bumped up to 4/5 for tomorrow. Sounds like first tracks on the Solaise piste!

22 April 2012
A much needed day of rest!

What a day! It was my first morning off since January and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. After a little lie in I went to the leisure centre with Stephen, Kaye and Christian for a swim followed by a jacuzzi, sauna and steam bath. Very luxurious indeed! We then all went to the Billabong/Roxy burger bar for lunch before I headed home to do a little packing for my exit May 1st. I waxed my skis while keeping track of the United v Everton match and at 4-2 I went off for a bath. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got out and checked the score to find it had ended 4-4, and all of a sudden the title race is back on! After a quick trip to the shop I had an excellent massage from Louise at Bonne Sante (thanks very much Louise) then watched the rest of the Wolves v City match. (Now the United fans do really have something to worry about as Carlos still may come back to haunt them) It was a very relaxing day, which was much needed, and I’m now ready to finish the season feeling refreshed.

As for the skiing today, only Henry was on the mountain and I’ve no idea what he skied. He will have had a good day as it snowed last night and the visibility was good all morning long.

And thanks Suzanne for a lovely dinner last night!

21 April 2012
Walking on sunshine!

For the first time in ages we were greeted with sunshine this morning and the entire village was smiling. The bus drivers were smiling, people in the street who were about to spend the rest of the day in shops or offices were smiling, and anyone who skis daily was grinning from ear to ear. I felt like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever as I was strutting down the pavement to the bus stop. I couldn’t have cared less what the snow was like (it was superb) because it was so uplifting to know that flat-light and fog wasn’t going to be the main feature of the morning, and everyone was in the mood!

After a good test and warm-up off the Verte Chris and I skied the North Face of the Borsat from the top and it was excellent skiing with that bit of ambience that goes down nicely. From there I headed up the Col des Ves for some great snow and atmosphere as we skied the ‘Hour-glass’ couloir on the big face of the Balme. From there we went upstairs to ski two excellent runs on Wayne’s Shoulder, followed by more great skiing on the Cairn and a warm but satisfying Familial to finish a fantastic morning.

Meanwhile, after the Borsat Chris joined Andreas for the Chardonnet before circling back around to join me off my shoulder followed by the Cairn and Familial while Andreas continued on for a gorgeous Sachette with John D and Steve D. Andreas then finished up with the Spatule before heading off to the Perdrix with the boys to celebrate a great morning. (John was wondering what his pals were up to today! Smug son-of-a-gun!)

I know how Andreas felt as I was so pleased with my morning that I did something incredibly dangerous and instigated a Belgian beer at the Brussels with Blue and Nina. The rest of the team thought that was a cracking idea so Tim, Dan, Mark, Pascale and her husband Clive and I all joined Blue and Nina on the terrace. (I noticed that Tim and Dan are fast learners and they ordered half’s instead to pints!) Anyway, at 3:30 and after more than one we all merrily left to try to resurrect our day.
(Can you tell I’ve had a couple or three?)

I’m not too sure about tomorrow’s weather but I don’t care as I’ve my first morning off in such a long time and I’m going to savour it while preparing myself for the last 9-days of what has been a most memorable enjoyable season. Stay tuned!

PS Guess what? It’s chucking down big flakes again! (6PM)

20 April 2012
To the Fornet for a change of sector!

It snowed again during the night and the entire team decided on a change of scenery and headed up towards the Fornet. My team skied the Mattis en-route while the rest of the boys skied variations around the ‘L’ to the Laisinant Express. Once up at the Fornet tests in the Combe du Signal told us there was a ‘track’ problem and we’d need to find areas that hadn’t been skied to keep it comfortable underfoot. After skiing a decent run in the 3300 I decided to go over the Col where far less people have been skiing and the base would be smoother. Andreas was just ahead of me and after a murky start we had pretty good visibility most of the way down. The first third was superb with a good 40cm’s of light powder, and the second third was excellent skiing as well but with a slight crust in the base. (I was surprised as there is no sign of that crust in Tignes but it makes sense as in Tignes there has been less snow, which has been able to transform much quicker leaving a firmer base underfoot for the fresh snow to settle on) The bottom third was much more ‘educational’ but still good skiing until the last Combe, which was rubbish, although I have skied it in worse conditions. There was a huge herd of chamois on the way out for our viewing pleasure and it was nice to have a change of sectors today.

Chris, Thomas and Henry stayed up for one way out in the Pays Desert, which I’m sure was good as it was clearing up at altitude. They then finished with a Col Pers while Andreas went back up for a quick one in the Grand Vallon.

I’m off down to Bourg to get a headlight fixed as I don’t want to be drawing attention to myself with the Gendarmes at the toll booths. Plus it might be a good idea to be able to see!

Thanks Stephen and Kaye for a great meal last night. It was lovely to see Jean again before he goes and I look forward to seeing you both on Monday.

I had a great chat with my Dad a few nights ago and I’m really looking forward to my visit to Canada on May 3rd. I’m going for 8-days before returning in August for two weeks with the girls. See you soon BG!

I just notice this morning that the link to Dave Stevenson’s Smile-Train charity wasn’t working properly. Chris has fixed it so please look on the News Page and donate to Dave’s charity, as ‘Alpine’ have down well in the past helping to raise money for good causes. Besides riding on his own Dave has pledged to match pound-for-pound the money donated up to £20,000, just to show you he’s serious! Good luck Dave!

Correction: Chris and Thomas teamed up and stayed on the glacier all morning giving the Col a miss. The bottom sucked anyway!

19 April 2012
Back to the Sachette!

We had another good freeze last night and it was snowing again this morning. The forecast was for pretty flat light but fortunately for the most part, the vis was better than expected. Chris, Thomas and I all started off with the Alti-port en route to the Little Lavachet and it was an excellent start to the morning. As Chris said the Alti-port was like “white velvet” while the Lavachet supported nicely with 5 to 10cm’s on top. From there I headed back to the Sachette because it was so good yesterday and with a good cushion of new snow overnight it was the best powder show on offer. Andreas was ahead of me and had great skiing in the couloir we skied yesterday as our tracks had completely disappeared overnight and it was ‘clean’ again. My team skied the couloir to the right, which I haven’t skied in years and it was wonderful with great ambience. The next few pitches were still beautiful powder before we switched to spring snow to the bottom. Once out of the Sache we skied a good pitch off the Rhododendron before skiing one in the Campanules and then because of a nasty fog rolling in we finished on the piste.

After the Lavachet Chris skied the Sachette while Thomas skied the Cocaine Sud and I’m not too sure what Henry skied this morning. Andreas came back around to ski the Sache from the chairlift entrance and everyone chose to avoid the fog on the way home. It was another fantastic day with just enough light but everyone in town except for skiers is sick of the weather and would like to see some sunshine. (Some skiers would like to see the sun as well but it’s been so good you can’t complain and we’ve been lucky so far with the visibility)

More substantial snow is forecast this evening and the avalanche risk is forecast to go to 4/5 for tomorrow, so we could be in for a tricky one. Stay tuned!

I’d like to say hello to Gill, Millie and Katie, who are keeping track of what’s happening here on the blog. They’ve settled in back at school, Gill’s back to work but they’re all looking forward to some better weather. (At least here we can have fun with our precipitation) Anyway, I love you girls and miss you loads!

Sports Report- Wow, what a match last night! Barca totally dominated but Chelsea defended brilliantly, rode their luck, had great goalkeeping, and had a stunning performance from Didier Drogba who worked incredibly hard all night, defended brilliantly, rolled around on the ground just enough to give his team periodic breathers, and expertly took the only chance Chelsea had all night with his left foot. I’m going to miss the big baby when he retires! And you were right about Bayern Derek!

PS The avalanche risk is set to stay at 3/5, not 4/5.

18 April 2012
Just what I needed!

After a tough day yesterday with Michelle and Jean’s incidents I really needed a ‘pick-me-up’ this morning, and what a stunning morning it turned out to be! It was clear for the first half of the night so we had a good re-freeze before it clouded over and started snowing lightly later on and we started the day with cloud cover with the promise of some clear patches. (Believe me, clear patches are keeping us sane at the moment!) I headed towards the Sachette with Chris and Thomas and after skiing some excellently groomed pistes we ‘skinned’ up into the Sachette. For the first time all season the big couloir before the Sachette was ready to be skied, and my team did it brilliantly! There was a perfectly smooth base with 25 to 30cm’s on top and it was delightful with wonderful ambience. Dan, Penny, Blue and Mark were grinning from ear to ear with satisfaction from a job well done. Bravo team! Chris and Thomas traversed into the Sachette itself and had wonderful skiing as well in great snow. We all had good powder for another pitch or two before turning directly onto the spring slopes, which worked to the bottom. On the way back we enjoyed a bonus pitch off the Bleuets before finishing off with some technique in a very pleasant Familial.

Meanwhile. Andreas had some VIP reps who wanted to ‘skin’ so after much thought Andreas decided to give the Col des Fours a go. He walked up under cloud cover, which is quite unnerving but ended up with the skies clearing for his run down. They stayed north and had great powder down to the refuge before turning to the spring slopes on the way out. Well done Andreas as being on your own in flat light is no fun and you deserved a break in the weather. Well done!

I had my annual lunch with Blue and Nina, washed down with fabulous Belgian beer at the Brussels this afternoon. It was a terrific session and since we all had such a great morning Penny, Mark, Tim and his son Dan all joined Blue, Nina and I. It was evident that Tim was under the spell when during his second pint he started going on about the texture and bouquet of the beer and how it surrounds your mouth with pleasure. I warned him then that is exactly what happened to me four years ago when I suffered the worst ‘chemical reaction’ of my life, drinking the same beer in the same company. (there’s a reason I drink half-pints) Anyway, after another beer plus a Genepy Dan escorted him home happily and safely. (I must say the food was excellent and very well priced, which always goes down well when your having a great time!)

Michelle is hoping to ski tomorrow although she is very stiff and sore and it was a shame that she and Jean missed this morning. We were thinking of you both!

I’m looking forward to a quiet night on the sofa watching Chelsea try to deal with Barcelona this evening.

It clouded over this afternoon and started to snow again and the wind seems to be picking up. Who knows what tomorrow will bring! (Don’t forget to check out today’s photo on my link)

I just foud out no one is taking care of the office as it’s Lousie’s night off, so off I go half-pissed to do the business.

17 April 2012
Great skiing but a really tough morning!

After all the snow at the Fornet I thought I’d play it safe today by avoiding the steep slopes on the Grand Torsai and going to Tignes for a gentle morning. We started off with a good test off the Verte (in fog) and a lovely Lower Borsat (flattish light) so I decided to head up to the Motte where it was starting to clear. The team arrived to beautiful sunshine and I was surprised that the snow had started to ‘turn’ so we skied a nice run in spring snow before cutting back to the Leisse. On the way up I spotted a route I’d never skied before with perfectly smooth spring snow so I decided to give it a go. I had Michelle right behind me but unfortunately she fell and took a nasty ‘whipper’. I managed to stop her and keep her slide to a minimum but she was pretty shaken and banged up. Once we had her back up on her feet and into her skis we started back down to get her to the doctors, and route we skied some great powder and Michelle skied really well. (She was running on adrenaline and there was no doubt in my mind she needed to go home) Once down Michelle went off to Doctor Al’s and we continued up for a good run in the Chardonnet followed by a bonus pitch off the Grand Huit before joining the piste to the bottom. We arrived at the Aeroski to find that Jean was no where in sight and I immediately started to worry about him being taken out in a collision. To cut a long story short, poor Jean had dislocated his shoulder again trying to avoid a little girl. He had planted his pole, which became stuck in the snow and the jolt pulled his shoulder out. It’s the same shoulder he dislocated two seasons ago and fortunately he was in a lot less pain than last time around. What a bummer and that’s how our ‘gentle’ morning ended up!

Meanwhile, the rest of the team had a fantastic morning around the Motte and Campanules, Chris added a little ‘skin’ and Andreas skied the Chardonnet and a wonderful Sache. The boys all finished up in the Familial while my team skied the piste with Jean’s skis, poles and sac-a-dos.

Thanks Penny for escorting Jean to the Medical Centre in Tignes and thanks Doctor Al for taking care of Michelle who’s been ordered to stay quiet for 24 hours and hopefully she’ll be back in action on Thursday.

And a big Happy Birthday to Richard H!

PS And what a brilliant effort from Jean who went home and updated his photos after his injury. Wow!

16 April 2012
Deep up on the glacier!

After a day in Tignes yesterday we all headed up to the Fornet hoping there was enough new snow to cover the tracks because a couple of days ago it was a little rough underfoot in places. We started out in pretty flat light in the Combe du Signal and although you could feel the old tracks, it was significantly better than Saturday and a good start. After the Combe we headed upstairs hoping for better vis and fortunately we broke into much clearer skies and we could see for most of the morning. The real surprise however, was the amount of fresh snow on the glacier. There was between 50 and 60cm’s of cold winter snow and we needed to search out the steeper slopes in order to gain some momentum. We skied two runs in the Combe du 3300 followed by two more runs in the Pays Desert, where we snuck through the rocks to gain access to the steep slopes halfway down. It was brilliant skiing, great ambience, and another mid-winter day in the middle of April!

Adrian organised a 30-year reunion for Dick’s last night and I popped by for an hour to visit some old friends. It was a real blast from the past with people I haven’t seen in ages and there was a video playing of a BBQ at the ranch featuring Wuz, Stretch, and Hort to name a few. Many of the old faces had their children along, which really shows how time has raced by. To name a few there was David and Lolo (plus kids), Kevin D, Moose, alias ML, plus Jane and children, Piers W, Dave C, Chenko and Sam, Doctor Ian with Steve, Joe, John D, and Richard F, and Matt and Ellie with their girls Jesse and Lara. (Matt of Ski Sunday and Olympic commentator for the Women’s Beach Volleyball fame was nursing a dislocated shoulder, ouch! He did it on the nursery slopes and managed to ski directly to Doctor Al’s where he fortunately had it reduced within 15 or 20 minutes.) It was a terrific session, which I’m sure for some went well into the evening, and thank you Adrian for organising it.

I had a dinner reservation at John and Margaret’s, which kept me in less trouble, and it was a great evening with their family plus Pat W, Laura, and Chris. Thanks Margaret for a fantastic meal and see you and your clan next November!

Millie and Katie returned to school in England today and Gill starts work tomorrow. Good luck girls! Although the skiing is wonderful and I’ve been socialising, I miss you all! (I’m now off the social scene for a few nights and will take it easy and watch a little footie)

PS Can you believe it, I forgot to mention Dick!

15 April 2012
Get well soon Deborah!

It just keeps snowing but we were lucky again today to have enough visibility to have fun and not worry about getting disorientated. (which sucks, especially this late in the season) We were going to start off on Solaise but they were slow to open due to blasting so Chris and I headed up Bellevarde instead. The snow was lovely off the Verte and we had good skiing in the Lower Borsat followed by great snow on the piste down into Val Claret. From the top of the Grande Motte cable-car we skied 10cm’s on piste all the way down to the Vanoise chair where we can back up to ski two excellent runs off the Genepy and my shoulder. Up until this point the vis was pretty jolly good with that welcomed ‘light-bulb’ hanging above us but then it started to become more difficult. We felt our way down off the Genepy then took Les Tufs to access the Campanules, and the light improved just in time to help us down. Chris and I both finished on piste as it was really warming up and we were all getting tired. (Thomas was working as well today but he had a late start and I’m not too sure what he skied this morning.)

It was John and Margaret’s last day of their season and they skied with their daughter Dawn and grandson Luke. It’s not everyday you ski with three generations of the same family and it was a pleasure to have them all along.

Thanks Margaret for a fantastic drinks party last night and to Penny for a lovely meal.

The weather is forecast to continue as is but with a clear day on Tuesday before snow moving back in for the rest of the week. No wonder the marmottes never came out on mass back when we had three weeks of summer-like weather. Clever things marmottes!

Sports Report- I was well pleased with the Hammers 6-0 win yesterday, but it’s a shame we couldn’t have scored another goal in a few other games and not been in the situation we’re in now. Still, Southampton may fold but we need to win the rest of our games to stand any chance of automatic promotion. And the Stanley Cup Ice Hockey Playoffs are in full swing and incredibly competitive. Check the highlights of www.nhl.com

PS I just heard that Deborah Finlay has had some terrible luck and has suffered a nasty broken leg. The accident happened on piste on none other than Friday the 13th! She is in the hospital in Bourg and everyone at Alpine wishes her a speedy and full recovery. I hope to see you back on the golf course soon Deborah!

14 April 2012
A fabulous Col Pers saves the day!

It snowed yesterday afternoon and during the night and I was sure there was going to be a good accumulation so Chris, Henry and his pal Dan E, and I headed up to the Fornet to find it. Chris and I did warm-up with a good run top-to-bottom on Solaise followed by one down the Mattis and although very good it wasn’t as deep as we’d hoped for. Once at the Fornet we dove into the Grand Vallon expecting a cracking good ski but you could feel the old tracks underfoot and the humidity in the base. I immediately radioed Henry to tell him to give it a miss because the lower half was hard work. That experience told us to give the Combe du Signal a miss as well so we headed upstairs to the Glacier hoping for deeper and cleaner snow underfoot. We tried out towards the Combe du Geant, which was seriously deep a few days ago, but still you could feel the old tracks underneath. At this stage Chris and I decided to head over the Col knowing it would be smoother underfoot but also hoping to find where all the new snow had ended up.(Chris was skiing with Emma and Suzie who are new to Val d’Isere and going over the Col in flattish light is always a good adventure)

Getting in over the Col was quick and easy and there was a good 50cm’s of fresh snow awaiting us with just enough visibility to make navigating comfortable. Halleluiah! It was fantastic skiing with deep, cold winter snow all the way down to the Grand Torsai and we had a ‘light bulb’ hanging above giving us bonus visibility. We all know getting down from the Grand Torsai can be interesting from time to time and we were expecting nothing less, but the snow was clean underfoot and although it was warming up, it remained excellent all the way to the bottom. It was as good as it’s been all season long at the bottom and it was a brilliant ski and a wonderful introduction to Val d’Isere and ‘Alpine’ for Emma and Suzie!

Thanks Michele for a lovely drinks party last night. I’ve put up some photos of the excellent canopies.

Snow is forecast over the next couple of days so fingers crossed that we get some vision to go with it.

13 April 2012
A top team effort!

I had a great evening last night at the Campbell’s with the Campbell family, Derek and Clare Burns. It was cracking good fun with lovely food, wine and company and Katrina’s starter was superb! Clare and I left around midnight while Derek was dragging Peter off for a nightcap, which turned into 3:30am, but both of them showed up on time this morning ready for duty. Impressive boys! I awoke at 6am with a slight hangover and when I looked outside and saw a bank of fog I started to feel sorry for myself as foggy conditions and a hangover don’t mix. Anyway, by show-time it had started to clear up and we had good visibility for most of the morning. (Thank God!)

We all headed towards Tignes again and after a little test off the Verte we had some good but fragile skiing in the Lower Borsat and down across the meadows and under the Fresse chair. From there it was up the Funicular and cable-car to the summit of the Motte for some excellent skiing. After about 20-turns in great snow it was off into the Rosolin for 114-turns to the bottom. Chris and I then ‘skinned’ out and continued on to the Tour du Balme, which I haven’t done for a year or two. We stayed north and had good winter powder all the way to the junction where you can cut onto the big slopes of the Balme, but we turned left to join the piste. (The big face was trashed yesterday and wasn‘t worth it today) I then headed up to ski the Campanules, which was fantastic spring snow but fragile before heading home on the piste. (I gave the Familial a miss because a nasty fog bank had rolled in and after a brilliant morning I didn’t need to spend any time stumbling around in a sea of cloud. I might have been sick.)

Meanwhile, after a trip to the Motte the rest of the boys spread out and found some great skiing in tricky conditions. Between Andreas, Thomas and Henry they skied the Cairn, Campanules, Familial, and the North Face of the Borsat from the top, finding powder and variations of spring snow that held up nicely. They weren’t easy calls and the boys did a terrific job working as a team to find fantastic skiing all morning long. Bravo boys!

It clouded over this afternoon and some more snow is forecast for this evening, so our powder run should continue for a few days more at least. We’ll enjoy it but when the sun returns I think we’ll all be ready for it as flat-light conditions are hard work. So far we’ve been lucky and had enough visibility to make the most of the skiing while the lack of sunshine has kept the snow cold giving us superb powder conditions.

And thanks for a lovely evening Clan Campbell!

PS Olivia’s sister Fiona came along with Chris this morning and she did brilliantly. Well done girls!

12 April 2012
Another ridiculously good day of winter powder!

It was pretty quiet around my place this morning but the girls phoned to say hello and Katie informed me that I was, “the best daddy in the universe”, which is a lovely way to start the day! Thanks girls!

It was overcast and snowing lightly this morning and although it was tempting to return to the Fornet the boys convinced me to head to Tignes as it’s forecast to snow from the east tonight, which will load up the Fornet again for tomorrow. The skiing was superb right from the start off the edge of the Verte and Mont Blanc and again in the Lower Borsat and meadows down into Tignes. From there Chris and I opened up the Balme, which was atmospheric to say the least and great skiing as well. From there we headed up to the Motte where we were lucky enough to get some really decent visibility and we filled our boots with three rotations off the Genepy and down my shoulder. They then opened up the Motte cable-car so Chris was in the first ride up and he opened up the Leisse from the top, which was wonderful. My team caught the next cable car and it’s the first time all winter we’ve had that slope in deep snow and it was a treat. By this time it was getting late and I skied the Cairn and finished off about 1:45 on the piste. (There were some tired legs by this stage) Stephen said that it was his best morning of the season but I think sometimes we lose track of all the great skiing we do during a season. (Like yesterday, I’d give it a top ten) Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed yourself Steve!

Meanwhile, once in Tignes Andreas headed up for an excellent Chardonnet while Thomas and Henry skied one in the Col du Palet. Andreas then came around to the Balme while Henry skied the Chardonnet and Andreas was doing something funky in one of the couloirs, which was getting rave reviews from Thomas and Henry. They then headed back towards Val d’Isere to ski the Spatule, and I lost track after that. Thomas came up towards the Motte and skied one off the Genepy with the Parker family, and all in all, it was another brilliant day of winter powder in mid-April. Wow!

Dan Egan took some great video of Henry yesterday and it can be found on Henry’s website so log-on and have a look. Good stuff Henry!

I’d like to wish my lovely wife Gill and god-son Oscar a very happy birthday today. I remember well the day Oscar was born when we were all eating at Les Tufs and the news of the birth came through. TJ’s brother David had been sent out to bring TJ back to Scotland in time but David was having such a good time it was TJ who ended up dragging David back. Late, needless to say! Anyway, happy birthday Gill and Oscar!

Sports Report- Man U’s shock defeat to Wigan has certainly spruced things up a little. Although the title is in the bag, the Man U supporters will be incredibly nervous now and who knows, it just might get interesting!

11 April 2012
Bloody magnificent!

It blew from the south overnight and loaded things up beautifully up at the Fornet and the entire team profited with one of the better days of the season. It was -8 in the village this morning and forecast to stay cold allowing us to ski in winter conditions all morning. We started off on Solaise with one down the piste, which was absolutely superb! I counted 120-turns without a track in front of us before reigning in to regroup and everyone was buzzing. It’s a great run top-to-bottom and when you can get it first in those conditions it’s a fantastic way to start. From there my team was first onto the Mattis so we skied it non-stop (which I’ve never done before) to the bottom in lovely snow. Chris skied it as well then the rest of the boys took various routes down to the Laisinant Express where we made our way to the Fornet. We were first into the Grand Vallon, which was great top and bottom but a little bumpy for a pitch in the middle, but who cares about that with the ambience on offer! From there we opened up the Combe du Signal, which was very good indeed, before heading up to the Glacier where the visibility was much better. I followed Andreas into the Combe du 3300, again top marks, before hooking up with Henry who’d found a nice little stash towards the Combe du Geant, which was seriously deep! I then circled back around to take the Combe from the top before heading back down with Jean and the Parker boys as I needed to head off to the airport (they were all shagged!) while Stephen, Kaye and Derek stayed on the Glacier to finish themselves off. All the Alpine team had a wonderful morning skiing variations of similar runs and it really was a stunning morning of maximum turns! (Check Jean’s photos. He did a great job as we skied non-stop all morning and he didn’t get much of chance to get his camera out! I didn’t take any today because of my trip to the airport)

It was a lovely farewell with the girls who’ve had such a fantastic winter. They loved school, the skiing, the swimming, the social life, both with their adult friends as well as other children, and they seem to have acquired a love of the mountains and the snow, which of course makes me extremely happy! Fingers crossed that they can come back next year.

I’m off to bed for an early night as it looks like the surf will be up again tomorrow. Stay tuned!

PS Happy Birthday to Gill and Oscar for tomorrow!

10 April 2012
A change of scenery!

We had another window of opportunity today with clear skies in the morning, but with wind and increasing cloud cover due during the afternoon. After so much time in Tignes I thought it was time to roll the dice and take a chance on the Fornet, as it seems like such a long time since we’ve skied up there. Normally there’s a reason for avoiding certain sectors and we found out today why we haven’t been up there of late. (I am hard on myself mind you)

Chris came along for a Glacier Pers and the first bit of good news was getting over the Col was pretty easy considering. The fresh snow gave us a cushion above the rocks and stepping in was no problem at all. We ‘skinned’ up for about 30-minutes or so and the snow improved the higher we climbed. The first two pitches were pretty jolly good, but from there it stiffened up and we needed to ‘sniff’ about before escaping to spring snow, which was very nice indeed and appreciated. After ‘skinning’ again for 15-minutes to the Grand Torsai we relaxed for 10 to minutes waiting for the snow to soften to perfection and we enjoyed a brilliant run down above the gorge on my cheeky little non-tourist route. It’s a very atmospheric way down above the gorge and it was as good as it gets today, which was a bonus after a tough middle section on the Glacier Pers.

Meanwhile, Henry headed towards the faithful Sachette and will have had some lovely powder up top followed by spring options when needed and Andreas ‘skinned’ to the Col des Balme de l’Ours for some excellent powder. Bravo boys and good effort from Andreas’ team!

Thanks very much Andreas and Tansy for hosting such a great afternoon/evening yesterday. Tansy’s Mum and Dad, Lorna and Robin also helped out and it was a fantastic BBQ. The kids ran wild and had a lovely time and needed to be dragged away later than planned. Andreas did a top job on the BBQ and the salad selection was excellent. Katie said in bed as she pulled up her duvet, “Can we do that every day Dad?” Bravo to everyone involved and thanks very much as it was a brilliant finish to a stunning day! (Check photos of the Day)

PS It was the girls last ski today and they had a wonderful time with the Ellis clan again this morning. They may go out in the morning but chances are they’ll have finished on a high this morning. I’m off tomorrow afternoon to the airport so it will probably be a short or late update tomorrow.

9 April 2012
Wow, how good was that?

After several days of flattish light we were treated to sunny skies today and some seriously good skiing. It was much colder last night and was forecast to stay cool today even with the April sun so we headed up high around the Motte to ski the wonderful snow that had been blow in over the past couple of days. My team started with a great taster in the Lower Borsat and meadows before heading upstairs on the Funicular. We immediately dove down towards my shoulder and savoured a brilliant first run in wonderful snow on a trackless mountainside. The Leisse chair was closed for blasting so we waiting for 15-minutes or so for the Pisteurs to finish before cutting a trail back to the chair to circle around for another run. After round-2 it was starting to get tracked out so we skied a lovely run off the Genepy back down into Val Claret before heading up for one on the big face of the Grande Balme. The Balme was pretty jolly good and very atmospheric and everyone appreciated the ambience. We then went back up Les Lanches to access the meadows back down towards the Genepy piste and then finished off with a very good Familial.

The rest of the team skied in the same neighbourhood starting with the Borsat, followed by the Motte and Balme and Thomas threw in a Chardonnet as well. It was a fantastic morning and a real bonus after a few tough days weather/condition-wise. Bravo team for a job well done!

Gill, Millie and Katie skied with Margaret and her grand-daughter Natasha this morning and they had a brilliant time as the pistes were in excellent condition and they had a seriously good ‘girls team’. The girls are leaving on Wednesday so Gill is having a ‘girls drinks’ this evening and will unfortunately miss Andreas’ Alpine BBQ.
It’s a much better afternoon for it and I’ll give you some news and photos tomorrow.

Today’s Jean’s and my ski photos are up so don’t forget to check out today’s action.

Sports Report- Bravo Arsenal who are now pals with United fans and what a fantastic finish to the Masters! Bubba looked brilliant in his all-white outfit and his pink-shafted-pink-headed driver. And it was nice to see Bubba blub with joy after his first-ever Major victory!

PS Thanks to Stephen and Kaye for a great time at the Billabong/Roxy Burger Bar. Boy, I love that place!

8 April 2012
Dreadful start, wonderful finish!

Gill and I were up at the Fornet with the girls visiting the Ellis family yesterday afternoon and there were huge flakes of snow falling out of the sky. I thought we were in for a fantastic ski at the Fornet today and could hardly wait to ski the fresh powder, and as we watched the snow fall Anthony signed up for this morning as well. It blew fairly hard during the night but we all headed up to the Fornet this morning anyway expecting some great powder. Unfortunately it was still blowing a gale, most of the lifts were closed and it was winter-cold again so after a few decent turns in the bottom of the Combe du Signal we all did a u-turn and bussed back to Bellevarde to re-start the day. If anyone wanted to go home at 9:30 no one would have blamed them as it was a seriously tough start to the morning.

Even though the wind was still blowing on Bellevarde it wasn’t nearly as cold and we immediately had some nice skiing off the Verte before skiing a great run in the lower Borsat and across the meadows below. At this stage it wasn’t exactly clear what to do next so Chris headed upstairs towards the Motte while Andreas and I took the Tichot chair. The Col du Palet was closed as was the Col des Ves so I had some good skiing under the Balme before heading up the Funicular to join Chris up on the Motte. The skiing off the Genepy was superb as it always collects snow when the wind is northerly and it was satisfyingly deep. (Chris’ team enjoyed it so much they circled back for another run) We then skied across the meadows and under the Fresse chair before finishing the morning with a very good Familial. From the Tichot Andreas opted for an excellent run in the Chardonnet followed by a couple off the Grand Huit before arriving at La Daille via the Familial. Thomas was with us all morning and I know he skied the Borsat, Spatule and Familial, but I’m not too sure what else. (I was impressed the way Anthony drove his red Val d’Isere Legends around this morning. I love my new skis but I did have seven wonderful years on those skis and it was nice to see them being skied so well. Chapeau Ant!)

Thanks to Sarah and Dom for arranging a very successful Easter-Egg hunt in difficult conditions this morning. Bravo for a great effort!

Andreas and Tansy had to postpone their annual Alpine BBQ due to another rock slide across the road. Dodgy road that! The excellent road service crew have managed a detour of some sort but it’s very slow going and combined with the weather the BBQ is on for tomorrow afternoon instead.

They had the weather report all wrong today and in places it snowed a significant amount, especially on the lee-side. It has brightened up considerably this afternoon but I’m not too sure what to expect for tomorrow. Either way, we’ve some fresh snow to ski tomorrow.

It’s a great day for sport as there are some huge football matches, rugby as well?, and the final round of the Masters, which I’m going to watch some of with Jean this evening.

7 April 2012
An excellent Sachette with fresh snow!

There was a dusting of fresh snow overnight, which gave us a softer cushion and helped to ‘clean’ up some of the spring slopes, but it also insulated the surface against the re-freeze, making for potentially tricky conditions at lower altitudes. The Fornet sector looked to be cloudier so we all headed to Tignes to ski the Sachette, which would give up powder up high and the option of spring snow lower down. As predicted, the skiing was excellent and we enjoyed winter snow most of the way down. It became fragile towards the bottom as the freeze gave way, but my team made it all the way down to the cut-out point. (The rest of the boys took the option of cutting out a little earlier to avoid the lowest section as it was getting towards the ‘limit’ for support.) From there Andreas and I circled back around to the Borsat for a nice Jardin du Borsat Nord to finish a really good morning.

I must apologise to Derek for saying he was an integral part of the ‘over-50’s pub crawl’. He was a driving force but he’s only 48! Sorry Derek.

Thanks to Rob for a fantastic meal at the Perdrix last night. Everything was first-class and the Perdrix staff took great care of us as well. Thanks and see you soon Rob!

Sports Report- Thomas has been skiing privately the past couple of mornings with Dave, who informed me at the entrance to the Sachette that he too, was a West Ham fan for his sins. Our 4-0 win yesterday helped but we’re still up against it as far as automatic promotion goes. And the Masters is wide open and looking as it the finish on Sunday will be of high drama with quite a few players in with a chance.

6 April 2012
Stunning snow on the Motte!

It was another morning of limited options, but we did manage some superb powder skiing off the Motte. It froze overnight but not enough to inspire confidence about the stability of big slopes below 2500 metres so we stayed high and had some great snow. Chris, Thomas and I started with a Lower Borsat en-route to the Grande Motte, where the ambience was fantastic with a sea-of-cloud below us while we were above it in the sunshine. (See photos) We enjoyed the visibility before dropping into the cloud bank as we skied a beautiful 107-turn pitch in the Rosolin with enough visibility to relax and see where we were skiing. After ‘skinning’ out for ten-minutes or so we circled back around for another pitch of 95-turns. We then skied the Cairn but needed to ski the sunny-side (didn’t ski anything clean as we wanted to keep the potential spring snow unmarked) and it was pretty jolly good. From there we skied some spring snow under the Fresse chair and we all finished with a piste run to La Daille.

Meanwhile Andreas skied the Borsat form higher up, followed by a shot in the Rosolin before heading into the Tour du Balme. When coming around to the big slopes of the Balme they were surprised as they ran into the middle of a Danish Free-ride competition complete with people jumping cliffs and a helicopter hovering about with a film crew. They skied one of the couloirs anyway and may make the 9 o’clock news in Denmark!

Hats off to Derek, Paul and Peter who were out to 5 o’clock on some sort of over-50’s pub crawl, and they all managed to show up and strut their stuff this morning. Scary boys but an amazing display gentleman! ( but better you than me!)

I skied with the McClaren clan this afternoon and we did a little technique, raced around a bit and then skied the Jardin du Borsat Nord. Well done boys! Millie skied this afternoon with Wils, Rosie and Uncle Rob. She needed to take the bus to La Daille on her own and cross the road due to the Scara taking over the car-park. Bravo Millie!

We’ve made the best of the past three days where it’s been potentially tricky and we’ve had some great skiing. Tomorrow may be another tough one but fingers crossed and hope for the best!

Sports Report- Keep it going Lee!

Advertisement! These Movement skis are seriously good and it’s amazing how they taken the market by storm. There are several different models to chose from and everyone who has a pair loves them. Because they’re touring skis they are much lighter than normal skis but perform on the piste beautifully. And some good news is that Frans had his skis replaced by Movement even though the warranty had expired as he had a pair that delaminated. It’s great to see them stand by their product.

PS The girls had a lovely time at the Petit Danois catching up with their school pals while Andreas’ kids had a great time using beepers to find the eggs during their easter egg hunt!

5 April 2012
Happy birthday Kaye!

It rained in town overnight, which is good news at this time of year because we had a fresh cushion of snow at altitude. Because of the rain there was very little freeze so the goal today was to stay as north and high as possible. If everyone tried to stay on north facing slopes the spring slopes (meaning east, south, or west facing) would have a chance to transform properly in a ‘clean’ state. But if they’re tracked now they’ll transform into an un-ski able mess and this last snowfall will be wasted. Bummer as you just know it’s going to happen!

As for today’s skiing, we all headed up to the Fornet Glacier and had some excellent skiing. After one on the piste, we skied the Combe du 3300, the Pays Desert and two surprisingly good runs in the Grand Vallon. We managed to stay as north as possible and only had a couple of patches with a ‘crunchy’ base. It was Jeff’s last day of his first-ever week with us and he’s had a wonderful time and will be back next season. It was Kaye’s birthday today and after a great ski she was having a dandelion salad at the Crozet, followed by dinner at la Grande Ourse. Nice one and happy birthday Kaye!

With the lack of freeze last night I gave my afternoon off-piste with Stuart, Angus, Jane and Jumbo a miss and took my girls swimming instead. It did my legs a world of good to have a rest and do some swimming mixed with massage up against the bubbling jets. Hopefully we’ll get a good re-freeze tonight and I can ski with the McClaren clan tomorrow afternoon. (Sorry about today!)

Sports Report- The first golf major of the season gets underway at Augusta today and it should be a fantastic tournament with an extremely high quality field competing, including Tiger Woods who seems to have worked his way back into being a serious threat again. Does that mean we have to be subjected to idiots yelling, “Get in the hole!” Or, “Nice birdie Tiger!”?

4 April 2012
A very atmospheric morning!

Today was the day for the potential ‘stinker’, and although it was a tricky morning it turned out to be a jolly good outing. There was very little freeze overnight, the sky was grey and instead of clearing up as forecast it socked-in and started snowing, leaving us in pretty flat-light. Since we all skied the Sachette yesterday everyone started off with other plans, but as the morning unfolded, the Sachette would have been a perfect option. Anyway, we all came up with alternatives and a good ski. Chris and I skied the Borsat, the big face on the Grand Balme, Toothy Rock, beside the first Par-avalanche, and I then finished with the Familial.

Meanwhile Thomas skied the Cocaine, Glattier and I’m not too sure after that while Andreas skied the ‘Wall’ and Combe des Lanches, and along the Par-avalanche as well. It wasn’t the easiest but we had loads of ambience and everyone enjoyed themselves during a transition-type morning.

I had a great ski with Jemima and Ellie this afternoon as we skied the Borsat, Cairn, Combe des Lanches and Familial. Fortunately it cheered up a little and we had decent visibility.

Thanks for a wonderful meal and evening last night Laura. It was great to see Jane and Jumbo and their boys Angus and Stuart, as well as TJ’s cousin Vicki. Fantastic food and company, thanks again!

It was Jean’s brother Bernard last morning today. He’s had a superb week and we look forward to seeing more of him next season.

Hopefully we’ll get some snow tonight and a fresh mountain to work with tomorrow! (Sorry but I’m off in a rush again!)

3 April 2012
A fantastic bonus morning!

A potentially tricky day turned out to be a real bonus morning of excellent skiing. Thomas, Chris, Andreas and I all headed towards the Sachette where we’d have options if we needed them. There was a dusting of fresh snow overnight, which was great news as the fresh snow eats into the freezing layer underneath (and insulates the surface from freezing rock solid) so we had a nice spring feel with or without the sun. Fortunately the sun did break through and we had another morning of superb spring snow after some nice powdery snow on the top third of the Sachette. We ‘skinned’ up towards the Glacier Suspendu for a fabulous slope and Stuart lost his ski, which tumbled down most of the slope and Andreas had to ski down on one ski. Nice one Stuart and bravo Andreas! Chris and I finished with a good pitch off the Rhododendron and Familial while Andreas went back up for one in Toothy Rock. (I’m not too sure how Thomas finished his morning) Henry was also skiing today but I’ve no idea where he went)

Thanks for the footie match last night Geoff. It looks like it’s curtains for City as they’ve blown their chance for the title. (In my opinion but there is still a ways to go)

I’m getting ready for a gourmet evening at Laura’s so sorry for the short update. Stay tuned for hopefully some powder news tomorrow!

PS Millie and Katie finshed their French school term today and will be skiing for the next week before leaving on the 11th. Boy, that was a quick winter!

PSS Katie just showed us her school report and she received straight ‘A’s’. I am seriously proud of her and she also had a lovely letter from her teacher about how well she’s done and what a pleasure she’s been to have in class. Can he really be talking about my Katie? (Millie hasn’t had her report yet)

2 April 2012
A final Mont Roup before the change in weather!

The weather is due to change and today may be our last day of proper spring skiing for a while. Hopefully it will freeze tonight and be sunny tomorrow morning before it clouds over and starts to snow tomorrow afternoon/evening, but that’s optimistic as it could be a tough day tomorrow as we await the forecasted snow. Anyway, we’ve just enjoyed a couple of weeks of fabulous spring skiing but a fresh canvas and some powder will be greatly appreciated!

As for today’s skiing, it was outstanding! I headed up to take advantage of the spring snow on the Crete du Genepy en-route to Mont Roup, which has been and was again today, wonderful. The big slopes are clean and atmospheric as it’s pretty jolly steep out there and Julian said, “That was bloody fantastic!” Chris and Thomas came along as well and after Mont Roup we back-tracked to the Olympique where the boys finished with a Super Santons into the Santons while I skied the Banane. (Inga, note Geoff’s helmet in the photos!)

Meanwhile Andreas and Henry enjoyed great skiing as well with the spring ‘classics’ in Tignes where they skied the Cocaine, Glattier, Toothy Rock, Campanules and probably the Familial to finish. Young Rory Campbell was skiing with Andreas this morning as he’s now getting stuck in to the off-piste. Bravo Rory!

This afternoon I skied with Jemima and Ellie for an off-piste initiation and we skied the Campanules twice in lovely snow and the gullies below the Fresse twice as well. Jemima went to Charterhouse and was taught by Ed How, who was the Englishman killed on the Face du Charvet last week. She said he was a wonderful man, a great teacher and was adored by all the boys as he was heavily involved with the sports programmes at Charterhouse. What a sad and tragic accident!

Hopefully we’ll have some kind conditions tomorrow before the snow arrives as frozen snow and no sunshine adds up to a tough transitional morning. Fingers crossed!

PS Gill skied her last off-piste morning of the season today, but what a way to finish! She flew up Mont Roup in 17-minutes and Bernard wasn’t far behind with 22-minutes. I personally took my time with the rest of the team!

1 April 2012
A fantastic start to April!

We’re finally expecting some snow mid-week but in the meantime we’re enjoying the sunshine and fantastic spring snow. This morning Chris and I took our teams to the Sachette for some lovely powder up top followed by great spring snow towards the bottom. We then skied ‘toothy rock’ into the couloir followed by another go in the couloir from the Palafour chair. I finished with a piste cruise and Chris went into the Familial where he managed to break his ski in half! Bummer JC!

Meanwhile Andreas skied the sunny-side of the Foglietta with Mark and Holly and I can only imagine that it was excellent. The rest of the boys had the morning off but will be back in action tomorrow.

This afternoon I took the girls out with their cousins Wils and Rosie and their Uncle Rob and we skied off-piste all afternoon. We started off with an excellent run in the Marmottons, and into the Marmottes, before skiing the Grand Vallon right down to the Crozets for a couple of beers and some cokes. Cracking stuff and impressive slopes for such little people. Some French tourists were watching the girls checking their beeps at David’s Memorial and had smiles on their faces as we entered the Grand Vallon. (They were probably thinking “What an idiot” like the people yesterday when we were skiing the narrow gulley under the Fresse chair) Check today’s photos and stay tuned for more news tomorrow.

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