Wayne's Daily Diary Archive

20 June 2007

31 January 2016
Flat-light and wind, but brilliant!

Thirty to forty centimetres of snow fell overnight and although there were winds of 120km/h at altitude during the night the Olympique opened fairly promptly and the snow was excellent! I was surprised at how good the snow was at altitude and again just below the Folie Douce where it can be extremely compact and tricky after a howling wind has been battering it all night. It was pretty jolly heavy lower down in the trees but we stayed upstairs most of the morning and I thoroughly enjoyed the skiing as we had a ‘maximum-turn’ type session even though very little was open. (See photos)

Thomas had a skier lose a ski and his team spent almost 90-minutes looking for it. My team came down to lend a hand but to no avail and the poor Viking had to ski down on one ski, which was extremely hard work. Bummer! (Chris and Andreas were off today)

I’d like to say well done to Tim who has skied really well this trip, to Penny B who has been walking up a storm, to Sylvie for a solid performance and to Sarah who made great progress this morning in flat-light and deep and sometimes heavy snow. Bravo to you all!

I’ve been testing these Salomon light-weight touring boots the last few days and must say that skied beautifully today in the deep snow. They have wonderful feel for the snow, are very precise and because they’re so soft the ankle has lovely freedom, which leads to a fantastic ‘feel-good’ factor. I was going to give them back tomorrow but I’ve really taken a liking to them the past few days and will try to keep them for a while longer.

It is forecast to rain later today and during the night, but how high up the mountain is the million-dollar question? We certainly do not want this lovely snowfall ruined and end up with frozen crust half-way up the mountain, so fingers crossed and stay tuned!

30 January 2016
Last chance before the storm!

It was our last day of sunshine before some much needed snow and a storm arrive tonight, and the boys all spread out with Chris, Andreas and Thomas heading for Tignes while I ‘skinned’ for a Glacier Pers variation. We had a brilliant wildlife sighting while climbing to the Col as a Chamois popped up in front of us and showed off its rock-climbing prowess. (See photos) We also had a nice view of a Gypete hovering above us in the Glacier Pers but it didn’t come out on my camera. Besides the wildlife show the skiing was pretty jolly good and it was a very pleasant morning.

I’m not sure how the boys got on with their various adventures but I’m sure they made the most of what’s out there and there’s no doubt that we’re all looking forward to some new snow to work with.

We said good-bye to TJ yesterday and it was great having him as part of the team again. His three-week stint is becoming a traditional feature now and it was nice to see many of you catching up and skiing with him again. We’re all hoping that his lovely wife Joanna will be able to return next season as well.

And thanks to Penny for a fantastic dinner last night!

Stay tuned for more news, weather and sports tomorrow!

PS- Thomas and Chris did have some adventure this morning with some excitement in the rocks heading up the Pramecou followed by some fun in the Hourglass Couloir. They dealt with everything that came their way and it was an ‘educational’ outing. Bravo to everyone involved! And Andreas took his Vikings for a big walk to the Lores and they were appropriately impressed! Quite a good day all in all and we could see 40cm’s tonight with the avalanche risk already being bumped from 2 to 4/5 for tomorrow. Blimey!

29 January 2016
Fingers crossed for snow on Sunday!

It was quite amazing how quickly a thick blanket of cloud dispersed this morning leaving us in brilliant sunshine by around 10 o’clock. Thank goodness too as without visibility the skiing would be hard going at the moment! All the boys spread out this morning and I went for a change of pace with TJ on his last morning and after a very good opener we ran into some trickier snow than we would have liked. Everyone coped admirably and all in all it was a pretty good morning, although I’ve had easier skiing of late.

There was some rain with a few flakes of snow expected for Sunday but the updated forecast is much more promising. We may get lucky and see up to 30cm’s of snow as we feel the affect of the tail-end of the storm that has been causing so many problems in America. Fingers crossed on that one!

Millie has been the only girl in her school to be invited to Twickenham today for a tour of the stadium and to watch the England team prepare for the Six Nations. She was a little apprehensive about going with a bus load of boys but Katie talked her into it. It should be a fantastic experience for her and I’m looking forward to hearing all about it.

And a big happy birthday to Chris who tries his best to keep it quiet and perhaps get away without any mention at all, and a big happy birthday to Grandpa Fred as well. Fred loves birthdays because he’ll be taken out for a fabulous meal by his family and pick up a few pressies as well. I can see Fred’s logic although I’m an ‘under the radar’ man myself! Have fun both of you and stay tuned!

28 January 2016
I really enjoyed that!

The forecasted clouds arrived this morning but we still had enough light to travel and take on our itineraries. I’m still in ‘code-mode’ but you can tell where I was through the photos, and I thought it was a cracking morning and with the bottom third being much better than expected it was a bonus! Thomas had a big day skiing with Catherine while TJ took on an interesting route with Sylvie and Suzanne. Bravo boys and to everyone involved on those two adventurous trips! Andreas was skiing with some Swedes who aren’t equipped so he’ll have tested out some classics for us while Chris was on-piste with his lovely American group.

The sun is forecast to shine again tomorrow and if we’re lucky we may get a few flakes on Sunday and then again on Wednesday. In the meantime we’ll continue on and do our best to entertain the troops without wearing them out! Stay tuned!

Boo-hoo, it’s TJ’s last day tomorrow!

PS- I ran into Chrissy in the street and she had a fabulous time in Japan. Deep soft snow and she thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. She was on her way to meet Tony W who is going to wear David’s hat in the torchlight parade tonight that is dedicated to ‘Friends lost in the Mountains’. Bravo Tony and Andreas as we’re thinking of not only David but way too many other friends and acquaintances who have fallen victim to the mountains over the years.

And well done to Katie who sang at the O2 last night. Gill said she was the star of the show but considering there were 7000 children there she must have been good!

27 January 2016
Another jolly good result!

The sunny weather continued again today and although we need snow, sun is crucial at the moment to make the most of the skiing. TJ, Chris, Andreas, Thomas and I all headed in different directions and everyone ‘skinned’ to get to the best snow, or just for a change of sector and scenery. Everyone had a good day and chapeau to the boys for a fantastic effort and result again today.

It’s been a tough season so far as the skiing has been limited and sometimes repetitious right from the start of the season. Early on because of a lack of snow, then we had too much snow causing a high avalanche on a very unstable base, and then wind and sun damage combined with tracks. Still, I think all the boys have put on a really good show and when people have continuously gone home at the end of their holidays saying that their trip was much better than expected and that they’d had a wonderful time it shows that the team has done a great job. Bravo boys!

We may see a change in weather soon but for the moment it’s just about soldiering on one day at a time. Stay tuned!

26 January 2016
In need of a fresh canvas!

It was another extremely warm day with the sunshine just diluted slight with a very thin haze high in the sky. It’s still ‘walkies’ time and after a couple of tougher days going uphill I opted for an easier day and a change of scenery. Sunday was fantastic, yesterday was excellent and today I would rate as a solid ‘good’. There is usually a price to pay when you look elsewhere during tough times and although the snow wasn’t as good as the past few days we had a very enjoyable outing. (See photos)

Meanwhile TJ and Andreas were out ‘skinning’ in tested waters and had excellent mornings while Chris was on-piste with his lovely American team. TJ has been skiing with one of the American ladies named Erica, who is absolutely brilliant on her telemarks. Suzanne was extremely impressed and said it was rare to see anyone ski that well. Bravo Erica!

I’d like to thank Clare C for inviting me to dinner last night with her girlfriends. It was a fantastic evening and I was in great company being the only bloke surrounded by Clare, Pascale and their friends Jane and Carol. Lucky me!

Similar weather is forecast again for tomorrow so we’ll make the most of it, but a few flakes would be welcome as we’re now in need of a fresh canvas. Stay tuned!

25 January 2016
That was another excellent morning!

It was another marvellous day and everyone was in the mood this morning. My team were a little weary after yesterday but we still did a ‘double skin’ today to find great snow, beautiful scenery and solitude. TJ and Andreas were also walking today with both teams doing ‘double skins’ as well to to find fantastic skiing and making the absolute most of the morning.

Thomas and Chris are skiing with the Americans, most of who have never been to our stunning domain before, and they’re having a wonderful time. Henry was also in action today and although I saw him this morning I’m still not too sure what he’s up to.

I did quite a bit of coaching this morning within our group and the last three photos (without picking on anyone) are perfect examples of late or non-existing pole plants. You get one chance to link a turn in powder and if the pole is late you miss the moment to make the easy fluid connection from one turn to the next. 99% of skiers are late with their poles and these are good examples.

I might make a bit of a feature and put up some educational shots from time to time to help emphasise technical points that everyone should be thinking about and working on. Do you think I might need to ask permission? (I didn’t today!)

Tomorrow’s forecast is for high thin cloud and we’ll wait and see if it interferes with our visibility or not? Stay tuned!

24 January 2016
What a lovely morning!

The sun was out again today and I took my team of Penny, Jean, Tim, George, Suzanne and Louise for a 1 hour-and-thirty-five minute ‘skin’. We pretty much had the place to ourselves and the scenery and ambience were excellent, and the snow was pretty jolly good as well. All in all it was a fantastic morning and bravo to Penny, Jean, Tim and George for a great effort! (See photos)

Meanwhile Chris was skiing with some Americans from Colorado and Andreas had a great morning starting with a couloir off Bellevarde before heading to the Chardonnet and Motte. Henry was in action as well but I’m not too sure what he was skiing.

What a fantastic afternoon of Premiership action yesterday with a fabulous match between Norwich and Liverpool followed by another brilliant game between the Hammers and Man City. I would have taken a point before kick-off but the boys came so close to winning it at the death. What a performance and Leicester and Arsenal fans will be grateful! There were some great goals around the league and Match of the Day would have been a fantastic watch last night!

And thanks very much to Derek, Colin, Peter and Paul who took TJ and I out for drinks at the Fondue Factory followed by a visit to Bananas for dinner. I had a bit of a wobble on my way home and feared the worst but I managed quite nicely this morning!

More sun is forecast for tomorrow although the clouds rolled in this afternoon. Stay tuned!

23 January 2016
Now that was interesting!

A few flakes of snow fell overnight giving the piste a little extra cushion but we needed to deal with a punchy southerly wind that had worked the snow during the night. TJ went off to ski the Col des Fours while Chris and I headed to the Sachette, and we ended up with more adventure than we’d bargained for! Getting to the little Col above the couloir was interesting enough but once there neither of us was keen to traverse the huge build-up of snow guarding the entrance to the Sachette. I ‘skinned’ back to check out the Hour-glass shaped couloir to the right and then into the main couloir to have a good look. It had purged itself all the way down past the end of the couloir so we decided to ski in the soft debris. It wasn’t the best snow of the week but it was a good ‘travelling safely in the mountains’ exercise and I thought it was jolly good fun.

Towards the end of the morning a nasty little cloud rose up from the valley and came into play at the bottom of the Sache. Fortunately we skied below it quite quickly but it did prohibit us from finishing off in the Familial. (See photos)

Thomas had the day off while Andreas was skiing with his family to Italy for lunch, and Henry had an initiation to touring day.

The Hammers have a tough one today against Man City who’ll be seeking revenge for our early-season upset. Hopefully the Upton Park faithful can spur them on to a point or three! Stay tuned!

22 January 2016
Another fantastic morning enjoyed by all !

The sun was out again and everyone made the most of it. Andreas went down the valley for a little ‘sniff’ and lunch while Chris and Thomas went off ‘skinning’ together into untested waters. I ‘skinned’ as well and all the teams reported satisfaction, a little adventure and big smiles. (See photos)

With a couple of days of unbroken sunshine it has been possible to have a good look around the mountain, and I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen. There have been massive natural avalanches everywhere and this purging will do wonders for our safety during the rest of the season. The risk has dropped from 4/5 a week ago to 2/5 today, but there are still some areas that are waiting to go and caution is still a must, but the entire situation is much more positive than it was a week ago. Hallelujah!

It was Chris’ last day today and he’s made great progress and has been a real pleasure. He’s also been taking care of Quentin who’s here on his own and it’s always nice to watch people make new friends within the group, and that is a huge part of what Alpine Experience is all about!

We may receive a few flakes overnight and after a murky start we should have another sunny day tomorrow. After three weeks of snow and mostly flat-light this sunshine isn’t too hard to take! Stay tuned!

21 January 2016
Well done Team Jim !!!

The sun was out and I had a rare initiation group this morning, and my Scottish team of Jim, Suzie, Tom, Tommy and Dougie all did brilliantly. As expected the team was bit all over the place to begin with but by half-way through the morning they were leaving ‘A-team’ tracks, were gaining confidence and by the end were jolly proud of themselves. (See photos) Bravo to you all for a fantastic effort!

Meanwhile Chris and Andreas went off for a ‘skin’ while Thomas skied some steeps in Tignes, and everyone reported a great morning. TJ was skiing with Joanna and friends and I haven’t seen Henry for a few days.

Thanks to Geoff and Inga for a great evening last night, and as always for wonderful food, wine and company.

I’m off down the mountain for my first shopping trip of the season. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

20 January 2016
That was brilliant!

Wow, what a morning! We had enough light to head up to the Fornet to find some fantastic skiing with wonderful ambience. After a nice warm-up off the Laisinant we skied a great Lower Combe du Signal before Chris, Andreas and I all dove over the Col Pers. It was so nice to be back out there again and we had excellent conditions most of the way, although we needed to mess around a bit at the bottom due to rocks. Blimey, three metres of snow and there’s very little snow below the Grand Torsai! Still, it was a great trip and for some it was their first trip over the Col, which is always special. From there we circled back up and profited from the opening of the Signal Poma and skied a couple of stunning runs in the Combe du Signal. (See photos)

Thomas had a private today with a family and with a couple of them on boards I’m not too sure where he took his clients. TJ was skiing with Joanna and pals and I’m not too sure what Henry was up to today.

Thanks to Laura and Mike for hosting a fabulous dinner/reunion last night! The cast of characters stretched back 35-years and included TJ, Joanna, Delores and Jeff, Roddie Finlay and Sarah, Charlie and Stephanie, Russell, myself and of course Mike and Laura. Joanna opened the party with an outrageous quote from me that went back 25 to 30 years, and from then on it was game on! I only meant to stop by for a drink and to say hello but ended up going the distance as it was way too much fun! Thanks again!

Sunshine is forecast for tomorrow and we’ll be walking again before we know it. The last time used my ‘skins’ was 19-days ago! Stay tuned!

19 January 2016
Wow, I love those days!

It was another one of those much-better-than-expected mornings, and they are absolutely the best! A surprising amount of fresh snow fell overnight and for a flat-light day the vis was 10/10, all of which adds up to a cracking good morning and smiles on the faces of all those aboard. (See photos)

It’s been snowing lightly all morning and into the afternoon even though the sun is trying its best to make an appearance, but as I sit here writing this that last thing we want is sunshine this afternoon and the mountain being tracked out while we sit around congratulating ourselves on our morning’s work! If the wind stays away and we get a little visibility tomorrow we should have some options but I’m not going to jinx myself with the ‘high expectation’ routine! Stay tuned!

PS I’d like to give Gareth (who is a cracking nice skier) a mention. It turns out that his Dad Rob plays tennis with my wife Gill every Thursday morning. What a small world!

PSS I twigged my back this morning so I’m off to the gym for some Pilates and stretching. Ahh, it’s less bright and the flakes are a little bigger for the moment. Yahoo!

18 January 2016
A really solid morning with beautiful light!

Fortunately we had some lovely sunshine this morning that stayed with us just about to the end as the forecast was calling for grey skies by mid-morning. We all took full advantage and searched out some great skiing amongst a mountain of wind-damaged snow. (See photos)

The avalanche risk has come down to 3/5 although the goblet still remains in certain areas and will continue to cause problems. Fortunately there has been some serious purging and many slopes have slid naturally and are no longer posing an immediate risk. It would be nice to have enough sun to scout out the entire area so that we can file away which steep areas we can start to think about skiing. Without good visibility is difficult to clearly see what slopes slid during the storm as wind transported snow and fresh snow are covering up the visual clues. When the team spreads out like today and skis different sectors we can start to build a picture of what’s going on out there but we have been limited by wind, flat-light and lift closures.

The only forecast that I can find some sun on is the Avalanche Forecast, which was spot on today, so I’m remaining positive and calling for a bit of light to brighten our day tomorrow. Fingers crossed because if not it may be a little tricky. Stay tuned!

17 January 2016
An unexpected but savoured day off!

I had a pleasant and unexpected day to relax today as two clients couldn’t make it due to transfer problems, leaving just Jean and I. When I mentioned a one-run-for-some-fresh-air morning Jean’s face lit up as if it was the best powder day of the season! So, we headed up Bellevarde and were greeted with a biting and chilling wind and we skied piste straight to the bottom of La Daille. Jean then went home with a big smile for a well deserved rest.

I returned to chez-moi to retrieve my proto-type boots I’m testing plus my new Bonds (now Vertex). I didn’t want to test new skis with these ultra-light boots in public so I went off on my own for a run. I must say its weird skiing alone! Anyway, the boots have potential and my new skis were fabulous in the soft snow but very uncomfortable on the piste. New skis straight from the factory often need flattening so I took them straight into Jean Sports to have them sorted out. If you ever experience difficulties with a new pair of skis take them straight in to be serviced as skis have been coming out of the factory in an un-skiable condition since the beginning of time and this is nothing new. Don’t blame yourself and think you’re just having a bad day as it could very well be that your skis are in a shocking state. Someone once said, “A master craftsman always blames his tools!”

My colleagues all went out to brave the elements and had a pretty good morning. Bravo to all! Sun is forecast for the morning so we should have an easier time of it, but -20C and wind are also on the cards. Stay tuned!

So far I’ve skied with Jean, skied on my own, been shopping, gone to the gym, made soup and had lunch, now I’m off for the footie, what a day!

TJ’s wife Joanna arrives today for a five-day visit. It’s been ages since she’s been here and it should be fun as some of her best friends from 30-plus years ago are coming as well. What a cast of characters and what a reunion!

16 January 2016
Ray to the rescue!

It was -16C upstairs this morning but the wind was a little less chilling and with the sun shining most of the morning we all had a really good ski. In fact, it was much better than good and after a slightly disappointing day yesterday it was nice to rebound with a cracker for Dave and Sue’s last day!

My computer won’t recognise my mouse or my camera card so I can’t post any photos today. Hopefully I’ll get it sorted as the photos help paint the picture of our skiing because as you’ll have probably noticed I’m not listing where we’ve been skiing. Our options have been limited all season long for one reason or another so I’m not giving anything away. (Ray has suggested taking the battery out of my computer for ten minutes and everything seems to be back in order. Photos will follow shortly. Thanks Ray!)

Hopefully we’ll see a little sunshine tomorrow and maybe a few flakes of snow as well. After the wind ravaged much of the mountain some visibility is a must to make the most of the conditions. Fingers crossed!

Things aren’t looking to good in West Ham Land at half-time so hopefully the boys will have a better go in the second half.

15 January 2016
Blasted wind!

It was a little disappointing today because yesterday’s snowfall, which was one of the most beautiful I’ve witnessed for quite some time, was ruined by a persistent wind during the night. I knew we were in trouble around 4AM when I could hear the wind howling outside my bedroom window and sure enough this morning the wind-damage was extensive. Still, there were some pockets of lovely snow and some protected slopes but I was drooling yesterday afternoon when huge flakes were falling straight down without a breath of wind, and had visions of the best day of the season coming up. Thanks goodness the sun did come out so we could see the state of the mountain as well as ‘sniff’ out the best snow on offer and a little vis goes a long way when the mountain has taken a battering. I had high expectations climbing into bed last night, and high expectations are much more difficult to satisfy than than low ones!

Today was Michael R’s last day of thirty-four-in-a-row! Not many people ski that many days without a break and Michael skied through a few niggles and needed to ice his knee fairly frequently. He experienced the drought at the beginning of the season and has finished off with nearly two weeks of non-stop snow and flat-light, and he’s skied through it all. Bravo Michael and see you same time next year!

Temperatures around -10C are forecast for tonight and tomorrow with some more snow. It’s hard to imagine that we need more snow after 2 to 3 metres of the white stuff but after last night’s wind we need another soft cushion on top.

Stay tuned for Sue and Dave’s last day tomorrow and of course some sort of sports report! And good-bye to Iain and Murray, see you next season.

PS Thomas did a great job today of demonstrating the fragility of the snowpack to his clients. He positioned them and then jumped on a plaque and with an impressive ‘boom’ it slabbed off about 50 metres wide. Well done Thomas!

14 January 2016
What a week of wonderful winter skiing!

It was clear and cold overnight and the cold temperatures lightened up the snow, but without new snow we needed to ski places that hadn’t been skied and after blue skies yesterday afternoon and the mini-frenzy, that was easier said than done! Still, we managed another excellent morning and the good news is that it snowed big flakes all day long. (see photos) And according to Geoff D’s Norwegian forecast we should have sun tomorrow morning to go with some stunning new snow. Hang on, it should be a good one!

If yesterday afternoon is anything to go by there should be some outrageous lines skied in places I wouldn’t dream of going. The risk is high but people just don’t get it, many thinking an air-bag, beep, shovel and probe somehow makes them invincible, and others are just ignorant, but there will be a powder-frenzy tomorrow and hopefully no one in the resort will be killed. There were at least three avalanches in a short sunny afternoon yesterday plus the tragic accident in Les Deux Alpes, none of which would have happened if it had stayed cloudy. But as Andreas said, “the sun has to come out sometime” and that sometime is tomorrow!

Stay tuned for news, weather, and photos tomorrow! (I’ll give you a day off the sports!)

13 January 2016
A tragic avalanche in Les Deux Alpes!!!!

The wind was clocked at 126km/h on Solaise around 3AM and the temperatures have dropped significantly. It was jolly chilly this morning waiting for the Funival to open and when it finally did around 10:15 it was -18C and blowing a hoolie at the top! Unfortunately the wonderful snow we’ve enjoyed over the past four-days at mid-altitude took a hammering last night and made for much tougher skiing, but it was still very good lower down in the trees. Fortunately they opened Tommeuses just about when we were getting ready to call it a day and I was very surprised at how good the snow was at altitude, and in fact it was excellent. That’s good news for the next few days as the wind is forecast to drop and with the sun peaking through we should have much improved visibility to work with.

There have been some huge slides, some natural and others controlled by the Pisteurs, and the most impressive one I’ve seen was on the summit of Tommeuses where the fracture-line was a good two metres. You can see why it took so long to secure the pistes this morning because 126km/h of wind transports a vast amount of snow and in places the accumulation will be even deeper. Hopefully people will behave when the sun comes out because it will be seriously dangerous out there. As Henry would say, “It’s time to go for low-hanging fruit!” Too right Henry!

I’ve posted a few photos but my camera froze-up mid-morning and I missed some shots of Pisteurs throwing dynamite and the fracture line under the Tommeuses chair, along with some good powder shots. C’est la vie!

It was a great win for the Hammers last night moving us up to fifth in the table and Dave had a bounce in his step this morning after Villa’s win. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow.

PS- On my way to the gym this afternoon in the sunshine I had a good look around and was very disappointed with where people have been skiing. We’ve had ten-straight days of heavy snow and wind, a weak unstable base, an extremely high avalanche, and people are traversing and attacking steep slopes all over the place. Disappointing and sad, but sadly not surprising!


There was a tragic avalanche around 4 o’clock this afternoon in Les Deux Alpes. Twelve students from Lyon were skiing with an accompanying adult on a ‘closed’ piste. Three are reported dead, several are seriously injured and five students are still missing. It doesn’t get much sadder than that! Details are still coming in.

12 January 2016
Beeper training followed by wonderful skiing!

When Radio Val announced winds of 109km/h at the top of Solaise at 5AM with 30cm’s of fresh snow overnight, and with the wind swirling about in the village this morning we really weren’t expecting much of an opening. I thought we’d meet up, do a beep search and be home by 11 o’clock. We all headed down to La Daille and Thomas, Chris and I all spent some time with our teams doing some beeper training (bravo Dave, you were brilliant and I’d feel better knowing you were looking for me) and then around 10 o’clock the Funival opened and we all enjoyed a fantastic morning. Only the Funival and the short chair were open but they gave us plenty of options and we all had another brilliant ‘bonus’ morning. (TJ was also in action)

The temperature has dropped considerably and by the end of the morning the thermometer on top of the Funival read -13C. The colder temperatures helped to save the day because the lower slopes have stabilised and the snow is now light and very skiable, meaning we could ski trees right to the bottom. This hasn’t been the case up until today as we’ve needed to cut out early to avoid ‘wishbone’ snow. Without those lower slopes it wouldn’t have been nearly so entertaining this morning.

There is a lot of activity on Facebook regarding the brilliant David Bowie and I’m sure many of you are pulling out your favourite Bowie tunes. What an unique innovator, what a class act, and what a talent!

It’s snowing hard as of 2:30PM and we should have slightly brighter skies tomorrow, colder temperatures and some jolly cracking good skiing. Stay tuned and come on you Hammers!

11 January 2016

It was raining up to 2300 metres during the night and it was wet and windy with flat-light this morning, and with high avalanche risk, limited options, poor visibility, and low expectations it turned out to be another really, really fun morning! Not only was a ‘stinker’ avoided it turned out to be bloody good skiing and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. (see photos)

We were lucky with the wind because it wasn’t too bad at the summit of the Funival but by one o’clock the wind had really picked up and the storm is now upon us. Today was a ‘bonus’ day really and we’ll have to wait and see what tomorrow brings. Fingers crossed!

Frans was skiing beautifully today when he had a ski dive on him and it took about 40-minutes for Thomas and his team to finally find it. They had their shovels out and found it fairly deep. Bravo Thomas and crew as it wasn’t easy climbing back up and searching around for all that time. Frans will be very grateful, although he’s not too sure how much he really likes those skis as he’s been eyeballing some possible replacements!

Derek e-mailed to report the sad news that the legendary David Bowie died today of cancer. He was a fantastic showman and a serious piece of work, especially during his Ziggy Stardust days. Wham- bam-thank-you- David !

Stay tune for more news, weather and sports tomorrow and hopefully we’ll be open for business after a night of heavy snowfalls and strong winds!

10 January 2016
Another cracking good ski!

We enjoyed fairly similar conditions to yesterday with wonderful snow and just enough light on mid-altitude slopes. If we went too low it was heavy and we didn’t venture higher because of poor visibility and wind. (See photos) Even though the skiing is limited due to wind, flat-light, closures and most important of all, a 4/5 avalanche risk, it was a jolly enjoyable morning.

The forecast is for heavy snow over the next few days and we could see another metre of snow, maybe more. Unfortunately fierce winds are also expected so we’ll just have to wait and see what the next couple of days bring. Chris and I are scheduled to ski with the school children next week but there is a good possibility that Tuesday’s session will be cancelled.

I finished off a fantastic day of skiing yesterday with a nice West Ham victory in the FA Cup followed by a fantastic Steelers win over the Bengals in the NFL playoffs. Pittsburgh kicked the winning field goal with 14 seconds left on the clock. That’s called a proper ‘barn-burner’!

TJ arrived last night but I haven’t seen him yet, and he’ll be on the slopes tomorrow. Stay tuned!

PS I’d like to thank Dave and Sue for a lovely evening at the YSE Chalet Chardons. The food was excellent and the company even better! Also bravo to both of you for a fine performance this morning.

9 January 2016
'Zero' Expectations'!

I awoke to falling rain this morning with temperatures higher than yesterday and really thought we were in for another very tricky morning with wet heavy snow and flat-light. My expectations after yesterday were ‘zero’ and everyone in the bus and at the Gourmandine felt the same. But wow what a morning it turned out to be! The snow quality was superb and even though we skied some warmer snow at lower altitudes it was like champagne powder compared to what was on offer 24-hours ago! Chris and I managed to keep ourselves in the best light available, although we did have a couple of fog patches, and we profited with a ‘maximum-turn’ morning. I’d give it top 8 to 10 of the season, which is a pretty good return when everyone was expecting to spend the morning on piste. (Andreas, Thomas and Henry were all off this morning)

The rain and heavy snow will help stabilise the snowpack enormously and help improve the base in the long term. Hopefully the added weight will trigger the slopes that need to be purged but we’re still in for a tricky period that will need patience as we wait for things to settle. Steep slopes that haven’t purged themselves will still be ‘no-go zones’ and it will be interesting to see the state of play once the sun comes back out. I noticed that the Campanules has purged itself just above the notorious pond and the more of the mountain that drops the better.

Although it was raining this morning it is now snow quite heavily in town as of 1:30PM and it is forecast to snow the rest of the afternoon and then again tomorrow. Just in time for TJ’s arrival this evening! Stay tuned!

8 January 2016
'Educational' with a capital 'E' !

It warmed up considerably yesterday afternoon and rained not only in the village but part way up the mountain, and the result was some pretty tricky skiing today. I’d vote for it being the toughest morning of the season and even though we had some pretty good pitches, even the best snow of the morning was ‘educational’. We couldn’t get high enough due to closures and needed to deal with what was available and I was very happy get everyone down in one piece at 12:30. I don’t know about anyone else but I’m whacked!

The good news is that the heavy snow will help enormously in the long term but that didn’t make today any easier.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s news but I certainly hope that the skiing is easier than today’s!

7 January 2016
It's snowing just like the old days!

It only snowed about 5cm’s overnight so we didn’t get any help track-wise but it started to snow around 9AM and by 11 o’clock it was dumping it down and by the end of the morning there was already a surprising accumulation that covered up old tracks and made for some great skiing. We are expecting 50cm’s today and I wouldn’t be surprised if we get more. Blimey, it’s about to get extremely interesting!

As for the morning we were fairly limited and I tried the Manchet (Arcelle) sector for a change of scenery. (Not that you could see much with the flat-light) I was planning on skiing on-or-near the piste as I didn’t want to wander off onto the big slopes with such a fragile snowpack, and the snow was absolutely superb. The only trouble was that the pistes had been scarred by the piste machines and were totally un-skiable. That meant we couldn’t use the piste as back-up and needed to feel our way down as close to the piste as possible. It was a good journey all in all but wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been. We finished off the morning with some lovely skiing around Bellevarde where we skied with Henry for a couple of runs. (see photos) The rest of the boys were up-and-around the Fornet and I think everyone had a pretty good morning in tough conditions.

I’d like to thank Lloyd from New Zealand for pointing out a mistake on my Jan 5 report. The avalanche death took place in the Santons, not the Kern, and the skier involved in the accident in the Kern broke his pelvis, both legs and last I heard he was still in a coma. Sorry for the sloppy reporting Lloyd, have a great time skiing in Japan, and bravo to your lovely wife Jill for her 8-handicap. Boy, I’m jealous!

And I like to say a special hello to one of Millie’s best Broadwater School friends Connie, who reads my blog regularly and Millie thinks it quite cool that Connie reads her Dad’s Daily Diary! Thanks for tuning in Connie.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s news as the snow continues to fall.

PS They’ve just dropped the avalanche risk to 3/5!!!!! How can that be? The mountain is seriously unstable, there have already been two tragic accidents, and now another 50cm’s of heavy snow has been dumped on top of a weak base. Blimey!

6 January 2016
Unexpected sunshine makes the day!

We were all expecting a snowy flat-light day but it didn’t snow overnight and the skies cleared quickly leaving us with a superb ‘bonus’ day of visibility and fantastic snow. It was another ‘max-turn’ morning of high quality and what a morning for the ‘Dutchman’ to kick-off his season. (see photos)

I’d like to say bravo to Tiny and Gregor for a great performance this morning. They were laying perfect tracks right behind Thomas as Derek proudly looked on, and I have the feeling that they’re hooked! Mission accomplished but that will cost you Derek!

The clouds moved in around 3PM and it started snowing lightly and with the forecast calling for another significant dump tonight accompanied by strong winds we could be in for a tricky one tomorrow. Wish us luck!

I pulled out an edge on my beloved Bond’s a few days ago (one day before the snow!) and have been skiing on a pair of the new Salomon MTN Explore 88’s from Jean Sports and I must say they are bloody good in soft snow. I’ve really enjoyed them and they are surprisingly good on the piste except when the snow is firm and I’d definitely recommend them to anyone looking for a little more flotation. Personally I wouldn’t trade them for my Bond’s but they have been fun!

I’m missing my girls as this is the first time in their lives they haven’t been here at this time of year. I must say it’s rather quiet in my house but the novelty of that will wear off in a day or two. Stay tuned!

PS Attention: 50cm’s of snow is forecast for tomorrow with strong wind!

5 January 2016
It was sad to say goodbye!

It snowed a good 20cm’s overnight, maybe more, and with little wind to speak of the snow quality today was superb! And to really make for a stunning day was unexpected sunshine that gave us excellent visibility all morning long. (see photos) It was a maximum-turn type of morning with outstanding snow but the risk was 4/5 so thoughtful choices were a must.

It is a dangerous time after so long without snow and at this time of year because of the weak morning sun the east facing slopes are very similar to northern slopes, meaning both exposures have goblet right down to ground level. The eastern slopes have also been loaded up with wind-transported snow of late and on top of the goblet it is a recipe for trouble.

The sun allowed us to have a good look around today and many east facing slopes had plaques popping out naturally, and plaques were dropping into the huge bowls around the Tommeuses sector. Plaques are also being triggered from a distance of 100metres and when slides are happening without the weight of skiers and through distance triggering you know the mountain is unstable. And unfortunately there were a couple of serious avalanches in town today leaving one skier dead and another seriously injured. The fatality was on the east facing traverse into the Kern.

Snow is forecast again for tomorrow with a gusting westerly wind and the avalanche rating has already been dropped to 3/5, but after what a saw today I won’t be paying much attention to that and will treat the mountain as 4/5, especially if we can’t see!

I’ve just returned from taking the girls to the airport. It was a sad occasion and we are all looking forward to their return in February!

4 January 2016
4/5 and still snowing!

Another 30cm’s of fresh snow fell overnight and with the wind clocked at 90km/h during the night at altitude I was surprised at how quickly the resort opened this morning. I was half expecting an 11 o’clock opening but the Olympique opened at 9:03, which was a great result, especially when you consider it’s the first time all season that the Pisteurs and lift company have been under any pressure.

The avalanche risk has shot up from 1/5 to 4/5 and with the high winds vast amount of snow have been transported resulting in huge plaques in certain areas. With the weak under-lying base we’re in for a period of instability and prudence will be a must.

Considering the wind this morning, which was howling at the summit of the Funival, and the limited opening, we all enjoyed a pretty good morning of skiing. I ended up finishing at 12:50 without any stops so it shows it wasn’t too bad out there. Millie saw Thomas in the bar at Les Tufs as his team were enjoying a thoroughly deserved hot chocolate and said to Thomas, “You’re a much nicer ski instructor than my Daddy”! Stay tuned for more news tomorrow.

Sports Report- It was a terrific weekend for my sports teams as the Hammer won, the Flames won and the Steelers made the playoffs by winning their last game of the season while the Jets lost theirs. Brilliant!

PS Thanks Geoff and Inga for a fantastic dinner last night!

3 January 2016
Happy Birthday Ness!

After yesterday’s long-awaited snowfall the sun was out setting the stage for a stunning morning of skiing. Chris headed to the Fornet while Thomas, Andreas and I skied in Tignes and everyone enjoyed a brilliant morning. It was wonderful to feel winter snow underfoot again and the new snow is just what the doctor ordered. (see photos)

Unfortunately I ripped an edge out of a ski towards the end of the morning, which is a bummer because I don’t want to ski on new skis quite yet as it will remain rocky for a while longer. We still need some serious snow before tempting fate with new gear.

It was a fantastic win for the Hammers yesterday completing the double against Liverpool. Two wins on the trot has the confidence following again and with some key players coming back from injury it’s looking rosier again.

Thanks to Mike and Laura for a brilliant evening last night and it was wonderful to see Russell, Charlie, Stephanie and to meet Chris.

And happy birthday to Ness who is 11-years-old today!

2 January 2016
Here comes the snow!!!

It snowed about ten centimetres overnight, which made an enormous difference to the texture on the pistes but not enough to make a huge change off-piste. But, the snow is now falling this afternoon and we will definitely have a fresh canvas by the morning, and our season is about to get a serious boost! It’s been a long time coming and after one month of glorious sunshine and 1/5 avalanche risk it’s all about to change. Make sure your air-bags are in order if you haven’t had them checked and bring your goggles! Stay tuned as things are about to get interesting!

And come on you Hammers who host Liverpool this afternoon in what could be a cracking match!

1 January 2016
Happy New Year!

As usual it was much quieter today as many skiers were nursing hangovers but the Alpine faithful were there in full force this morning. It was nice to have a sunny day again as Andreas headed towards Tignes while Thomas, Chris and I chose the Fornet. Scenically it was a stunning outing but ski-wise it was probably my toughest morning of the season. Well done to everyone this morning and especially Nicholas and David in Chris’ group!

We’ve soldiered on admirably all season long but the forecasted snow couldn’t come soon enough. All the boys have done a fantastic job (if I say so myself) but enough is enough! Please let it snow!

Thanks very much to Penny for a fabulous effort last night. It was thoroughly appreciated by everyone and we are all very grateful. Bonne annee!

PS Apparently today wasn’t as bad as I’ve depicted but I am a connoisseur and a bit of a perfectionist, but it wasn’t my best!

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