Wayne's Daily Diary Archive

20 June 2007

29 February 2016
Quite exceptional!

Another 20 to 30 cm’s of fresh light snow fell overnight and with some sunshine and excellent visibility Thomas and I made the most of the outstanding conditions. We skied a couple of beautiful runs skiers-left off the Fontaine Froide followed by some great skiing off the Verte and under the Mont Blanc. Then came an absolutely stunning Campanules (see photos) and I can’t remember the last time I skied it in such good snow. Wow! After that we dove down the long slope under the Fresse chair to the bottom and that doesn’t get much better either. With the rising sea-of-cloud becoming a factor we headed up to the Motte and Thomas had one on the cable car while I headed down skiing a brilliant Cairn, which we did almost non-stop. Once back on the Val d’Isere side of the mountain we were in a complete white-out so we felt our way down the piste before taking the bubbles down from the Folie Douce. (I didn’t want to wreck a perfect morning with ratty piste)

It was great to have Kevin back this morning and he skied really well. Bravo Kevin! I also had Jean who’s in great form along with Louise and Suzanne. Thomas was skiing with Eugene and his first-time-to-Alpine friend John, and what a cracking morning for John’s introduction to Alpine! Chris had a private this morning and Andreas took the opportunity on a day off to play his guitar, which he is really enjoying.

A sunny day is forecast for tomorrow after a little more snow this afternoon but we’ll need to wait and see what tomorrow brings as the Pisteurs strike is a real possibility. Stay tuned!

28 February 2016
40cm's, bright light and no wind! Wow!

The Foehn wind blew during the night and 40cm’s of fresh snow fell so there was a delay in getting the resort open this morning. My team of Craig, Jean and the Birthday Girl Louise managed the first Funival of the day at 10 o’clock and we enjoyed a superb ‘maximum-turn’ morning and we were all exhausted by the end of it. The avalanche risk was 4/5 so we played it safe and even with the resort being pretty full we really didn’t get mixed up in the dreaded ‘frenzy’. There was a limited opening but we did our best with what was on offer and warmed-up with a great run down an un-pisted 3J followed by two skiers-left on the Fontaine Froide, then another skiers- right, then a lovely run off the Verte, one under the Mont Blanc, another off the Mont Blanc back to the Marmottons, then another off the Verte, then one from the just opened Borsat and then one more Mont Blanc and across the bridge to finish. Blimey, by this time we’d all had enough! We profited from pretty good light as well until around noon when it clouded over with a few flakes of snow floating about. The wind had completely died down and I was surprised at how calm it was this morning. Meanwhile Chris and Suzanne had a family ski and did several rotations in the Super L by bussing back to Solaise as the Laisinant Express remained closed all day.

There is a meeting today between the Pisteurs and the Mayor as the Pisteurs are threatening to strike on Tuesday over wages. Apparently they get about 20% less than other resorts pay, which I find ludicrous! This town spends a fortune lighting up the Face du Bellevarde at night and putting up new lifts, and they should be paying the piste service a decent amount. They do a fantastic job while putting their lives at risk while securing the pistes after big snowfalls, and they deal with some pretty nasty sights as the collect broken bodies and dig dead people out of avalanches. Bravo to all the Pisteurs and I hope they reach and agreement this afternoon. (If not everyone will have a day off on Tuesday and one day of lost revenue could keep the piste service going for a while!))

I was extremely pleased with the Hammers win yesterday as well as Leicester’s last-minute winner, and I thoroughly enjoyed the rugby. Hopefully the Gunners can win today to round-off a great weekend of sport.

More snow is forecast this afternoon and into the night ahead and tomorrow should see cloudy skies, which means some sun might just poke through. Fingers crossed!

PS I received a lovely email from Tom S to say how much he enjoyed the Daily Diary. Cheers Tom and it was great to hear from you!

27 February 2016
What a brilliant Sachette!

With a strong Foehn wind blowing and thick cloud towards the Fornet we all headed for shelter and better light in Tignes. Thomas, Andreas and I all skied the Little Lavachet, which was very good indeed, before ‘skinning’ out followed by a brilliant Sachette through the Sachette Couloir. The upper 80% had fantastic snow before the snow started to thicken due to the wind, but we still found strips of snow that skied nicely. We definitely had the best of the light as well as the rest of the resort seemed quite dark. Nice one boys, it was a great morning! (see photos)

We should see some snow by tomorrow morning and a big dump is expected up towards the Italian border. Fingers crossed on that one!

I must keep it short as I’ve some cleaning to do next door followed by an afternoon of sport. It’s a big day in the Premiership as well as the 6 Nations, so take your pick unless of course you’re watching it all! Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

26 February 2016
Sunshine and lovely snow!

The sun shone today and suddenly there were off-piste skiers and boarders coming out of the woodwork! We’ve skied in total solitude of late but with the sun making a rare appearance people were making the most of it after a fairly tough week vis-wise. Andreas and I headed up to the Fornet to avoid as many people as possible and enjoyed great skiing off the Laisinant, the Pissaillas, and then we were first-in over the Col Pers, which was excellent! We then finished off a cracking morning with some decent scraps off the Signal! (see photos) Meanwhile Chris and Thomas also had some good skiing in the Tour du Charvet followed by even better snow in the Cugnai and Arcelle.

It was nice to have Jean back as he’s been ill for about a week. He returned just in time to ski with Tony as Tony finished a fantastic week in style. And thanks to Tony and Ian for a fabulous lunch yesterday afternoon!

I’m about to meet up with Chris for my 50th gym session of the season. I should be in good shape by the end of all this! Stay tuned as we await a retour de l’est up at the Fornet. Fingers crossed!

PS The Foehn wind started to blow quite hard this morning and had already done some damage up at the Fornet. You can see the wind drifts in the photos that we skied through without too much effort, but the drifts will unfortunately firm up if the wind keeps blowing.

25 February 2016
Another wonderful day and the boys all did the business!

It was another day of better-than-expected light, and when leading groups of powder-hounds I can’t tell you how welcome that tiny bit of brightness can be! Instead of worrying about piling into a terrain trap or losing your way we could safely navigate and ski with positivity instead of skiing defensively with stress. Wow, it was another great result with fabulous snow and solitude! Chris and I headed to the Fornet and skied off the Laisinant, the Lower Combe du Signal,then two excellent runs in the Pays Desert where we didn’t see anyone except Charlie and Russell on our second trip around, then a fantastic Col Pers to finish. (see photos) Blimey!

Andreas and Thomas headed to Tignes with their teams and skied lovely snow en route to the Chardonnet, and I’m not too sure what else they skied after that. I know they were equally pleased with their mornings and everyone was a winner again today!

I had a fantastic lunch with Tony and Ian at the Baraque as Ian and I were scouting an alternative to the wonderful and now defunct Perdrix Blanc. Nico has now been open for three years and I’ve never been in until last week when Gill and I went in for drinks with Viv and family. I’ve felt guilty about not frequenting the place before because I’ve always been faithful to the Perdrix and Taverne, and I must say that Nico runs a fantastic establishment, with excellent food and ambience, and I look forward to spending more time there in the future. And what a pleasure it was to spend some time socially with Tony, who is a great character with a wonderful sense of humour. He and Ian have had a great time together this week and it’s another example of how people make new friendships through the Alpine family. I’m a little bit pissed as you might tell but I’m very proud of what we’ve created over the years.

It’s been snowing since mid-day and with sun forecast tomorrow morning we should be in for another fantastic ski. And Jean may be well enough to make a return after a bout of chesty coughs. Stay tuned!

PS Doug reports another avalanche under the Charvet, which was three times as big as yesterday’s! Blimey, and it came down around 9AM!

24 February 2016
Another brilliant morning in what is becoming a classic season!

Wow! That was another pretty special morning with stunning snow, first-tracks, outstanding ambience, and a little adventure thrown in! My team skied a very good warm-up in the Fontaine Froide before opening up a stunning Tour du Charvet via TJ’s Shoulder. The snow was excellent and we had the place to ourselves with just enough vis to chose our line and ski positively. From there we skied a nice run off the Mattis and along the trees before joining Andreas up at the Fornet. We arrived on the top of the Signal with decent light so I dove into the Grand Vallon for another atmospheric ski with virgin snow and solitude. We cut a trail out and then skied the Combe du Signal, which was also superb but by this time we needed to ‘sniff’ about to find clean snow.

Andreas went straight up to the Fornet and had a brilliant morning, profiting with the opening of the Signal and Combe du Signal, while Thomas and Henry started Bellevarde-way and worked their way to the Fornet via the Tour. Chris was skiing with Michiel while introducing Michiel’s wife to the joys of off-piste skiing, and all the boys showed their teams some magnificent skiing!

We had a little adventure coming out of the tour as I knew Bernard G from the ESF had cut underneath us and skied the more classic tour out to the right. When we arrived at the little gorge I met up with his tracks and followed them out for the last few hundred metres. When I arrived at the corner where we re-group before the last traverse to the Manchet lift I was surprised to see the big slope above had slid and an enormous amount of debris was blocking the way. Then I noticed Bernard’s tracks going into the debris but nothing coming out the other side so we immediately switched to receive and scanned the avalanche for a signal. Aldo arrived behind us and helped out but once down alongside the avalanche there was no signal and we then could see a track coming out the other side. I asked the lift operator and he said he’d seen Bernard pass by and that it came down after Bernard had traversed across and before we showed up. That was at 10AM and pretty early for natural slides to be popping out! Blimey, it just goes to show why we always spread out on that traverse and to never take anything for granted. (see photos)

A little more snow is forecast this afternoon and tomorrow but 150cm’s are expected over the weekend! Time to get the air-bag back out! Stay tuned.

23 February 2016
Only ten centimetres but what a difference!

After two tough but enjoyable days on Sunday and Monday we were treated to some fantastic conditions this morning. Only ten centimetres of fresh humid snow fell overnight but it made a world of difference giving us a fresh canvas with a nice cushioned feel underfoot. It was a ‘maximum-turn’ type morning although we played it pretty safe, but we did get in a huge amount of skiing considering the light was fairly flat for most of the morning. We skied two off the Fontaine Froide, one off the Verte, the lower Borsat into the meadows, one off the Genepy on the Motte, a Familial, another off the Verte, another off the Borsat and then under the Mont Blanc on the way home. (Andreas and Chris peeled off for an Epaule du Charvet and Mattis) It was great skiing and everyone really appreciated it after a very limited day yesterday.

It’s quiet at my place as the girls are back in school in England and won’t be back out until March 23rd. That’s not too far away and they’ll be here for 2-and-a-half-weeks, which will be a brilliant visit!

More snow is forecast for this afternoon and tonight but our quality tomorrow depends a lot on what the wind does. Fingers crossed the wind stays away or at least blows only from one direction. Stay tuned!

22 February 2016
Bye to the girls!

I’ve just returned from my journey to the airport and back. It poured with rain all the way there and back but the rain unfortunately stopped around Bourg as I was hoping for some precipitation here during the afternoon and tonight. Fingers crossed that we still get some decent snow before ‘show-time’ tomorrow!

It’s been a tough couple of days and today Andreas and I headed straight up to the Fornet and over the Col to take advantage of the good light before the clouds rolled in. There was some excellent soufflé but very little soft snow to speak of and I ended up working on technique for the steep and pivoting skills for most of the morning.

Unfortunately Sky hurt her knee skiing with Andreas towards the end of the morning and hopefully it isn’t too serious. Good luck Sky!

I’m heading to bed to read my book so stay tuned for news, weather and photos tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll have some fresh snow to work with and to repair the wind and ice damage!

21 February 2016
I wasn't expecting that!

There was some strange weather late yesterday afternoon and during the night and what was some superb powder snow took a serious beating from wind and/or ice damage. Emmanuel who was skiing with me this morning said that they were caught in an ice-storm yesterday afternoon and had ice coating their glasses and goggles, which couldn’t be wiped off. Anyway, the result today was an ice crust and wasn’t for the faint-hearted! Thankfully it wasn’t everywhere and lower down the mountain seemed to be better, but there was also wind damage which also spoilt a lot of snow. I must say that the skiing was still very enjoyable and I was fortunate to have Shred, Emmanuel and Craig along and all they all skied the ‘educational’ snow really well. (see photos) Bravo to you all!

I went out this afternoon for a ski with Gill while the girls went off to the pool and we had a lovely ski, mixing some off-piste in with some good piste skiing. They are skiing again in the morning before a take them down to Lyon in the afternoon. It’s been a great week and I’m going to miss them!

A bit of sunshine is forecast until about 10:30 tomorrow morning before clouds, wind and a little snow arrives. It won’t be an easy day skiing what’s out there if the light is flat. Wish us luck!

The Hammers are up 3-1 in their FA Cup match and my budding 18-year-old Canadian golfer Brooke Henderson came tied for 9th in the Australian Open. She won a tour event last year at 17, and only Lydia Ko has won at such an early age.

And thanks to Laura for a great meal and evening last night.

20 February 2016
Great skiing and more snow on the way!

I was travelling light today with just Gideon as Jean was unfortunately ill, and we had a pretty good morning for Gideon’s last day. The boys all wanted to do the Face du Charvet so we skied the Face, then circled back around for the Tour du Charvet, then some nice snow off the Verte before skiing the Lower Borsat and then the familial to finish. All the boys were in action and after the Face everyone dispersed in different directions and great skiing was enjoyed by all.

I’m trying to decide on an easy afternoon or to go out with Gill for a few powder turns as the girls are taking themselves to the swimming pool. The longer I stay indoors the more difficult it is to get back out there, especially with the flat-light.

The forecast, which was sun until 10:30 before clouds and light snow took over was spot on and we finished the morning in flat-light and snow but fortunately no fog. It’s forecast to snow 10cm’s (but that much has already fallen today) with clear blue skies tomorrow morning. Sounds good and stay tuned!

PS I picked up a ‘splat du jour’ award this morning while skiing into a nasty terrain trap in the flat light. Fortunately Gideon witnessed it and didn’t follow suit, plus it sucks when no one sees a proper splat! And Wils, Rosie, Viv, Jamie and Ilyana left this afternoon after a great few days.

19 February 2016
Lucky with the light!

It was overcast with light snow this morning and after Thomas reported good skiing in the Glacier Pers yesterday Chris and I headed that way because it is doable in flat-light. Once up on the Glacier we changed our minds as the Col was covered in thick don’t-mess-with-me-cloud while the Pays Desert showed signs of brightness and patches of sunshine. We did a ‘triple-skin’ and had wonderful snow top-to-bottom, with good light up top, flat-light through the middle section, and a bright sunny patch down to the little gorge on the last big slope. I figured Chris and I deserved our luck with the light and it made for a brilliant finish. (See photos) It was also great having my nephew Wils along, who has turned into a cracking good powder skier! Meanwhile Andreas and Henry went on a couloir mission and had a terrific time and I’m not too sure what Thomas skied with the Parker clan.

We’ve had quite a few new clients this week including Thierry, Ian from Boston, Sim on his tele’s, Alison and I’m sorry if I’ve missed anyone. It’s always a pleasure to have new people join in, especially when they’ve the right spirit.

I had a nice ski this afternoon with Viv, Rosie, Jamie, Gill, Millie and Katie although it was tough visibility-wise for the most part. Viv unfortunately hurt her knee so fingers crossed that it isn’t too serious!

The forecast calls for a cold but bright start to the morning before clouds roll in with some precipitation, which may be rain in the village. Anything falling out of the sky will be good news as long as the rain-level is fairly low.

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

18 February 2016
Well done Millie!

The sun shone again today and although some wind that blew during the night worked over the snow in places, we all still managed an excellent morning. Gill and I had the pleasure of Millie joining us this morning for her first-ever ‘skin’, and it was a huge success. Millie enjoyed the walk and had absolutely no problem with the skiing and I look forward to her joining me again soon! Jean really enjoyed having her along and it was nice to have a 12-year-old and 74-year-old skiing together and enjoying each other’s company. We also had Ian from Boston joining us for the first time and like Thierry yesterday, he slotted right in. Chris had a first-time ‘skinner’ today as well and Alison walked and skied brilliantly. Well done Alison! Meanwhile, Thomas was off with the Parker family, Andreas ‘skinned’ to the Col des Fours with his team and Henry had an initiation group.

We’ve had a stunning month or more of wonderful skiing and after a few days of sunshine the place is totally tracked out, and tracks combined with wind and sun damage means we are in need of some fresh snow again. A little snow is forecast for tomorrow morning and hopefully we’ll get enough to make a difference. Fingers crossed on that one!

Thanks to Auntie Viv who took care of Katie today so Millie and Gill could ski with me. Viv’s a bit naughty by nature so I’m sure she and Katie had a fantastic time together. Thanks Viv!

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

PS I had trouble with my camera today and missed more photos than I actually took. Hopefully my aim will be better tomorrow!

17 February 2016
And the beat goes on!

I was expecting some sunshine this morning but not clear blue skies without a breath of wind! Wow, what a beautiful day made all the better with stunning snow. Chris, Thomas, and I all headed to the Fornet and my team had two short ‘skins’ in the Pays Desert to access some wonderful snow before skiing an excellent Col Pers to finish. I had a lovely new French skier today named Thierry, who has an apartment here in town, so hopefully we’ll see more of him in the future. Meanwhile Andreas had a great ski after a ‘skin’ (code-mode) and it was another fantastic result in what has been a superb patch of outstanding skiing! (See photos)

I would have taken the girls powder skiing this afternoon, either a Pays Desert or over the Col, but they’ve gone to Les Brevieres with their cousins and Auntie Viv for lunch. I’m off for a quick gym session before they get back as I’m becoming addicted to feeling stronger!

We’ll probably have another sunny day tomorrow so we’ll make the most of that before a few flakes of fresh snow fall on Friday. Stay tuned!

16 February 2016
It's great to have the girls back!

After heading to the Fornet for the best of the light yesterday it was exactly the opposite today. The Fornet was shrouded in clouds while Tignes was bathed in sunshine for the most part. We had some great skiing in the Borsat and meadows before an excellent run on the Tourne, followed by opening up the Sachette, which was wonderful. Andreas skied the Chardonnet en route to the Sachette and we all finished up with a lovely Familial to round off a great morning.

I had a fantastic afternoon skiing with not only Gill, Millie and Katie, but also Wils, Rosie and Rosie’s boyfriend Jamie. We skied the Jardin du Borsat Nord, the Lower Borsat, and the Familial and Jamie did really well for a first go!

After a long day yesterday driving to Lyon I’m about to make supper so today’s update is a short one. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

15 February 2016
How good was that?

It was clear first thing this morning and with a ‘powder frenzy’ guaranteed we all went to the Fornet to avoid the crowds, hang on to the best of the weather, and to find the coldest snow. It was mission accomplished on all fronts as were in the sun just about all morning, had fabulous snow and really had no one else around. We and a ‘maximum-turn’ type morning skiing a Lower Combe du Signal, which was stunning, followed by excellent skiing in the 3300, two great runs in the Pays Desert, and a run in the Grand Vallon to finish off a brilliant morning. It was Gideon’s first day back in a couple of seasons and what a day to pick for a come-back! It was another top-three of the season and these ‘top’ days seem to be piling up over the past two to three weeks when we’ve enjoyed some outrageously good skiing. Long may it last!

When skiing through the Lower Combe du Signal first thing it was evident that there was some high quality, deep snow in the Combe so Henry hung around for the opening of the Signal and was rewarded with a couple in the Combe and a couple in the Grand Vallon. Nice one Henry!

I must finish off my tidying up routine and get myself ready to go to the airport to pick up the girls. I’ve a lot to do so I’d better get cracking. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

And thanks to Johnny Alpine for a great day of food and sport yesterday.

14 February 2016
The girls arrive tomorrow night!

We were extremely lucky again today and enjoyed unexpected light to go with yet another cushion of fresh snow, and we all had a brilliant morning. I was expecting to play around Bellevarde, Bonnevie’s Drag and Tommeuses but instead we skied one on the Fontaine Froide, two more skier’s right, the Epaule du Charvet, the Arcelle, the Mattis, and a lower Combe du Signal. And after yesterday’s incredibly ferocious winds the snow was fantastic!

I must admit to being a little weary at the moment as all this flat-light skiing takes enormous concentration and it’s pretty fatiguing. It seems like we’ve been skiing in flat-light for a month now, with the odd sunny day thrown in to help reset the bearings, but it has been fantastic and it really keeps the crowds at bay. More of the same next week wouldn’t be a bad thing although it makes for pretty lousy piste skiing.

It’s a great day of sport with Arsenal v Leicester, Villa v Liverpool, Man City v Tottenham, and of course the rugby. Take your pick or watch them all!

I’m very excited and in final preparations for the girls arriving tomorrow, and it’s all coming together nicely. They don’t land until 9:50 tomorrow night, which is a pain but it gives me a little more time tomorrow afternoon. Stay tuned for more news, weather and sports tomorrow!

PS Katie’s Valentine Date went extremely well yesterday. Bravo Katie!

13 February 2016
At great morning at 4/5!

After a beautiful snowfall yesterday afternoon the wind picked up and blew for most of the night. With the wind and another 20cm’s of fresh snow the avalanche risk was 4/5 this morning and we skied accordingly. The resort opened on time and we had pretty good visibility for the first 45-minutes before the skies covered over and it started to snow. We had a cracking good morning taking what was on offer in the Fontaine Froide, off the Marmottons Express, Bonnevie’s Drag, Tommeuses, and the Mont Blanc. Around 11:30 the wind really picked up and lifts started to shut down but we skied until 12:45 when we finally called it a morning. For a windy, flat-light, 4/5 morning it couldn’t have been much better!

The forecast for this past week was atrocious but it turned out to be one of the best weeks of the season with fabulous skiing every day except for Wednesday when the storm ravaged the resort.

It was forecast to snow all afternoon but the sun has made a surprise appearance and it beautiful out there at the moment, although the wind is still howling at altitude and most lifts are shut down.

For all you sport fans out there it’s a huge weekend of sport on both the football and rugby fronts, with the rugby slotting in nicely between football matches. Perfect!

My lovely 10-year-old Katie is out this afternoon on a Valentine’s Date with her boyfriend Cal. They’ve gone to Creams in Guildford, which is a milkshake, ice cream, coffee shop-type place. I think Gill and I have our hands full there! Stay tuned!

PS I’ve had to shovel the terrace again this afternoon, and Inga won the ‘skier of the morning’ award for a cracking good performance after a nightmare journey last night! Bravo Inga! It’s almost a wasted sunny afternoon as it’s so windy very little is open. Good luck to Andreas and Ian who are skiing all day.

12 February 2016
Flat-light skiing at its best!

The day started off grey with a teasing hint of light towards the Fornet, but it quickly closed in and started snowing. With a storm forecast for tomorrow Chris, Andreas and I headed up to the Fornet because we’ll probably be forced Bellevarde/Tignes way in the morning. We weren’t disappointed as the wind wasn’t a factor, the snow was wonderful and with a surprising amount of fresh snow falling overnight we had trackless snow on the Glacier. We warmed-up off the Laisinant before skiing a run in the Combe du Signal en route upstairs, which was the main event. Chris and I had two stunning runs in the Pays Desert while Andreas and Ian had great skiing in the 3300. (Thomas was in action as well and he headed up Bellevarde but I have no idea what he skied today.)

If it was any whiter today we wouldn’t have been able to navigate and ski with positivity but we had just enough vis to get ourselves into position for the big pitches. I love the feeling of ‘free-fall’ skiing, when you can’t see a thing and you just let your skis find the fall-line and keep up with a life-time of motor-memory. It was a good as flat-light skiing gets this morning and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I must run as I’ve Chez Ray to tidy up plus get the apartment ready for the girls arrival on Monday.

It’s snowing fairly hard this afternoon and up to 50cm’s are forecast by tomorrow morning. Wind is also expected so fingers crossed. Stay tuned!

PS – Thomas also had a fantastic morning featuring the Couloir du Mont Blanc. He was the first in there yesterday so he knew where was aiming. Nice one Thomas!

PSS There was a lot of avalanche activity yesterday with one on the Face du Charvet, which Chris took a photo of, one on the Banane and two or three around the bottom of the Arcelle. The risk today was 3 rising to 4, but tomorrow’s risk has already been bumped up to 4/5. A little sunshine is forecast for the morning so we should have a pretty good time on gentle slopes taking ‘low hanging fruit’!

11 February 2016
Wow, what a Tour!

After the most violent storm of the season yesterday we were treated with blue skies and with no wind at all to speak of we had a fantastic morning. It wasn’t the best of the season but it did feature the most magnificent decent of the winter by far. After a brilliant warm-up off the Fontaine Froide my team were first into the Tour du Charvet followed by Chris, Andreas and Thomas. The scenery was stunning and the ambience even better as there wasn’t a single blemish on the mountain and we had it to ourselves. The snow quality was perfect top-to-bottom and Jean rated it as perhaps the best Tour du Charvet ever. I’m not too sure about ‘ever’ but I can’t remember a better one! (See photos and at this stage my camera froze up and the rest of the morning went undocumented.)

Next up was the Arcelle-side of the mountain and although the snow was pretty good it wasn’t a patch on the Charvet sector so we skied the Mattis tree and circled back around for another run in the Tour. By this time quite a few skiers had been down but we still managed clean lines all the down and the snow was still superb.

I need to go into ‘cleaning’ mode as Gill and the girls arrive on Monday and my life is spread out all over the shop. Usually I have people over for dinner, which makes me tidy up but I’ve been lying low lately and it seems to have piled up. Still, four days to go and I don’t want to peak early!

We should see a little more snow this afternoon and tonight with a cloudy day with light snow tomorrow. I’m not going to think too much about tomorrow as I’ll savour this morning for as long as possible. Stay tuned!

10 February 2016
What a pleasant afternoon!

The big news today is Jerry’s 50th Birthday Party last night! Jerry has had friends and family here for the past few days and they’ve had a brilliant time skiing, lunching and topping off the festivities with a brilliant evening last night. Jerry was chuffed at the turn-out and what a great group of friends! Andreas did a brilliant job playing along side the excellent Mike as they played non-stop for about three hours! (see photos)

I walked home at 1AM and knew we were in trouble today as it was blowing a hoolie. The maximum wind speed recorded last night was 176km/h on the summit of Bellevarde. As of 10:15 the resort is still closed and I’ve made a tentative rendezvous for a noon start as its forecast to calm down with perhaps a light-bulb of sunshine. If I do get out skiing I’ll add to this post later.

And what a good result for the Hammers last night and we’re now into the last 16 of the FA Cup. Bravo boys! Stay tuned for more news later.

PS I had cabin fever by 11:30 and went to my noon rendezvous to find only James ready to ski, so the two of us headed up Bellevarde to see what awaited us. It was -13C with a punchy wind and any exposed skin would definitely be frostbitten. There wasn’t much happening off the Verte but Bonnevie’s drag opened and James and I had it all to ourselves except for Australian Matt who was filling his boots as well. Eventually we ran into Doug who joined us for the rest of the afternoon and we all had a jolly nice ski. (See photos)

The forecast is for light snow for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening with some sunny breaking through in the morning. If the wind cooperates we could be in for a decent day tomorrow. Fingers crossed and stay tuned!

9 February 2016
Happy Birthday Nana! And Jerry too!

Once again we were thankful for a ‘bonus’ day as the wind wasn’t a factor, the visibility was much better than forecast, and we had between 15 and 20cm’s of fresh snow to play with. Chris, Andreas and I all headed back up to the Fornet for another great morning that started out with excellent vis for a flat-light day before the clouds thickened and it started to snow around 11:30. We skied the Lower Combe du Signal, the Pays Desert, the Combe du Geant, and another Pays Desert to finish. The sector was deserted and we had the entire place to ourselves with fantastic ambience and it was another cracking good result.

I almost had a disastrous end to the morning as Bernard became confused with the piste markers and skied off the piste into a massive hole between two pistes. What made it worse was James followed him in and it was pure luck that neither of them did any damage, especially Bernard who is just coming off a biking accident where he broke his collar-bone and needed a plate put in. He should be fine if he can withstand a crash like that!

I’d like to wish Nana a big Happy Birthday today, as well as Jerry who turns 50. Stay tuned for news of his celebrations, which include Andreas and Mike providing live music, tomorrow!

And fingers crossed that the weather holds as a potentially disastrous week has been jolly good so far. At 2:30 PM it is absolutely chucking it down with beautiful big flakes!

8 February 2016
A top-three-of-the-season?

Wow! With the slightly frightening forecast for the next few days we all decided to head up to the Fornet as it may well be the only chance this week. And thank goodness we did! There was no wind, at least 20cm’s of fresh snow with great visibility, and it added up to one of the top-three mornings of the season. (Jean says it was the best and he’s a connoisseur of fine skiing!) It was a ‘maximum-turn’ morning starting with great snow off the Laisinant to get the juices flowing, followed by first tracks in the Grand Vallon, first tracks in the Combe du Signal, first tracks in the Pays Desert, and we then skied the Col Pers, which had only Andreas’ and Thomas’ tracks. All the boys were in the neighbourhood enjoying a stunning morning with fantastic virgin snow, a bit of sunshine, ambience and great company. (I also skied with Ellie’s cousin James who I haven’t seen in 25-years or so) Blimey, what a fabulous morning!

Jerry’s 50th celebrations are now in full swing and Andreas skied with Jerry’s team while Chris skied with Fay, Chris, Jerry’s sister Rebecca, Lucy and Louise. I must say that Chris’ team laid down some perfect tracks as many of them were skiing off-piste for the first time, and they should all be proud of themselves! It was a brilliant performance and a pleasure to watch. (See photos)

Thanks very much to Johnny Alpine for a brilliant leg-of-lamb Saturday night and to Geoff for a fab meal and footie last night.

It’s snowing lightly as of 3PM and we may see up to 50cm’s by morning and strong winds are also forecast. Fingers crossed for about 25cm’s and no wind. I don’t ask for much do I? Stay tuned!

PS And Happy Birthday Wendy!

PSS- The reason why today was so special wasn’t just the virgin snow, it was a combination of it being unexpectedly good, and of having beautiful places such as the Grand Vallon, the Pays Desert and the Col Pers all to ourselves. Having such solitude with a trackless mountain in front of us all morning long is rare and helped to make an truly memorable ski. Happy Pre-Birthday Jerry!

7 February 2016
Feeling guilty!

It was an uninspiring morning with grey skies and a foehn wind blowing between 80 and 120kp/h, so Jean and I decided on a morning off, whether we needed it or not! Unfortunately I’m so used to skiing every day I spent most of the morning wondering if I was missing anything and felt guilty. What a berk! Anyway, I wrote my ValdiNet article, went to the gym, wondered what I was missing, then did some ironing. Well, it had to be done and it’s been piled up on the sofa since I last had friends for dinner. Thank goodness the girls will be here soon! (Andreas and Chris were out this morning so well done boys)

It looks like a pretty rough week coming up with snow and high winds in the forecast for the next three days at least. The wind has died down and it’s snowing properly now as of one o’clock. (See photo)

Jerry Hill is in town with friends to celebrate his 50th on Tuesday. It should be a fantastic week socially at least and Jerry has organised Andreas to play with Mike after dinner. Fay and Jeremy are back with their son Zac and it’s great to see them again and to meet Zac.

It was a fabulous day of sport yesterday, except of course the Hammers result. Jean probably bit his nails to the quick and the England game was pretty close as well. Besides Leicester winning I was thrilled with Brooke Henderson’s second place on the LPGA tour. (The girl who beat her won with an Albatross and there isn’t much you can do about that!) Brooke is an 18-year-old Canadian girl who’s an upcoming star on the Women’s circuit. She won one event last year at 17, and was in the top five in three majors. Oh Canada!

6 February 2016
Go Leicester!

Wow! I’ve just watch Leicester take a giant step towards making the impossible happen. What a performance against Man City and people are really starting to believe that a team that was 5000 to 1 to win the league just might pull off the greatest sporting story in the last 25-years. Not only would it be good for English football but it would be fantastic for World football as well to have unsung minnows beat the most expensive teams on the planet. Thanks John!

As for today’s skiing, that was pretty jolly good as well. (See photos) There was a nasty foehn wind blowing and Chris and I were worried it might have damaged the snow on Mont Roup or have stripped the snow back to the rain-crust, but we managed to find great snow most of the way, and the slightly trickier now was easily skied. Meanwhile Andreas headed towards Tignes on a couloir hunt with James and Richard on their last day, and they too had a brilliant morning!

Andreas warmed-up for Jerry’s birthday party last night at the Moris and played a great song with Mike and Ritchie. He and Mike will be playing at Jerry’s party Tuesday night as Jerry clocks up number ‘50’, and I’m really looking forward to that!

Rumour has it we’re in for a week-to-ten- days of snow that could see 2 metres or more fall out of the sky. And who says it doesn’t snow anymore? Hopefully we won’t be blown off the mountain but we’ll have some wind to deal with as well. Stay tuned!

PS – We are in big trouble as there is a hurricane blowing in town as of 10:30PM. Fingers crossed that it calms down in time for skiing in the morning and that a few flakes fall before the opening!

5 February 2016
A lovely change of ambience!

After spending most of the past week around the Bellevarde and Tignes area it was time for a change of scenery this morning even though we knew we wouldn’t have the same snow quality as yesterday. I started off with the Tour du Charvet, which was extremely good and with wonderful views and total solitude it was a cracking result. It was my first time skiing the Tour this season has it hasn’t yet been skiable due to lack of snow or sun crust so it was a real treat to be out there again. (See photos) We then continued our ‘change-of-scenery-theme’ by heading up to the Fornet for one in the Combe du 3300 where we found some nice supporting snow before heading over the Col Pers with Chris’ team. It was all pretty good considering the wind damage and I thought it was a great morning.

Meanwhile Chris went straight up to the Fornet, Andreas headed to Mont Roup while Thomas and Henry had a play in the Arcelle sector before finishing up in the Fornet. All the boys took a chance by looking elsewhere and everyone was rewarded for their efforts. Bravo boys!

Andreas is playing a song or two with Mike and Ritchie at the Pub Moris tonight around 6:30. Come on in for a beer and support Andreas as he warms up for Jerry’s gig next week. He’s a jolly good guitar player and it’s nice to see what he gets up to out of his ski suit. See you there!

The forecast calls for sun tomorrow but we’re expecting snow most of next week. Stay tuned!

PS And thanks to Mary Anne and Mike for a fantastic evening last night. It was great to see Dick again and it was a good laugh!

4 February 2016
Wow, that's more like it!

After being shut down yesterday afternoon due to violent wind the resort opened fairly promptly this morning, which helps when a ‘powder-frenzy’ is brewing. When the wind blows so ferociously from northerly directions Tignes has many more options in the lee, so the entire team headed up Bellevarde looking for protected snow. Monday may have been the toughest day of the season but today was probably the best and we skied quality snow in a ‘maximum-turn’ fashion, and it was absolutely stunning. (see photos)

With great slopes being hit hard and with people everywhere we extracted ourselves from the hordes and had a brilliant morning seeing pretty much no one while being first in just about everywhere we went. Unfortunately Nola was injured skiing in Chris’ group and tore her calf muscle, and she needed rescuing from the Piste Service. What makes it even worse is that Nola is just starting a 4-week holiday and she won’t be able to ski for some time. Suzanne escorted Nola to the doctors in Tignes and then home to Val d’Isere, well done Suzanne and thank you. What a bummer for Nola and we wish her all the best and a speedy recovery.

The forecast was spot-on today with it calling for clear skies until around one and that is exactly what happened. The next part of the equation calls for snow starting this afternoon until 5AM in the morning with sunny spells by ‘show-time’ and clearing as the morning progresses. Fingers crossed as that sounds good to me. Stay tuned!

3 February 2016
Another low-expectation-but-good result day!

The snow didn’t start to fall until around 8AM and with flat-light and a punchy wind we weren’t really expecting too much this morning, but as is usually the case we were all pleasantly surprised and had a cracking good morning. The fresh snow ate into the crust turning slopes that were either unskiable or tricky into viable options and with many lifts closing down as the day progressed having a few options made all the difference.

I was out with Trevor and his friends Waz and Tom in the afternoon for an initiation off-piste session, and what an afternoon to start! The light was flat, the wind was howling and the boys did really well. Eventually the mountain shut down on us and we finished up being the last skiers on the mountain as we did technique on empty pistes on the way down. It was a great afternoon in tough conditions and well done boys! (See photos)

Thanks to Johnny ‘Alpine’ for a fantastic meal last night followed by the West Ham match. The Hammers were dreadful in the first-half and rode their luck a little bit, but they really punished Villa in the second-half who were playing with ten men.

I had a technical problem with my camera this morning so haven’t posted any morning ski shot but have posted a few afternoon shots to give you an idea of the weather this afternoon. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

2 February 2016
That's better!

After a tough day yesterday conditions had vastly improved today, both on and off-piste and we all had a great morning. As an added bonus the early morning clouds dispersed rapidly and we had beautiful sunshine most of the morning.

It was extremely warm again today but it is forecast to be much colder tomorrow with flat-light and some snow starting right about ‘show-time’. Hopefully the snow will arrive early so we can benefit from a fresh cushion in the morning, otherwise we may be in for a tricky one.

I’d like to thank Sylvie for a lovely supper last night and for the doggie-bag of beautiful roast beef as Sylvie leaves today.

I must run as I’m heading down the valley for some shopping and a meeting with Hagloff at Thomas’ house. Stay tuned!

1 February 2016
Almost a 'stinker'!

We were hoping that it wouldn’t rain too high up the mountain last night but unfortunately it rained to about 2800 metres and after a re-freeze we were left with a very nasty rain crust. All that beautiful new snow was ruined and we endured the toughest day of the season by far! It was as close to having a ‘stinker’ as you can get without really having one because the sun was shining and we actually had some nice skiing on the Motte. We found some nice soufflé doux that was very pleasant but apart from that it was hard work. After a couple of runs off the Motte Thomas and I decided to try to find some soufflé in the Campanules and with the sun warming up the crust the top half was pretty good, but we then needed to traverse out back to the piste. It was an optimistic call but I’ve been called worse! It was a tricky morning without a doubt but I must say I enjoyed it and a funny sort of way! (see photos)

If you think that sounds bad the piste skiing was even worse as the lower slopes were icy and by the end of the morning the pistes higher up were bumpy, crowded and in a horrible state. It all made the soufflé on the Motte look pretty good! Wish us luck for tomorrow and stay tuned!

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