Wayne's Daily Diary Archive

20 June 2007

31 March 2016
Something out of nothing!

Well, today had ‘stinker’ written all over it and when we dove off the Verte to test the waters there wasn’t anything at all to be positive about. It was ‘wishbone’ snow that would rip your leg off so we all headed back to the piste, which was in great condition, and made our way to altitude on the Motte. From there I had the pleasure of skiing with Henry and we ended up have a cracking good ski in winter powder, some slightly more ‘educational’ powder, and a few turns of spring snow. We skied some steep slopes through the rocks with lovely light and fantastic scenery, and it was all very atmospheric. At the bottom we ‘skinned’ out for 20-minutes and for a day that looked pretty dismal I thought it was a great result. (See photos) We then skied some nice turns off the mini-Rosolin before skiing back home on the pistes.

Thomas skied the Rosolin and finished with a fun run in the Piste Perdue and I’m not too sure what the rest of the boys skied. Both Thomas and I were out this afternoon but I ended up working on technique on the piste with Sarah and Sarah as the off-piste was incredible sticky.

Harry had a real struggle with his ‘skins’ this morning and it wasn’t until he made it back out that we realised that he’d put his ‘skins’ on backwards! Thank goodness he’s a big strong lad and he managed incredibly well considering the handicap. Don’t worry Harry, you’re not the first and you won’t be that last but I’m sure your brothers will give you some serious stick!

And I’d like to wish Derek a big Happy Birthday and many happy returns. Rock on Derek!

Although it was a tough day it wasn’t nearly as bad as the picture painted by the forecast and hopefully we’ll be lucky again tomorrow. (And we may just get some snow!) Stay tuned!

30 March 2016
Another pretty good result!

It was another wonderful day with good light complimenting jolly good snow and we all headed to the Fornet to stay high and ski ‘north’. The sun was shining in the Pays Desert so I skied an excellent run out-wide with a little ‘skin’, before heading over the Col Pers. My plan was to ski a short pitch then cut over to the Lechoir but it was so good I kept going, which increased our ‘skin’ quite substantially! (Needless to say I was rather popular) We then skied a lovely Lechoir before ‘skinning’ back up to the Grand Torsai. The rest of the boys dove over the Col first thing and skied various itineraries before circling back around for the Vallonnet and variations.

I had a great afternoon in the Pays Desert with Gill and Millie and although the snow is warming up we managed to stay north and ski some pretty good snow. Meanwhile Katie took herself swimming with her pal Anna and then they’re finishing a nice girlie afternoon with a milkshake. Katie and Anna are a couple of characters who can bring the mischievous out of each other so hopefully they’ll have a great time without winding each other up!

And thanks very much to Russell for a fantastic evening last night. It was such a good fun and the girls loved it! Millie was very impressed with Russell’s salad and home-made dressing while Katie was taken by the dessert! Thanks Russell!

Fingers crossed for tomorrow as the forecast isn’t great but lately we’ve had much better than forecasted weather and I’m hoping for a decent morning tomorrow.

29 March 2016
A 'maximum-turn' extravaganza!

The light was unexpectedly good again today and with 10 to 15cm’s of fresh snow and a fast team of Dad’s and Lad’s it was a ‘maximum-turn’ extravaganza! We warmed-up with a non-stop-three-hundred-turn run down the ‘ L’, which was perfectly groomed with a lovely cushion of fresh snow on top. Then it was a great run off the Laisinant before heading straight in to the Grand Vallon, followed by the Combe du Signal, then up to the Glacier for a 3300, a Pays Desert and a trip over the Col. Blimey! All the boys were in the neighbourhood skiing the same runs or variations of and everyone had a superb morning.

I then skied with Jane and Jumbo, their two boys Angus and Stuart and a family friend Matthew this afternoon and we headed up to the Fornet to go over the Col Pers. It started snowing and looked like a flat-light afternoon but once over the Col the vis was excellent, as was the snow! We exited from the Grand Torsai down the couloir skiers-left, which I haven’t skied all season and it added to the ambience as kids seem to like couloirs! Jane wasn’t so keen but did a great job and finished with a smile. We had a good Bouquetin show on the way out to top off a great afternoon!

We might get a few more flakes by morning and should see some sunshine tomorrow. I’m not working in the afternoon and will be skiing with the girls so hopefully we’ll get some decent light. Stay tuned!

28 March 2016
Another fun morning in the steep!

A few centimetres of fresh snow fell and it was just enough to give us a nice cushion underfoot and for the second day running we profited from much-better-than-forecast light. All of team headed to Tignes where we knew we’d have some smooth terrain underfoot and we skied the big Face of the Balme, the Sachette Couloir, the Familial and bits and pieces in-between. I thought it was another great morning without too much really being on offer and all the boys put on a pretty good show. And I’d like to say well done to Nicholas for making some good progress in the steep this morning.

I had a great afternoon with Tim and Jill this afternoon as we did two circuits of the off the Verte, under the Mont Blanc and the Familial. We had a nice cushion of snow and just enough light to make the most of it. Meanwhile Chris skied with Ian and his wife and children Harry, Oscar and Frankie, and he took them all on an adventure down the Piste Perdue. Apparently it went down very well! Nice one Chris!

The girls had a great morning skiing with Margaret and Dawn this morning and they covered a huge amount of ground. Well done girls!

Hopefully we’ll get the snow that is forecast tomorrow, which would help to set up the rest of the week. Fingers crossed and stay tuned!

PS Yesterday when we came around to ski our second run on the ‘Wall’ there was a group of Pisteurs working on a skier who’d fallen over the cliff above and through the rocks. I haven’t heard anything on the radio about it and have no news about how serious the injuries were, but it didn’t look very good!

27 March 2016
Boy, did that work out well!

The forecast was for a pretty uninspiring day as flat-light was expected with no new snow and no chance of the spring slopes warming up. We were ready for a tough morning but the sun popped through and seemed to follow us around all morning long and we made the most of it. Thomas, Chris and I skied the Lower Borsat, followed by the Rosolin with a little ‘skin’ to ski some nice snow en-route to the ‘Wall’, which was excellent. Chris and I then headed for a fantastic run on the Big Face of the Balme while Thomas skied the Cairn, then Chris and I circled back around to ski the ‘Wall’ again. It was a morning of steep slopes with winter snow and a tough day turned into a cracking good ski, and good results when expectations are low is always satisfying! Meanwhile Andreas had great skiing as well on the Balme before heading to the Mouse Hole on the Aiguille Percee.

I had a group of Dad’s and Lad’s with Derek and Gregor, Paul and Nicholas, and Clare (stepping in admirably for Peter who was on a 22-mile run!) and Rory. Everyone did brilliantly and Rory picked up a ‘gentleman of the day’ award for taking such good care of his Mum. Well done Rory!

Tomorrow looks as if it could be another tough day with cloud cover and wind but maybe we’ll get lucky again. Fingers crossed!

PS Well done everyone for dealing with the dreaded time change as we had a 100% attendance record today!

26 March 2016
What a beautiful day!

The wind yesterday afternoon didn’t do us any favours and thank goodness the sun was shining in all its glory today. I went from ‘plan A’, which was skiing north and steep to about ‘plan D’, which turned out to be pretty good. After skiing the Borsat Nord from the middle entrance with Chris we skied some lovely piste en-route to the Sachette, which offered some winter powder turns to nice spring snow. I ‘skinned’ to the spring-side while Chris skied classic and we finished with a good run in the Familial. Meanwhile Andreas ‘skinned’ to the Col des Fours with Henry and Alex then went over the Col Pers this afternoon. Thomas went for an adventure with the Parker family as he took them to Bonneval. He ran into some trickier snow than he’d hoped for so he put on his ‘skins’ and climbed up for 20-minutes to access some lovely spring snow. Well done Thomas!

Tim and I had a fantastic afternoon skiing the Col Pers and he really appreciates getting out into the back-country, and today we had it to ourselves.

The girls had a great ski today complete with a picnic and tomorrow afternoon I’m off so that we can ski together. They are having a lovely time and really enjoyed their drinks in the Baraque with Harry, Ian and Chris last night, and are looking forward to seeing John and Margaret tonight.

Tomorrow’s forecast is a bit iffy so get some sleep tonight and don’t forget the change in hour. Stay tuned!

25 March 2016
A little bit of sunshine lights the way!

The forecast was for a cloud and flat-light morning and it certainly looked that way as Thomas, Chris and I headed to the Fornet to ski the Glacier Pers, but once we arrived at the Col Pers the sun popped out and we had pretty good visibility until noon. The sun was a real bonus and made the morning much more enjoyable and helped us to ‘sniff’ out the best snow, and it was another case of ‘better than anticipated’, which always goes down well. Meanwhile Andreas headed to Tignes to ski the steep with Henry and Alex Nelson while Henry was out there somewhere!

I had a good afternoon with Tim while Chris was skiing with Alex and we skied the Borsat Nord from the top together. It was blowing a hoolie and the light was pretty flat to say the least, but it was a good adventure and the little cushion of snow helped.

I write two blogs a week for ValdiNet, one on Monday and the other for Friday so log on if you want to have a look.

Sunshine is forecast for tomorrow and hopefully the light snow that is falling will continue into the night ahead. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

PS Andrew came by to say hello at the Gourmandine this morning and was on crutches as he did his knee getting off a chair. What a bummer! It was great to ski with you and William again and I look forward to seeing you both again next season. We all wish you a speedy and full recovery!

24 March 2016
Tough skiing but somehow very satisfying!

We are expecting 5 to 10cm’s of snow tomorrow and some sort of fresh start so hopefully today was the last day of a difficult period. With that said the boys have done a great job and we’ve found some fantastic skiing during our little drought and today was no exception. Chris and I had a great outing although it wasn’t the best snow we’ve skied of late as we ‘skinned’ up to the Col des Fours. We had a lovely walk followed by some soft snow up top before needing to turn some soufflé on the steep slopes under the rocks. After the second ‘skin’ it was smooth soufflé again to the bottom. It was probably the worst snow we’ve skied all winter but it was fun and really enjoyable and the snow worked top-to-bottom, which is infinitely better than snow that doesn’t work, such as breakable crust! I had a new French skier named Patrick who had come from the Club Med of all places, and he absolutely loved it saying, “What a fabulous itinerary”! You can come again Patrick!

Andreas and Thomas ‘skinned’ up towards the Balme de l’Ours and found some nice winter snow followed by some spring further down. The boys were quite pleased with themselves as they had an excellent ski.

The girls arrived last night and we all had a fantastic family ski this afternoon. They are here until April 10th so we’re looking forward to some great family time together.

I just checked the forecast and the snow isn’t expected until tomorrow afternoon so we have grey skies and no new snow to look forward to tomorrow. Bummer! Wish us luck and stay tuned!

And a big hello to Connie back in Wonersh!

23 March 2016
That was a first!

The day started off bright and sunny but by 11 o’clock a nasty cloud a risen from the valley below and put a damper on proceedings. The cloud was totally unexpected and wasn’t forecast but fortunately it didn’t affect Chris and I that much as the snow we skied had already taken the early morning sun and softened beautifully. I ended up skiing a steep gulley/couloir that I’ve been eye-balling for a few years and today the conditions were just right to have a go. It was fantastic with excellent ambience and the team was pretty pleased with themselves. (See photos) Andreas and Thomas went off on an adventure and the cloud probably affected their day more than ours as they needed the visibility, but they had a great time anyway. As you can see I’m not giving anything away.

There is almost a feeling of drizzle in the cloud cover that has enveloped the mountain and it will be interesting to see if we get a few flakes up high, or whether it puts a slight crust on things. It won’t damage the spring slopes but may affect what’s left on the winter-side of the mountain.

I’m working this afternoon then heading down the valley to pick up the girls this evening so stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

PS I had a great evening in the Baraque last night. I went in for a quiet beer with the Nobles boys, Harry and Ian, then Kevin came in, followed by Tony W and then Mark and Daphne. It was a good laugh and I had a little wobble in my step on the way home!

22 March 2016
What a great day!

As the sun beat down again and with no relief in sight the boys all put on a cracking good show this morning. I had Andrew and his son William who were both with me last April when I was stuck in the fog, and it was great to have them along again, especially when we could see! Anyway, I’ll go into ‘code-mode’ because times are tough and Chris and I had a brilliant morning skiing perfect spring snow mixed with a couple of powder pitches and some wonderful hard piste skiing in-between. (See photos) Meanwhile Andreas and Thomas also had great mornings skiing spring snow and I won’t mention where they were either!

I had the pleasure of skiing with Eric Healey this afternoon, along with his daughters Vicky and Olivia, and their friends Beckkah, Antonia and Elly. Needless to say Eric and I were in pretty good company! And Chris was out with Tim and his wife Gill and they had a lovely afternoon skiing gentle off-piste.

I’m skiing with Tim tomorrow afternoon and then heading to the airport but I’ll try to get the update done before I go. Stay tuned as we expect a sunny but windy day tomorrow!

21 March 2016
A long but good morning in the Pays Desert!

Sorry for the late update but it’s been a long day. As usual when I’m late it usually means some sort of action, which we had today but fortunately it wasn’t too serious. Chris and I started off with a little ‘skin’ up high in the Pays Desert and John lost a little screw in his touring bindings and the entire heel piece fell apart. Once we worked out the problem I duck-taped it all back together again and was rather pleased with the result. (Amazing stuff Duck Tape, never leave home without it!) Poor John then needed to ‘skin’ with one heel down, which wasn’t the easiest way to travel! Bravo John for a great effort! The snow was pretty good all the way down but on the way out Maureen experienced some physical problems and we didn’t get out until around 2PM. Well done to you too Maureen! Andreas meanwhile headed to Tignes with his team and had a pretty good morning skiing mostly spring snow.

I skipped lunch as I didn’t get home until 2:30 and Chris and I went down to Bourg as his cupboard is bare and I was stocking up for the girls arrival Wednesday night. They all have their little French flavours that they’re looking forward to so I had to get everyone’s favourites and stock up on Guigal!

I’m off for a bath and bed so stay tuned for more news tomorrow! (The update will be a little late tomorrow as I’m about to go into a period of working quite a few afternoons.)

20 March 2016
Blimey, what a relief!

I was the only one working today and since we’ve all skied at the Fornet making the most of the fresh snow for the past four days I took one for the team and headed to Tignes on a reconnaissance mission. It was all looking pretty scratchy so we skied some perfect pistes before arriving at our destination. I’m going into ‘code-mode’ because times are tough and with low expectations we ended up savouring a fantastic morning, skiing some great spring snow mixed with a few winter powder turns as well. (See photos) It was all good news and means we have some options for the next few days as we await some snow and a fresh canvas.

What a day of sport yesterday! It was another terrific away performance by the Hammers and only a shocking refereeing decision stopped the boys from taking all three points against Chelsea. They really need to take a page out of the rugby book and use replays to get these important calls correct. And what about Leicester who won again and are inching closer to completing the impossible, while England beat France to win the Grand Slam for the first time since 2003.

Thanks very much to Caroline and Gillian for taking me out to dinner last night. It was a fantastic evening and a lot of fun!

Stay tuned as all the boys are back in action tomorrow as a partially sunny day is on the cards.

19 March 2016
That was exciting!

It was another cloudless day and the team headed up to the Fornet to make the most of what’s left up there. Chris and I did a ‘triple-skin’ out wide in the Pays Desert and had great snow top-to-bottom and wonderful views. (see photos) We then headed over the Col Pers to the Lechoir before skiing down and out through the gorge. Henry had reported yesterday that it was an easy exit so Chris and I decided to have a go, but conditions had changed overnight and it turned out to be an interesting exercise. Bunny had a little slip and slid backwards towards the first big hole and scared the —— out of me, and certainly sharpened the focus of everyone else behind. She kept her composure and I hauled her back up onto the path before we continued on our merry way. Then we arrived at the tricky bit that was a little firm but everyone did the business and we got through without any further incidents. It was a fantastic morning and it was great to travel through the gorge again but unless it snows heavily it won’t be getting an easier and that’s me done!

Meanwhile, Andreas and Thomas ‘skinned’ up towards the Gros Caval and had a great ski before exiting through the gorge, where they were surprised as well by the change in conditions but made it through without any hiccups.

It’s a huge day in the Premiership as well as the final day of the Six Nations so sports fans will have plenty of entertainment for the rest of the day. And come on Brooke Henderson!

Stay tuned for more news after another sunny start to the day tomorrow!

PS Kristina who was our secretary a few years back was at the Gourmandine this morning and it was wonderful to see her again. She’s now qualified as a doctor and is planning on becoming a surgeon. Bravo Kristina!

18 March 2016
Another excellent outing at the Fornet!

The sun was shining again this morning and it was a ‘no-brainer’ as far as what direction to travel so the entire team of Chris, Thomas, Henry and I all headed up to the Fornet. (Andreas was off today with a funny-tummy but should be back tomorrow) Chris and I headed into the Glacier Pers and had a jolly good ‘skin’ and ski. (See photos) Thomas was skiing out wide in the Pays Desert followed by the Col Pers and Henry ended up skiing the Glacier Pers as well. It was another very good morning but the easy pickings at the Fornet have been tracked out and it’s going to get tougher again for a few days as we await some more snow. This last snowfall only benefited the Fornet as the rest of the resort received no new snow at all.

I had a lovely evening at home last night all by myself after a busy social period. I cooked myself a steak with garlic bread, fried mushrooms, onions, courgette and peppers with a little salad. Of course I washed it down with a little Guigal Cotes du Rhones and then watched Man U v Liverpool on French TV. What a great evening!

Andreas has a rehearsal with Ness this afternoon as Ness is preparing for a singing audition to get into a special class at school. Andreas is accompanying her on his guitar and he’s really looking forward to it. What a brilliant daddy-daughter moment! Good luck you two!

Another sunny day is forecast for tomorrow and we’ll need to soldier on until Tuesday when we may have a chance of some fresh snow. Fingers crossed on that one! Stay tuned for more news tomorrow.

PS If you want to check out my other blog google Valdinet. I write two updates per week, one on Firday and the other on Mondays.

17 March 2016
Emmett's best day of the season!

Yesterday’s wind was ferocious with 119km/h clocked on Solaise yesterday afternoon and everyone was happy to wake up to calmer conditions and bright blue skies. It only snowed a couple of centimetres in the resort but with 100km/h easterly winds at altitude you know it’s going to snow more towards the border and we all headed up that way this morning hoping for pockets of fresh snow. And wow, what a result! There was a lovely mix of snow starting with some excellent soufflé off the Laisinant and in the Combe du Signal, followed by a stunning run in the Combe du 3300 where we skied 20 to 30 cm’s of light snow. Next up were a couple of fantastic runs in the Pays Desert with deep snow up high and more compressed snow lower down followed by a great run down over the Col Pers. (See photos) Emmett kept wanting me to tell him that it was the best day of the season, sorry Emmett it wasn’t, but after the hurricane yesterday it was an outstanding result and could not have been better, which left everyone involved extremely satisfied.

A team were heading to Bonneval today and were ‘skinning’ up above us while we headed into the Pays Desert, and they ended up setting off a decent sized plaque, which features in today’s photos. Fortunately no one was injured but it fairly close to where Paul Gains hurt his knee many moons ago. Stephen B who was there when Paul was injured was in the group heading for the Col today. What are the chances of that!

Suzanne has left for Normandy so I’m in charge of taking care of Chris (just kidding) and we’re heading off to the gym soon. Suzanne will be away for two weeks a while my girls arrive on Wednesday until April 10th.

I’m skiing until the end of the season and the rest of the boys will be about as well, so don’t hesitate if you fancy some end-of-season skiing. The resort will be empty from mid-April and conditions should be fantastic with a combination of spring snow and powder. The spring snow allows us to tackle some lovely steep slopes that we can’t get to, or shy away from in the deep snow of winter. There is also a festive atmosphere in town with live music in the street and terraces full of people just celebrating life in general. It’s a brilliant time to be here so don’t think twice! Henry is also planning an ‘intro to touring’ tour towards the last weekend.

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

PS Andreas witnessed the plaque en-route to the Col above the Pays Desert then saw another avalanche later on in the Grand Vallon. Around the Tarentaise the risk is 2/5 but in isolated areas such as near the border the risk is much higher due to the wind-transported-snow, which in places is quite significant.

16 March 2016
Tough but fun!

It snowed very little overnight and it was blowing a hoolie this morning. We all headed up to the Fornet to face the dragon as it was the only chance for any fresh snow. Chris and I were planning a trip over the Col Pers but they closed the lift just as we were about load, so we turned around and skied our way to the bottom. We then headed up the Borsat towards better light and skied a nice run from the top of the Borsat Nord, followed by the Familial and then a Spatule to finish. It was a tough morning but atmospheric and everyone seemed to enjoy it. (See photos)

Henry stayed up at the Fornet and skied the Combe du Signal a couple of times and then the Grand Vallon. Well done Henry!

Thanks very much to Chris and Suzanne for a lovely evening last night with Bridgette, Ghiselle and James. Bridget was a bit naughty and eventually poured an entire bottle of wine into my glass, and somehow without me noticing! Blimey, just what I needed before a flat-light and windy day!

I’m now taking some time off from the social calendar to get myself ready for the girls arriving on the 23rd. It’s now early nights and the gym and I’m really looking forward to their 18-day visit!

Hopefully we’ll see some more snow today, especially towards the Fornet before the sun comes back out tomorrow. Stay tuned!

PS It’s blowing even harder now around 2:15PM and looking outside it looks as if Solaise has been shut down!

15 March 2016
Some snow tonight?

Hopefully today was the last morning before we get some relief as some snow is forecast for tonight. Andreas did some internet reconnaissance last night so we decided to head up to the Fornet for a change of scenery and Chris, Andreas and I all had a pretty good morning skiing different itineraries. I spent the morning in the Pays Desert with a ‘triple-skin’ and apart from the first pitch in the Upper Pays Desert which was a bit ‘educational’ but very skiable the rest was excellent all the way to the bottom. Chris and Andreas both did a quick Pays Desert before heading over the Col and Andreas’ team tested out the gorge, which is passable but one could still find some trouble if they tried hard enough! (I’m not sure if Chris skied through the gorge as well) Meanwhile, Thomas and Henry headed back to Tignes to ski off the Col des Ves before ‘skinning’ back out and Thomas was planning on lunch in the Col du Palet Refuge. I’d say it was a pretty good effort from all the boys today and fingers crossed for some sort of fresh canvas tomorrow!

I had a great session with Rob and Caroline this afternoon as we worked hard on technique, and conditions were perfect with firm snow, good light and not too many people. I was really pleased with their progress and desire to improve and it made for a very satisfying lesson. Bravo to you both!

And a big thank-you to Sandy and Steve for hosting a brilliant evening last night to celebrate Sandy’s birthday. There was plenty to eat and drink and the company was fantastic!

PS Stuart injured his shoulder yesterday on the Tarentaise Tour trip with Chris and is out of action for the rest of his holiday. Fortunately by the Sea-Captain’s standard it’s a fairly minor injury!

PSS- A French snowboarder was killed in the bottom of the Manchet yesterday when he flew over a bump and landed in the Calabourdane. I’m not too sure how he managed it but it was a tragic accident.

14 March 2016
Happy 'big-one' Sandy!

The sun was shining again today although there was still some cloud cover at the Fornet and towards the Italian border. The only one who knew for sure what they were going to ski was Chris as he’d organised a Tarentaise Tour because Corrine loves it plus it was Sandy’s 60th birthday today and Chris wanted a special day out. Happy Birthday Sandy, you don’t look a day over 45 and we hope you have a wonderful day! Meanwhile I skied the Borsat meadows and then ‘skinned’ up to Mont Roup, totally undecided about skiing the north-side or the classic Roup. Thomas was ahead of me and he ‘skinned’ to the summit so that he could look in and survey the terrain and reported enough room on the classic Roup for both our teams. Merci Thomas! We were both surprised at how much space was left plus the quality of the snow, which was excellent and everyone was purring due to a great result. I finished off with an Alti-port to make the most of the morning, and Lucia made serious progress today on only her 4th day off-piste. Bravo! Meanwhile Andreas headed up to the Borsat West and I’m not too sure where after that and I’m sure he sniffed out something for his team and hopefully Chris’ adventure went well.

I’d like to thank Geoff and Inga for a brilliant late-afternoon/evening last night. It started with a fantastic 1-1 draw between United and the Hammers, followed by a wonderful meal with great company.

I’m now shutting down and resting up after my week with my Scottish friends and the Dutchman. Thanks for the fun boys and looking forward to seeing you all at St Andrews!

Another sunny-ish day is forecast for tomorrow before a chance of snow on Wednesday and perhaps Thursday. Fingers crossed on that one as we’re running out of party tricks! Stay tuned!

13 March 2016
A great result!

It’s not getting any easier as tracks, heat and wind have all taken their toll, but I thought we put together a cracking morning of skiing. I had some nice warm-up turns off the Mont Blanc piste followed by a lovely Alti-port en-route into Tignes. We then skied a really good Sachette complete with a second ‘skin’ to some great snow on a nice steep pitch. With a foehn wind blowing we managed to stay sheltered and also had the best of the light as we had some clouds floating about, especially above the Motte and up at the Fornet. Chris skied the Sachette as well while Andreas skied a couloir in the Chardonnet and the Cocaine Nord. Bravo boys! (Thomas and Henry were off today.)

I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Seid and his friends Kenny, Joe and Stu at the Pub Moris Friday night. They were going to Cortina in Italy for their ski holiday but found my blog about three months ago. Richard became addicted to it and talked his friends into coming to Val d’Isere instead and they had a fabulous week skiing with Tansy, and promise to come back soon. Bravo boys!

What a final ten-minutes of rugby last night! England were totally in control, or so we all thought, before a magnificent Welsh comeback. Nail-biting stuff that was! And of course I’m hoping for a West Ham victory over United at Old Trafford. I’m watching it with Man-U-season-ticket-holder Geoff at his place so it should be fun. Stay tuned!

12 March 2016
A tough act to follow!

After an epic day yesterday it was always going to be a tough act to follow but Thomas reported great skiing off the Ves so that was all the encouragement Chris and I needed. It was a lovely change of pace with great ambience, terrific scenery, steep slopes and pretty jolly good snow as well! For some today it was a first trip over the Col and that always adds to the experience. After ‘skinning’ out we finished off a great morning with some nice skiing through the alti-port.

It’s going to get tougher with each passing day now until we get some fresh snow. The resort is tracked, the temperature is rising and there is no snow expected over the next few days, so we’ll be using our imaginations and doing our best to make the most of what’s left out there.

We finished off a great day yesterday with a fantastic session in the Pub Moris. Andreas played four songs with Mike and Ritchie, the Danish Munke team were in full flow, Adrian, Al and Frans turned up, Helena was there with some Swedish friends and the atmosphere and music were brilliant. Andreas is really getting back into his music and he’s a bloody good performer. (See photos) I’ll keep you posted next time he’s invited to play with the boys.

I’d like to say goodbye to Adrian, Al, Frans and Ian as we had a fabulous week and skied some wonderful slopes in brilliant snow, not to mention lunches and dinner. All the boys are now looking forward to a rest!

Wish us luck for the next few days but you can count on us to do our best as we await some fresh snow. Stay tuned!

11 March 2016
Blimey, that was brilliant!

I’ve had a big lunch in St Foy with the boys so please excuse any indiscretions. First before I forget I’d like to thank the boys for lunch today and a fantastic evening in the Lodge on Wednesday night. Both were brilliant fun and there’s nothing like belly laughter and banter to finish off a great day!

As for today’s skiing, it was absolutely wonderful. Chris, Andreas and I all went down to St Foy to ski the Foglietta and we were seriously rewarded for our efforts with some outstanding skiing and ambience. My team were the first up with Al clocking a ridiculous 30-minutes while the rest of us made it up in about 50, which I thought was pretty good going. ( Normally Adrian would respond to Al’s challenge but he was nursing a blister today, but he will be pleased with his photos!) Anyway, with the wind ruining so much snow in our resort we were a little worried about the northern Foglietta and when we arrived at the summit the wind was blowing a hoolie and I had my fingers crossed. We sheltered down to take off our ‘skins’ and when I finally looked over the edge I thought, “Blimey (f-ing hell!), this looks fantastic.” The snow was superb and there was plenty of clean space skiers-right and it was game on. After three perfect pitches we ‘skinned’ for another ten-minutes to access a fresh canvas and I must say that for a top-to-bottom Foglietta it doesn’t get much better. The bottom meadows were a little stiff but after the skiing we’d had nobody cared! Both Andreas and Chris did the extra ‘skin’ as well and we all met up for lunch at the Monal. Chris missed the bus but Andreas organised a lift with the owner of the Monal Restaurant, which was brilliant and a nice finishing touch to Chris’ day. It was a great team effort and a top day out! (See photos)

Meanwhile back in the resort Thomas had some great skiing around the Col des Ves and Henry was skiing around in the Chardonnet couloirs. Sun is forecast again for tomorrow so we’ll need to be imaginative!

I need a quick bath before heading up to the Moris to watch Andreas play a few songs with Mike and Ritchie. Andreas’ Danish team are huge fans of Mike and Ritchie and go every time they play. Stay tuned for more news tomorrow and I’d love to report as good of outing as we were privileged to have experienced today!

PS What a fantastic session at the Pub Moris with Mike, Ritchie, Andreas, the Munke boys, my boys and various others. Photos to follow tomorrow night!

10 March 2016
Conditions are toughening up!

Unfortunately the wind over the past 36-hours has done some damage to some of our wonderful snow and in places the skiing has become much more ‘educational’. I started off with a Crete du Genepy and needed to ‘sniff’ about to find strips of good snow, but we were alone and did ski some nice snow. We then continued on to Mont Roup, which was nicely protected, and the snow for the most part was excellent. (see photos)

Andreas and Thomas headed up to the Col des Fours and they had a great outing but unfortunately the wind had done some damage turning yesterday’s beautiful powder into ‘skiers’ snow. Both have strong teams so it wasn’t a problem and the trip was enjoyed by all. Henry and Chris teamed up for a lovely morning but times are tough so I’ll keep that one quiet!

I had a tough afternoon as my 4-year-olds were running riot and I must admit to a total lack of control. Fortunately Philip Clement’s wife Dominique was helping me, and she doesn’t take any rubbish and did a great job keeping some sort of order. Merci beaucoup Dominique!

More sun is forecast and I hate to say it but we need a fresh canvas already. Skier traffic, sun and wind have all done their part to wreak the mountain. It’s amazing how you can go from the most wonderful skiing in the world to needing to scratch about almost overnight. Stay tuned!

9 March 2016
Another outstanding morning of high-quality skiing and ambience!

It was a beautiful clear morning but a serious wind was shifting snow off the ridges, giving us all second-thoughts, but everyone went ahead with their Plan A’s. Chris and I headed to the Col des Fours and had the place to ourselves except for Nikki, Russell, Francoise and a couple of ‘road-runners’. We enjoyed the bonus of fabulous snow straight out of the bubbles at the Col and we couldn’t have asked for a better start. But it did get better as it’s rare to make it to the Col without being past by some super-fit youngsters in a hurry but today my team did just that and we were rewarded with a trackless mountain, which is always a treat. The snow had fortunately resisted the wind and was still excellent top-to-bottom and both our teams did a great job. We then ‘skinned’ to the second Col, which was fantastic and a real bonus. The boys gave it 10/10, which is a pretty good mark and pretty spot on as we had ambience, solitude, and great snow! (see photos)

Meanwhile, Andreas and Thomas also went for a ‘skin’ (still in code-mode as I’ll probably go there tomorrow, just like I said yesterday) and they had a brilliant outing as well. We’ve had such a good patch of skiing and I’m surprised how we’re getting to some very ‘clean’ places without too much effort. Today is the first day we’ve needed to walk and it was certainly worth it as all the teams had a wonderful day. Henry was busy with one of his HAT days and I’m not too sure what he skied today.

And a big Happy Birthday to Anna from Sweden, who is skiing with her mother in Thomas’ group. They’ve had a brilliant time as have the American team who have been with Andreas. Well done boys, it’s always nice to give new skiers the full monty and send them home already planning their next visit!

Pierre (one of the Pisteurs who helped us Monday on the Face) has used a photo or two of our rescue from the blog and posted it on his Facebook page. I thought that was pretty cool! And thinking of Kenny, he went home today as his insurance organised a taxi and a flight home. It was great to meet you Kenny and we wish you all the best in your recovery. Take care!

It has clouded over this afternoon but sun is forecast again for the next couple of days, and today’s wind is supposed to calm down. Fingers crossed that it hasn’t done too much damage. Stay tuned!

PS The wind has transported enough snow to build some localised plaques, and we witnessed three or four that went naturally this morning. It has been pretty stable of late but this wind will give us something extra to think about in the days ahead.

8 March 2016
Wonderful, wonderful skiing!

When I woke up and looked out the window it was snowing this morning and I thought a flat-light day was on the cards. Once at the Gourmandine we could see blue patches coming through and by ‘show-time’ the visibility at altitude was excellent, so I headed towards Wayne’s Shoulder via some great snow off the Borsat to find the Funicular to the Motte closed. I was a bit bummed but moved straight on to Plan B, which turned out to be superb! After some nice turns under the Tourne we were first into the Sachette and had fabulous snow on the first two steep pitches before ‘skinning’ for ten minutes to even better snow! It was great top-to-bottom and we were on our own, which added to the satisfaction. We then skied a lovely Familial behind Henry and Thomas to finish off the morning! (See photos)

Meanwhile, Chris was frustrated by the Motte being closed and all the people in Tignes so he back-tracked back to our side of the resort and went for a ‘skin’. I’m going into ‘code-mode’ as it was excellent and I will probably go there tomorrow! Thomas did catch the first Funicular of the day and did five rotations on-and-around my shoulder and had a brilliant time, while Andreas has been skiing with a great bunch of Americans and they skied the Borsat, Balme, Chardonnet, Sachette and I’m not too sure what else as it was an all-day private. Tansy had the day off and was invited to join them so it was a real treat for her to ski with Andreas all-day and especially in such stunning conditions. Henry was also out there somewhere in Tignes making the most of another fantastic day!

I had the pleasure of skiing with six 4-year-olds this afternoon for my community service. Blimey, I forgot how tricky it is carrying four pairs of skis and keeping track of them as they struggle to get on chairlifts. Thankfully I had a lovely helper, Carol, who was picking them up and dusting them off at the back. It’s hard work but they really are a lot of fun and what a cast of characters! I’ve one more afternoon to come on Thursday then I’m done with my hours, and all the boys have already served their time.

Sun is on the cards for the next few days and with another cold night ahead we should be in for another cracking day tomorrow. Stay tuned!

7 March 2016
What a bummer!

The sun was shining and with -14C in town the snow quality was superb again today. We started off with a fabulous Face du Charvet in deep, light snow but unfortunately Kenny injured his knee in about his 10th turn. Chris came in behind and traversed Kenny back to us and I then needed to call the Piste Service for a helicopter rescue as both Kenny’s knees were giving him trouble. Adrian and Frans stayed behind with me as we prepared a landing zone and Chris took Jean, Al and Ian along with his group until I caught back up with them around 11:30. Thanks Chris, you were a massive help and your team combined with mine left some pretty impressive tracks in your wake! And a big thanks also to the Pisteurs, who did a brilliant job, the pilot and Gulvan (friend of JM and Oli’s) who was riding shot-gun in the helicopter. What a bad break for Kenny who was just starting his holiday. He’s staying at my place and is a great guy who started skiing at the age of 2 and represented Scotland in his racing days. Fingers crossed that it isn’t too serious!

All the boys had a wonderful morning starting with the Charvet before heading towards the Fornet while Thomas skied around the Arcelle and ‘skinned’ up to get into the Cugnai. I’m a little deflated so I’m giving the gym a miss and heading down to Bourg to do some shopping and to get out of town for a little break. After what happened to Jean and I a couple of days ago combined with today has left me a little shell-shocked. Still, the show must go on and I’ll be ready again in the morning to tackle another day of flat-light but fortunately we should see some fresh snow tonight, which makes the flat-light days much easier. Stay tuned!

And a big Happy Birthday to Jean who came out skiing with his sore ribs today in celebration. Bravo Jean, you’re an inspiration and always a pleasure to ski with!

6 March 2016
An outrageous morning of skiing!

Some more fresh snow arrived overnight and we had pretty good light for the most part, and just enough flat-light to keep most of the people away. Unfortunately Jean was suffering with sore ribs from his fall yesterday so it was just Penny and I this morning and what a special ski that was! If it wasn’t the best skiing of the season it was top-three, and I certainly can’t remember a better one. We started off with first-tracks and an outstanding run down to TJ’s Shoulder and beyond, followed by a brilliant Super L, then a lovely run off the Laisinant, then two ridiculously good runs in the Combe du Signal, followed by two crackers in the Pays Desert and through the rocks. It really doesn’t get any better and the cold temperatures have kept the snow in superb condition, especially for this time of year. (See photos)

Andreas was back in action with a bang and was skiing with a new American team of good skier. They’ve never skied here before and what a start as they were next in behind us in the Tour, and they also skied the Super L, Laisinant, Signal and then up on the Glacier. And believe me, that start won’t be easy to follow up! Chris had the day off and skied with Suzanne and Louise up at the Fornet.

There is a fine line at the moment where we’re skiing in flat-light and enjoying stunning conditions and solitude. The flat-light is fatiguing and ups the personal risk factor as was shown yesterday, but the moment the sun comes out the solitude turns into a stressful ‘frenzy’ and suddenly the place is tracked out and we need more snow again. It’s amazing how rarely we’ve used our ‘skins’ since mid-January but the moment the suns comes out we’ll be back at it in no time.

Sun is forecast for the morning so I guess we’ll find out how many people are in town. Stay tuned!

5 March 2016
Ouch, that was way too close!

Well what a morning that was! Enough new snow, more than anticipated, fell early this morning and it gave us an excellent cushion, and we had just enough light to have a terrific ski. Chris and I started with 15cm’s on the Fontaine Froide piste before skiing two great runs skiers-left down the Fontaine Froide. We then had a lovely ski off the Verte before skiing the Lower Borsat and meadows into Tignes, all of which was soft beautiful snow. Next up was a trip up the train to the Motte for a run off the Genepy, where I had my worst fall in a long, long time. (And I have some scary moments) I was skiing down in flat-light towards the rat-track piste that comes from the Cairn direction back to the Genepy piste and saw the piste markers but suddenly dropped at least ten feet straight down onto the piste. I felt every vertebra in my back compress, took a shock in my hips, knees and ankles and could hardly breathe for a moment due to the shock of landing. I yelled for Jean to stop, which he thankfully did, but he thought I‘d fallen into a hole and decided to side-slip down to help me and the next thing I knew he dropped off the wall as well and landed with a sickening noise. Not recommended for a teenager let alone a 75-year-old man! Somehow we were both unbroken and Geoff and Penny traversed across above us until they could safely drop down. It transpired that the piste had been marked only on one side, the lower side and nothing on the upper side to warn us. It was an extremely lucky moment for both Jean and I and I’ll file that spot away for future reference!

It took a while to re-focus as both Jean and I could have been seriously injured but we headed back up the Motte for another run as the light was improving and skied one off the glacier down to the Leisse chair, one more off the Genepy and then a fantastic Familial to finish. (Chris snuck in a cheeky Campanules as well) Besides our scary moment it was an excellent morning although I didn’t take too many photos.

There was an avalanche yesterday around 2 o’clock in the Foin area of the Arcelle and three skiers were taken. No one was injured but skies were lost and when the guide asked the Pisteurs to bring a pair of skis down so his client could ski out the Head Pisteur refused saying that he wasn’t going to put one of his team at risk. Fair enough I guess!

Millie and Katie had a fantastic time with Ray today as he took them to Harry Potter World and then back home for dinner with Gill. They loved it and thank you very much Ray! Speaking of fantastic, thanks Geoff for a stunning afternoon of Tuscan soup, followed by Tottenham v Arsenal, followed by steak, fried potatoes, salad with of course lovely wine, followed by the first-half of Watford v Leicester! What an afternoon and well done West Ham for coming back from 2-nil down to win 3-2.

I’m off for a hot bath and bed and hopefully neither Jean nor I will be too sore tomorrow. Stay tuned!

PS The avalanche risk was 4/5 today, but I must say it was a pretty weak 4! Not much new snow was in play, there was no wind to speak of and I really couldn’t see were the increase from yesterdays 3/5 came from. The Meteo France avalanche forecast is what the courts go by so Chris and I took it easy but by the end of the morning Chris felt well justified in opening up the Campanules. Well done Chris!

4 March 2016
Another outstanding Tour!

As forecast we had a bright morning visibility-wise and we took full advantage with a stunning ‘team’ ski. After a couple of excellent runs skiers-right down the Fontaine Froide while waiting for the Grand Pres we then opened a fabulous Tour du Charvet, which was pretty special. There wasn’t a track in sight and the top section was brilliant, TJ’s Shoulder was a bit more compact but considering the wind of late it was a relief that is was as good as it was, and the bottom section was outstanding. Ali, who was skiing with Thomas had never skied the Tour before and he absolutely loved it! Chris was skiing with Chris and it was only his 20th day on skis! Blimey Chris, well done! We’ve opened the Tour in some outstanding conditions this season and although today’s wasn’t the best it was still an incredible privilege and pretty tough to beat.

From there Thomas had one on the Arcelle while Chris and I skied the Super L en-route to the Glacier where I skied a Combe du Geant and a Combe du 3300 before heading to the Baraque for lunch with Penny. (And what a lunch it was thank-you very much Penny) Meanwhile Chris went over the Col for an adventure while Thomas finished off his week by lunching with Eugene, John and Ali.

Andreas has had a couple of days off and has taken care of some chores as well as practiced on his guitar. Ness has a singing audition for a school place coming up and Andreas is going to accompany her on his guitar. It will be fantastic Daddy/Daughter event and Andreas is really looking forward to it. Good luck Ness!

A little snow is forecast tonight and more in the morning but with any luck we may have some decent vis to work with. Fingers crossed! Stay tuned for news, weather, photos, and hopefully a successful sports report. Come on West Ham, Leicester, Sunderland and the Gunners! (I don’t ask for much do I?)

And Happy Birthday Marty!

3 March 2016
It was blowing a hoolie!

It was blowing a hoolie last night and it continued to blow throughout the day today. The thermometer read -14C at the top of Bellevarde and with a strong northerly wind any exposed skin was quickly frostbitten. Still, we had a pretty good morning and skied to around 12:45, which shows it wasn’t all bad out there. I mentioned to Doug as we went up for one last run that it was nice to just experience this type of weather as most people go through life without witnessing a storm like the one we had today. It reminded of a time when Millie was around 8-years-old and she and I exited the Funival into a ferocious storm, and it was limit as to whether the resort would close down or not. I was just about to turn around and take her back down the Funival when she said, “Come on Dad, let’s get going!” So I pulled up her neck-fleece and made sure she had no exposed ski and off we went into the storm. Millie loved the experience and I remember thinking that anyone who saw me would have thought, “what’s that idiot doing with that child!” Anyway, it was pretty wild at times today and I enjoyed the adventure, and bravo Doug for hanging in there until the end!

What a night in the Premiership last night with the Hammers beating Tottenham and doing their bit to help Leicester win the title. What would the odds have been before the start of the season for Leicester, Tottenham, Man U and West Ham to represent the Premier League as the top-four in next year’s Champions League?

More snow is forecast for the rest of the day and tomorrow we may see a little sunshine, which would help enormously, but what we really need is less wind! Stay tuned!

PS Winds of 150km/h were recored on the Pissaillas Glacier last night!

2 March 2016
Happy Birthday Mom!

It maybe snowed a couple of centimetres overnight but combined with the wind it seemed to cover in a lot of tracks. Fortunately the light was much better than expected and Chris, Thomas and I had a great ski featuring the Little Lavachet and the Sachette Couloir. The Lavachet was excellent top-to-bottom and was a terrific start to the morning. The couloir was atmospheric but the snow had ‘turned’ just a little bit, and the big slopes under the couloir were great skiing but slightly ‘educational’. The middle section was very good indeed and the lower slopes although warm were good skiing as well. I’d give it pretty good marks for a tough day and everyone really enjoyed it.

It clouded over around 12:30 and started to snow and as I write at 3PM big flakes are swirling about as the forecast wind is starting to blow. We could see another 40cm’s before the morning and I’ve definitely gone back to my air-bag and am even putting the handle in at appropriate times. Snow is forecast off-and-on for several more days as this marvellous winter continues!

I’d like to wish my Mom a very happy 82nd birthday today. She loves the snow and winter has always been her favourite season, ever since she was a little girl. (Just in case you wondered where I got it from) Millie and Katie also love the snow, the more the better, so it’s guaranteed that the family’s love affair with winter continues. Happy Birthday Mom!

The entire country will be behind the Hammers tonight to help Leicester win the title. All those except the odd Tottenham fan such as Guffy and Marty. Come on you Hammers!

1 March 2016
Another brilliant day all round!

It was forecast to be sunny first thing this morning but we started out in flattish light before the clouds gradually disappeared. After a lovely warm-up off the Verte we all skied a brilliant Borsat that hadn’t been skied yesterday so it was totally virgin, which always adds to the ambience. We then skied the meadows and then down under the Fresse lift, which has a surprisingly nice pitch to it and is fairly long as well, and the snow was great. Chris and I then headed upstairs and needed to ‘sniff’ to find nice snow off my shoulder before skiing an excellent Cairn back to the bottom. By this time Tignes was really crowded so we headed back to Val d’Isere and skied a nice run off the Borsat en-route to the Tour du Charvet. I didn’t trust the tour thinking it was ‘cooked’ so we continued on and skied the always entertaining Face du Charvet. We needed to play with the exposures to ski powder and avoid ‘wishbone’ snow and I thought it was pretty jolly good. (See photos) To finish off another fantastic morning we had a nice run in the trees off the Mattis. Meanwhile after the Borsat Andreas and Thomas headed towards the Chardonnet and Sache and they had some superb skiing as well before finishing up with the Alti-port.

I had a new skier from Slovenia today, and Dean (name he goes by to avoid confusing those of us with zero linguistic skills!) fit right in and had a brilliant time. He came to us via the Daily Diary and as none of his friends ski off-piste he felt like he’s made some new ski friends already, and it’s always a great feeling when people gel and make new friends within the group.

The sun has suddenly become much stronger, which isn’t really surprising for March, and it’s now strong enough to damage certain slopes and will have an affect every time it pokes through the clouds. It starts to make our job much trickier because we must calculate what slopes will still give us skiable powder and what aspects need to be avoided because of a crust that will rip your leg off. (Wishbone snow, horrible stuff!) It’s incredible how fine a line it can be sometimes as only a slight change of angle can make the difference between bliss and unskiable!

A little snow is forecast tonight with more tomorrow but the wind is also going to get up and blow from the west for the next three days. Stay tuned!

I posted a photo of Katie at her riding lesson the other day. She’s loving it and looks pretty good on a horse if I say so myself! Bravo Katie!

PS Come on Leicester and Sunderland!

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