Wayne's Daily Diary Archive

20 June 2007

31 January 2018
And yet another great change of scenery!

It was another fun day in the sun as we await some fresh snow tomorrow. Our first thoughts this morning were to do a ‘double-skin’ on the Glacier Pers but Thomas wanted to do the Col du Montet so Chris and I decided to keep him company. I haven’t been up there for a while, and like yesterday it was nice to have a complete change of scenery as well as a totally different ambience and the morning was thoroughly enjoyed by all. And to go along with the fantastic scenery we had the bonus of jolly good snow top-to-bottom! (See photos)

Andreas went down to Ste Foy with Gunnar and Tom and they had a great morning skiing the Foglietta before having a cracking good lunch in the Monal, and Henry is still working on his three-day HAT course, which is going very well.

Unfortunately tomorrow’s snow is forecast to arrive around 8AM, which will leave us with flat-light and no new snow to speak of to work with. I think I’ll savour today first and see what tomorrow brings. Stay tuned!

And thank-you Dawn and Tilly for a great meal at the Lodge last night, which followed some excellent music in the Baraque!

30 January 2018
The time is right!

After four days up at the Fornet it really was time for a change of scenery So Chris and I headed to Tignes. After a lovely warm-up on piste we had some good skiing under the Borsat chair and into the lower Borsat before heading upstairs to the Grande Motte. The Motte itself is still closed due to wind damage but we enjoyed a 105-turn pitch before ‘skinning’ up for the Tour du Balme. The last time I was up there was probably 8-to-10 years ago with Jean R and Red Ray in a snowstorm and it was really nice to be up there again and see how much has changed since my last visit. The skiing and ambience were excellent and we finished the tour with the big face of the Balme, which is always a crowd-pleaser!

Meanwhile, Andreas has been entertaining some hot-shots these past few days and he’s been showing Tom (who skis religiously in Chamonix) all of his favourite couloirs. After the rain and warm weather followed by a good re-freeze the avalanche risk has been 2/5 for the past several days so now is the time to be taking on the big slopes. Thomas also had a couple of days of privates and was spreading his wings as well. Well done boys! Henry has been running a three-day HAT course and is busy with initiation to touring, beep searches, snow pits and general all-round mountain awareness and etiquette.

We’ve one more day of sunshine before another 50cm’s or so of fresh snow moves in on Thursday. Fingers crossed that the wind is kind and it all isn’t too disruptive!

My girls are coming next Wednesday with a couple of school friends so we should have a brilliant week. Jazz and Josh have never been to the mountains and have never witnessed snow like this so it should be fun to watch. I need to get started on my preparations but as usual, the key is not peaking too early! Stay tuned!

Thanks to Chris and Suzanne for a lovely ‘ happy birthday Chris’ meal last night, and I hope that Fred had a great day as well!

29 January 2018
Back for more!

It was another stunning day with clear blue skies and after a couple of days at the Fornet I thought I’d go to Tignes for a change of scenery, but then changed my mind as the Fornet was just too good to leave behind! Chris and I ‘skinned’ into the Grand Vallon again as so far it’s been just our tracks in there, and then I did a funky run between the Vallonnet and Col Pers to the Grand Torsai and then back down so we could ski through the gorge. Thomas as also up at the Fornet while Andreas was skiing couloirs again with Gunnar and his friend Thomas from Chamonix. Henry was out there as well today but I’m not too sure what he skied.

We have two more days of sunshine forecast before it snows again on Thursday so we’ll enjoy the visibility while we have it, but we’ll be grateful as well for a fresh canvas on Thursday. Stay tuned!

And happy birthday Chris and Fred!

PS TJ left a couple of days ago after a great three weeks and we’ll all miss him!

28 January 2018
What a day that was!

Blimey, what a brilliant day that was! The sun was shining again and after so much snow and flat-light it has been a real joy to see the mountains again these past couple of days and more importantly, see where you’re trying to ski! Chris and I headed up to the Fornet and went straight over the Col Pers and ‘skinned’ into the Grand Vallon as the Signal Poma is still closed. We finished our morning there yesterday and it definitely deserved another trip and we had some great skiing and ambience as no one else was around. From there we circled back around and stopped just short of the Grand Vallon and skied the top of Oh My!, before cutting back into the lower part of the Grand Vallon. It was a cracking morning with excellent snow because there is a lot of rubbish out there, fantastic scenery and being alone in a crowded resort is always a massive bonus! Meanwhile Andreas and Thomas had a big ‘Couloir’ day in Tignes and I won’t give you details as Andreas wants to return tomorrow with Gunnar and Thomas.

I had the pleasure of skiing with Luke today (I’ve known him since he was a baby and he’s John and Margaret’s grandson) and Luke was a breath of fresh air. He’s 23-years-old and was skiing on skis that were 188cm’s long, 99cm’s under-foot and he was perfectly comfortable following the track . He could pivot, carve, ski slowly when needed, fast when he wanted and was always totally under control of where he was going and was able to adjust instantaneously within a turn. It just proves that skiers on fat skis who can’t control their radius or their speed can’t because they lack basic skills, and their width of ski is a poor excuse. Bravo Luke, bloody well skied!

And how can you possibly top off a stunning morning on the mountain? A brilliant lunch at Geoff and Inga’s followed by the Australian Open highlights where Roger Federer cemented (he actually did that a long time ago) his place in tennis history with a stunning display en-route to his 20th Grand Slam! Inga and I were blubbing when Roger broke down in tears during the awards ceremony and it was a fantastic end to the afternoon. I’m now doing the blog followed by my Valdinet piece for tomorrow morning and I’m half pissed so excuse any flowery descriptions!

It’s sad to say that after all that snow we actually need a top up as the resort has been tracked out at an alarming rate. I’ve said it a million times but very few skiers are trashing way too much of the slope by spreading out, skiing across the fall-line and basically being selfish with the terrain, and free-riders and boarders with lack of knowledge are doing the same and it totals up to an unnecessary mess!

More sun is forecast for tomorrow and I’m not worried yet about tomorrow as I still want to savour today. And thanks Geoff and Inga for a great afternoon. Stay tuned!

PS Millie played to 12 today, well done Mils!

27 January 2018
What a day to forget my camera!

Wow, that was a special morning and they type to give a guy back his mojo! We had everything this morning, great snow, sunshine, stunning scenery, wonderful ambience, first tracks everywhere, non-stop-maximum-turn skiing for the most part, and I had a great team to maximise on the conditions. Unfortunately I forgot my camera this morning and missed some brilliant photo opportunities, but the only good thing about that is I saved myself at least an hour of work as I would have had 300 shots to sift through!

Chris, Andreas, Henry and I were all up at the Fornet where about ten centimetres of fresh snow fell overnight, and a little more in places, and everyone had a terrific morning. My team opened up with a Lower Combe du Signal, followed by a little run above the pond while waiting for the Cascade to open, followed by a Combe du 3300, then a quick one in the Combe de Giant before heading over the Col Pers and out through the gorge. All the boys skied similar runs with slight variations here-and-there and everyone was on fire! At this stage Dawn had a rendezvous and Geoff was completely satisfied so they stopped while Sue, Catherine, Jules, Inga and I carried on for one more knowing we’d be late. I knew it was going to be good so we picked up Simon on the Cascade chairlift and he came along as well but I’m now going into code-mode because we had a stunning run without any tracks, and I just might need it for tomorrow morning. Photos would have given it away but the team did a great job and left some very impressive tracks on a beautiful slope. Bravo team!

More sun is forecast for the morning and I’m looking forward to it already. Stay tuned and come on Roger!

26 January 2018
A tough start but a cracking finish!

With overcast skies and flat-light it was never going to be an easy morning, especially without any new snow overnight to work with. Team Alpine started off with a Lower Lavachet and at this stage a snow flurry blew through and the light was extremely flat and combined with tricky snow it wasn’t the easiest start to the morning. From there we headed to the Sachette with full intentions of cutting out early back to the piste because of what we’d experienced on the Lavachet, but the snow was excellent right to the bottom, helped by an improvement with the visibility. I thought it turned out to be a cracking good morning, especially after a tough start.

Millie gave her speech at school today to try to become the Head Prefect. She’s made it from 12 down to the last three and all three candidates had to give their speeches this morning. Mils was pretty nervous this morning but feels she did pretty well and I’ll post her speech tomorrow. Katie texted to say that she thought Millie did really well so fingers crossed!

I think the Guinea Pigs are playing tonight at Le Petit Danois so I’m going to watch the first set before having supper with Chris and Suzanne. Maybe see you there?

Hopefully we’ll get a few centimetres of snow today before the sun comes back out mid-morning tomorrow. Stay tuned and well done Fed!

PS I’ve posted some photos from yesterday this morning at 7AM and again today at 2PM.

PPS I just passed by the Danois and the Guinea Pigs weren’t there. Bummer!

25 January 2018
A brilliant Col and Gorge du Malpasset!

We had better than expected light this morning and after yesterday’s lift queues everyone decided to go for a walk. Chris, Thomas, TJ and I ‘skinned’ to the Col Pers and had a great run down before exiting through the gorge, while Andreas had a lovely morning on Mont Roup.

I’ve another busy day with the school kids this afternoon, followed by the Guinea Pigs, then dinner here with TJ, Oscar, and Russell and I’ll try to post the photos later.

Stay tuned!

PS Guinea Pigs are ill so there is another band tonight. Bummer!

24 January 2018
We need some more lift options!

It’s a quick one today as I worked all day then needed to shop for and then cook tomorrow night’s dinner, then I need to be at Chris and Suzanne’s for 7 o’clock, which doesn’t leave much time.

The sun was out again today but it was unseasonably warm, which played a part in where we chose to ski. Unfortunately very little was open again today leaving us with very few options and some pretty big queues for this time of year. We opened up with an excellent Tour du Charvet onto TJ’s Shoulder and it was all good except for the steep slopes off TJ’s Shoulder, which had taken a sun-crust and needed to be negotiated with care and attention. From there is became more complicated with queues and hardly any lifts open so we headed to the Grande Motte for a good run off the Genepy before finishing with the Familial. Henry was up at the Fornet and skied off the Pyramid but that was all that was open in that sector.

I had a great afternoon with Mike Cran’s daughter Lucy. What a cracking young lady and a really good skier as well and I look forward to skiing with her again soon.

I’ll post the photos tonight when I return from Chris and Suzanne’s. Stay tuned!

PS We witnessed a big avalanche out of the cliffs above the bus stop at La Daille at 4:30 this afternoon. It was a pretty cool end to a brilliant afternoon!

23 January 2018
What a change in landscape!

The sun finally came out and it was brilliant to look around the mountains and take in the huge amount of snow that has fallen. Some things have disappeared under snow and the landscape looks very different in places. Today’s main problem was the limited opening, which led to us having very few options. Still, I thought the boys put on a jolly good show and we definitely made the most of it. Considering the wind, rain, amount of snow, an avalanche risk of 5/5 moving to 4/5, and the heat the skiing was pretty good for the most part. The snow was variable but all very skiable although some pitches were more ‘educational’ than others, and you could find rain-crust at lower altitudes if you persisted in skiing to the bottom.

I spent some time clearing my terrace this afternoon and it’s a massive job. I needed to climb on top of the snow and start shovelling away from my building so that I will eventually have somewhere to heave the snow from below. Thank goodness it’s a once in every 35-years event, fingers crossed!

Chris and Suzanne finally made it home after three nights of camping at my place. They’re great company and we had a really good time but I’m sure they’re both looking forward to their cosy apartment and their own bed tonight!

More sun is forecast for tomorrow and with it hopefully we’ll get a few more lifts open. Stay tuned!

22 January 2018
Unexpected fun!

We weren’t really expecting too much today as the roads to Bourg and Tignes were closed all night, the Fornet remained cut off from the main village and with an avalanche risk of 5/5 and the black flag flying Chris and I were surprised when Radio Val announced that the Funival would open at 11:30. We both rallied our troops and we all know about these ‘low expectation’ days and this one turned out like so many, brilliant. Well, considering all the snow, wind and cabin-fever it was brilliant! The snow was heavy but very skiable and I was pleasantly surprised at how good the skiing was. But after three runs we called it a day as we’d had the best of it and with the wind picking up, the temperature rising significantly and all the safe options becoming tracked, we stopped while everyone was in one piece. (See photos)

I was skiing along and sensed a bandit at 4 o’clock and sure enough there was a bandit sneaking up on me, and it turned out to be Henry messing with me! It was good to see you out there Henry!

Hopefully TJ’s son Oscar will have finally made it up the mountain. He needed to stay in Geneva last night because of the road from Bourg being closed all night. Looking forward to seeing you Oscar!

Sunshine is forecast for tomorrow so that should make for some very interesting behaviour about the mountain. Stay tuned!

21 January 2018
Another day of paperwork!

I just remembered that I haven’t yet done today’s update, and there is nothing to report ski-wise as we were shut down again by snow and high winds! It was the 6th morning of the season so far that has been cancelled, and it is getting a little tedious to say the least. It’s stunning beautiful with brilliant ambience, and I’ve never seen so much snow before but the resort can’t take much more. Roads are a problem, parking is a problem, the security of the village is a worry, and several lifts have been damaged. The good news is that after another snowy day tomorrow we should get some relief this coming week so that we can ski and the resort can get so much needed work done.

TJ’s son Oscar had his flight cancelled last night and is stuck in Geneva without a lift up so I thought I’d need to drive TJ down tonight and pick him up around 10 o’clock. But fortunately Doctor Mike has offered to take him down with his 4×4, which is fantastic as it would have been a serious adventure in my car! I’ve snow tyres but only two-wheel drive and these are pretty extreme conditions. Thanks Mike!

I’ve posted a few photos from my wander about town today.

PS Millie has got down to the last three for Head Prefect. Good luck Mils!

20 January 2018
More unexpected light!

That’s the second day in a row that we’ve had unexpected visibility and we all made the most of it. My team was first into the Tour du Charvet and TJ’s Shoulder followed by TJ, Andreas and Chris and we had a fantastic opener with great snow and lovely ambience. Since we were heading to TJ’s Shoulder maybe I should have let TJ go first, but nah, there’s no such things as friends on a powder day! It was great to have TJ along and he picked up Dawn, Chrissy and Carol in the Olympique so he ended up with a great little group and having the company of three lovely ladies. Nice one TJ!

After the tour it was decision time about what to do next so Chris and I ended up circling back for another run as it seemed a shame not to, while Andreas skied the Epaule du Charvet en-route to the Fornet where he had a couple of nice runs in the Lower Combe du Signal, and I think TJ and co headed towards the Manchet but I didn’t have clear radio communication and I’m not too sure where he ended up. Anyway, it was a serious ‘bonus’ morning that will keep us all going, and we may need the spiritual uplift if tomorrow is another tough ‘big-snow-high-wind’ day!

It was nice to have TJ along last night for the Guinea Pigs, who were brilliant again. Alex came along as well as Richard F, Steve and Sandy and I’m looking forward to TJ’s son (and my God-son) Oscar and Russell coming along next week. I love having something to look forward to every week besides the regular living-in-Val d’Isere routine, which isn’t hard to take but the additional music buzz is fantastic and a great change of pace.

I twigged my back taking photos this morning and it’s the first time I’ve done that in ages. I’m off to the gym for a good stretch and some mobilising Pilates exercises to sort myself out for tomorrow.

And come on you Hammers!

PS And a big thank you to Tilly and Jenny for a great meal and evening last night!

19 January 2018
Frustrating start but a great finish!

The wind wasn’t so violent last night but it did start to blow around 5AM and with another 20 to 30 cm’s of fresh snow it took a little while to get started this morning. I took a photo at the bus stop because it looked like another tough day but the lifts opened at 9:30 and we ended up with some sunshine to light the way. It’s amazing during long periods of flat-light that even a little tiny bit of extra visibility gives people a boost and everyone’s skiing seems to improve immediately.

We had another great day on the mountain and between us we skied at La Daille in the trees, the Fontaine Froide, Epaule du Charvet, Henry skied a cheeky lower Banane, we skied into the L, off the Mattis, and the Lower Combe du Signal. Thomas went down to check out the trees in Ste Foy but I haven’t yet had a report.

I thought the Guinea Pigs were great last night and it was nice to see Steve, Tilly, Chrissy and Jim all there and enjoying themselves. The Guinea Pigs are playing again this evening at 5:30 as a Friday night one-off so I hope to see you there!

It’s possible that another metre of snow will fall this weekend but we could use a break in the weather so that the resort can get itself sorted out. There are roads and parking lots to clear, lifts to dig out and some lifts have taken some serious damage during the storms. I heard on the radio this morning that winds of over 250km/h were recorded on the Pissaillas Glacier. I say ‘over’ 250 because the machine can only read up to 250km/h and it was off the scale. Blimey, no wonder there has been some damage!

Fingers crossed and stay tuned!

PS It was Michael’s last day of his 42-day holiday today and he’s had a great time with an incredible amount of variation in condiditons, and he’ll go home happy as he continues to improve. Bravo Michael, I’ll miss you!

18 January 2018
Great to be skiing again!

After a really tough day yesterday where the resort didn’t open any lift at all we were up and running quite quickly today and everyone was happy to be skiing again as that ‘cabin-fever’ routine gets a little tiring. Anyway, we had some great skiing in the trees at La Daille, followed by an excellent Epaule du Charvet, a lovely run down the L and a run up in the Fornet tress to finish. I had Alex who is new to ‘Alpine’ this morning and she had a fantastic time and we look forward to see more of her in the future. (See photos)

Chris, Tansy and I had our afternoon’s cancelled with the school children as it’s snowing again this afternoon, and I must say that was the easiest community service we’ve ever done as three of the four afternoons were cancelled!

I’m hoping that the Guinea Pigs will make it up this afternoon and they kick-off at 5:30 at Le Petit Danois. I ran into Jim this morning who reports that the new Tuesday night band at the Danois is excellent and that we need to check them out next week.

It looks like snow is forecast for the next few days so hopefully the wind won’t get up and ruin it all. Stay tuned!

17 January 2018
A non-starter today!!!

It is no surprise that with winds clocked at 190km/h on the summit of Solaise last night that today was going to be difficult. I listened to the wind howling all night long in my chimney and rattling the windows and sure enough today was a non-starter. I walked up to the Gourmandine for 8:45 because I didn’t have a contact for Simmo and sure enough he showed up with skis and boots and ready to go, but the resort remained shut all day long. It continued to gust to 150km/h during the day and we can only hope for better things tomorrow as it is all starting to become a little tedious. Well actually, very tedious if the truth be known! (See photos)

Millie has a Head Prefect interview today so good luck with it Millie, and Katie had a brilliant time at gymnastics last night. I hope the weather sorts itself out before the girls arrive in February because the thought of driving down to the airport in these conditions isn’t very appealing. I’ve been really lucky over the years to get decent enough weather to not need chains but the windows for good driving have been few and far between during the past month, and I was lucky twice at Christmas with the weather when going to pick-up and drop-off the girls.

Thanks to Michael for a lovely evening last night and Chris, Suzanne, Michael and I are invited down to Tilly’s for dinner tonight but I’m not too sure if we’ll make it or not. Stay tuned!

16 January 2018
What a cracking morning that turned out to be!

Well, that turned out to be a really fun morning when expectations weren’t the highest! It snowed between ten and fifteen centimetres overnight, which gave us something to play with, and it was snowing this morning meaning flat-light along with a howling that definitely played its part today. We took a face full when exiting the Olympique so Chris, Thomas and I all started on the Face du Bellevarde, which was protected from the wind, and perfectly groomed with 10 -15 cm’s on top, and perhaps even more down low. (See photos) From there we skied a couple of runs on the piste off the Grand Pres before heading down the Epaule du Charvet and into the Santons. My team took the last bubble up Solaise before they closed it for the day (Chris was behind us but they made them get out of their bubble) and we had a coffee before skiing into the L and having it all to ourselves! From there we joined Thomas and Chris up in the Fornet trees where I haven’t skied in ages and it was really good fun. We ended up skiing until one o’clock and a cracking morning was enjoyed by all! (TJ was out there as well but I’m not too sure where he ended up after the Santons.)

Chris, Tansy and I had our afternoons cancelled with the school children as it is pretty wild out there now. The wind is howling in my chimney and it’s a nice afternoon to not be out there! Stay tuned for more news tomorrow!

PS It turns out that TJ was up at the Fornet as well.

15 January 2018
Unexpected sunshine and a change of scenery!

We had unexpectedly clear skies this morning and we profited with a jolly good ski and appreciated the ‘bonus’ day of sunshine. Chris, TJ and I did a ‘double -skin’ to the Crete du Genepy and Mont Roup and the skiing was excellent and a nice change after three days the Fornet. Thomas went off toward Tignes and the Sachette while Andreas skied Mont Roup then headed to the Fornet to ‘skin’ into the Grand Vallon from the Pyramid, but just when he was getting ready to ‘skin’ they opened the poma. What a result that was!

I had two new skiers this morning, Ed and his sister Emma from Scotland, and boy could they ski! Chapeau to you both and we look forward to skiing with you again sometime soon. (See photos)

It’s a short one today as I’ve a paperwork and French bureaucracy nightmare going on and it’s no fun!

Stay tuned for more news tomorrow and we should be skiing in fresh snow, flat-light and hopefully not too much wind!

PS And thanks to Geoff and Inga for a superb evening and meal last night. It was funny Russell and I speaking about how long it will take the Teli-ski to open to access the Grand Vallon, Combe du Signal and Vallonnet and we both thought it would be ages with another storm looming. Just show what we know!

14 January 2018
Slightly overcast but great skiing!

We had high cloud cover this morning but enough light filtered through to allow us to ski positively for the most part and everyone had a great morning. Chris and I headed back up to the Fornet because it’s the best snow in town and we did a ‘double-skin’ in the Pays Desert, which was excellent, followed by the Col Pers and out through the gorge. The Lechoir is more wind affected than the Pers side so we stayed in the Col Pers and found some great snow before cutting right towards the bottom.

Sandy and Stuart-the-Sea-Captain started their season’s this morning and I had a couple of new young Vikings along, Johan and Andreas, as well as Vitas, who is Canadian.

I went to the Baraque last night to have a drink with Tilly and Peter H, and Tilly had to leave because she was cooking for Sylvie, but Peter and I stayed to listen to an excellent 4-piece band. Peter had to peel out as well for a YSE dinner (which you don’t want to miss!) so I stayed for another half-hour listening to the music. They are really good and tonight (Sunday) is their last night so if you have the time Carol do go and see them, kicking off at 7:30.

Hopefully we’ll have another sunny day tomorrow before the snow moves in. The forecast was calling for up to two metres of snow but they are backing off a little now and it shouldn’t be that disruptive. Fingers crossed and stay tuned!

PS Millie played golf this morning and is pretty happy with her game at the moment and Gill and the girls are going to the cinema this afternoon. Have fun!

13 January 2018
Le retour de Jean!!!

The sun shone again today so Chris, Thomas, TJ and I headed back to the Fornet for another excellent morning. Chris, Thomas and I ‘skinned’ out into the Pays Desert for some fantastic snow without too much effort, and then finished off the morning by going over the Col Pers and heading out to the Tour du Lechoir before exiting through the gorge. The snow in the Lechoir wasn’t as easy as the brilliant snow in the Col Pers yesterday, but it was still pretty jolly good and the type of snow you’d kill for at times during the season. (Like three or four days ago!)

Meanwhile Andreas headed up to the Col des Fours with his team and they had a terrific morning with great snow and ambience and were rewarded for their efforts as it’s not a freebie, and Henry was out there somewhere but I’m not too sure what he skied.

It was a pleasure to have Jean R along today for his first ‘Alpine’ ski of the season. His knee held up well and he was pretty pleased with the way he felt and his confidence is growing. He said that he’s lost between 3 and 5 kilos and that it’s made all the difference with his knee. (There is a lesson to be learned for people who are overweight and have knee problems but that is probably a politically incorrect statement these days!.) (See photos)

Sports Report- I’m extremely pleased with the Calgary Flames who have won 6 in-a-row and beaten three of the top teams in the league during that run. My beloved Steelers are in action tomorrow in the NFL Playoffs and of course it’s a huge day for the Hammers as they play Huddersfield in one of those dreaded ‘6-pointers’. Come on boys! And of course Roger will try to defend his Australian Open title that kicks off on Monday and the Ladies LPGA gets started soon as well. So much to look forward to!

Hopefully we’ll have another sunny day tomorrow before it all starts to change and we may see another metre of snow next week. Stay tuned!

PS I quite enjoyed that ’6-pointer’!!!

12 January 2018
Maximum-turns and sheer quality!!!

After being closed for several days the Pissaillas Glacier at the Fornet opened this morning and with sunny skies we savoured a mega-morning of great snow, long pitches and very few stops. (I guess that adds up to a maximum-turn’ morning!) My team warmed-up with two runs of ‘low-hanging-fruit’ under the Cascade chairlift and with pretty much non-stop skiing top-to-bottom it almost finished us off before we even got started! From there we followed Thomas and Chris into the Combe du 3300 and as luck would have it they opened the drag lift at the bottom just when we thought we’d need to ‘skin’. We then ‘skinned’ up for 10-minutes or so to access the Pays Desert (T-bar still shut) and it was brilliant. By this time we’d already had a huge amount of skiing but because I wasn’t working this afternoon Chris and I decided to head over the Col Pers, and with info from Thomas who had skied down the Grand Torsai earlier we knew we could make it through the gorge, which was a wonderful finish to a stunning morning. Eugene and Anthony went off for a Michelin Star lunch to celebrate as a plate of frites would have been a bit of a let- down after all that! (Chris, Thomas and TJ were all up at the Fornet and everyone went over the Col Pers at some stage) Meanwhile, Andreas and Henry headed off to Tignes and had a fantastic morning as well skiing the Chardonnet Couloir followed by the couloir in the Sachette, both with excellent snow, and I think it would be fair to say that an exceptional morning was enjoyed by all! (See photos)

I’ve never seen so much avalanche debris over the Col Pers before out towards the Lechoir. It must have purged itself from the Point Pers to have travelled so far across the flats and it almost reached the last pitch to the bottom!

Sun is forecast again for tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it already! Stay tuned!

PS And thanks again Piers for hosting Dav’s Memorial drinks last night!

PPS I’ve borrowed some Salomon MTN 88’s from Jean Sport and I must say that they are stunning skis! They are fantastic in soft snow and surprisingly good on the piste and I’ve really enjoyed them. If you’re looking for a new pair of skis I’d definitely try them as they are seriously fun to ski on and I don’t give 10/10 ratings very often! Merci Didier!

11 January 2018
A lovely Memorial get-together for Dav!

What a brilliant day that turned out to be! The sun was shining and after so much flat-light everyone was just happy to have blue skies, views and perfect visibility to tackle the snow. There is some great snow around but also slopes of wind-compressed snow and the odd patch of ‘educational’ snow, but it all adds up to great skiing. This morning we headed into the Tour du Charvet onto TJ’s Shoulder, all of which was pretty jolly good although TJ’s Shoulder was tricky, then Chris and I skied the Lower Borsat before heading into Tignes for two off the Genepy. Andreas headed up to see what was happening at the Fornet and I’m not too sure what Thomas, TJ and Henry skied.

This afternoon Chris, Tansy and I skied with the 5-year-olds from the local school and as usual it was really good fun and a rewarding way to do our community service. I had the pleasure of having Michael Rosen assisting me and I think Michael really enjoyed it. Thanks Michael.

Next up was a hot bath and before heading straight up to Le Petit Danois to see the first-set of the Guinea Pigs, and I thought they were fantastic. The first-set was made up of songs I haven’t heard them play before and they have a great connection between them, which is fun to watch and I think they are getting better and better each week. Peter H and Tilly came along, as well as Carol and her team, as well as Chenko and some other regulars, and I’m looking forward to next Thursday night already!

What really made the day special was the Memorial drinks for Dav held at Chez Piers. Dav, who was a brilliant bloke, full of life and only 31-years-of-age at the time, died in an avalanche 20-years-ago this week. It was wonderful to see so many faces that I haven’t seen in years and a lot of those there tonight used to play at my regular Sunday afternoon baseball sessions where we had some fantastic fun often followed by a BBQ, and always followed by drinks. Some people came a long way to pay their respects and to see old friends, such as Alex and his wife Gill who came all the way from New Zealand, and faces I haven’t seen in ages included Baz, Beast, Scott, Bromey, Nipper, and quite a few others. It was great to see Piers, Clare, Cai, Graham and to meet Dav’s brother, and I’m mad at myself for not taking my camera because I’m forgetting quite a few. Thanks very much Piers and Clare, it was a great occasion and I’m really glad that I was there.

We’ll enjoy the next couple of days as the sun is forecast to shine before more snow moves in next week. Stay tuned!

10 January 2018
That was seriously good fun!!!

The slow opening of 9:25 was quickly forgotten as we were treated to a pretty stunning morning of powder skiing. After a couple of warm-up runs off the Verte we skied two great runs off the Fontaine Froide just as it opened, then hit the Epaule du Charvet for a fantastic run before it became popular. From there the team headed up Solaise and we were first into the Arcelle as the Manchet chair was closed and it was brilliant top-to-bottom. On our first descent we skied it with only three stops so each of the pitches were over 100-turns and everyone’s thighs were absolutely screaming for mercy! It is very rare to be able to ski such long pitches one after the other and it was seriously good fun and a great first ‘Alpine’ ski for Bryon from Dublin, and a return to ‘Alpine’ for Simo. The second time down we spread our wings a little and took our time choosing and skiing pitches, and it was so good Chris and Henry circled back around for a third run! Andreas, Thomas, and TJ were also in the neighbourhood and it was a cracking morning.

I skied with Sally, John and Dick again this afternoon so we started our technique lesson with a trip down the Marmottons before cutting out towards the bottom. The snow was so nice and it was brighter above the Manchet so it just had to be done! We finished up the afternoon with some more traditional-type technique on Bellevarde and I didn’t get home until 4:45.

The road to the Fornet has finally re-opened so Chris and Suzanne will be able to sleep in their own bed tonight. It was really fun having them the past couple of evenings and I have the feeling it won’t be their last camping trip this winter!

The avalanche risk has been dropped to 3/5 and we are expecting some sunshine and good visibility tomorrow, so stay tuned!

PS It was nice to look around to day and see how much of the mountain has purged itself. Very impressive and great news!

9 January 2018
What a brilliant afternoon!

As predicted the resort was in shut-down Tuesday morning with all lifts closed as well as all roads in-and-out of town and around town closed, the Sports Centre was closed and it was all pretty delicate as this has become a ‘once-every-thirty-years’ storm and the security services are taking it very seriously.

It brightened up around 9:30, which was a huge relief for everyone trying to secure the village, lifts and roads, especially those dealing with dynamite. We may get some skiing in this afternoon so stay tuned for another update later.

Suzanne and Chris spent the night at my place last night and we had a great evening including drinks upstairs with some of my neighbours. Philip who is about 85 has been in Val d’Isere since 1952 and he always has some good stories of days gone by. I slipped out to finish dinner and it took Chris and Suzanne 30-minutes to extract themselves as they were having a really good time.

This morning we walked around town and took some photos and with it brightening I’m preparing to ski this afternoon and I’m now awaiting a security update.

I ran into Baz this morning and he’s in town for the 20th Anniversary of Dav’s death. Dav was killed in an avalanche 20-years ago today on the Lores. Dav was a fantastic guy and many of his friends are congregating in town this week to remember him. (Photos and the story of the day are in my book)

After walking around town taking photos this morning I was ready to go when they announced a 12:30 opening on Solaise followed by 1PM on Bellevarde. I turned out to be a terrific afternoon with Sally, John and Dick as we skied a few gentle pitches off-piste on Solaise in surprisingly good snow followed by a very positive technique session on Bellevarde in the sun. TJ was out skiing with Mike and I’m sure they had some great skiing because the snow off-piste was very good and with a cold night ahead we should have some fantastic snow tomorrow.

I was disappointed in the behaviour of too many boarders and skiers this afternoon. The security services did their best to get some runs open in extremely high avalanche conditions hoping and perhaps trusting the public to respect the situation, but skiers were traversing into the notorious Spatule and boarders were spreading their wings off the closed Face du Bellevarde. Idiots!

Anyway, with any luck it won’t snow too much tonight and we can get out there in the morning because I’m certain some wonderful skiing awaits! Stay tuned!

8 January 2018
The black flag was flying!!!

The retour d’Est hit hard last night and with a metre of fresh snow on Bellevarde there could easily be 150 and 200cm’s up at the Fornet on the Pissaillas Glacier. The road to the Fornet closed last night around 4AM but naughty Chris and Suzanne snuck into town this morning as Chris had a group and Suzanne is baby-sitting young Zac while Fay and Jeremy ski with us. Bravo to you both and hopefully no one recognised you!

As for the skiing, we finally got going around 10 and we were on the first Funival of the day and enjoyed some pretty good, but challenging skiing. (See photos) The light was very flat and the snow was heavy but we persevered until noon when I decided I’d had enough because I didn’t want to hurt myself so I headed home with Sylvie while Jeremy and Fay went back up for another. Chris kept going until one, bravo, and Chris and Suzanne are bunking down at my place tonight as the road to the Fornet remains closed.

I think that this morning was the first time ever that we’ve skied while the black flag was flying. It’s rare to see the black flag at all but never while the resort is open. More heavy snow is forecast for the rest of the day and during the night so who knows what tomorrow will bring? Stay tuned!

PS We had 140km/h winds on Solaise last night!

7 January 2018
A transition morning as a huge snowfall looms!

After a glorious day of sunshine that helped recharged the batteries of everyone involved it was back into the flat-light as another huge snowfall approaches. The southerly wind was clocked at 110km/h this morning at 7AM but the wind did die down and although windy on the summits many lifts were operating and the wind wasn’t too cold. It started to snow heavily towards the end of the morning and as I write at 1:15PM big flakes are falling but being buffeted about by the wind and it’s snowing even harder towards the Fornet where between 75 and 150cm’s of snow are expected!

I spent my morning with Richard, Sylvie, Fay, Michael and Tilly working on technique and we did venture off a few times to ski supporting snow with a little soft snow on top. Back in the ‘skinny-ski’ days we’d often work on technique when the weather was bad or the snow was difficult because people needed good basic skills to cope with the conditions, but now days when people struggle instead of working on their fundamental skills they just reach for a pair of even wider skis. Anyway, it made a nice change and was a positive use of a tough morning.

Chris was about but seemed to disappear around 11AM and Andreas went up to the Fornet and skied some nice supporting snow off the Mangard and Pyramid. (By supporting I mean that what was wet heavy snow or rain-crust has now frozen and supports your weight and where it’s smooth is lovely skiing with a few centimetres on top)

Bravo boys for a good showing this morning and tomorrow we should have more to work with. It didn’t snow last night and just started this morning so the only fresh snow today was what fell during the morning and with flat-light it wasn’t the conditions to be wandering too far from civilization! Stay tuned!

PS Yesterday I needed to delete some photos to make room for new ones and going back towards the beginning of the season it’s amazing how good of skiing we had when everyone thought there wasn’t any snow! Well, there wasn’t much snow at all but it was still jolly good!

PPS And thanks Stocky for the coffee machine, it’s fantastic and much appreciated!

6 January 2018
A cracking morning in the sunshine!!!

Wow, that was more like it! The sun was shining and it made all the difference as we had a ‘maximum-turn’ type of morning. It wasn’t a powder morning but after what we’ve been skiing in flat-light it all felt pretty good. Michael asked me what type of snow it was and I replied, “Good question Michael”. The snow was definitely wind pressed combined with humidity, heat, moisture, rain and who knows what else? But it skied really nicely and had just enough ‘trickery’ in places to keep everyone on the toes and concentrating. For the most part we stayed on the surface but we did have places where we went in and could leave some good tracks. (See photos)

I’m skiing on my new skis and yesterday I had a tough first day on them so I took them into Jean Sports and Thomas put them through the new machine, and I must say they were so much better this morning. Whenever you have new skis don’t just think that they’re perfect and ready to go because they often come out of the factory needing some work. In years gone by you’d never ski on new skis without hand-tuning them and although factory finishes are much better these days it’s not uncommon for skis to need some work. Thanks Thomas!

After a wonderful day in the sunshine we are expecting a retour de l’est and the Fornet could see between one and two metres of snow over the next few days. After all this snow the gorge should be filled in and ready to go but who knows when they’ll be able to get the Glacier open. The Laisinant Express is out of action at the moment due to an avalanche down the Danaides that took about 100 trees with it and some of them have piled into the lift, and it will take another day or two for them to sort it out.

Sorry for the late update but I’ve been to Bourg shopping.

PS TJ arrives tonight!

PPS Unfortunately some of today’s photos won’t upload. I’ll keep trying as there are a few good ones!

PPPS Updated the photos after needing to delte a few!

5 January 2018
At least we were skiing

After a couple days of sitting around it was nice to get back skiing again today, even with a limited opening and very little to do. The snow lower down had a nasty rain-crust and was to be avoided, while many of the upper slopes were inaccessible, but the mid-altitude slopes off the Verte were really good. Chris and I ended up ‘skinning’ up the closed Borsat piste to get away from the crowds and the snow was pretty good at that altitude but other than that it was a matter of scratching around and making the most of it. After skiing in flat-light all morning the sun has come out this afternoon but it is extremely warm and I don’t think many people will be venturing off-piste.

Thanks to Richard and Susan for a lovely drinks party last night and it was fantastic to see the West Ham result before bed. Stay tuned for hopefully some more stimulating ski news soon!

4 January 2018

As predicted we didn’t ski this morning as the resort is in lock-down and the security services are understandably more interested in the security of the village than trying to get the resort open. With an avalanche risk of 5/5 above 2500 and 4/5 below there really isn’t any point.

The roads in town to the Fornet, Chatelard, and the Rue du Balme are closed as well as the road to Tignes and the road to Bourg. The rain limit is forecast to rise to 2600 later in the day, which will help to stabilise the mountain in the long term but doesn’t do much for those who are here now.

It’s 11:28am and the snow has just turned to rain and it’s looking pretty grim out there. Stay tuned for further updates during the day.

I’m just posting a few photos and check out the Radio Val’s photos of yesterday’s avalanche acorss the road to the Fornet. Blimey!

PS 11:36am, back to snow….. just!!!

PPS The Guinea Pigs won’t be playing at Le Petit Danois tonight for obvious reason. Bummer as I was really looking forward to it! I’m thinking of Chris as I listen to Marianne Faithful’s classic album ‘Broken English’. It’s one of his favourites and not for the faint-hearted, brilliant album!

PPS Just dug out Meatloaf’s ‘Bat Out Of Hell’. Haven’t heard this one for at least 15-years!

3 January 2018
Not an easy week for holiday-makers!!!

I didn’t hear the wind last night and was optimistic that we’d get in some skiing today after Meteo France had forecast a delay in the arrival of the storm, but the wind got up and with it raining up to around 2300 metres it was a no-go this morning! I did one run on the Rogoney with Adam and Tom to try my new skis and to keep my ‘run’ going but anything that wasn’t pisted smooth was dreadful and really quite dangerous for the knees. They did open the Funival but the pisteurs said it was ‘un-skiable’ so I headed home to do paperwork and go to the gym.

Thanks to Richard and Susan for a fantastic evening last night with great wine, lovely food and lots of laughs, and laughs are definitely a good thing during this trying time weather-wise! And to top off my evening the Hammers scoring a 94th minute winner sent me to bed extremely happy!

Another metre of snow is forecast with the rain/snow limit going up-and-down like a yoyo so we’ll have some more testing times ahead over the next few days. Stay tuned!

PS Chris was the star performer today as he stayed out and didn’t get home until 12:30 as he did a beep search with Michael, Leah, Dave and Suzie S and Suzanne. They tried to get up the Funival but by that stage everything was shut down tight.

The road to the Fornet has been closed to all circulation and a significant avalanche has come across the road and is estimated to be between two and three metres deep! Unfortunately they think there is a car underneath and the pisteurs have been up there with dogs and probes. Fingers crossed on that one! Stay tune for more news as it develops.

PS It turns out that the debris was up to six metres deep! As far as I know there was no car involved so that’s seriously good news. What a bummer for the pisteurs who have been working like hell and then needing to probe for hours as well as deal with the idiots on the Face du Charvet a couple of days ago. These people don’t get paid enough!

2 January 2018
More snow and wind on the way!!!

I could hear the wind humming in the chimney and rattling the windows last night and with 30 to 40cm’s of fresh snow mixed in it was always going to be a slow and limited opening this morning. Chris, Thomas and I started on Solaise and made our way to the Laisinant and eventually the Fornet while Andreas started on Bellevarde before joining us later on. There was some great skiing to be had in places and not so easy in others but it was another good day in somewhat difficult conditions. (Difficult conditions meaning crowds, slow and limited opening, bus problems, flat-light, some tricky snow here-and-there, and an avalanche risk of 4/5.)

Tomorrow’s forecast is dreadful with 140 km/h winds predicted at 2500 metres so who knows what we’ll be able to do in those conditions! I’m in need of a morale boasting Hammers victory today!

I’ll probably be on my new skis tomorrow as I finished off my beloved 4th pair of Bond/Vertex’s today. It’s a bit tough skiing with an edge hanging out! Stay tuned!

1 January 2018
Back in the saddle!!!

After the toughest day of the season yesterday it was a great reward for those skiing again today as just enough snow fell to keep us afloat and it made for some seriously good skiing. With the northerly wind blowing all night the southern slopes in the lee loaded up beautifully and we had some excellent powder up high but still needed to deal with patches of a thin rain-crust below around 2200 to 2300 metres. Chris, Thomas and I were on the first funicular up the Motte in 2018 and were rewarded with a good 30 centimetres of fresh light snow and I skied two rotations while Chris and Thomas circled around three times. I’m sure it was good up there yesterday but we never had the chance to find out with the funicular shut all day long.

I had a great trip to Geneva with the girls and Ray yesterday with clear blue skies and empty roads. It’s snowing hard again at the moment and I’m so lucky to have been travelling with yesterday’s weather as compared to today or Saturday’s! I’m missing thr girls already but thank goodness for Face time!

And a big thank you to Geoff and Inga for an absolutely divine New Year’s lunch with great food, stunning wine and wonderful company! I’m beautifully sedated as I write this blog and then move on to my Valdinet update, which will be posted tomorrow morning so log on and have a look. It can be found under Snow Report, which is just an extension of ‘Wayne’s World’! Stay tuned!

PS The Guinea Pigs are playing at Le Petit Danois Thursday night at 5:30. See you there!

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