Wow! It doesn't get much better!

20 March 2011

What a treat today as we savoured wonderful snow with beautiful sunshine. Jean R returned to action after his back injury, and along with John, Margaret, Inga, Gideon and new clients Victoria and Mark (who skied brilliantly), we headed to Tignes knowing we’d be spending a lot of days at the Fornet in the near future. We started off with some nice snow off the Mont Blanc and Verte pistes then headed up to the Grande Motte for the main event. Wayne’s Shoulder was fantastic and we skied three rotations in great snow with no one else about. From there we ventured out into the Rosolin for a 110-turn pitch in creamy snow before ‘skinning’ out for 10-minutes, then we finished off with a terrific Cairn. By the time we arrived at the summit of Tommeuses we’d had enough so we skied piste to the bottom.

Meanwhile Chris was in the same neighbourhood but he went up the cable-car for some good skiing, then skied off the Genepy before bussing around to the Sache. I haven’t heard too much from him but I’m sure they had great skiing as well.

There were a couple of more avalanches today, this time on the Tignes side, but fortunately no one was seriously injured. One took place around the traverse under Mickey’s Ears, and I’m not sure if it was provoked at the top or from the traverse. Three people were taken but everyone was safely rescued.

I’ve been meaning to write something for days now about the instability we’ve experienced in the snow pack this season. It started in November when a worker was killed on the road leading up to the Col. From the first day we’ve had signs of danger followed by several serious avalanches, including mine, when people were killed. The snow pack has been dangerous all season long and we haven’t had a stable period all winter, no matter what the official risk. After my accident I’ve gone back to basics and have skied very few steep slopes and have been content with excellent skiing on gentler slopes.

Here is a list of some classic slopes I haven’t skied this season but would have normally skied at some time. Cugnai, Arcelle, Marmottons, Marmottes, Face du Charvet, Tour du Charvet, Borsat West (from the top), Petit Lavachet, Cocaine Sud, Cocaine Nord, and the big face of the Grande Balme. Apart from the Tour du Charvet, which has been rubbish most of the winter anyway, I wouldn’t trust any of these slopes until we have a seriously good ‘melt-freeze’ cycle in the spring. (I rarely ski the big couloirs or the Point Pers so these haven’t been included.) Without these slopes the resort becomes much smaller but I must say I’ve really enjoyed the skiing this season and have paid attention to Henry’s 25-degrees-or-less rule much of the time, and the clients have been extremely pleased with the skiing. Still, there are days when I ski steeper slopes for sure, but I’m very careful and not taking anything for granted, as this winter is a long way from over. I see people skiing slopes that make me cringe and if you’re a ‘do-it-yourself-off-pister’, pleased don’t be lured onto the big steep classic slopes.

On a sunnier note, it’s forecast for the next ten days, and I heard a nasty rumour it may shine for three weeks.

PS. I forgot to mention that Doctor Mike ruptured his Achilles Tendon on the piste yesterday. He’d just returned from a tour with Jean Marc and Olivier and was minding his own business when he had to avoid some skiers and hit a big snowball in the flat-light. He was operated on this morning and everyone at ‘Alpine’ wishes him a full and speedy recovery. Bummer Mike!

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