Monday, 31 March 2014

Family holiday

All the family is here, including the grand children, Anna, Emily, Lizzie and Tommy.   We also have 2 other families staying in the Clochettes, Kevin and Nicky and their two children who are Elizabeth's and John's friends originally, and Graham and Rachel with their 3 girls (Rachel was Caroline's best friend from school).  There is no room for John and me to stay at the Clochettes (8 adults and 9 children do not leave much room for us) so we are next door in the Sylvana.  We had a lovely day today, after getting the children sorted. The 3 older girls are being taught by Katie Campbell, who has taught them from the beginning.  The 2 little ones are in the Piou Piou club, and they seemed happy there.    That meant that the adults were free to ski without children for the morning.  We had lunch at the Staduel and ended up wearing silly hats as it was so hot.  The 3 older girls, all 11 years old, were allowed to ski by themselves for the first time.  So far, I am still faster than them, but it won't be that long before they are racing past me.   

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Vallee Blanche

Yesterday was a gloriously sunny day and we all set off for the Vallee Blanche (except Tracey who did not want to do it and Chris who had gone home the previous day).  Unfortunately there was a problem with one of the top cable cars so there was a delay in our getting up the mountain so we had to hang around for about an hour and a half.  Still it was worth it when we got up there.
After we had walked down the arrete the guides put us in two groups, one doing the classic route and the other the Grand Rognon (there is a big rock sticking up in the glacier which is supposed to look like a kidney).  We were in the latter group.  We had no untracked powder and some of the snow was wind crust but we had a great ski down.  We had one rather gripping coulour where the guide said there was ice on one side and rocks on the other and we should go down the middle.  The inclination is to head immediately for the rocks!  I got down it by shouting at myself.
 We all met up for a picnic lunch on the glacier.   4 opted to ski all the way down which the guide said could be done but involved several places where you had to take your skis off and walk.   I've done that and it isn't a great deal of fun.   The rest of us walked up the stairs.  Every year the glacier recedes and more steps have to be added to climb up to the station.  When we first skied the VB we herringboned up the moraine to ski down the track to Chamonix (they didn't run the railway then in the winter).  Now it's about a 20 minute walk out before you get to the track.  It's alarming how much the glacier has receded since we first skied the VB.
There were two sit skiers coming down the VB with helpers.  One of them was just ahead of me on the stairs at the end of the run.  He had about 6 men taking turns in carrying him up the stairs.  It looked like seriously hard work.
Anyway here is a photo of us all after the picnic:  Back row: Sebastien (guide) Sam, Emma, Dave, little Emma, me, Frank (guide), John and Tim    Second Row: Megan, Jonny and Hannah  Front Row:   Sarah P, Santa and Lara.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Vallee Blanche

We are hoping to ski the Vallee Blanche on Friday with the staff as an end of season trip.   We have 2 guides booked and the weather looks OK.  We had another morning yesterday skiing off piste with most of the staff to introduce them to falling in soft snow.  Hopefully, most of them will have got it out of their system before Friday.  Today John, Gordon and I skied the trees at La Giettaz and found some untracked powder.  There was noone around and we had virtually every piste to ourselves.  We were even the only people on the bus!
Yesterday evening we had our French dinner to which we invite people like our bank manager, head of the tourist office, head of marketing for Megeve etc.   Sam cooked us an exceptionally good dinner, ably assisted by Hannah and Tracey.  We started with prawns in a coconut and spicy sauce, followed by beef wellington and then a trio of desserts.  It was excellent and was a very good evening.  Even John's speech in French went well (though Solange had written most of it!)

Monday, 24 March 2014

Skiing with the staff

We took most of the staff on an off piste morning.  We started off going down the field off the red Princess piste, then the Monts Rosset field and the Communailles field.  After that we did the couloirs by the side of the Communailles piste which sorted the sheep from the goats.    Finally we skied home via the Etudiant lift through the trees to Planellet where the staff wimped out and got the bus.  John, Gordon and I slogged it home down to the Chamois lift.  The staff made the wiser choice.

Can you tell what it is yet?

These are 2 photos that Jonny took on one of the Communailles couloirs.  I had taken a different route and wondered why the men weren't down at the bottom before me.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Goodbye Sunshine Hello - snow

On Friday the boys were skiing in t-shirts.  Today it was back to proper ski clothes.   It snowed on and off all day and we had a brilliant day.   We were skiing with Gordon and his 2 boys, Kit and Simon, and their friends Steve and Ilona.   We spent most of the time around Communailles skiing the off piste as there was some visibility from the trees.   Also Steve and Ilona have only skied for 9 days (they were doing fantastically well) and that meant they could go down the piste and meet us at the bottom.  We had lunch at the little old cafe at the bottom of Mont D'Arbois.  The paper holders in the loo had the original fag burns still etched in the plastic.  John and I skied back via the Etudiant lift.  I saw a hare in the forest which was no longer white so he must know spring is coming.  At the bottom of the field I ended up standing in a ditch to take my skis off and found I had a boot full of water.  Still, it has now dried out.  Here is a short video of Kit and me skiing the off piste.   Kit is a lot younger than me and far more dashing!
!
video

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Staff ski trip


Yesterday we all went to Les Contamines for a staff ski trip.   Unlike  #Megeve  it must be a sunny day to ski there as there are no trees  and in fog or snow it would be a nightmare.  However, we had sunshine and enjoyed a great day out.  We had a picnic on the snow and Hannah made brilliant egg and bacon baguettes.  Here is the photo.  Sadly we couldn't find someone to take the pic so John is absent.
Today the weather has changed completely.   I went out for a couple of hours but the cloud is down and it is snowing.  It might be a powder day tomorrow!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Unthank Ski Club

We skied with the Ski Club yesterday and today.  It was beautiful sunshine again and once the pistes had softened the skiing was very good.  We were with the fast group skiing primarily round the Princess and Mon Rosset lifts.   This is a photo that John took of us at the top of the Marmire piste with Mont Blanc in the background.   Thanks to Mark, Dave, Martin and Richard for allowing us to join you.  The pistes were empty although the weather was perfect.  There is snow forecast for this weekend so if you're thinking of grabbing a last ski holiday contact the office.   

Sunday, 16 March 2014

You never can tell

The temperature on our balcony was the same as the previous days so I wore the same layers as previously.  Surprisingly, I was cold.  There was a cold wind, although the sun was shining, and I ended up putting on my spare layer which I have carried around all season and not worn before.  The pistes were in good condition and we had a lovely morning.  I'm now sitting on the balcony in the sunshine reading the paper.
We decided to try out some piste skis and borrowed some Volkls from Ski Concept.   They seemed very short but I found them easier to carve than my old Rossignols. They seemed faster as well but that may be because my old skis have done about 6 seasons  and are past their prime.   So perhaps we might treat ourselves!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Last day of French holidays

There was a long  queue of cars leaving #Megeve this morning as the French return after their holidays.   On Monday we will have the pistes to ourselves again.   Yesterday was another brilliantly sunny day but today there is high level cloud.  The visibility is fine but everywhere is a bit misty.   We skied at Jaillet and Giettaz today and had a lovely morning.   We met up with 3 friends of friends, Fergus, John and Jamie, who had sneaked out for a week  before the end of the season.
 The tourist office announced 2 days ago that they are keeping most of the lifts open, which includes the main ski area excluding the Princess lift, until Sunday 13th.  This is great news but irritating that they have only just announced it.  So if you want an end of season's blast with empty pistes give us a call.    We often have a late dump of snow in April and there is noone but us to take advantage of the off piste.
Anyway, here is a pic of me skiing at Giettaz today.   We tried to get us all in but we skied too close to John and failed dismally. So sorry Fergus, Gordon, Jamie and John.    Better luck next time.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Back Again!

Wednesday and a beautiful sunny day.   We skied on Mont D'Arbois most of the morning although we went over to Jaillet at the end  to ski off piste from Combloux to the Princess lift, as Gordon hadn't done it.   The snow was a bit heavy towards the bottom and I have learnt a new technique - leaning back on  the tails of the ski so the tips come round.   At least, I'm trying to learn it.   We then skied back off piste through the trees from the Bridans run down to the road and got the bus home.  In the afternoon I sat on our balcony in the sunshine.  It is the first time I have done that this season and it was lovely.  What glorious weather.
Jonny and Tracey skied on Petit Fontaine yesterday and saw three deer crossing the piste.  You do see them occasionally but not usually on a piste.   However, it is quiet and they were probably taking advantage of noone being around.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Snowy trees in #Megeve

John and I sat on the Jaillet bubble looking at the cloud and wondering why we were there.  We decided to keep to Plan A which was skiing the trees at Giettaz.  As we got over there the sun came out and we had 3 brilliant runs down to the mid station chair.  It was a bit tracked but there was still powder amongst the trees.   We then came back and skied from Combloux to the Princess lift.  You come out on the road by the Demi Lune Hotel.  The snow had been crusty but had softened and was surprisingly good.  Then we skied home though the Etudiant tress to the bottom of the Chamois lift.  What a great morning.   This is a picture of the snowy trees.  They are so beautiful when covered in snow.  We are home tomorrow (one of our grand daughters has a part in an amateur production of Swan Lake) but back on Wednesday.  Hope to see you then.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Monday/Tuesday

It snowed overnight Sunday and was snowing hard Monday morning so we didn't go out first thing.  John and I met up with Jonny and skied through the trees at Petit Fontaine.  It was quite hard work as the snow was deep and we ended up skiing down beside a stream which we had to cross about 3 times.   Jonny narrowly missed falling into it.  The second time we ended up on the track from the bottom of the Lanchettes lift to Petit Fontaine which has been closed all season.  We found out why when discovered there was no bridge across the stream and had to wade through it.  Fortunately it wasn't deep.     We have been told that the farmer who owns the land is very difficult and he has removed the bridge in the past.   In the summer all that area is wired off with notices about trespassing.
Today I went out on my own.  I was going to go to Cote but the cloud was down and I hate skiing when I can't see.  So I went over to Mont D'Arbois and skied the off piste fields which were in good condition.  It looks as if it's trying to snow again now.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Just one of those days

Sunday, grey cloud.  John off to the airport on a transfer and Gordon and I sitting on the first bus to Jaillet wondering what we were doing.  Gordon had arranged to meet Rob (Australian builder) so I resolved to let the boys do their own thing, ski a couple of runs and come home.  But at the top we came out of the cloud.  So off we went to Giettaz and did a very nice run through the trees.   Rob then decided to do some exploring and Gordon and I left him to it and had a hot chocolate.  Rob appeared saying it was a fantastic run and we really had to do it so off we went and it was, apart from the 15 minute walk out at the bottom.  Then we skied down to Praz which noone had done, which was very surprising.  I lost a ski on the last field down (it was heavy and thin) and then lost the boys so ended up skiing through a farm yard to the amazement of 6 donkeys.  So instead of coming back for coffee I ended up getting home for tea.  You never know how the day is going to pan out.