Wednesday, 30 March 2016

3 Days' Skiing

Sorry I haven't blogged for a bit but I've been having too much fun!  I've been skiing with Ali and Matt Kinsey and their children, Jackie and Seb, and their friend, Fiona, and her daughter, Rosie.   The girls are 12 and Seb 9, much the same as our grandchildren.  Ali is the daughter of John's best man so we have known her forever, and Matt was at Manchester Medical School with Elizabeth, although they didn't socialise.  Matt used to sit behind Elizabeth in exams (Kinnear and Kinsey) 
Anyway we went to Jaillet on Monday.  The kids insisted on skiing the ski cross three times so we didn't get over to Giettaz until the weather had started to turn, cold and snow, so we only skied the one run there and headed off to the BonJournal, which was full.  On Tuesday we started off on the Rochebrune ridge where we found about two inches of fresh snow on the pistes, which was lovely.  We got the bus to Mont D'Arbois where John caught up with us and skied a few runs off the back of les Clementines and the Epaule ridge and then had lunch at the Gouet.  Today we went to Les Contamines.  It was a bit cloudy with flat light in the morning but glorious sunshine after lunch. We tried out the new rope tow lift which was hard work.  It is quite steep and the rope is new so we all had marks or holes in our gloves.  We went up the Veleray drag lift which isn't often open as it is steep and off piste.  There was fresh snow but it was quite challenging, although good in places.   The kids did amazingly well.  After lunch we did the ski cross and I managed the box rail perfectly!   So I'm now looking forward to our family arriving.  Elizabeth, Emily and Tommy and Caroline and Lizzie arrive tomorrow evening.  Anna is on a school trip to Pompeii so is coming our with her dad on Monday.  Elizabeth's John arrives at the weekend.  We have three other families staying with us so we are all in the Rond Point.  

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Easter Weekend

It's been an odd weekend, weather wise.   All week we had glorious sunshine until Friday, when it was cloudy and snow showers.   Fortunately John managed to get us the last table at the Radaz so things looked up.  Then Saturday was gorgeous.   We had been invited to a late lunch with our friends who live just outside Argentiere, so we skied for three hours.  Although there were a lot of people around who only met queues at the Mont Joux and Epaule chairs, and they were only about five minutes.  Woods and Folie Douce we're hosting end of season parties, and I think a lot of people were there.  But Argentiere was absolutely heaving.   The car park was full and people were parking a kilometre down the road.   Just as well we did not ski there.  Then today it was back to Friday's weather.  There were a lot of people in town and the shops all had massive sales.  I bought a pair of shearling boots at half price, though still expensive but I needed cheering up! 
Over the weekend Megeve has been hosting an International Jazz Festival.   We went to the Melody Gardot concert on Friday night at the new Palais de Sport. We preferred her quieter ballads to the whole ensemble.  The lighting was spectacular but  the concert hall was unfinished, no air conditioning and portaloos.  It was a very good evening but true to form ran very late. But at least we only got one speech.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Back again

We got back on Monday and have been busy ever since.  The last three days have been glorious sunshine, though yesterday we had a cold wind.  Although the sun has been warm the air temperature is cool so the snow is in great condition.   Today we skied at Jaillet with Gordon and two of his three boys, plus our friends Neville and Caroline.  We had a very lazy long lunch at Les Balcons de Lydie which is on. Christomet.  As a result, we did not get over to Giettaz.  However we skied the Jorace run down to the Jouty chair four times as it was such fun.  

Wednesday, 16 March 2016


This morning we woke up to fresh snow.  The trees were all white although it was only a few centimetres. It was enough to soften up the pistes. The previous two days have been lovely sunshine but today we had a band of cloud that hung in the valley for most of the day.  Funnily, at Giettaz we had sunshine.  As soon as we got back to  Jaillet/Combloux we entered the cloud.   The snow was lovely and we had a very good morning.  Carol drove up to Combloux and we met her for lunch at le P'tit Cuchet which was very good.   The last time we had been there it had been disappointing but I think it must have changed hands.  There were a lot of people lunching there who had walked or driven up.
Tomorrow we go home for a few days, back on Monday.  

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

10 things I love about skiing

1.  Corduroy 
Nothing beats skiing down a freshly groomed piste when no one else has been down it.   You can try carving your turns knowing there are no nasty bumps to throw you off balance
2.  Powder
The real McCoy.  The feeling of skiing through light, fluffy powder is like skiing through silk or caster sugar.  It's magic.   Not to be confused with
3.  Fresh Snow
This tends to be heavier than powder and harder work but still huge fun.   The best is when you get several inches of fresh snow on a groomed slope.  But you have to be first down it.
4.  Untracked Snow
The thrill of finding some untracked fields of snow several days after a snow fall can't be beaten.  
5.  Spring Snow
This is when snow has melted and frozen several times.  If you get it right you ski on the top layer which is just softening.  It's like skiing on velvet.  Sadly, it's difficult to find untracked snow which has gone through the process of melt and freeze.
6.  Mountain Restaurants
Our favourites:  Radaz at Cote 2000, L'Alpage at Communailles,  Le Gouet at Croix de Christ, Auberge du Bonjournal at Jaillet.  But as you know there are a lot of little restaurants, which used to be farms or barns, on the slopes.
7.  Sunshine
Skiing in the sunshine down the pistes or sitting outside and having a hot chocolate or meal at one of the mountain restaurants.   And of course the views:  Mont Blanc looming over the valley.
8.  Skiing with the grandchildren
For now I am still faster but give them a year or two and I shall be the one saying "wait for me".
9.  Megeve
I think the resort offers a bit of everything: lovely runs through the trees, steep off piste on Mont Joli, relaxed skiing at Jaillet.   And best of all, outside the French holidays, deserted pistes.
10.  Taking off one's ski boots
What a relief at the end of the day taking off one's boots.  Or is that just me? 

Saturday, 12 March 2016

A slightly unsatisfactory day

It's been a slightly unsatisfactory day.  We walked to the Rond Point to catch the early bus to Jaillet, as Chris's girl friend had hurt her knee and I was going to lend her my knee brace.   But the bus didn't come.  We missed the next one (which was either the first bus running late or the second bus running early) because I had gone into the RP to adjust my boot.  So we then walked to the Post Office roundabout to catch the Rochebrune bus to Jaillet.  So we set off half an hour late.  We went up Christomet and had a lengthy discussion as to whether the snow was going to be skiable to catch the Chattaz bus.  We decided to go through the trees and see what the snow was like, as we could then abort.  The trees were difficult but the snow was fine so we continued on down.  And we found some spring snow which was lovely.   Spring snow is when it has thawed and frozen several times to produce a hard layer which you ski on.  But  it has to be untracked otherwise you are skiing ruts and that is not fun.
We had to wait 20 minutes for the bus but we sat in the sunshine and looked at the plume of snow blowing off the top of Mont Blanc.  We thought we would try and catch up with Jonny and co. But the world and his wife had come out to play so we skied a couple of runs on Rochebrune and came home. I think all the weekenders and locals had turned up as it is the first sunny weekend we have had.  Good for the resort but we are not used to having to queue for lifts! 

Wednesday, 9 March 2016


Today, as John said, was like a day in January, freezing but sunny.  We went to Mont D'Arbois but everywhere appeared to be skied out.  We did a couple of off piste runs which were OK and then headed for the Montrosset field.   To our surprise, it was virtually untouched.   So we skied that twice.  Our aim was to head over to do the run down to the facily bus to St Nicholas.  We thought we were running out of time as the lifts took longer than we anticipated but in fact we had 10 minutes or so to wait for the bus at the bottom.  The snow was magical.  A few people had been down it a day or two ago but it was virtually untracked as you can see in the following photo.  There was only one elderly gentleman on the bus when we got on and the driver was on autopilot.  We pressed the stop button twice for Chatterix but he still sailed past and had to stop rather suddenly.  We then had lunch at the Gouet, and as usual there, bumped into people we knew.  Everyone goes there.  And then we skied home via Planellet, right to the five steps leading up to our apartment building.   I say skiing but the last bit on the  home run involved poling, walking on skis, walking uphill on skis, walking uphill carrying skis and eventually skiing down.  

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Gordon's knee

Gordon has had a bad knee for quite a bit of the season, so he took about a week off to allow it to rest.  He decided yesterday that he would go skiing again, but would take it gently.  Taking it gently did not mean taking it slowly!   He tried a bit of off piste but most of the obvious places had been skied out, though I did find some untracked snow down the side of the Lanchettes run.   It was a glorious day, cold and sunny.  
Today the cloud was down so we skied down the race track on the red Princess three times, as it had not been pisted and was unskied.   After we had finished we had trashed it.  Gordon said he was going to do the red run down to the Monrosset chair, and I said I would go and ski the field.  Not surprisingly, as I ducked under the rope he came after me.  When we got to the bottom he decided to take a different route to the lift, which involved climbing over a barbed wire fence and rather a lot of walking.  We thought it wasn't worth it.  Gordon decided he had had enough, but we had bumped into two other guys so I joined them.   They were going for a coffee,  but when I said I was going to ski the Communailles field they decided coffee could wait.  Eventually we skied home via Planellet but I lost them in the woods.  I went one way and they went down the path.  I got to the bus stop and bumped into someone else I knew!  It was one of those mornings.  And on the bus was a friend from home whose wife had come skiing with Simon Butler and had broken her arm in three places and was in Sallanches hospital.  Some idiot had skied into her.  Having an injury is one thing, but being put out of action by someone else is something I dread.
John has had the last two days off as his back was giving him a bit of grief.  Hopefully, he'll be back tomorrow.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Mothers' Day

John declared yesterday evening that he was going to have today off.  However, when he got up and saw the sunshine he put on his boots and helmet (the breastplate comes later) and we got on the 8.50am bus to Jaillet.  We skied the run down to the Chattaz bus.  The snow was fantastic, thick and fluffy and no one had been down before us.  The only drawback to that was we had to walk uphill for a short way.  Usually it's not too much of a problem but with the deep snow it was hard, sweaty work.  After that we skied down the face but the sun had caught the snow and it had changed consistency, so one had to jump the turns.  So by the time we got to the bottom we decided to call it a day and went home and had coffee.  However, Jonnny, Tracey and Hannah are out this week and they arrived about 11 am.   Jonny and Hannah said they were going to have a ski around so we thought we would join them.  That meant putting back on our ski gear, getting our skis and heading back up the hill.  But how the conditions had changed.  The cloud had come in and it started snowing and turned cold.  Tracey, Gordon and Carol in the meantime had arrived at the Dahu, so we gate crashed their party.  Four bottles of wine later John and I caught the bus home.  What a day! 

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Another staff day off

Yesterday Rory, Amy, Gary and Richard were waiting for us at the Chamois lift as it opened.  We had had snow overnight but it had stopped and we had a clear day.  Our plan was to do the Emil Allais downhill run (which is the old Race track) and then show the staff the way down to Praz Sur Arly off piste.  There was a ski instructor in front of us with two clients, but other than that we were first down the Emil  Allais.  It is important to get there early as it gets very narrow and huge moguls build up.  As it was it was quite lumpy under the fresh snow, but it was superb.  It is impressive as it runs under the cliffs of Alpette and Rochebrune.  We caught the bus to Jaillet and decided to ski down the face.  This is a shot of John just after we had picked our way through the trees.   It is a beautiful panorama of Megeve.    Sadly, the bus we were aiming to get must have been cancelled as it did not arrive so we had to wait for the next one.   That put us back which meant we had insufficient time to get down to Praz for the 1pm bus.  They only run every two hours so one doesn't have a very big window.  So we did the face again but the temperature had risen slightly and the snow had got a bit heavier.
Today it was snowing all morning though the sun got out in the afternoon.  We did our usual off piste fields, red Princess, Montrosset and Communailles.  The snow was lovely but the visibility was a bit limited.  I had an amazing tumble, landing up facing uphill.  I must have done a somersault as I came out of my skis.  As I had lost both skis I was disorientated, and spent some minutes looking for them in the wrong place.  Fortunately once I looked in the right place they were easy to find.  It hasn't been a good two days as I lost a ski pole yesterday, and it took us ages to find it.  As usual, it was where one didn't expect to find it.

Thursday, 3 March 2016


It snowed all night and on and off most of today.  We went over to Mont D'Arbois and skied down the Milloz, fresh snow over groomed piste.  Then we did the red Princess field, off the back of Mont Joux and down to Communailles, where I fell off the drag lift.  The liftie was ticking me off for skiing across the drag (he didn't see John) and the lift jerked so I let go.  I was still standing so technically I didn't fall off.  I blame the liftie.  Eventually we skied home via Planellet which was lovely as no one else had been down it.  John pointed out that the snow has covered the shrubs which makes the off piste much easier. At the beginning of the season it was tricky as the shrubs had not then succumbed to the snow.   But today we skied down one field where there is usually a line of posts, and they were completely covered.   We gave them a wide berth.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Unthank Ski Club

Today I decided to join the Ski Club, as John is not skiing at the moment as he has pulled a muscle in his back, and Gordon is nursing his knee.  I joined the fast group with Gary and the Gallagher family, Don and Sarah and their two boys, Luke and Jo, who they had taken out of college for a short break.  We had a lovely morning though it was quite cloudy.   Howver, the sun came out in the afternoon.   We had had a sprinkling of snow overnight, but we are promised some more for tomorrow and the day after.   Hopefully John and Gordon will be fit by then.  Anyway, we skied the Milloz, The red Princess run, then the Marmire and then we skied the red run down to the Bettex lift.  We didn't experience any queues until we got to the Etudiant and Ideal lifts, though those were not too bad.  At lunch I came home to see how the old man was.  I am really surprised at how few people there are around, considering it is peak holidays for the French.  In our block of nine flats there is only one other flat occupied at the moment.  Last week I think two more were probably in use, and usually there are a couple of families here for weekends.  We're not complaining but it is very odd.