Sunday, 15 April 2018

Last ski

We've just had a marvellous last morning's skiing on Rochebrune.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the snow was freshly groomed and softening up and the pistes were empty.  I've washed most of the ski gear.  Now I have to finish cleaning the apartment before we leave tomorrow morning.  This evening we are having a barbecue with the staff.

In the crevasse
Yesterday we skied on Mont D'Arbois and although the sun was out there was a chilly wind.  Max and Heidi Stallard took us for lunch at the Gouet to say thank you for providing the flat for their honeymoon, which was very nice.  Poor Violene and Guillaume were rushed off their feet as there were only four of them, two in the kitchen and two serving and they decided to close yesterday as they had no staff for today.

Our Vallee Blanche trip with the staff was a huge success and great fun, in spite of it being Friday 13th.  We walked down the arrrete and skied the first pitches in sunshine and then we hit cloud and it even started snowing.  Our guides were Alex Perrinet and his friend, Thierry.  They are very good and make it an adventure.  We skied down and through a crevasse,  Alex pointing out the three holes which we had to avoid.  We also skied down the frozen river, which was a bit like doing the ski cross and with about the same amount of carnage.  It was a great day and a big thank you to the staff, who have had to cope with the odd crisis (don't mention the ski bus crashing into the Rond Point on Christmas Eve).
Stanford staff 2018 at top of Aiguille du Midi
See you all next year!

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Spring

All our family has now left.  Elizabeth and the children were the last to go on Tuesday.  Most went Sunday but Baylys and Smiths left on Monday.  However, we have Max Stallard and his wife who got married on Saturday and here on honeymoon.   Max was a chalet boy at the Sylvana 18 years ago.      His brother, Tom, was a chalet boy 2 years earlier.  John went to school with their father, so we've known them forever.

There is still lots of snow and it snowed Tuesday morning, though the sun came out in the afternoon.
But spring is on its way at last.  I saw a marmot on the Pylons piste underneath the Mont D'Arbois lift yesterday.  I don't know where its burrow was.

The primroses are now going mad on the banks in town, though I haven't seen any cowslips yet.  The snowdrops and mountain crocuses have just appeared on the Calvaire near the Rond Point where the snow has melted.  Everything is about a month behind.  Most of the lifts close this weekend though some have closed already, like the Princess.  But I think Cote 2000 is staying open for a week or two for the locals.

Today we skied at Les Contamines for a change of scene.  It was terribly windy, to the extent that it was difficult to schuss.  How they kept the lifts open I don't know.  We came down early as it was unpleasant, and the top bubble was closed for some time.

Tomorrow we are hoping to ski the VallĂ©e Blanche with the staff.  

Friday, 6 April 2018

Lizzie's birthday

Yesterday was Lizzie's birthday, 13 years old.  We got up and looked at the rain.  I got dressed in skiwear about three times, and kept changing may mind about skiing.  The girls went up and said there was new snow so John and I ventured out and it stopped raining.  We had a brilliant morning.  We skied the off piste at Lanchettes a couple of times and then went over to Cote and skied there, though the visibility was not so good as it was snowing  slightly.  So we had lunch at the Radaz and then skied some more off piste afterwards.  It just goes to show that you should get out, whatever the weather.
Today was brilliant sunshine.  We had planned a Valley Blanche trip with the grand children, but Alex Perinet advised that there was too much snow for children, and an avalanche risk of 4-5 so it was cancelled.  Never mind.  We found some untracked spring snow off the Epaule ridge and down to Communailles which was great fun.  Lunch was at the Alpage where we baked in the sunshine.   

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

sunshine and snow

Monday was a lovely day, and the world and his wife were skiing.  We don't do queues, but we had little option.  By the time we had got everyone organised we managed to hit the lifts at about the same time as the ski schools.  Sadly, the Princess lift closed at the end of the day, we are told for economic reasons.  It is such a shame as those runs are in great condition.  Anyway, the grandchildren did the luge, which Elizabeth said was very scary.  The staff did it twice!  By the end of the day most people had gone home and the pistes were deserted again.
Mr & Mrs snowman and easter bunny

Yesterday we skied Rochebrune which was good in the morning but the snow got sticky in the afternoon.  But then it is April.  At the Rochford lift Mr and Mrs Snowman have presided for some time, but over the Easter weekend they bred an Easter bunny.   His sparkly ears are very alluring.  There was a huge party of us having lunch at the Telepherique restaurant, over 30, which was good, apart from the fact that their pizza oven had broken down.
Today we woke up to brilliant sunshine so we donned minimal clothes.  Which was fine until about midday when the clouds started to come in.  We had lunch at the Gouet and got there just in time to bag enough tables for twelve of us, which was just as well as the weather deteriorated.  By the time we had finished lunch it was a case of racing home as fast as possible.  I was wearing my new, lightweight,  10 euro decathlon jacket, and was expecting to be sodden by the time we got to the top of the Croix de Christ chair.  But not only was it snowing at the top but my jacket was waterproof.  So apart from having damp trousers and snow clogging my sunglasses, I survived.  By the time we got to Henry Sports the sun had come out.  Most bizarre.  

Sunday, 1 April 2018

April Fools' Day

We woke up to it dumping snow so we put on our ponchos and headed for the first lift. Sadly it then stopped snowing. We skied down the red Princess and got in the same cabin as Neville, Gordon and his and Carol's sons, Kit and Simon.  Tomorrow they are all off for an adventure with a mountain guide for five days in Courmayeur, sleeping in a hut and skinning up to find untracked snow.  If only one were younger and fitter!

With John at top of Mont Rosset field
They went off and we waited for Alison, Matt, Jackie and Seb and then took them down the Monrosset field, which was lovely, but we had to step over a small stream at the bottom.  After that, we skied left off the Monrosset chair down untracked snow to Bettex, then up and over to the Communailles field.  Nothing had been skied too much, and though it was a little lumpy in places the fresh snow was perfect.
Crossing the stream

Finally we skied, in a blizzard, down to Planellet.  The top field was perfect, the bottom a little heavier, but fun.   And we all managed to catch the bus.  The kids loved it, in spite of one or two tumbles, and Seb declared that he thought he was getting better at the off-piste.  This afternoon the sun came out but John and I came home to pack, as we are off to the Sylvana for our family and friends' holiday, 15 adults and 14 kids.  I think I shall need a holiday after that.
Seb in a tree well

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Powder Day

Yesterday we skied with Alison (who is the daughter of John's best man) her husband, Matt and their two children, Jackie and Seb.  We skied the Rochebrune ridge but the snow was quite hard, although it did soften in the afternoon.  Sadly the wind didn't, and some of the lifts were closed so we came back after lunch.  We had lunch at the Staduel as Alison's father, Mike, doesn't ski .  In the evening we went to La Galeta in St Gervais with Carol, Gordon, Neville and Drew as it was Drew's last night.

It had started snowing in the afternoon and it was snowing really heavily as we came back.

Ali in powder
So today we were up bright and early and at the bus stop for the 8.40 bus.  But no bus.  They have changed the bus time table as the French holidays are now over.  But we got to Mont d'Arbois soon after the first lift.  And then we skied down to the Mont Joux chair which was late opening because of the fresh snow so we went up the Freddy drag and put in some fresh tracks there. They immediately opened the Mont Joux chair so it had been skied a bit but we came down under it because Epaule had not yet opened.  Anyway we then did have success on the Epaule.  We were on the second chair and first down the off-piste under the lift.  As we went up again Ali and Matt and children were skiing down so we joined them and then skied over the back in deep powder to the Porcherry.  Seb said he had a spectacular wipe out but no-one, other than his Dad, saw it.  The rules of wipe outs are that they must be in front of everyone.

It started snowing after lunch
As we came up the Croix de Christ chair we saw that they had opened Mont Joli so we rushed over there.  There were only a few tracks down the Grand Chamois as most people were skiing down by the chair, and that was fantastic.  We had lunch at Chez Tartine where we met Mike.  The cloud came down and it started to snow heavily, so we abandoned our plan of skiing down to Planallet.  Also John had left his rucksack in the restaurant and had to go back for it.
But what a fantastic morning's skiing for the last day of March!

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

New snow

We were promised new snow. but we only had a few centimetres.   Perhaps more will come tomorrow.
Neville has a disabled friend out at the moment, who is staying with Carol and Gordon.  Drew skis in a sit ski, and it is amazing to watch him.  He skis everything, even a steep black, but it's coming off the chair lift that he shows his real skill.  It looks incredibly difficult to keep the chair upright and manoeuvre off the chair.  He lives in Norfolk, near Hunstanton, where he can cycle along the promenade.  A very interesting man.
John is trying to sort out the repairs to the Rond Point.  We were told that we need planning permission as we want to change the format of the windows.  Philippe Scuotto looked amazed when John told him and said he wouldn't have bothered.  John pointed out that he is English and if we go ahead and change the windows without permission someone is sure to complain.  That's what happened years ago when we changed the colour of the walls of the Sylvana without first getting permission from the Marie.