Saturday, February 04, 2017
The first plan was a good one . It had been tried and tested a few times. It was called a "helicopter skiing safari." We would take off from Finhaut just over the Swiss boarder from Chamonix , fly to the Trient Plateau , ski down to Champex, pick up another flight and fly to [say] the Pigne d"Arolla , ski down into the village of Arolla and spend the night. The next day , after consulting the weather forecast and finding where the best snow was by talking to the helicopter base in Sion, we would fly to another peak and so on and so forth. A great formula, but, the issue was that there was no good snow. It had all been scoured away and making skiing on the glaciers untenable. With the group arriving the next day , the plan was unraveling. I needed another plan and I needed it quickly. I opened my contacts book and started phoning around the alps to see if anyone had any snow. I was lucky , I found snow and in addition managed to rent a dedicated helicopter for our group. Monday 30th January. 6.45am. We left Chamonix in two cars . Four hours later Peter David and I arrived in Piedmont at the village of Pietraporzio where we were greeted by Analdo the Mayor of the Village and the man who can arrange the helicopter permit. [Who was also to be our local guide.] Meanwhile the other cars occupants had not arrived. They had decided not to follow us but instead put blind faith in their cars GPS. The GPS had chosen the most direct route yet it had not figured out that this involved negotiating several alpine passes, the key pass being closed in the winter. They were eventually confronted by a barrier behind which there was a wall of snow. They were forced to backtrack to Turin. At mid day our helicopter turned up piloted by Roberto and landed in the car park at the back of the hotel.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Friday, January 27, 2017
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
. January 14th The weather was cold and blustery and the visibility was indifferent. January 15th . Very cold but now with blue skies and impressive views all around It was a very new concept and unwittingly we were its first ever customers. Everything was fine while we were in the station , we enjoyed some decent swiss coffee. It was still fine as the train left the station , but it was not so fine when the train engaged its cog system and rapidly climbed up the hill. It was at this point that the entire contents of the bar slid down the train and crashed on the floor! We alighted the train at the Oberalp pass. The weather was pretty atmospheric. We stumbled around in zero visibility and then rather bizarrely came across a light house ! It was a day of seeing lots of unusual features , before finally getting on the train back to Andermatt. January 17th. Blue skies and very cold weather. We headed to the heart of the Andermatt skiing the Gemsstock cable car. In recent years this has become the "new La Grave" It is known for serious skiers with fat skis , and attitude. Yet it was quiet, and we had the place to ourselves. After Andermatt we were unsure where to go. Our original plan was to keep heading east hoping to go to Klosters , then St Moritz , the the Sella Ronda and possibly Cortina. Yet all these places still lacked the essential ingredient. Instead we headed north the the Bernese Oberland, namely Grindlewald. We parked the car in Grund and jumped on the train to Kleine Scheidegg where we were to stayed at the Bellvue Hotel. Again this is a unique hotel , part of the Swiss Historical Hotels group. Nothing has changed since the 1930's , but it is immaculately kept and the food is as good as you will get anywhere. Here is a photo of the entrance lobby: January 18th Straight out onto the pistes with the backdrop of the most famous North Face in the world . The Eiger Nord Wand. January 19th We took the morning off from skiing to visit the Jungfraujoch on the worlds most expensive train journey. The view from the top was good.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
David Ford joined me for three days for a mixture of off piste skiing and ski touring. This was to be David's introduction to the activity. Monday 9th January. Still no snow in the Haute Savoie this season' so we drove through the Mt Blanc tunnel to start our skiing in in Courmayeur. We started by getting use to the different type of skis and boots plus all the other equipment needed for off piste skiing and touring. We had beautiful weather but the snow was hard and unforgiving. Tuesday 10th January. Snow! It actually started snowing in Chamonix. Still conditions were far from perfect so we headed through the tunnel this time for Punte Crocce. We saw no one all day which was pretty special and the summit was very atmospheric.
Wednesday, January 04, 2017
Come Christmas most of the ski areas remained closed. On Christmas Day the Seaton family wanted to go for a ski together but instead we went for a short walk from Le Buet to the Buvet which was open for lunch. There was no snow. The top of Grands Montets was initially open then it closed. Yet the Mt Blanc tunnel is a mixed blessing , on the one hand it is a conduit for polluting trucks but on the other hand it allowed me to ski in Italy where conditions were just fine. Just before New Year Stephen Yeates and his nephew Chris plus Steve Trantrum joined me for an ascent of Punte Crocce which over looks La Thuile. The only issue was that it wasn't just us who decided to ski in Italy and the queue for the tunnel was horrendous. Our strategy was to go early on New Years Day and head through the tunnel and down to the resort of Pila. This proved to be an excellent plan until Steve managed to fall and bury a ski,which we never found. This was some achievement considering it hadn't snowed for two months. We managed to get Steve back to the piste and then to the bottom of a chair where the Lift Man called for a skidoo pick up.