Thursday, January 30, 2020

Excess Boys 2020.

22 years ago was the last time Kevin Tuck & I were last here.

They returned again...  Not quite so many of them this year as last - injuries, illness and accidents had unfortunately afflicted a lot of them in the preceding year.  Added to which at dinner in Argentiere Steve almost choked to death while trying to eat half a cow.  Luckily an overly enthusiastic nuclear  thwack between the shoulder blades did the trick.  Life carried on and more flagons of rouge were drunk.

True to form this was not the only incident of their trip.   Always in my attempt to be creative and think of new and unusual places to journey, I suggested we went on a massive tour of the St- Gervais, Megeve, Les Contamines ski area.

This is how it "worked":
 Everyone was squashed into the back of the Land Rover, a challenge in its self  [which becomes more of a challenge as every year passes,] We  then  drove to St - Gervais. After parking there was the spectacle of them all spilling out of the back.

Next we rode the lifts of the Telecabine du Bettex to the top of Mont d'Arbois. We then skied down the beautifully flattering green pistes to Megeve.  We then  worked our way over to Rochebrune.  The aim was to then carry on around in the direction of Cote 2000.  From the top of the telesiege des Jardins,  we skied off the back of the resort into a picture perfect scene straight out of a Samivel painting.

From there we put our skins on and climbed up to the La Croix de Pierre.  At the top we peeled the skins off and started the descent down to Hauteluce.  The skiing was difficult.  The snow was crusty, icy and in places  just horrible.  We did however eventually find a good pitch of skiing .

Next was a unique incident which was defiantly a first for me.  While skiing the final section down to the lift station it was necessary to negotiate a farm where I was attacked by a very pissed-off giant goose.
I did at least distract it long enough for the rest of the group to pass through the farm without further incident and we all reconvened at the Val Joly cable car.

The team were feeling well skied after this mega journey.  Fortunately all that remained was to ride the lift to the Col du Joly.  From there it was a mellow ski through the Les Contamines lift system to the bus stop.  Two buses then took us back to St Gervais to within a ten meter walk to the Land Rover.

The previous day did for Pete and Steve which left us James Adam and Kevin.  The weather was a 100% better than forecast and so we decided to do the Col Crochue / Col Berard Ski tour.

This is the  worlds most popular tour.  I have said it before and I'll say it again it :

 It's the sort of ski tour that no matter how bad you are at ski touring , it is certain that you will find some one worse than you.  And we did. [ More of this in a bit]

Having said that it is the most popular tour in the world because it is fantastic.  It has everything all neatly packaged  into one trip.

Kevin Tuck leads the way up the final slpoes of Col Crochue.

The building of the new Flegere lift has made the start to the day less stressful in terms of actually getting into position, but inevitably easy access means that many more people are being spewed in to the same  area.

Chris Boulton painting of the Col Crochue
 Once over the col everyone fanned out and set off for different objectives.  One guide even decided to split his group.  He set off up a different itinerary , the breche du Berard , while sending  a mother and daughter splinter group off one their own to the col du Berard , where we met them .  They were terrified and were totally out of their depth.  They however still were under the illusion that their guide was the best guide anyone could ever have, despite abandoning them with the instruction , all they had to do was ski down the valley keeping the river on their left.

My team were incredulous and even more so when the women continued to think they had employed such a wonderful guide.  It was pointed out to her that there are three rules of mountain guiding .

Never leave your clients on the mountain , 
Never leave your clients on the mountain, 
Never leave your clients on the mountain.

If this wasn't enough they were indifferent skiers who shouldn't have been there in the first place .

Needless to say we had no choice but to help them down.  Eventually more by luck than judgement the guide was reunited with them at the end of the valley and we were relieved of our responsibility and carried on down the route, stopping at the fairy-tale setting of the buvette at the  cascard  du Berard for a celebratory IPA beer, before skiing down to the train station and returning back to the Chamonix valley.

1 comment:

Alan Kimber said...

Thanks Mark, as always your pen has a mischievous element of obvious humour. Did you talk with the errant guide, when handing over their missing baggage?