Monday, February 29, 2016

Strange Times..

Mid February is meant to be the best time of the year to ski . But not last week. It rained . Not snow but rain . There is little more demoralizing than being in a ski resort and its chucking it down.

I was in Megeve to ski with Charles and Rosemary Sherwood. It was Rosemary's first visit to Megeve and with the weather it threatened to be her last. She was distinctly unimpressed with the stair rod like rain. It did eventually snow and with a couple of stand out days the start of the week was [almost] forgotten.

Again it was the brilliant Aravis area of Geittaz that gave the best skiing

The descent from the Christomet lift all the way down to Le Plan was very good too and I skied this with Charles.

You can tell when you are having a good off piste adventure because it normally involves crossing a stream or getting covered in mud. [Generally both.]

OR being swallowed up by a man -trap:

On the Saturday of last week it finally was clear. The combination of the weather getting colder and dumping 40 cm of mostly windless snow set up a very good day at Le Tour

I was joined by Leo Vita-Finzi who lives in Geneva. Leo drove up for the day and we had one of those "good as it gets days." So much so that I suggested to Leo that he should give up skiing because he was unlikely to have a day quite as good as this one.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Half Term week is a very good time to ski off piste

It might seem counter intuitive to come skiing at half term when both the English and French schools are on holiday if your looking for piece and quiet. But if your primary goal is to ski off-piste then its good bet. This is probably because parents are wrestling their kids into ski school and because the media seems to whip its self into a frenzy [just before the half term] about how dangerous the avalanche risk is. The result is that no body seemingly ventures off the piste.

On the Monday Francis Bridgeman and I skied laps of trackless snow of the back of Le Tour and saw virtually no one.

On Tuesday it was the same at Grands Montets . Once we got off the top cable car we saw no one on the entire descent all the way to the car park at the bottom.

Wednesday at Flegere was the same. In fact it became quite disconcerting- where was everyone ? What do they know that we don't?

On the Thursday we were joined by some of Francis friend Amanda, Melanie and Chris. They were all parets who had managed to off load their kids for the morning so that they too could ski far away from the crowds. We skied off the top of grands Montets all the way back to Argentiere taking a line skiers right of the Chalet Lognan. The theme continued: we saw no one.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Off piste and personal... with Mark Seaton, mountain guide

Short interview with me by Francesca White , journalist for the Tatler writing a piece for Wimbledon Clinics blog.

Off piste and personal... with Mark Seaton, mountain guide

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Just going out side and I may be some time.

Anyone who has ever spent time in the mountains will have at some stage mimicked captain Oates famous last words Yet it is not often that it is said in the company of a direct descendant of Robert Falcon Scott - Scott of the Antarctic.

It is a standard joke between Lucy-Kate Hunt [Scotts great granddaughter] and her good friend Catherine Lewis. Catherine never misses an opportunity to weave the quote into the days ski-touring adventures.

The long standing plan was for us to drive to Gressoney , stay two nights in the very comfortable Orestes Hütte, hopefully climb the Vincent Pyramid and take advantage of the wonderful off-piste the Monte-Rosa ski area has to offer.

The plan fell apart when we arrived in the car park at Staffel. There was no snow. Just ribbons of white down some pistes. Added to which the whole resort had shut down because it was so windy.

PLAN B - So often in this game it is about thinking up a solution quickly. We drove to La Thuile and made arrangements to stay at the Maison de la Neige. This involves taking the lift out of the village and then skiing down to the Hotel which is situated on the [closed] road to the Petit St Bernard road.
The first lift was open yet by the time we were ready to take the second lift, the wind had increased and it closed in front of us. Added to which the pisteurs closed the piste to the hotel.

Eventually I tracked down the head Pisteur [who was also a Mountain Guide] and he gave me permission to use the closed piste. A very atmospheric ski took us to the fabulous hotel and a very cosy night. [The hotel has an excellent cellar too]

The next day the wind had dropped and the sky was crystal clear. We left the hotel at 8.30am and skied down the road and through the meadows back to the car . A short drive to Arpy where we skinned up to the summit of Punte Crocce.

From the summit we hit some very good snow and managed some very good turns;

Saturday we were back in Chamonix. It snowed over night, but was clear and sunny. I had mixed feelings about doing the Crochue /Berard ski tour because although it is fantastic , it is also arguably the most popular day tour in the world.

In fact no matter how bad or in experienced you may be as a ski-tourer you can be certain that there will be someone worse than you. AND indeed there was!

It was busy but after the first col eveyone fanned out and we found ourselves alone looking back up at the magical descent of the Berard Vallee.

The ski down was some of the best skiing of the season.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Big Melt

Season continues to be weird. One minute it promises to get really good with lots of snow , then it starts raining again. The key to getting good off-piste skiing is to be flexible and mobile.
Reuben and Fiona joined me for 4 days .

On the Tuesday we skied off piste off the back of Le Tour .

Wednesday we drove through the Mt Blanc tunnel , took the new Sky Way lift and skinned up to the Col D'Entreves . A particularly memorable lunch for Reuben & Fiona's 42nd wedding anniversary.

On the Thursday we went to Courmayeur skied to a very late lunch at the Plan Checrouit where we we duly entertained by the mad Anna.

On Friday we skied at Les Grands Montets which was above the clouds and very stunning.