Dax, David and Mark flew in to Geneva from Denver Colrado to ski with me for six days. It was my job to "show case" the best the Mont Blanc range had to offer. Yet up until their arrival the conditions had been decidely mediocre and I was beginning to feel the pressure of having to deliver. Yet just in time it snowed, not as much as the forecast suggested, but enough to make sure that everything was intially shut due to the avalanche risk.
|world class skiing from summit of Mt Joly.|
So we started at St Gervais. The weather cleared and the snow was near as good as it gets. During the day the top lift on Mont Joly opened and we got some exceptional skiing down the front face towards Megeve.
On our second day we went to Combloux and where Dax provided us with a Buster Keaton momment by firstly falling off the Poma lift at the top. As he was getting to his feet the Poma behind him hit him on the head leaving P for Poma embossed on his forehead. It could have been a holiday ending experience but after downing several Ibuprofen Dax was up and fighting. We climbed the Petit Croisse Baulet and enjoyed wonderful views across to Mt Blanc.
|Mt Blanc looking splendid from the summit of Petit Croisse Baulet|
We then hit untracked deep snow all the way down to Le Plan. From here we rode the lift and skied the trees on the Geittaz side. The snow was so good that I got too excited and followed the endless powder run too far down and slightly too far to the left. Fortunately the boys did'nt mind too much. Having skins helped us get back on track quickly and we skied back through some gorgeous terrain, although at one stage I was concerned we might miss the last lift back into the Combloux lift system!
On our third day we headed through the Mt Blanc tunnel to Courmayeur. The first thing that struck me was how few people there were. It was weirdly quiet. Also there was markedly less fresh snow than on the French side. The lack of people did mean there wasn't much a queue for the top cable cars. Infact we were the only people for the last cable car.
|Youla cable car|
It took a bit of effort to get into position , side stepping some rock and mud but once we reached the col the descent of the bowl below was some of the very best skiing I have ever enjoyed in Courmayeur.
|Dax negotiating the non-snow bit . The top lift is in the background.|
|The traverse to the col|
|The bowls before the Youla Couloirs|
It was then along to the La Chaumiere restaurent for an excellent late lunch.
For our fourth day the team actually got to ski in the Chamonix Valley. We headed up to the Argentiere glacier via the Col des Rachasses. It had snowed 10 cm overnight with no wind. The skiing would have been perfect except that the cloud had socked in and you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. Skiing the glacier was not an option in these conditions and so we reluctantly turned around and skied down the Comb des Rachasses. This was hardly a sob story because we had knee deep untracked light fluffy snow and the rock wall on our righthand side gave us enough perspective and therefore visibility to enjoy it all. We conveniently arrived at the Chalet Logan for an excellent late lunch.
On our fifth day we skied the Vallée Blanche. I had made reservations on the 9.00hrs Aiguille du Midi cable car. We arrived to find the area in front of the station swarming with waiting skiers. The lift was shut due to strong winds. After a few minutes they announced the cable car would be closed for the day. The wind was blowing 110 kph at the summit. We needed a plan B. My plan B was to drive through the Mt Blanc tunnel and enter the Vallee Blanche fron the Sky-Way lift. We arrived to find a nominal queue, we were whisked up to the top where we even had time for a compulsory cappocunio before sauntering out and onto the glacier. No stress and totally civilised.
It was quite windy to start with , but within about 200meters we were out of the wind and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.
|Geant Ice Fall|
We skied down to the cable cars below Montenvers train and walked up the ever increasing steps( global warming) to the bubble before taking the train back to Chamonix. We of course had to go and collect my car , but the boys made the most of it by staying and eating dinner in Courmayeur.
|The long climb from the glacier to the cable car.|
On our final day together we headed back to Grands Monterts to do what we had failed to do two days beforehand, namely ski down the glacier Rognans to the Argentiere glacier. this time we had blue skies and the boys were not disappointed by the views.
|Argentiere glacier with Mt Dolent in the far background|