Saturday, March 30, 2024

Crazy amounts of Snow.

 The plan was to go ski touring in and above Gressoney.  The first time Catherine & I   tried this we arrived in Gressoney - There was no snow.  Tottaly weird experience.  Plus there was an insane amount of wind too. Getting to the "Refugio" was impossible.

Next time we were scuppered by Covid. At the time no one actually knew what Covid was - but it was kicking off in Italy.  Italy was seen as the epicentre of the outbreak. Hindsight is a great thing...

Anyway this time we had the complete opposite problem :  Too much snow.  This creates another headache because any chance of ski touring was impossible- plus the avalanche forecast was 4 on a scale of 5.
This time around Kate joined us too -We arrived in Gressoney at about 5 in the evening after having had a marvellous day skiing powder in a almost deserted Courmayeur.  Aparently it snowed a meter in the morning at Gressoney.  Our hotel didn't serve dinner so getting to the restaurant was a mission.
note the lawn mover that had been apparently used the day before.

The next morning we awoke to heavy snow.  This was not a sob story - it just meant we had to ski the trees in Champoluc.

On our final day together we still couldnt see very much, so again we returned to Champoluc.  The snow wasn't as good as the previous day, but there was still plenty of it.  Plus it is such an extrordinary area there is so much to explore.
The incredible Auberge RTA

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Father & Daughter working together


Ultimate ski instructor transport: Defender


Florence,my daughter, has been working flat out for the Ecole Ski Francais [ ESF Chamonix] all season but I was able to use her services for 3 days.  

We had a group of ten skiers who had come all the way from Vail Colorado.  Florenece was the youngest by at least 35 years! Yet we were both blown away by how good this group of skiers were.

This was their first time skiing in Europe and it was our job to show case the area.  
This group live for skiing

Not for the first time this season we did not have perfect conditions.  The weather had been un seasonably warm [again]. Yet as Florence and I left our Hello meeting, the evening before - It started to snow.
The next morning it had't stopped, meaning we needed to find somewhere to ski with trees because the visibility was poor.
So we headed for Les Grands Montets.  The skiing was good , the view was not.

The next day we headed for Le Tour. Here not only was the skiing was good but so to was the view.

Jim skiing of the back of Le Tour.

We were still finding un tracked snow at 4.00pm 

Stunning conditions in Les Jeurs

On our third day together, it was very windy which reduced our options, so I decided our best bet was to return to Les Grands Montets.  This proved to be a good descision because not only was the snow good and seemed sheltered from the wind, but this time they could see.
Florence standing by the avalnche warning and transciever checker Les Grands Montets.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

No snow in the Valleys because it has been stock-piled at the Gd St Bernard Monastery.


Huge amounts of snow 

It is true that low down in the valleys and lower resorts it has been a terrible winter for snow, but above 1800meters it has been a completely different story.  This would concurr with climate change predictions.
These roughly go along with the narrative:  As the atmosphere gets warmer it has the ability to hold more moisture , therefore more rain at lower altitudes and more snow at higher altitudes....

Anyway John Young joined me for his anual ski touring trip.  

On our 1st day Monday 18th March. The weather was uncoperative, it was foggy and snowing a little.  We headed for the trees at Les Grands Montets.  It produced a good warm up day, but it wasnt a stand out day.

Howverer on the next day we had a change in weather fortunes and we decided to head up to the Grand St Bernard Hospice for an overnighter.
Leaving the car park

We headed up to the Col Est de Barasson which gave us magnificient views.

I'd like to say it was all perfect - but the truth was it was uncomfortably hot and despite lathering on the sun cream we both got badly burnt.  We eventually arrived at the Hospice quite dehydrated.  We were glad of the welcome tea we were given.
After a pleasnt evening and a good nights sleep. The next day we headed out and up towards Mt Fourchon.

view back to the Col du St Bernard

Again it was very hot.  Although the views and the weather were fantastic the snow for skiing was not.  Infact it was a relief when it was over and we could put the skins back on to return to the Hospice.
Inside the avalanche gallery.

Finally the ski back to the car was on perfectly transformed spring snow.

On the Thursday the weather was indifferent in Chamonix because of the dreaded foehn wind.  Yet as always if you can, if you see Foehn on the forecast you head through the Mt Blanc tunnel where it is always colder and normally it snows.  This time we headed for La Thuile where we had a great day skiing off piste from the lifts.

On Friday we went on the Crochue / Berard ski tour .  This is a trip we had done many times together, but it never dissapoints.
John reaching the Col du Crochue

The ski down the Berard valley was perfect. With fast spring snow turns and not another person insight.  Mind you there was a small price to pay when the snow ran out.

Snow starting to get scarce

Even scarcer
On the Saturday the weather was not great in Chamonix - so we headed to Les Contamines, where once we got above 1800meters the snow was good and we enjoyed some excellent skiing .