High Hopes in the French Alps

First Ski Day

looking up towards Mt. Jolie and Red run...
almost empty!

We’ve been having a lot of trouble with the ‘Server’ recently, on and off every five minutes, what a pain in the butt! so it’s been a tad difficult to keep the blog updated. Anyway, here’s a quick update before the thing disconnects again!

We’ve been skiing… and it was loads of fun. Just up here at St. Gervais. The snow was really good not quite powder but certainly got some depth, there’s no solid base beneath the snow though so going off piste brought us to a swift halt!  It’s been snowing today and the snow is probably gorgeous but it’s very windy and visibility would be very limited so not particularly inviting. There were only a few lifts open in St. Gervais and Les Contamines  just for the weekend but are now closed again, until the official opening on Saturday, 17th. Les Grands Montets had a few open too, and are open again today but the high winds, and rapid deterioration forecast kept us away. It’s looks like there’s more to come, so just biding time until then.

Christmas, isn’t far away now another year coming to a close… doesn’t time fly??

More pics of today in Daily Pics.


December 13, 2011 Posted by | Skiing | Leave a comment

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Well, we were in two minds this morning with the ski choice. As it happens the weather was going to speedily arrive with cloud and precipitation relatively early. The choice was Les Grands Montets again, where the snow would be in pretty good condition, but visibility would be lousy… or Les Contamines where the cloud would not wipe us out until much later although the snow quality would be somewhat inferior. The sky was already whiting out so I think we made the right decision. It would be terrible up high with quite strong winds and virtually zero visibility… so we chose the latter.

Going up in the ‘eggcup’ lift it was all looking quite depressing… was beginning to wish I’d stayed home. Anyway, we were on our way so we may as well ski and see what it’s like. At the top there were a few  snowless exposed areas, but it was skiable, so that’s something.

Well, it turned out good… the snow was like sticky wet sugar, so felt that I needed to place my weight just a touch further back to release the front of my skis. It was quite hard work keeping the position so the skis ran freely when the sticky wet sugar was creaking underneath causing unexpected and unwanted ‘braking’. It turned out good practice for me to work on  springing turns to release my skis from the heavy snow.  Dennis said he’d wax the skis if we skied on this type of snow next time, sounds like a good idea, any extra ‘slip’ would have been most welcome.

We skied to the High Speed Six lift, where on the way up it was starting to get bleak, the cloud was descending and there were flakes of snow, it may well have continued to snow whilst the rain continued down valley, the wind was cold but ok.

It was an interesting mornings ski, but the best bit was on a lesser skied area that had been pisted behind a tree line, it was amazingly good where we could ski nice long sweeping turns, most of the time we were the only ones on the slopes!

These conditions are not easy, and unfortunately on the way down in the lift there was a young woman with her leg in a splint, a stretcher was waiting for her at the bottom lift station, she was assisted by one of the ski Instructors and a lift attendent. It’s very easy to get it wrong in the wet sugar stuff.

When we got home, it poured down… and is set to continue for a while. Although tomorrow is forecast good for flying.

Click on the pics for a much larger image.

March 31, 2011 Posted by | Skiing | Leave a comment

Les Grands Montets

looking into Chamonix Valley, from Les Grands Montets

looking down towards the lift station, altitude 2765m

As it’s been precipitating, raining down here it was expected to be snowing higher up. We’d got the day off, so decided to head up to the higher slopes in the Chamonix valley and skied Les Grands Montets. The best snow is going to be at the higher altitudes now.

The car park was looking quite full but we didn’t have to queue for the gondola. The snow condition was much better than expected. Les Grands Montets is a much more demanding ski area, with steep pistes, some quite narrow, but great off piste (when the snow’s good!) we did try a little off piste but the snow was a bit sticky so it was difficult to maintain a constant flow. It may have been better earlier in the morning. It would have been great to take the gondola up to the top, but it was booked and full so the best way to get to the top would be to pre-book the gondola. We may get to have a go and ski the glacier sometime before the season officially ends. Hope so…. We went up to the 2765 meters. The top is around 3300 meters, so that would be some ski, akin to the Valley Blanche, and we haven’t skied that for a couple of years.

Les Grands Montets is a much faster and precise ski area, with Blue’s being like everyone else’s Reds, and Reds, like everyone else’s Blacks! It was great up there today! I really needed that vitality boost, was beginning to feel like it’s all work and no play at the moment…

The forecast was for a good morning till early afternoon and deterioration after then. Whilst we were skiing the cloud growth was considerable within a few hours and when we got down to the car park it was already precipitating.

The forecast for the next couple of days isn’t looking too good, but we’ll see when tomorrow arrives.


March 29, 2011 Posted by | Skiing | Leave a comment

More fun in Megève

Young 'uns enjoying the Snowpark

Another excellent morning on the sunny slopes of Megève. The snow was still in good condition and the skiing was just great! Really, really enjoyed it.

... and more!

For me it was probably one of the best ski days so far, but unfortunately this time my video camera had a flat battery so I couldn’t record any of it. Partway down the red Mt. Joux run traversing across then tracking our way through the moguls we stopped by the ‘snowpark’ area to watch a couple of young ‘uns doing some jumps! They looked superb… what fun. It was another beautiful day and we also skied the L’etudiant red, which was a powerful ski down, very exhilirating. Since skiing that run, I’ve since discovered that there is an ‘off piste’ section that takes you through the trees back to the bottom or there is also a possible longer route round to Le Planelet. Will have to look into that route next time.

As it happens today was our last ski day until next week as the Transfers are resuming from this evening. The weather is due to start to warm up from tomorrow and no more precipitation is forecast so the snow will probably deteriorate now for a while.

When we got back there was a DHL delivery notice stating a visit. It’s Dennis’s glider, we missed the delivery by 15 minutes! No problem though as we’ve rearranged it for tomorrow, so I’m going to be confined to the house until it arrives. No sneaking off to the slopes then…??

Have decided to have a go at putting together a little video of the last couple of days, will see how I get on. Also I remembered my mini gps if you’d like to see todays ski route.

March 1, 2011 Posted by | Skiing | Leave a comment

More Skiing!

The Long Chairlift from Mont Rosset

Skiing again…

Today, we decided to stick with La Princesse, it’s just such an excellent place to go for parking, no queues, comfortable lifts, and barely any difference in distance.

Mont Rosset a Lesser Run 'Off Piste' section

No contest! Straight there and walked onto the lift, and we were up and skiing in no time.

The skiing was again brilliant, I’m so happy with my skis now… got the position just right! We had some lovely skiing, and a little ‘off piste’, but not too much. In the little ‘off piste’ stuff the snow although skiable was quite heavy but good practice for balancing in the bumpy stuff.

The landscape was looking glorious, we thought we’d take a ski down to Mont Rosset, there’s some quite good ‘off piste’ on that run. The chairlift back up again is a long ride though, and you wouldn’t want to be wearing false teeth when catching it at the bottom!

Another fun filled day on the Pistes!

February 28, 2011 Posted by | Skiing | Leave a comment

Considering, Les Contamines

...ethereal view...

A day off! Yay! We had the whole day skiing and it was great! Well first off, we had to go to Sallanches to check out how our other vehicle was doing, then had to make a decision on where to go. It was a toss up between Les Grande Montets, and Les Contamines. We chose Les Contamines as it’s naturally sheltered by way of position and the snow tends to remain in good condition. As the place is quite expansive the slopes do not generally get overly crowded, it would be really busy everywhere else for these present couple of weeks, so Les Contamines seemed the best bet.  Next week things are set to quieten down a bit more, so given a bit more snow, which is apparently forecast we may get chance to go then.

Anyway, it was a great days skiing, the weather was interesting, we had the blue, cloudbase, a bit of wind, but the snow was good for the whole day. We stopped off at our ‘French Onion Soup’ restaurant, for a lovely lunch and enjoyed more skiing into the afternoon. I wish I’d put my mini gps on, it would have been interesting to see where we’d been. I was well chuffed with my skiing today, finally feel like I’ve tuned into my skis and have found their sweet spot… lovely carve and getting the chance to enjoy them was what I’d been waiting for. Think I’m ready for some further challenges now…!! We did do a bit of video recording, I’ll attempt to put some stuff together and see if it works out.


February 25, 2011 Posted by | Skiing | Leave a comment

(w)pc. Plod’s on the Piste

..better than expected!

Yes.. we went skiing! A long time coming too..  high level Cyril, was telling the truth as precipitation was in hot pursuit! ok.. so the precipitation wasn’t much, but enough to warrant our trip out skiing! We went to Bettex our usual, but because we’d got Transfers this afternoon and time was limited, the length of the lift queues almost put a damper on it. By the time we’d got up to the slopes it would have been time to come back down again… We decided to drive over to the Megève, La Princesse Station where there weren’t any queues, good choice!

We were up on on the slopes in no time. Great! Really enjoyed the skiing, snow condition was good, the sun was coming and going, but all in all it was a great mornings skiing, a bit busy but not quite Piccadilly Circus on Christmas Eve! I wanted to work on my ‘carving’ as I’ve got these gorgeous carving skis and havn’t been feeling like I’m making the most of them. So I concentrated on attempting to perfect my carving technique, instead of the lazy (w)pc. Plod flat-footed lazy edging efforts I adopt on occassion.

By the end of the third run, the dynamism in my turns had taken on a greater defined fervour and cut… I felt the difference, and it was good!! :-). Would like to try it in the deep stuff now… just need more snow. It just might arrive the same time as Dennis’s glider! 😕

February 22, 2011 Posted by | Skiing | Leave a comment

Frankies Feet

The sun shone! Although the temperature was on the rise, and the snow melting, we went up to St. Gervais, and thought it might make a nice change to ski over towards La Croix. It was ok, except I was wearing a different pair of ski socks and just that couple of millimeters extra fabric made my feet feel like I’d just had them transplanted from Frankenstein! It never dawned on me that the different socks could have made such a big difference, my feet were solidly ‘clamped’.

Halfway down the long run to La Croix I just had to stop and loosen them up, the feeling started to come back, and then the rest of the skiing was fine… lesson learned! Stick with your regular ski socks, silly girl!

It wasn’t a long day on the slopes, the snow was akin to wet sugar in some places and very crumbly in others with a large area of artificial covering. There were areas that were quite good, few and far between but they were there. It was certainly a lot better than we had imagined, it was nice just to be outside and see the sun! There were hardly any people about, almost empty pistes everywhere… it’s very quiet at the moment.

January 14, 2011 Posted by | Skiing | Leave a comment

It’s Holiday Week!

The last couple of days have been mostly spent on the road. Lots of people coming and going. Dennis had more Transfers lined up but I had some time off so hit the slopes.

It certainly is holiday season, trying to park was like Geneva Airport on a Saturday absolutely jammed packed – in fact it was Parking by John West… sardine style! I finally found somewhere that was not along the conventional parking lines but worked and didn’t create an obstacle for anyone, clever bit of French parking, no spaces? make your own!

getting away from it all

approaching rescue

The cable cars were another tinned experience but finally on the slopes it opened up and the skiing was ok. We haven’t had much precipitation the last few days and if the glories of Champagne Powder are anything to go by, today it was Flat Lager skiing. I decided to give the Mt. d’Arbois chairlift a miss when I saw the queues but didn’t envisage the same scenario down towards Megève. Anyway, there was a bit of pushing and shoving going on, and a young lad forced his way in front of me with his mother sticking out her ski pole to hold me back! They were in such a hurry to get on, anyway in all the caffuffle…  I let him have my place, and got the next one. Just as I was sitting down the lift attendant pressed the emergency red button, I looked in front to see the young lad had slipped off the chair! No harm done, it had only just moved a little way from the station, but a very embarrassed lad had to clamber back to get back in line!

Whilst on the chairlift, the familiar coloured pompiers helicopter was called to rescue, looked like someone had come a cropper on the Green Megève run, I admit to a bit of rubber necking with camera, but wasn’t in control of a vehicle at the time! It was all fun and games today!

It was beautiful up the mountain, but very foggy in the lower valley which remained all day. The skiing was ok, but nothing special inasmuch as the snow was a bit old and the pistes scrappy in places. Nothing like the quality of the snow on Christmas Day when we couldn’t see anything. I enjoyed the runs I skied, and La Princesse télécabine wasn’t too bad. Don’t know whether it’ll be worth rushing out skiing for the rest of the week as the snow’s not great and it’s really busy.

We’ve got two groups of people staying one group learning to snowboard and another family set-up whose children are here to compete in the Anglo-Scottish Cup in neighbouring Les Houches, where a lot of youngsters do their training at the very reputable British Ski Academy.

If we do get any precipitation it might be worth it, but otherwise maybe wait for some better snow conditions and less queues. O, by the way, did see one paraglider over towards Mt. d’Arbois not much wind about though.

December 29, 2010 Posted by | Skiing, Transfers | Leave a comment

Christmas Day

a little 'off piste' powder

We decided to go skiing, it was a white out from down here and so it was the whole way up the mountain! Could barely see a thing, in fact I think the white out was probably one of the worst, it was like skiing blind!

white out at 'Freddy'

We managed to grab a little off piste powder, but could feel the ice scraping underneath the powder layer, it was a bit bumpy in places but good skiing all the same. We didn’t ski for too long but it was a nice day to go considering it was really very quiet, maybe that was due to the poor visibility?! It was a shame the visibility was so bad as there was some really nice snow to be found if we could see it!!! I think it was the first time I’d felt quite disorientated in cloud and snow!

Christmas Day is one of the funniest days in the calendar am sure of it! We threw ourselves into a comedy christmas cooking routine that is only ever experienced on this particular day! What a larrfff! – It was just sooooo funny 😀 !

We decided to have a go at spit roasting our chicken, as we invested in a new oven at the beginning of the year and have never tried to use it. Well Christmas being the time for culinary experimentation, we decided to spit roast it. It worked brilliantly well, and the chicken cooked to perfection it was just the ongoing military operation of monitoring the thing whilst trying to keep the bird positioned correctly as it shrank! Dennis was convinced it was going to come out the size of a Quail! What with pliers and other tools becoming necessary to keep the skewer thing holding the bird in place, I was in fits of laughter over the whole operation…. it just made me love Christmas just because of the fiasco that is associated with all the comedy kitchen slapstick!!!

December 25, 2010 Posted by | Skiing | Leave a comment