That was 2020

Despite it all 2020 had some amazing moments and all the pandemic craziness taught us cherish who you have, what you have on your doorstep and celebrate the little things.

So to honour all that here’s my 2020 highlights. Consider it a personal kick in the pants to stop moaning about the fact it’s January 2021 and spending some time in the mountains any time soon on some lovingly serviced planks courtesy of the other half (talking of cherish who you have) is looking like a remote prospect.

It started with a bang in Weymouth crewing for Sirotechnics fireworks on Fort North and miraculously ended with fireworks crewing for Northern Lights Fireworks in Bath, thanks to the amazing crown funding efforts of Michael Eades in memory of his parents and on behalf of the Royal United Hospital Critical Care Unit.

We got some brilliant Skiing in early season facilitated by the ability to hop between work locations thanks to Alpy Bus and Easy Jet … oh my how things have changed. I actually learned to enjoy the human powered up .. sort of!

Les Roches Des Enclaves ski tour with visiting friends .. team white dot.
Plenty of hard earned turns post Les Grands Montets skin up.
A week in the deep with mates in Chamonix
A colourful line up in Pila in search of open slopes post epic storms in the Alps.

Things were starting to go awry with tales of virus in China and how oblivious we were about what was to come squeezing in a sneaky weekend in Sainte Foy

And some incredible powder all the more wonderful as it was completely unexpected

The world was shutting down and we are still in Chamonix and insanely on what was to be the last weekend of the official season friends jumped on a flight for the weekend. They do have 3 kids though and rarely get the chance for some grown up slope time so motivation was high.

Skinning up
Screaming down

They shut the mountains that day and then flight traffic all but halted the week after and we found ourselves in Lockdown Chamonix style and home office was a little more exotic than expected.

Difficult to complain about being stuck here though.
Early mornings to catch the sun pop over the Dru

I definitely had the best view from the home office ever!

We finally made it back to the UK after Easter to the UK lockdown and a riot of colour in the garden.

Tulips are running riot

A purchase of a Bird feeder and some RSPB buggy nibbles as recommended by my bird loving sister and the new home office view changed to this.

The Starlings that hang out on the Church tower opposite found it a big hit.

The Blue tits like to surf

And this wee fella was so cute and fluffy

The 30dayswildphoto challenge for June thanks to the Cumbrian wildlife trust kept a few of us focused on the little things while on our lockdown sanctioned daily excursions and was great encouragement to stretch the legs during 6 weeks of furlough.

Solsbury hill saw lots of ups as did several of the local downs.

Solsbury hill sunset timelapse
There had been a glass or two of fizz consumed while watching the sun go down.

A couple of those glasses were to celebrate the big 50!

Exploring the local footpaths we discovered, in some cases re-discovered, the local hidden wild places and reminded ourselves what a beautiful part of the world we are lucky enough to live in.

and the garden is getting even more colourful

The 60 plus sunflower hatchlings are growing and some have been given away to new homes.

We even have our own Sunflower field nearby .. feels like the South of France

We entertained in the Garden, once or twice in the rain

We made it a little further afield to see friends down South and explored their local trails.

And when it was allowed headed to Wales to see family.

Helping with winter preparations

I managed to get to see the folks down south while infections were low in between lockdowns and tier prohibitions.

The Badbury rings tree lined Avenue

What was supposed to be a friends 50th birthday celebration by way of running the Marathon Du Medoc (yes I know crazy people) turned into the Marathon Du Mendip and this was the resulting souvenir.

This is now planned to be an annual event.

A surprise fireworks show on the Thames for Sirotechnics fireworks was a unexpected bonus and some compensation for a missed trip to Monaco for an international competition.

And a few days in the Lake District when it was ok to go to Cumbria and the campsites were open was something to celebrate.

The trips up Solsbury hill became a regular thing whatever the weather

The much explored Bathampton woods turned Autumnal

And two more fireworks shows came our way. One celebration of life where we hope we provided a fitting send off.

One for Bonfire Night with a socially distanced watch from your garden event for Batheaston Scouts.

We finally got to see what ended up being the only live Ruby with a crowd at the Rec since the virus took over our lives.

Bath lost but it was an epic match.

There has been many hours spent socialising by video with virtual pubs, wine tasting as an excuse to get merry with friends and share meals from a distance and Christmas was far from the traditional family gathering but it was a gloriously sunny day.

We did get to blow stuff up on a very chilly New year’s eve. Always good to top and tail a year with a bang.

Come on 2021 …… bring it on.

January 2020 in Chamonix

Another video from this ski season. OK it is starting to look like we only skied the Grand Montet.

Well that is almost true for the first couple of weeks of the season.

This was the best day ever with one of the most memorably fabulously fluffy runs down the back face after the heart attack inducing skin up to the top.

I may be almost getting used to it … almost

If you want evidence that we did do other things then check out the Flickr collection from our habitual 2 weeks with the usual suspects.

The Dru and friends

Eventually there will be a movie. One of the projects for the three weeks of furlough I am about to be sent on on account of the new coronovirus economics.

A little something from 2020

We managed an unexpectedly long stay in Chamonix this year courtesy of the new coronavirus but before the world fell off a cliff we got to do some skiing.

This is back in early Jan with some earned fluffy turns of epicness with Clive and Mike down the back of Les Grands Montets. Clive’s third time ever skinning in three days. Good man!

Day one was zero vis and then snow up from the Bochard and down the front into the Italian Bowl with a super lucky clear 5 minutes to see us down. Our reassurance of come on it’ll be fine, you wanted to have a go at touring so… might have sounded a bit thin when Mark had to look at the GPS part way up as for all we knew we could have been skinning straight up the Pendent Glacier.

Fabulous light on the dru that evening

Second skin was the Roches des Enclaves in les Contamines on a lovely sunny day so his confidence in us was somewhat recovered and he seems to have got the touring bug and I think Mark was lucky to get his R108s back.

The White Dot gang

Then day 3 up the GM again and this time caught on GoPro helmet cam.

There were plenty more adventures this season right up until the lockdown but thats another story.

April 6th and Day 90

Our final day to play

We are heading home tomorrow so obviously the we have to do the iconic Vallee Blanche.

Armed with Chris’s lovely boot crampons I am even looking forward to the Arete,

A bit of a wait to get on the lift but hey we have all day ..  I have already declared the intention of “No James Bond track” pretty sure the snow will run out part way down it anyway.

20180406 - Vallee Blanche

A variation on the classic as still not brave enough to go too off the beaten track without a guide.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oooh and we have instructions …

Beware Parents & children .. apparently.

IMG_6420IMG_6418

IMG_6419

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Made it up the lift and down the Arete (thanks Chris)

The loop down from the Italian side looks lovely

IMG_6425

IMG_6431IMG_9713

Maurice cam along for the ride

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Epic views of the Dru ..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Up the Steps

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Up the lift

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And down in the train.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The crocuses are out

_DSC7092

And one last B&W of the Les Praz Church and The Dru.

_DSC7108

Now a frenzy of packing & cleaning and an early start in the morning.

 

Day 89 – April 5th and the GM

Deserted Laps of the top of the GM

.20180405 - Grands Montets

These days the run down the back from the top of the GM is generally deserted on account of the lift station going up in smoke and the skinning needed to get up there. So completely surprising on a blue sky fresh tracks day we fitted in a few laps with minimal queuing and once down the steps the place almost to ourselves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At one point the clouds rolled in and it was completely zero vis but a little bit of yelling and patience and wow some of the best turns of the season.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

We cannot believe how amazing this season has been and we are so privileged to have been able to live every minute of it. .. yes even the lazy not bothering to get out of bed days.

Plotting the Vallee Blanche tomorrow as a suitable finale.

Day 87 April 4th

Our last chance to go to Italy this season.

The weather looked good for Courmayer with possibility of some fresh snow.

We were seen off by a lovely morning Dru and neighbouring spikes of the Grepon.

_DSC0215_DSC0213

IMG_9661

Seemed like a good call as we arrived at Val Veney seems no-one else fancied skiing in the clouds.

We got some great navigation advice from a local guide …

VYZT3021IMG_9666

And found fresh fluffy stuff all day …. Job done …OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

_DSC5977OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Only 2 more skiing days to go …..

April 2nd – Day 85 blue sky and fresh tracks at the GM

Is there any inch of this mountain we haven’t skied yet?

OK so according to the spaces between the blue that would be a yes.

20180402 - Grands Montets

First things first though with a little morning Dru.

_DSC0212

We did our best to fill in a few gaps.

A lap round on the Glacier never fails to disappoint and comes with the bonus of feeling epic going equipped with harness, sling and shiny green ice screw.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA_DSC5285_DSC5291_DSC5341_DSC5437_DSC5438_DSC5516_DSC5530

Now what to do tomorrow?

 

Day 41 … just one run

Skiing interrupted …

Off to the GM despite the rubbish weather …. Unexpectedly the Plan Joran speedy bubble wasn’t running so we joined the epicly large queue for the Lognan cable car… reminded us of how things used to be before they put in the bubble. Not much of a consolation.

A good opportunity to do some narly gear spotting though.. This rope carrying attachment for one’s back pack was particularly exotic.

We headed straight for the top. One of the bonuses of the fast lift not working. Zero visability at the top … some great fluffy turns down the front which turned into binding popping heavy horror for the middle then a slushy home run … back to the car done for the day. I think we were less than enthusiastic for the new arrivals who had just pitched up in the car park asking what the conditions were like. We think they just went straight to lunch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Day 42 and 43 .. skiing written off due to lurgy and rubbish weather were instead filled with winter olympics TV action.  A  mini one night only invasion by the Westwood Clan on their way home from Italy was also a very welcome distraction. How can three kids have so much energy after 1 week skiing .. phew.

There is a chance we dreamt the whole thing as after we saw them off at 6:00 am and went back to bed we were not at all sure, when we dragged ourselves up a few hours later, if we imagined it all.

Normal operations resumed on the 19th ….