12th March and the need to float in the GM fluff is overwhelming.
Adrian showed up early to scrounge coffee and offer lifts so braving the snowy conditions we we off in search of some soft stuff with a mission to get to the top.
As usual it didn’t disappoint, no-one could see a thing but hey we knew which way was down so …… Board meeting assembled and off we go.
Even a couple of pics of me and the new poles .. they look great in the snow .. thanks to Adrian.
An afternoon appearance of blue sky made for some great Italian Bowl ridge shots.
And the long trees down to the Retour Pendent didn’t disappoint .. just about doable before the soft fluff turned to warm heavy sludge and no one fell off a cliff .. bonus!
Pictures courtesy of Adrian, he did a great job considering I am not a very co-operative subject through the trees, To busy trying not to hit something to go where I was told. I now have much better appreciation for my “willing” photography subjects.
March 13th and Adrian took his other friends down the Vallee Blanche while we headed back to the GM for Sharon & Keith’s last day with us.
A very pretty first run of the day down the home run …
Top skills from Mark in predicting where we can find great snow so resulted in another Italian day filled with amazing powder, crappy visibility, fresh tracks in the trees, amazing hot chocolate & of course great coffee.
A very fitting end to some brilliant days with Nicky & Chris. Nicky found the off piste bug and Chris showing off some brilliant skills and putting up with some less than accurate predictions of how easy or hard our routes might be.
Actually we were lucky to make it back to base as our call to just do one more run ended up in a cloud filled valley where we couldn’t see a thing & shock horror we had to consult the piste map and use the power of the force to find the right lift back up .. senses of humour maintained all round .. thanks everyone for not killing your guide.
Enjoy the pictures but we really needed a photo of me here to improve the colour range, although I do quite like the red white & black palette.
who goes there
Steep & Deep & public
view down the valley
We will have a really full house tonight as due to a small glitch in the “book your slot” spreadsheet we have an unexpected overlap.
Check back in a few days for some video footage of Chris & Nicky’s adventures.
Up next, day 64 and we return again to Courmayeur having swapped Nicky & Chris for Angela & Mike,.
Day 61 & 62 with one beautiful sunny day with new ski buddies Trisha and Andy and one terrible vis but epic snow conditions with Sharon & Keith.
No warm up for Sharon and Keith but Thursday had us heading straight up to Les Grands Montets meeting up with Trisha and Alan for a day of blue sky, sunshine, new routes and fluffy stuff.
We culminated in an amazing run down Point de Vue from the top of the Mountain masterfully managed by all.
Friday and we split up with a well earned rest for Chris and Nicky .. well not really a rest as they were on the first Flegere lift (incredibly it was actually running!) Chris clocking up more high speeds on the BMW x-drive cup speed run and then they joined the grockles in the afternoon for a trip up the Aiguille de midi escorted by Mark.
The rest of us were back at the GM braving the rubbish vis at the top to be rewarded with amazing powdery turns down from the Pylones Piste and later the Lavancher bowl in the afternoon when the weather improved.
Some great action shots were captured along with some incredible views.
And here’s a selection of the views from the midi and the famous glass box enjoyed by Chris, Nicky & Mark.
A long way down
And to close off Thursday .. it’s been a while ..
We are heading back to Italy tomorrow. Nicky needs hot chocolate and we think the best snow will be had the other side of the tunnel.
Days 58, 59 and 60 … Flegere, Courmayeur & Les Houches
After equipping our new gusts with some fatter than they were used to ski’s thanks Sanglard we headed off the Brevent to find some ski legs.
A lovely cruise around some beautiful pistes, a few aborted attempts to find fresh fluff in the off and across to Flegere for epic views and a avalanche strewn home run which was fortunately soft and slushy rather than hard and icey and almost completely deserted thanks to the yet again closed Flegere lift .. once again it was defeated by the wind.
A pretty good warm up day. Chris has bonded with his Dynastar Legends, Nicky yet to be convinced about the Volkls.
Great snow conditions research by Mark saw us in Courmayeur on Tuesday and some great off Piste.. I think Nicky is hooked.
Admiring the view at Flegere
Home run Avalanche
Chris putting on the brakes
In the deep from the Youla
Looks like we have some exciting weather coming on wednesday .. better head to Les Houches.
Does anyone else keep in touch with their school PE teachers?
Nope .. must just be Nicky then. So it transpires Nicky’s school PE teachers, now retired, have a place in Argentiere, Alright for some 🙂 So we arranged to meet up .. they will be the ones with the pink carnations or something like that .. in Les Houches for the day.
We then enjoyed a great day with Andy & Trisha who are both great skiers, They hadn’t played in Les Houches for a long time so it was rather fun playing ski guide for the day. The snow conditions were just amazing .. so Sorry Chris for run one straight into the deep .. I just couldn’t resist the fluff.
Safe to say Nicky is well and truly convinced that yes she can indeed ski really well and not only on the Piste but also off and despite the arrival of the promised weather a fabulous day was had by all. Trisha & Andy had so much fun they are joining us for another day.
Fresh Les Houches tracks
Nicky & the Valley
Here comes the snow
Team Les Houches
looking a bit green further down the valley
Two more guests, Sharon & Keith, arriving tonight so we will be 6 in the apartment.
Tomorrow we are heading up the valley to Les Grands Montets, Chris & Nicky’s warmup is over and Sharon & Keith don’t get one.
Day 57 and after an aborted attempt to get up the lift at Flegere .. too windy apparently, I jumped on the bus up to Argentiere looking for some fresh tracks.
Les Grands Montets did not disappoint, lovely snow, sunshine most of the day and surprisingly quiet, well at least it was where I went.
Not quite the first
Long way down
lines in the snow
A fabulous day… hurrah I can still ski after a few days off … and back in time to make dinner for our new arrivals Chris & Nicky.
After rescuing them from Alpy Bus who dropped them off at the wrong location I tried to poison Chris with courgettes. I think he forgave me though. Up early tomorrow to hire some kit and see if Chris & Nicky remember how to ski 🙂
Colin’s arrival was marked by England loosing to Scotland in the 6 nations. It took Colin all of 30 seconds after his arrival to mention it but he did bring fancy tonic water so all is forgiven.
Days 50 to 52
Sunday, up early and heading for Les Grands Montets. A quick stop in Sanglard to rent some fine Volkls for Colin and up the mountain we go almost on the first lift.
A glorious warm up run down the deserted Bochard Piste then up to the Top and 3275m altitude. Our mission to warm Colin up for Vallee Blanche adventure on Monday.
Top of the bochard
Top of Les Grands Montets
Mark & Colin
That is much easier in touring boots
A wonderful Sunny day with pretty good snow and Colin was raring to go higher.
Monday morning 8:45am at the Aiguille Du Midi lift to meet up with our Guide and the rest of our group (if any). There was plenty of time for a fine wander around the various viewing platforms including the top at 3800m, still 1000m lower than the top of Mont Blanc. Mark even braved the famous glass box.
Despite the minus twenty something degrees we navigated the Arete and had a very fine ski down amongst the beautiful scenery. Our Guide, Olivier was great company and was fun to meet Barry & Tim from across the pond. What a day.
Our Route. Up the Cable car down the Glacier Du Geant, along to the Mer de Glace, up the boot track, Down the James Bond track to Town .. home for tea and cake.
Tuesday & back to Les Grand Montets.
A Glorious morning view to inspire us then off to the top to fill Colin’s last day with us.
Some great action shots of Colin which I hope serve as a fitting souvenir of his 3 days in Chamonix.
Coming up next .. some well deserved days off and here comes the snow …
Days 48 & 49 (23rd and 24th of Feb) and we are trying to cover any inch of the Grands Montets missing from the GPX traces so far.
Our focus was in truth the various Glaciers accessible from the Top lift station, namely the Glacier d’Argentiere the Lognan & the Rognons. For the first time we turned right at the bottom of the steps and did an amazing descent down the full front face. It was a bit steep in places but more or less just the two of us and some lovely soft deep snow to lessen the terror.
We made friends with some entertaining Canadians in the lift queue who were off to skin up to the Argentiere hut well equipped with a lot of wine .. happy days.
These are the tracks for the 23rd February with all the previous Grands Montets trails underneath. I am pretty sure we have made a good attempt to make the whole place tracked.
Our next visitor, Colin, arrives tomorrow. He used to ski for the British Army .. I think we are in trouble.
Today we are out and about with Mountain Guide Tim Blakemore and Aspirant guide James Clapham (now qualified). We have a very civilised start with bright and early coffee Chez Nous then up the Flegere lift with a number of options to choose from.
After confessions of how slow I can really be on the up and how epic I was prepared to be … boot tracking and mountain climbing off the menu thank you, we settled on the Col du Belvedere and over the Aiguille Rouges into and along the Bérard valley below.
A fairly chilled skin up followed by a rather narly rope based lowering down couloir of horrific steepness, a few steep turns then into powdery pastures, a pootle along the valley and in all probability a bit of toboggan run combat ski to finish and train back to base from Le Buet.
Sounds like a plan.
Huge thanks to Tim and James for the plan, the encouragement on the steep up, sniffing out the bonus fluffy turns on the up, very helpful kick turn advice, fantastic pictures and all round good company. And for sure putting up with my slowness on the up so James froze his but off lowering us down from the Col as just as we reached it the sun left it.