Day 21 and we are off to Italy.

A week off from Chamonix

You have a season pass for Chamonix so what do you do? Take a week off and go ski somewhere else of course.

There is something pretty special about Gressoney in the Aosta valley, the middle ski area between Champoluc & Alagna.

We left Chamonix in bright sunshine and arrived at our temporary accommodation of a tiny house until our favourite Hotel Anderbatt had enough room for us all.

Imaginative use of slings and carabenas improved the storage solutions.

Sunday tree fun

The trees down from the Prayer flag cafe (sadly no prayer flags any more) didn’t disappoint and we discovered the alternative to the traditional home run “The Bertolini” (proper name Bettolina. A grand day out was had.

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Apparently it wasn’t epic enough so began the scheming for what will now be known as Malfatta Monday.


Malfatta Monday (day 23) coming soon…




Back in time one Day .. Day 18

After the up of day 17

Time for a wind down for me at least .. the rest plotted a mad cap adventure (Charlie’s words not mine) involving a route from the Top of Brevant around the back and back to the Valley floor. They were thwarted due to the vagaries of the Flegere & Brevant lift info so headed to La Tour in the end in search of powder.

Check out Badger Patrol’s Chamonix flickr Album

for some great pics of the snow at La Tour.

I popped up the Flegere Gondola for a couple of hours feeling a lot like a seasonaire as really not bothered by the minimal skiing (only 2 lifts open) to taks some Sunny snaps with the big camera across the Valley to the Mere De Glace and Mont Blanc.




Back to the apartment for lunch then into town and up the Aiguille Du Midi for more picturesque views and a great spot for a Skype Video call with Mum and Dad.

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Cracked open the moonshine and tried to fit too much cabbage into a too small pan. A great accompaniment to well travelled haggis to celebrate Burns night.


Italian Bowl laps and Gnarly Ed.

Day 19 and some very fine snaps of Italian Bowl descents.

Always a great place for photos and especially Ed with the rope to look extra special gnarly for the home run.

It took two attempts to get the uncooperative subjects to ski / board down the right part of the ridge.

The view down into the Chamonix Valley and across to Flegere never ceases to amaze.


Then we have the avoiders of the home run checking their facebook profiles ..



Earning the Down from the Grands Montets

Day 17 and the top lift on the GM is still out of action

So to satisfy the quest for something fluffy I was persuaded to skin up. Hmmm..

Starting at the top of the Bochard lift and an epic traverse saw us at the start of the skin a bit further from the Herse lift gearing up for just a short up they tell me.

20180124 - Grands Montets20180124 - Grands Montets - skin info

I can however honestly say it was worth the effort of some truly skilless kick turns on my part to be almost the only people up there and the down was just incredible.

I guess we wont get to see it like that very often so all rather special. Huge thanks to Chris for her endless encouragement to get me round those ruthless 180s.

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I won’t mention the pair who did 2 laps to our one ….

The end of an epic day with even more friends joining us for Tarteflette tea and of course the Dru.





And then there were 9

Waiting for friends to arrive and an aborted tour.

20th Jan with the rest of the gang showing up that evening we decided a mini adventure to Les Contamines was in order. A deserted car park and 5 Ski Randonnee passes later found us clinging onto the vicious Button lift (Thanks to the very galant lifty who helped me and Chris but left the boys to fend for themselves) then contemplating the entry to the skin up which seemed sketchy at best due to the aspect, angle and amount of snow.

One very wise decision later justified by the significant Avalanche just along from where we were due to ski but couldn’t see from our vantage point and the rapid decline in visibility left us testing my skinning ability back up to the top of the resort to enable us to find the picnic spot and the home run.

Suitably motivated we finished the day with some Avalanche Tranceiver practice and made it home in time to fish our newly arrived friends out of the nearest bar.

20180120 - Les Contamines

And here comes the snow.

The garden has pretty much filled up with snow by 22nd Jan.

The snow meant another day of confinement to les Houches. Plenty of fluffy stuff to be found both in and out of the trees. A very fine welcome for the new arrivals.


Rain stopped play

21st Jan and some shenanigans in the small car park for the apartment and rescue by the friendly neighbourhood digger followed by an aborted attempt to go skiing where we wussed out .. well no-one likes to ski in the rain.


We are now tunneling out of the front door.

A touch of Italian

The search for sun took us to Italy and Courmayeur. For sure plenty of Sun to be had and some truly terrible off piste.


Great spot for lunch though

And to feed the Obsession with the Dru, some morning light.


Followed by evening light on the Midi


To be continued …. Day 17 and the quest for fresh tracks ……

2 days off and a little bit of up.

I think it is now Day 12 or maybe 13 but not 100% sure…

Dodgy weather and everywhere closed gave us a well earned rest and the arrival of the next Visitors.  So now we are 5.

We fitted in a bit of transceiver practice on the Les Praz golf course. Not sure there is much Golf going on there right now. They’d need different coloured balls for one thing.



After 2 days of relaxing we headed down to Les Houches for some snowy action and our first skinning adventure part way up the Turtle track. All good until the up-ness defeated me .. too fat skis and too thin skins or more practice needed.


Our Friends decided that despite the huge amounts of snow falling from the sky they needed to go ice climbing… Sadly too warm for satisfactory ice. Consolation was had by way of a fun evening out in Chamonix which was the snowiest I have ever seen it.


Having thoroughly tested the snow conditions we lured  them back to Les Houches  today for some through the trees action. Everything else was still more or less shut.

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A fantastic day was had by all ..

More visitors arriving tomorrow and we shall be 9 .. fortunately there is a second apartment, else we may not be friends for long.




Day 5 and still alive … actually all the way up to day 9, including the days of Clive.

We may have to murder the fridge .. it’s the loudest thing in the world. The compressor is probably on its last legs.

In other news …

Day 5 took us to Courmayeur to check out the snow. Apparently we should have braved the 5 out of 5 avalanche rating and gone yesterday, according to Simon Halliwell of Powderama (the worlds best ski instructor) who we bumped into, not literally fortunately, on the slopes.

“You should have been here yesterday! It was the best snow in Europe for 10 years”

Oh well .. Actually it turns out we made a good call as yesterday was the last day of function of the Grand Montets top lift due to …

Storm Eleanor to blame, targeted to be fixed by early feb. Good skinning opportunity so I am told.

We did find some fresh tracks and despite Youla not being open and I provided free lift entertainment for some lucky folk. That’s not me just in case you were wondering. I am the ski on the lift.

To top off the best day we got back in time for some Alpen glow.


Our First Visitor …

Day 6 saw the arrival of our first visitor. We tried to sabotage him by lending him some skis which were not nearly fat enough but after a few tweekings of the DIN settings Clive found his ski legs at the Grand Montets in the Lavancher Bowl.

The lure of Courmeyer was too strong to resist so we travelled the Tunnel du Mont Blanc back to the land of cheep coffee.

20180113 - Cormayeur - Clive Day 2We returned to the scene of the incident which enabled me to join the badkneeclub and fortunately all limbs intact and 2 days in Italy saw 2 fantastic runs round the back from the top of Youla and some fun for Clive on a pair of Whitedot 98s rented from Jim in the Whitedot test centre in Les Praz. 8 or 9 perfect turns in the fluffiest of fluffiests before a suitably spectacular wipeout.

Plus discovered a great place to stay for future visits.


Time for one day at the GM

5 laps of the Italian Bowl with Clive on some rented Dynastar Legends … I think he is now a little bit in love … must be some kind of record.

Two Bochard, five Herse, one Retour Pendant and two Tabe … phew. I have to confess I only did 3 Italians.

20180115 - Grands Montets - Clive Day 4


Home in time for the first time lapse, of many hopefully to mark the end of an amazing few days. Just missed the light on the midi but this one is kind of moody.

Day off on Tuesday and new guests arriving on Wednesday .. we’d better go shopping.

Day 4 … up to our middles at the top of Les Grands Montets.

My turn for Stack of the day. Fortunately I hadn’t travelled too far from my skis.

Displaying slightly more style and panache …


I summarise our itinerary for the Mountain geeks. Up the Plan Jordan (strangely it was deserted). To the Bochard. Warm up down half the Piste then across the mountain to find some fluff. Up the Herse and down skier’s right .. coffee, then up to the top, down the front under the rope, italian bowl, lunch at the picnic spot, Lavancher bowl, home run… Need day off!

OK I got that almost right … here’s the GPS track

20180110 - Grand Montets - Powder Day

And the Dru in all her glory to welcome the evening.


our house building blog


This mountain life .. trying to stay up on the downs and survive the ups.

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