Snow continues to be disgorged from the burdened skies. It is dissimilar to last year when most of it came down in 48 hours, bringing this part of the Alps to a stand still with 15,000 stranded cars in one weekend. This year it is coming down a few inches at a time, layer upon layer. It does mean that we are not getting much sunshine in between but it will come back. We walked up to Undies via O bar the other night and when we emerged a few hours later the scene had transformed into a ski resort. The snow movers are out in force in the early mornings, clearing the roads for the traffic to continue to move. Unfortunately this makes it quite hazardous for pedestrians like us! Roger slipped over outside the apartment and I fell in the slopping road outside the bakery, which we have to cross. Little slack is afforded to those on foot and you tend to just have to take your life in your hands and time your ungainly dash to avoid being swept aside. We even had a plough come round the back of the chalet and clear the driveway behind us. It was rather fortunate that this driver was more observant (or considerate) than others as Roger yelled at me to stop my descent of the grassy bank before I slipped right into the path of the reversing monster. Sitting down in the deep snow was my only effective breaking mechanism.
Two of last years colleagues were out over New Year and unfortunately had to leave as the snow arrived, much to their frustration. Emily was the bright and chirpy administration assistant for the whole company but also acted as one of the Inghams reps. She came out this year with her sister and I think that they still managed to have a good time. Toby worked in one of the ski hire shop for his third season but has decided to train as a French teacher. He came out with his new girlfriend, a dance undergraduate who needs feeding up! We had caught up with Emily in Undies on her arrival and bumped into Toby and Amy in O bar one evening but all got together for a meal on their penultimate night which was lovely.
The change in weather has altered the aspect of the chalet somewhat as well. The cold storage of fruit and veg on the balcony has become a deep freezer and both of us are reluctant to venture out there in our indoor shoes just to get some carrots or apples. At least we don’t have to negotiate the Christmas tree anymore as that has been put away but not before it looked extremely festive with a real snow covering. The temperature does still improve during the day when there is some sunshine which encourages the snow to start slipping off the roof, icicles first, which then refreeze at a jaunty angle creating these ‘witches finger-nails’.
We had a fantastic day skiing yesterday in the sunshine on our day off and even managed to catch some virgin snow (just) off piste. It was in area we had not bothered with much last year and wondered why people raved about it. I don’t think we ever had the chance to be up there early enough to appreciate those conditions but with, what feels like, our own private chairlift taking us directly onto that part of the mountain we are seeing it from a very different perspective this year. We were only going to do one run before moving across to the more popular parts but ended up spending nearly 2 hours getting slightly braver in the ever deeper powder with each run.
When we finally decided to move across to the main areas we could both feel the burn in our legs after all the hard work, which shows how little we’d be doing up until now. By the time we reached our newly opened favourite run of last year the legs were distinctly wobbly and decided to call it a day via Le Spot (one if tge favourite mountain eateries) which had also recently opened. We knew the route to it but found it blocked with a ‘piste ferme’ sign but evidence of a significant amount of traffic. After last year’s experiences on closed pistes we were reluctant to tempt fate again but the open route would take us further away from where we wanted to be so took the plunge and enjoyed an uneventful excursion through un-pisted territory to our destination which was heaving, without a seat in sight.
We’ll go there another day and reverted to our faithful café up on Signal. This gave us a more direct route onto the run which would take us back to our apartment block. It did involve a fair amount of poling and our arms were also tired by now. In fact, when Roger turned to retrieve his dropped pole and fell over he was almost too tired to get up and just lay comfortably in the snow gathering his energy, much to the consternation of 2 walkers who came rushing over to help, thinking he must be seriously hurt; only his pride. With considerable care we did manage to ski right back to the top of the steps of the adjacent block. We won’t be able to get any closer than this so that’s an excellent result.