It was a glorious morning for the first day of our holiday. Yes, we had to clean the chalet but with 10 days to do what we could just about manage in 7 hours on changeover day, it wouldn’t be too taxing. We could have got ourselves organised and moved lock, stock and barrel into the chalet on Sunday or we could go up the hill and enjoy the spring snow in the sunshine. Strangely the latter option won the day. We headed up on our own ‘secret chair’. This was the name given last year to the lift out the back of our apartment by the reps as no-one lived near it so it was not used by any of our team and remained a bit of a mystery as to its origins.
We ascend over a steep hillside studded with fir trees which, after fresh snow, look like a Christmas card scene. Now though, the snow is melted at this level on the south facing slope, exposing a warren of tiny tunnel entrances and exits. We have yet to discover what animals burrowed under the snow like that, they are too big for mice but too small for marmottes or rabbits. The grassy bank is strewn with tiny crocuses, most are very pale lilac only interspersed occasionally with vivid purples, of the more common cultivated variety and vibrant greens of discarded Kronenburg and Jagermeister bottles!
The slopes were the quietest they’d been for many weeks and we were able to jump on and off lifts without having to queue at all. Some pistes were deserted, it was akin to private skiing! The snow was surprisingly crisp, verging on icy in places, despite the sunshine. We should have paid more attention to the frost on the banking outside our window as an indication of the low night-time temperatures when the skies are clear. We opted for one of our favourite low down red runs on the south facing slope which was beginning to soften but for some reason, tends to be fairly quiet despite being central in the resort. Even though it had been diverted towards the bottom by the ever vigilant piestiers who rebuild and reconstruct the resort as the season’s snow conditions vary it was still beautiful. So much so that we had to do it again and then a third time, enjoying each descent as a separate run as our lines varied on each occasion. We couldn’t understand some of the teenagers who stayed with us earlier in the season who considered that they had done the whole resort in 2 days and so it wasn’t worth bothering to even go out again! Each run had been travelled once and ticked off on the piste list so that was it! No taking account of different lines or conditions or even just enjoying the same piste again because it was so nice!
We didn’t want to tire ourselves out too much but neither could we bring ourselves to go back. The forecasting this year has been notoriously inaccurate so although good weather is predicted for the coming week it could well be wrong or the snow could melt very quickly in these sunny conditions so we had to make the most of it. We took ourselves over the back of the resort, heading for the little village of Oz en Oisians which for some reason, people love to say!
Beside the piste there is a picnic table on an elevated rocky outcrop which must be the most popular in the resort due to its stunning vista and in 2 seasons we have never found it vacant until this day. We jumped at the opportunity and revelled in the position, amazing view down into the Oisian valley on one side and people and Vaujany gondola watching on the other as the former drift past at the end of a very long schuss, trying not to lose all their momentum before reaching the lip of the elongated rise and the latter gliding gracefully overhead, taking over 100 people at a time to deposit them at the top of the Dome des Petites Rousses at a mere 2800m.
After tiring out our legs on the amazing snow and empty pistes, our final destination was, as ever when the sun is shinning, Le Spot where we enjoyed another and possibly last of the season, chicken nasi goreng. We finally managed to tear ourselves away from our reclined deck chairs and eventually started moving some stuff down to the chalet. We cleaned and made up our own bedroom whilst emptying, cleaning and refilling the hot tub in preparation for our occupation. Whilst waiting for the tub to refill we relaxed on the balcony with a beer and glass of wine for the first time since Christmas Day. It was 6pm and still wonderfully warm. The first day of our holiday culminated in a trip to Undies for their final live music night as they close on Tuesday 🙁