36. Winter, spring and back again

The snow has been melting apace and green is creeping up the other, sunny, side of the valley. The town is bare and we don’t have to negotiate icy or compressed snow on the pavements. This has meant that the path to Mollard has reverted to its pre-winter muddy quagmire where heavy plant has accessed the building site of the chalet being erected in front, destroying the previous cinder covered route. This lack of snow caused me to be puzzled by the instruction to fill a carrier bag with some clean snow in order to maintain a sufficiently cold temperature for a fresh chicken which had been on one of the chalet guests’ shopping list last Friday. They weren’t due until Sunday and the previous week’s guests were still in residence so I couldn’t put it in the fridge and ours is far too small to cope with out own food, never mind a bald avian package. I couldn’t decide whether our supervisor was actually joking, she’d just missed 1st April. The only snow in distant sight was a murky shade of beige, which would inevitably melt and seep through the non-waterproof packaging. I was a little surprised that a company which specialises in catered chalets was so cavalier with food hygiene processes, even we knew that raw meat shouldn’t be stored above 4 degrees. My suggestion that one of the fridges in these chalets may have a space was met with derision. The following week my colleague bypassed the supervisor and the self-catered food found fridge and freezer space without problem! You have been warned.

More snow arrived last week but the 10 inches that fell one night had all but disappeared by that afternoon. The heat in the sun is enough to burn, as my face discovered and I’m back to using factor 50 again. The snow becomes very slushy as the day wears on, the sun is high enough to bask these north facing slopes and has even reached our window freezer first thing in the morning. We were able to get out on the first lifts after a few inches had fallen over another night and enjoyed making tracks down a couple of black runs.

Our afternoon reading spot has changed as the Petite Moriond lift has closed, far too early, so we now sit on the benches at the bottom and inform disgruntled skiers of its demise. We have to catch the bus up to 18,50 again, and sometimes down as well for our skiing, but I took the closed but pisted husky ride route down to the first bend bus stop on Tuesday. It was stunningly beautiful to glide silently through the trees on pristine snow, not a soul or canine in sight, nor Roger, who opted to heed the closed sign after injuring his thumb on a ‘closed’ piste the day before.

We have changed our work/ski routine to going up on first lifts for 2-3 hours on the slopes, then back to shower and change, getting in to work between 12-1 and should be finishing before guests return in these conditions. The lads in my group of guests are coming back early afternoon, ungrateful wretches. They’re nice people but not the tidiest. They keep switching off the lights at the wall socket and then leaving me a message to say that the internet, which is plugged into the same multiblock as the lights, has gone down, could I fix it? Yes! The curtains are unopened so they don’t admire the fantastic views of the sun rising over the snow capped mountains. They don’t flush, coupled with poor aim and an inability to use a toilet brush! but are otherwise ok.

First lifts enable us to enjoy spectacular runs down the fresh corduroy. There isn’t even time to take photos as someone or 10 might overtake us and it is definitely exhilarating to be able to take whatever path you want down the deserted pistes, not having to decide the best place to turn because the surface has been carved up by earlier skiers. Total confidence that the narrow ridges will hold the edges of the skis at speeds exceeding my normal pace, from top to bottom is marvellous. Three runs down the same slope has been our maximum, each successive one slightly less wonderful as the first is always the best, even our own tracks mar the surface the next time. By 10am the place is getting busy and queues are forming, or we have to share our cabins, so we pick our route via favoured runs and head back for hot chocolate with a spoonful of Nutella and brunch before work.

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