Monday, 11 January 2016

Our topsy turvy snowy world

Off piste in fresh powder snow

It’s snowy, now it’s rainy, it’s freezing, now it’s not, but mainly, not. It’s been a funny old time since New Year. Since the high pressure of December moved away we’ve had lots of precipitation from cloudy, windy skies, but with a freezing level that hopped between about 1000m and 3000m we’ve seen everything. Lots of snow at high levels, even a covering at our resort at 900m, then days of heavy rain, even at high altitudes, that has stripped many lower slopes of snow and reduced higher levels to heavy wet snow that is just miserable to ski on. 

Now we see the snow from our window (last week)
We went out yesterday (Sunday) in rain up to about 1800m, so it turned to snow only near the top of lifts (the highest point in the resort is just under 2300m). Sitting on an open chairlift in windy driving rain or snow then struggling down through heavy, wet snow is not fun! We went out with Leanne and Drew and were back down at back at their place by lunchtime and spent the afternoon chatting and drinking tea and re-waxing our skis. Drew had done a ski service course during his time in the air force and had borrowed the kit from Si and Cassie, so we got our skis back up to scratch – at least we did with ours, theirs had to go in for a full service as they had scratched their ski bases right through so risked delamination if not properly re-sealed.

After several days of heavy rain, now we don't. The view this morning
But we have had some lovely days as well, relatively bright, even some sun and, during those times some lovely new snow, almost powder and we have been out and really enjoyed it. We just want it to get cold, snow hard to give a good base and then settle down. Fortunately that’s exactly what the weather forecast is, right through to as far as they will forecast, next Saturday. Between now and then the freezing level drops from 1650m this morning, to 1000m tonight and then on down to sea level by Wednesday and on. Couple that with a forecast of about 1.4m of snow at a high level and about 700mm at our level of 900m between now and Saturday we could be snow bound! That will do!

Converseley, Les Crosets of 23rd December
It will make a big contrast from today, of heavy sheeting rain, overcast, dark skies and many parts of the resort closed off due either to high winds (up to 65km/hr at high levels) or avalanche risk. Lots of wet snow isn’t very stable and will slide off and fall onto the unwary if you’re not careful. We’ve heard of several reports of people being killed in the Alps in the last couple of days so, as well as being miserable it’s also very dangerous out there, hence the reason I’m sitting in writing this.

And on 7th January, 2 weeks later
However……I’m looking out of the window and the rain has now turned to snow at our level of 900m. Looks like the forecasters are right, good job we’ve got at least 4 days of food in!!!!

Some of the food he mentioned came in the form of a whole pork belly. I think I may have finally lost the plot, it was about three feet long, had the ribs in and skin on, this being perhaps the most exciting thing crackling being very hard to come by both here and in Spain. 
The Great Tits are happy with the conditions through
Why buy it? Well at 2.95 euro/kg so coming in at just over 14 euro it just seemed too good to miss! So we changed our menu plan for Leanne and Drew that evening, the boeuf bourguignon was already cooked but ribs to start. I practiced butchery skills I didn’t know I had, removing ribs for starter, ribs for a meal for us, a portion of stewing pork, a section of belly for us, and three belly portions for four people! Fortunately L&D have space in their freezer, so the three large sections went home with them! Guess what you are having for one meal Denise? We had a lovely evening with them, it just passed too quickly.

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