Sunday, 24 January 2016

Settling in to the Ski Season

Digging the car out one morning.17-18cm of fresh snow overnight

As we near the end of January we’re getting more into a routine. We had a December of little snow and an early January of a lot of snow but cloudy, occasionally windy and foggy days. You can’t have skiing without snow and it has to fall from the sky sometime and early January has been it for us. It started around the 7th of January and continued almost continuously until last Wednesday, 22nd and in that time somewhere between 1 metre and 1.5 metres of the stuff fell from the sky in its very powdery form. Super snow to ski on, but unstable powder on top of ice is the stuff dangerous avalanches are made of, so we ski off piste with great care!

A fabulous off piste powder day with Jackie and, in the distance, Leanne
Little Groucho kitten enjoying some cat biscuits
From Thursday of last week the sun has been out, but with it the freezing level has gone up along with the temperature, changing completely the texture of the snow and its ski-ability. On the first really nice day the snow was superb and, coupled with the bright sunny weather the skiing was absolutely perfect. We spent the day in our local resort of La Grande Terche, here in St Jean, skiing with Si and Cassie and their friends/guests and had a whale of a day and by far the best days skiing this season.

Hiding behind the wall waiting for birds to land.....
...Then leaping up in a vain attempt to catch one. She didn't!
We only had a short day out on Friday as Jackie was feeling a little below par (she’s fine now), Saturday we were helping Si and Cassie in the chalet on their change over day (Brian drove some of the guests back to Geneva for their flight home, Jackie helped change beds etc), so today, Sunday, has been our second day out since the warmer weather arrived. It wasn’t quite as sunny as forecast, so the snow definition wasn’t perfect, but we went travelling nonetheless, making our way over to Super Chatel, Torgon, and La Chapelle, using the two new lifts installed to link the two ski areas without the need to catch a ski bus. It was fabulous to travel so far in a relatively short time, but the snow over there wasn’t brilliant; even though so much has fallen still more is needed to fully cover all areas, so we’re hopeful of some more.

The coldest we've seen so far. Colder up high!
We had to rush back in order to meet up with Leanne and Drew and Jill and Tony, the owners of the chalet they are looking after. It was to them that we applied for the chalet sitting job in Morzine that Leanne and Drew got. We saw it advertised on Trusted Housesitters last July, applied immediately and got a fast reply from Jill saying we sounded ideal, could we see if we could get out of the apartment booking we had made. After thinking about it we politely declined as we didn’t want to let Si and Cassie down after promising to help them, this let Leanne and Drew take it, so it all worked out for the best. As Jill and Tony are over here for a week we took the opportunity of meeting them for possible future chalet sitting once Leanne and Drew have moved on. Quite when we don’t know as we want to be in South America next year, but keeping in touch with them keeps some options open for the future.

Getting ready in Ardent car park to head up on the skilift
A winter wonderland
The only other thing to report is on the cat and bird front at our apartment. I have been encouraging the birds, but Jackie (and me to an extent) have been encouraging the local wild cats. In the supermarket I head for the section selling fat balls, Jackie buys cat food so, on our balcony we have food for both, which obviously is not compatible! My poor birds are the ones that have suffered. None have been killed by cats I’m happy to say, but they no longer visit our balcony, in favour of another one higher up that the cats can’t reach.

Jackie being pulled up on a drag-lift in Super Chatel, with the village far below
The view through my goggles on a snowy, foggy day....
It took a while, but eventually after a few near misses from little kitten cat ‘Groucho’ leaping up as they settled to take some bread, they have fled for easier takings elsewhere. The cats have settled in to an easy life on our balcony and we now have about four of them as regular visitors, Groucho kitten even getting a toy mouse bought for her by Jackie, which she loves. They are all feral so won’t be stroked or hand fed, but they eat huge amounts of cat biscuits and enjoy the water with a bit of milk that is put out for them (and changed regularly as it freezes!). We even almost tempted cute little Groucho kitten in the other day, but she is too timid to come too far in through the open door (which we are not prepared to leave open too long as it lets all our heat out), but she is getting a little tamer. Perhaps Jackie will have her tamed before much longer! (She will be hand fed, if it’s nice bits of fat that she wants, after she has hissed at me!)

And the view as it really was. Poor definition and snowy!
But here's when the sun came out, cloud inversion as well!
Tomorrow we have our first visitor. Mike from our mountaineering club is coming over for three days of skiing, staying with us in our small apartment so it’ll be cosy but fun. No doubt we’ll be out skiing from the first to last lifts of the day to make full use of his time here. More on that in the next entry.

And here's the view the other way. That peak is the Roc d'Enfer and there's a narrow arrete that leads up to it. I'd really like to do that when the snow melts!!
And here's the group we skied with. Jackie is second from left, Si and Cassie third and fourth from left. The others were their friends/guests
Off piste skiing in our local resort. That's Si on his back in the snow
A few tricky bits to negotiate
And watch out for those avalanches! here's a small slab avalanche partially covering a piste
Jackie and others skiing down in beautiful afternoon sun
Watched by Simon as he waits to ski down
Lunch stop. Me Simon, Cassie and Jackie together at the back
What is that face mask Cassie has?
View back from the top of Follys in St Jean before we skied back home

1 comment:

  1. Glad you are having so much fun! Hurray for the snow!
    We had a week of really cold now it's back to 14 Dec C. Crazy really!
    Lots of love