Thursday, 1 March 2018

Skiing into March – Days 128 to 134

Brian, Emma, James, Jackie & Livy in Les Gets
We are into March already, the ski season is rushing by, despite our relatively relaxed approach to skiing these days.

When I say ‘relaxed’, that doesn’t apply to last Friday and Saturday (23rd and 24th February), which turned out to be quite manic. It started on Thursday evening as I was sitting in our apartment glancing through Facebook and there was an entry from our old friends Gareth and Emma posting photos of their skiing holiday and saying what a great week they were having.
Same again but with Gareth on L
We haven’t seen Gareth and Emma for years and, in fact, Jackie had never properly met Emma. They are old friends of mine from Solihull Mountaineering Club and I’ve done a lot of mountaineering and mountain biking with Gareth over the years, so it was interesting to read what they were doing. He had posted a link to his ski app showing where he’d been on Thursday, which looked quite impressive. Jackie then mentioned she had seen other stuff posted by Emma earlier in the week and thought they may be relatively local, so I opened the link to his skiing app and found that they were indeed local, staying in Morzine next to the Nyon lift which we often park at to ski there.

At the wigwan lunch stop in Les Gets
I immediately sent him a message to ask if they wanted to meet up on Friday and ski. Yes they did, can we meet them at the Nyon lift when it opens at 08:45? Now we rarely get out that early, particularly as it takes us about 30 minutes to drive there. ‘OK’ I said, ‘we’ll get up early then!’ They were out with their two children, Livy (16) and James (14), who we have never met, so we were wondering what sort of a day we’d have, but anyway, it would be great for me to see Gareth and Emma again, so Jackie went along with it. It turns out that Livy and James were going through the same thought process, ‘so we’re going out with some random people. What if they’re not good skiers?’ ‘I think they will be’ said Gareth. ‘What about if they’re too good? I don’t want to ski with them if they are’.

In the wigwam. Gareth, Emma, James, Livy and Jackie
It turned out to be a fabulous day, so good that we met up again on Saturday just before they drove home to the UK. They skied with us until about 3:00pm on Saturday and then drove home overnight – madness or what!

Anyway, we went up on the lift all together chatting non-stop, clicked on the skis, Gareth and James their snowboards and off we went. Livy and James are great fun and keen to choose where to go, so I kept quiet. It’s their holiday, we’re happy to ski where they want to go, so I’m saying nothing unless they ask.
Lift staff have too much spare time. Look at the size of that snowman!
They’ve been to this area several times before so knew it well and it all worked out brilliantly. Despite wanting to go fast (as we do), we kept back behind them following their speed. Livy wanted to do a lumpy black run, no-one else did so we said we’d keep Livy company and do it with her. The skiing was slow and controlled, but good fun and we regrouped at the bottom. Lunch was spent in a wigwam on the Indians children’s run in Les Gets and, by now we were having a lot of laughs between us. I looked at my skiing app which suggested we had skied at 79.3km/hr, which seemed to fire up Livy. Can we go faster than 80 she said and, after lunch she stuck to me like glue going as fast as possible so my recorded time would be hers as well.

James, Livy, Jackie and Gareth at Pointe de Nyon
We didn’t manage to go any faster on Friday, despite her throwing herself down pistes at seemingly ridiculous speeds, but I did say I thought she could probably round it up to 80km/hr to tell her friends which she did on Facebook that very evening.

We reconvened on Saturday morning at 9:00 at the same lift (another alarm clock set for us) and up we went again. I had already decided I wasn’t going to go fast as, if she fell over at speed she might hurt herself and Gareth and Emma wouldn’t forgive me on their long drive home later that day.
The evidence for Livy of her speed
That lasted about half an hour as it was clearly her intention to go as fast as possible and, as we like to do that too, any resistance was quickly gone and we were hurtling down slopes (while of course being aware of other skiers) as very fast speeds. On one of the slopes in Les Gets she had gone off at a huge speed and I decided to try and catch her, which I couldn’t. She was still moving away from me as we neared the bottom so, at the end by the lift I pulled out my phone, looked at the ski app and saw the recorded speed at 93kph! I did think at the time that that was as fast as we’d been, but I looked at my records when we got back and found we had recorded a maximum speed of 96.1kph (59.7mph), but nevertheless Livy was absolutely delighted with it.

Since they’ve gone we’ve relaxed. We had a day off on Sunday as the cloud came in, then on Monday it got bitterly cold, down to about -14C at our 950m altitude, colder up on the slopes, with another -5 for windchill. We went out on 26th but managed only about an hour and a half before we came back so cold, despite extra layers. The skiing was good and the visibility good, but just too cold.
Suspect characters in Les Gets: Brian, Jackie, Livy, Emma & Gareth
A frozen stream on Tuesdays walk
The next day (Tuesday) was even colder so we didn’t even bother ski, though we did put all the gear on and go for a walk. It was still cold on Wednesday but fairly sunny so we went out for a couple of hours before getting too cold again, despite the really good conditions. Today, Thursday is another day off as we’ve had snow and cloud. There’s about 10 to 15cm of fresh snow here at 950m, with lots more at altitude with a forecast of some 25cm over the next few days, fortunately with slightly warmer temperatures (around zero).

Our ski resort from the mountain opposite halfway round our walk. Our apartment block is the dark building on the left, you can see the telecabin ski lift going up on the right, so we have less than a two minute walk to the nearest ski lift
The cold weather has certainly played havoc with the cats and birds that visit us. The birds fat balls hung up over the balcony have been in demand and the blackbird, who visits us several times a day, has been flying in onto the windowsill eating the cat biscuits. He can’t settle on the fat balls, so helps himself to 6 or 7 at a time, coming back later for more. The bowl of water we put out for the cats has had to be changed several times a day as it freezes within an hour. They obviously can’t get any water from elsewhere as they lap it up whenever we put it out.

A panorama view of the same thing. We woke up this morning and all this at 950m is now in 10-15cm of new snow
Our time in has been spent trying to get the blog maps up to date, still lots of work to do, but they are looking good. Have you noticed or looked at them? There’s a tab up the top to them, but beware, they aren’t all complete yet.

And here's the house in the mountains we walked to...
We’ve also been spending time researching motorhomes, ready to start looking in earnest when we return to the UK in May. It’s now definitely our plan to buy one and head off to Europe in the autumn for an extended time. Who knows where it will lead us! We’ve also managed to almost fill up our summer with housesits in various parts of the UK: Birmingham and surrounding in May, Epsom in June, Arbroath, Scotland in July, then on to our friends in Elgin to help them on their huge house project, then back to Derby in August. We have other options after that but don’t want to commit until we know about a motorhome and plan our next adventure.
Here's the house as seen from our balcony today with cloud obscuring the top of the mountain. Its the only building we can see from our window and we've never seen a light on there at night, hence we sleep with the curtains open and wake as it gets light at 7:00am

1 comment:

  1. At this rate we’d will have as much snow a second you, nearly as cold.... well, minus 7 plus wind chill. 40mph winds expected tomorrow!
    Take care both xxx H, I & M