It’s been just over a week since I made the drive over from the UK to Chamonix and after soring out somewhere to live ( temporarily!!), finding some climbing walls, and just generally trying to organise my life which I'd picked up and packed into the back of a Peurgeot 107 ( not amounting to very many posessions it seems) I finally managed to go skiing…a timely reminder of what all the stress of the last few weeks has been for.
Driving up on Friday there was just a light dusting of snow- but since Sunday (2nd) it’s been dumping down. Being unused to all this, I wasn’t prepared for the amount of time you’d have to leave yourself for digging the car out of the snow before going anywhere – I just thank all the people who warned me- if I do nothing else, get snow tyres back in the UK as here they will be extortionate as everybody needs them.
I wasn't due to start my new job at Chamexpress in Les Houches until thursday, so took the opportunity to head over to ski in Courmayeur with some recruits from Chamsocial to split to toll and petrol bills….The Italian resort had a few lifts open, unlike Chamonix at the time. So on Wednesday I squeezed three of us into my car and headed through the tunnel, and I can honestly say it was some of the best conditions I’ve ever skied in.
Heading up on the Emporio Armani ski lift to Plan Checrouit at 1704m there were a handful of chairlifts and a bubble get us to some lush powdery blues and red… enough to keep us going for a first day of rusty skiing on wobbly legs. As my confidence grew I ventured off piste a little to frequently get buried chest height in powder- even the snowboarder of the group struggled, then in the corner of my eye I spotted just off the piste near a pulley lift the really charming Chiecco mountain restaurant and dragged everyone there for lunch. Oh well, a little more money than we intended to spend but a definite first day skiing treat – and the best mozzarella I’ve ever tasted!
After a predictably lethargic restart to the skiing, we discovered a few other nooks and crannies so explore- and watched in awe as the local Italians bombed straight down a vertical cliff face – clearly not showing any of the signs of rusty skiing that I felt.
Courmayear was a perfect location for a warm up for the season session, with hardly anyone on the pistes, masses of power and just 16 miles from Chamonix!
So, being over the first day back nerves on Sunday I headed to Les Houches, which now also had a few lifts open. This time I hired some fatter skis and boy did I pay for it! The pistes less powdery than Courmayeur, so I should have stuck to the carvers... or maybe I just need to persist with them and train harder? Another good day however and am looking forward to the season really getting underway-there is certainly excitment building in Chamonix, with bars throwing parties to celebrate their opening, and more and more people arriving.
This coming weekend I may even be trying a little Classic Nordic Skiing, courtesy of a free lesson from Tracks and Trails....