Chamonix CC & Birthday Skiing

Last week we were visiting Chamonix for a week of winter sports. We weren’t sure the skiing would be up to much as this year as there has been very little snow. So we had prepared for what might be ideal alpine winter climbing conditions. However, as it turned out there was a large dump of snow over the first weekend of our trip, and there is nothing that beats skiing fresh powder! More “Chamonix CC & Birthday Skiing”

Springtime France

We’re recently back from a couple of weeks in France, what an amazing (and weird?) series of spring weather conditions we had though… More “Springtime France”

Six Days of Ski Fun in Chamonix with Dave and Jon

Domaine de Balme

To kick off the week we thought we’d take it easy and find our ski-legs at Le Tour, or more properly – Domaine de Balme. Of course with the mad-for-it speed machines Dave and Jon in the team “take it easy” didn’t really work out. It was a speed fest blasting all the pistes at hyper velocity. Then we headed off-piste in to the area I know as the “Scandi Trap”…

Jon near the end of the "Scandi Trap" at Domaine de Balme
Jon near the end of the “Scandi Trap” at Domaine de Balme

Les Houches

Day two say us at Les Houches, supposedly for another easy ski-leg finding day. Of course, predictably, that didn’t happen either. We blasted all the pistes at ultra speed, and managed to avoid crashing in to all the trees in the off-piste. 😉

Chamonix Piste Map

Courmayeur

Courmayeur was the venue for the next day. This involved taking a bus through the Mont Blanc tunnel. The ski area is covered by the same Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass, but the bus costs €15 each return. However, Dave and I – on my recommendation – only took our UK driving licenses as ID for the border crossing in to Italy. I’m fairly certain checks are a little more rigorous now-a-days due to the migrant and terrorist issues faced by France this year. A driving license is not sufficient, take your passport! Luckily the gendarmes, after a stern telling off and much finger wagging, let us go through the tunnel for an amazing day blasting the pistes at mega pace.

Jon and Dave at the main lift from Courmayeur
Jon and Dave at the main lift from Courmayeur
Dave and Pete getting near to the col before the long off-piste descent in to Val Veney at Courmayeur
Dave and Pete getting near to the col before the long off-piste descent in to Val Veney at Courmayeur
Looking back towards the top Cresta d'Arp lift station
Looking back towards the top Cresta d’Arp lift station

Before catching the bus back to Chamonix we enjoyed – possibly – the best hot chocolate in the world…

The Italians make, perhaps, the best hot chocolate drinks in the world!
The Italians make – perhaps – the best hot chocolate drinks in the world!

Vallée Blance

On the fourth day our legs were tired from all the frantic speed skiing. But still keen for a top adventure we opted for the Vallée Blanche. I’d heard that the hot summer had left massive crevasses on the route. As it turned out, except for the two surprising and slightly scary crevasses on the snow arête leading down from the Aiguille du Midi lift station, the route was in fine condition.

The equipped ridge down from the Aiguille du Midi lift station to the start of the Vallée Blanche
The equipped ridge down from the Aiguille du Midi lift station to the start of the Vallée Blanche
Pete ready for the ski down the Vallée Blanche
Pete ready for the ski down the Vallée Blanche

Le Brévent

The Brévent/Flégère area was the next rapid travel test venue. Dave felt the burn earlier than Jon and I and headed back to base an hour or so earlier. Jon and I stayed on and at one point got silly! Having enjoyed a few jumps of the odd lump and bump I spied a larger bump, maybe 3 metres high. As I reached the top – at some speed – it was too late to take evasive action when I saw that the other side was a sheer drop! Thankfully the snow was deep and soft and no bones were broken. Even more thankfully, with Jon only a few metres off my tail, he avoided landing right on top of me!

Pete standing below the drop off at Le Brevent he and Jon "accidentally" threw themselves off at great speed!
Pete standing below the drop off at Le Brevent he and Jon “accidentally” threw themselves off at great speed!

Domaine de Balme

The final day of un-tethered swiftness was supposed to be at Megève – newly covered by the Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass. The bus from Chamonix is free, but it needs to be booked before 4pm the previous day. This we failed to do. Therefore we simply got on the first regular ski bus that arrived. We ended up back at the Domain de Balme. The highlight of the visit was a tremendous and long off-piste descent from the top of the Aiguillette right down in to Vallorcine.

Jon and Dave looking suitable knackered at the end of six packed skiing days...
Jon and Dave looking suitably knackered at the end of six packed skiing days…

Mini New Year Break in Chamonix

The snow conditions were looking very poor in Chamonix with the endless sunshine in the Alps. The Atlantic frontal systems that should have been delivering frequent snow storms were being concentrated in to torrential rain over the north west of England. However, it still seemed like a better option than watching that endless rain in Cumbria…

Rock Climbing

Oddly for the time of year our first day out wasn’t the seasonally normal activity of finding our ski-legs – we went rock climbing!

Sport climbing at Malsaire
Sport climbing at Malsaire

Celebrations

After our family Xmas celebration at home we continued the fun in France with New Year…

Xmas dinner left-overs - turkey, gammon, and leek pie
What an awesome way to enjoy some of the Xmas dinner left-overs – turkey, gammon, and leek pie. Thanks Paul Hollywood!
Zac getting ready for the traditional Chamonix New Year madness
Zac getting ready for the traditional Chamonix New Year madness
Laetitia and Pete out in Chamonix centre seeing in the New Year
Laetitia and Pete out in Chamonix centre seeing in the New Year
Casino and Fireworks
Chamonix’s casino and some fireworks overhead – despite fireworks having been banned due to poor air quality trapped in the valley by the endless high pressure weather
Chamonix on New Year's eve
The traditional madness that is Chamonix on New Year’s eve – champagne sprays, (banned) fireworks, hundreds of people, etc.

Skiing

Skiing at Grand Montets
After the New Year eve’s light snow we enjoyed a day of skiing at Grand Montets with slightly improved snow cover – still only a few runs were open and nothing down to valley level though
Laetitia trying to re-warm her feet
Laetitia trying to re-warm her feet at the Logan lift station at Grand Montets

A quick Chamonix Skiing trip…

Who said you can’t get cheap flights anymore? We just grabbed great value flights to Geneva for a four day ski trip to Chamonix, despite it being half-term. OK, so the times were very unsociable (7AM leaving Liverpool and 11PM returning) but that just meant we could also ski on our flight days!

Laetitia and Pete at Brevent
Laetitia and Pete at Brevent

After our first day skiing at the Brevent and Flegere areas Ian called round to see us on Thursday evening to say “Hi”. We all dug in to a Midnight Express Americain burger – yummy! Definitely the best value and tastiest burger in the world! :yum: :yum: The next day Ian was off to do some ski touring in the Queyras area. We hope to hear more of that later…

On Sunday we skied at Le Tour with family-fast led by Barry Roberts of Wilderness Medical Training. Wow those kids can ski! 😯 Awesome fun!

Skiing at Le Tour
Skiing at Le Tour

And on our fourth and final day we overlapped with Nick and Saskia out for half-term week. So we got the opportunity to share the day skiing with them. We took it easy – at le Tour again – to give them a chance to find their ski legs ready for bigger things later in their week. I hope they have a great time, the weather for the week looks brilliant and sunny! 😀

Nick, Laetitia, Pete, and Saskia enjoying a lunch stop in the picnic area at Le Tour
Nick, Laetitia, Pete, and Saskia enjoying a lunch stop in the picnic area at Le Tour
Nick bought us all a yummy raspberry tart to enjoy before we headed off for the UK, leaving Saskia and Nick to continue enjoying the sunshine in Chamonix...
Nick bought us all a yummy raspberry tart to enjoy before we headed off back to the UK, leaving Saskia and Nick to continue enjoying the sunshine in Chamonix…

Cham New Year 14/15 Skiing

We’re just back from a little over two weeks of skiing in Chamonix. Well, I say two weeks of skiing, but in fact the first week was a bit short on the skiing as there was no (very little) snow. We did manage a few days, but in the end we decided the lift pass was too expensive to justify for the amount of skiing available.

Despite the poor snow it was nice to enjoy Xmas in the sunshine relaxing and checking out all the shops in Chamonix with Ian. Ian is out in the Alps for the whole season. Lucky (ski) bum!

However, on Thursday it started snowing – a lot! It kept snowing all day Friday too! And Saturday! Although on Saturday the rate had slowed a bit and the visibility was better, that is it was just about possible to breath, so we ventured out for a great powder day at Grand Montets.

The second week of skiing was of course much better thanks to the new snow. Plus we had Saskia, Nick, James, and Oliver with us for the week and to help us see in the new year.

Here a few piccies from the trip…

Ian, Laetitia, and Pete on a hot-chocolate break
Ian, Laetitia, and Pete on a hot-chocolate break
Pete skiing in the deserted Combe Pendant at Grand Montets
Pete skiing in the deserted Combe Pendant at Grand Montets
Laetitia and Pete celebrating in the madness that is Chamonix town centre on New Year's Eve
Laetitia and Pete celebrating in the madness that is Chamonix town centre on New Year’s Eve
Fireworks over Cham at New Year
Fireworks over Cham at New Year
Laetitia executing a jump at Les Contamines
Laetitia executing a jump at Les Contamines
James, Pete, Oliver, Saskia, Ian, and Nick with another warming hot chocolate. But why did we sit at the only shady cafe on the mountain?  Everywhere else was in glorious sunshine!
James, Pete, Oliver, Saskia, Ian, and Nick with another warming hot chocolate. But why did we sit at the only shady cafe on the mountain? Everywhere else was in glorious sunshine!