16 December, 2010

Early Snow in Chamonix

Following on from my October ski adventures up the Aiguille du Midi, I am now pleased to report we have good snow cover in Chamonix for the start of the season.  As I write this the snow is falling think and fast past my office window, it’s so distracting!The picture above is before the snow started.

I spent most of last week plotting to go ski touring at the Grand St. Bernard pass with friends.  However when it come to Saturday the weather forecast was less than ideal for a ski tour in the high mountains, with cloud and snow by lunchtime.  So the plans were changed and the Grand St. Bernard, an area I have yet to ski in but can’t wait to go; will have to wait for another time.

At the first lifts opened in Chamonix on Saturday I headed up the Grands Montets for the opening day.  The eager skiers were ready and waiting at the lift station doors by 0830 and it was the usual race to get on the first lift of the season.  Rhiannon and I hopped onto the Bochard lift and skied the piste to half down to warm up our legs.  We then cut off into some of the off piste and were happy to find upto 40 – 50cm of lovely light, fluffy powder.  Managing to avoid the rocks we traversed to the Herse piste which was still unpisted and were lucky enough to get the first tracks down it.  We must have had near on 100 perfect turns in lovely powder before returning to the mid station. 

We headed up the lift again with a plan to ski tour to a small col called the Rashass which leads you round to the back side of the mountain.  Looking at the snow and weather closing in we decided it was not the best idea so headed off for more powder on the off piste and found some sneaky runs down through the trees laden with fresh snow.

On Sunday I ski toured up to the top of Les Houches, this was a good 1hr 40min skin.  The sun even came out and I was fortunate to ski some lovely powder snow on the top sections.  They had yet to start pisting the snow so you could ski the men’s world cup downhill run in perfect powder snow.

We have more snow due to fall this week, with a big dump on Wednesday the forecast says 20 – 30cm at 1200m, which should equate to around half a meter up around 2000m!  So anyone heading to the Alps in December will be rewarded with great skiing.  Having said that it sounds like the reports from the UK are not dissimilar and heading to Scotland (if you can get there) might not be such a bad idea after all.

I’m now onto plotting this weekend’s ski adventure.  Courmayuer and the Hellbronner lifts open in Italy at the weekend so I think I will be taking advantage of being able to use these lifts free on my Chamonix ski pass.  Heading there for some tree skiing, the best coffee and pasta you can find.

Last week also saw the delivery of this winters team kit from out clothing sponsors Berghaus.  The boys will be looking smart in their blue Attrition Jackets and their Sella Windstopper tops, the girls will be in this winters must-have purple Chogori Jacket or the Badile Soft Shell.  We will be reporting later in the winter on just how amazing all this new kit is.

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