Chamonix valley notes

We have not been here, in Servoz, for a week yet but it seems much longer ago that we drove here through thunderstorms, torrential rain, sleet and snow. We arrived in the early evening, to find about a foot of fresh snow in the car park of our apartment, but it has now just about all gone. Our first day, last Tuesday, was mostly concerned with getting unpacked and shopping but we did manage an afternoon of skiing at Les Houches. The snow conditions were good but visibility was inconsistent. Towards the end of the day though, the sun appeared and we sat in deck chairs at Bellevue with a cup of hot chocolate.

The weather forecast for the next day predicted cloud and snow. I went to Brevent/Flegere and had a good ski around in indifferent visibility. I even found a slope of unskied snow over at Flegere. I used the train and bus and decided the optimum strategy for Brevent is to get off the train at Aigulle du Midi and walk across to Chamonix Centre for the bus and vice versa on return.

We drove to Le Tour next day. The weather was sunny with gathering high cloud and the snow was just about perfect. It was very quiet and we were virtually alone on some runs. I had one excellent off-piste run through the woods on the Les Jeurs side. The snow was very deep and I was the first one making tracks, it does not get much better than that.

Looking back up the second part of the slope, the snow tracks are from snow that my skies had freed up

Looking back up the second part of the slope, the snow tracks are from snow that my skies had freed up

Next day we decided to go to Les Contamines. Sun was forecast and this was just what we had.

View from Les Contamines across to the Mont Blanc massif

View from Les Contamines across to the Mont Blanc massif

So much so that the snow became quite wet by early afternoon. But in the morning we more or less skied the resort and even took the piste down to Hauteluce and back up the Ruelle lift. Since we last skied this run, probably at least 5 years ago, they have installed snow cannons and widened and improved the piste. It is now very pleasant. Before it was more of a challenge, particularly in poor snow conditions.

Ruelle telecabin installed in 2000 replaced a 2 man chair lift

Ruelle telecabin installed in 2000 as a replacement for a 2 man chair lift

The forecast for today was not particularly good; cloudy but dry. I caught a bus at 8.20 into Chamonix and then another to Le Tour. My original intention was to go to Argentiere but that bus did not appear! The snow was hard and crusty and off-piste was very demanding, although I did find one good patch and then had to struggle over brick-hard rough stuff to get back to the piste. It really was not adequate compensation so I did not try it again. All told it was not a brilliant day but I skied just about every piste in the resort and it was good exercise.

Todays’ local paper has an article about the 10 rescue missions yesterday by the mountain rescue squad. One person died on the Vallee Blanche, a broken femur for a skier at Grand Bornand, injuries at Brevent, and one skier had a lucky escape when he fell 660m off the mountain Le Buet when a  snow cornice gave way and was unharmed.

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