I’ve never been one for setting personal targets; longest, furthest, highest, or in fact anythingest; I am normally quite happy to do my thing and not worry too much about what other people are doing or what they think about what I’m doing. I’m also unbothered by “achieving the complete set” so what did I do in early January? I decided I would take every lift (with a few exceptions) in the Portes du Soleil, all 204 of them, my idea being that if I rode every lift I would get to the furthest reaches of the ski area, it would also take me out of the “comfort zone” of just doing more of what I know.
I had been keeping a record (rough spreadsheet) of what I had done but now I needed to get organised and get a complete list of the lifts and if I had a record of where I’d been it would be nice to see how much I skied. To do that I would need the height gain and length of each lift I found that http://www.remontees-mecaniques.fr website together with the “Bulletin Neige” from each of the various resorts to be most useful in putting the nearly complete list together, the rest came from just going out and doing it.
On a couple of occasions I’ve inveigled friends into spending a few hours riding some very long slow drag lifts only to find a long gentle traverse to the next long slow drag lift, but mostly I’ve done it by myself and it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve taken fast chairs and slow chairs, I’ve been on detours to take in village lifts as big as our apartment, taken a chair down (to Petit Chatel) got connecting buses, taken rope lifts up the side of car parks and taken some (but not all) beginners drags – I couldn’t bring myself to go on any of the Zone Débutants magic carpets or rope pulls but I’ve been on 174 different lifts and been to all corners of the PDS including the village sectors of Abondance, La Chapelle d’Abondance and Saint-Jean-d’Aulps / Bellevaux-La Chevrerie
I’ve also leant a few things.
- It was a bit of a surprise to see how old the skiing infrastructure is in Switzerland
- You can see the Dents du Midi from every resort in the Portes du Soleil
- It’s easier to ski when you know where you are
- Coffee is very expensive in Switzerland, especially if you pay in Euros – why wouldn’t it be!
So what’s the score? Up to the end of February I skied on 67 Days and skied 316,940 vertical metres – on the basis of what goes up must come down. How far will I ski in the whole season? Who knows, I’m not going to worry about it.
Being in the Alps doesn’t just have to be about the skiing and the apres-ski, although those things are GREAT. It’s also about exploring the mountains and trails on foot or just taking in the atmosphere.
A trip to Piessey-Vallandry last week saw me as a foot passenger on the Vallandry Chair lift which goes just over 2 kilometres. Travelling on the chairlift sans-skis has seriously got to be one of the oddest things I’ve ever done. And by the time I’d got to the top I’d decided that if I had had some Valium it would have been good to take it before I got on the chair.
Simply put it’s a deeply strange feeling sitting on a ski chair, in Winter with snow and skiers all around you, minus your own skis. Feet dangling in the air. Getting on and off was pretty simple, just remember to pick and lift your feet off the ground when you get on. and as it’s arriving lift them up again until you are sure you can stand up. Then run/ jog your way off the chair. All at the same time as avoiding skiers.
At the top, find the nearest restaurant with a sun terrace, sup your demi-pression, take in the rays and the views. The views are spectacular.
So now for the return journey, take a deep breath, wait for a chair to come round, sit down, lift your feet well up off the ground (you don’t want to get them dragged under the chair and fall flat on your face), bring the bar down, and settle back in for the ride.
The ride down is a lot cooler that you’d imagine, a slight breeze, you travel through the trees and into the shade. But the view across the valley to the next mountain ridges is stunning, it’s mid afternoon, the sun is still out there, and there is plenty of snow. You watch the skiers coming up the mountain, singing, chatting, fiddling with their ski gear.
But because I’m not skiing, not all my lights are on today so i don’t have my gloves on, and my fingers start to get chilled to the bone. It’s bitter! It feels like minus ridiculous, but probably isn’t all that cold, if you are wearing your gloves. Thank goodness I did have my sunglasses on otherwise I’d be a streaming wreck by the time I get off in the centre of the station.
Enjoy the ride back down!
With the continued cold weather it would seem that we can now officially call the huge slabs of snow and ice at the top of Chamossiere (Les Gets / Morzine) a temporary glacier. Currently but (my guess is) only till it warms up a bit Crux (the black piste) running under the area is open and pisted.
A couple of other pictures taken over the last few days.
I liked this picture for the colours in the flat light.
Today the weather was positively tropical only -10 (degrees C) this afternoon and with the sun shining it felt warmer. I say “only -10” because for most of the time over the last week it has been -15 and below, on occasion -20. The question is, is -20 twice as cold as -10? It could be but only if “cold” starts at Zero degrees C which we know it doesn’t because we keep things “cold” in the fridge which assuming it is working properly is about +4 so cold must start at +4. Or rather above +4, I have heard “I’m cold” from people when they walk in to air conditioned offices which are set at about +20. The thing is cold or hot it is all relative and what our bodies feel more is temperature change, the air conditioned office is cold if you have come in from 40 degrees. So positively tropical at -10!
All the pictures were all taken in the Portes du Soleil last weekend.
Some of you may have noticed that I have had about a week off of this blogging lark. So what have I been doing, well skiing mostly, but I have also been trying to sort out my electronic life.
The skiing bit, we have had “some weather” in the Portes du Soleil over the last week starting with a load of snow and low visibility on Monday and Tuesday followed by the gradual clearing of skies and lowering of temperatures over the rest of the week. Like the rest of Europe its now pretty cold -15 (degrees C) in the village during the day today. I have always maintained that it does not feel as cold in the Alps as it does at home (at sea level) in England, I believe this to be because the air is much dryer up here and so it’s not the same damp cold that gets into your bones. This could lead to problems for us sea level dwellers, if it doesn’t feel as cold do you have to take the same precautions? To right you do, taking your hand out of your glove to take a picture requires serious consideration, besides -15 is cold no matter how dry the air is. And it’s going to get even colder over the next few days. Anyone due here in the next week for their ski holiday has fab conditions to look forward to, wrap up warm!
Maybe I will share my views on electronic housekeeping another time. Suffice to say I don’t mean getting robots or even Roberts (that joke dates me) to do the vacuuming.
Signing off, if there is another blog post with a double “I” and a double “U” I want to see it, and if you can say “double U” without thinking “W” please let me know how you do it. It would be pretty silly to spell vacuum with a w, vacwm and uuheel looks like it’s been reinvented.