Well, what a funny start to the 2014/15 ski season in the French Alps! No real snow until the end of the opening week had people worried. Then the first dump came and it caused havoc! It came on the day the holiday makers were leaving after their Christmas skiing holiday. People were stranded for hours, almost days as gridlock hit the French roads around the Alps.This snow came with a lot of wind, then rain, then warm then cold and a bit more wind. This mix of weather has made for a particularly dangerous, unstable snow pack on every ordination of slope. Not what the avid off piste skier wants!
It has only just stopped snowing after 5 days! Chamonix has seen around 2 meters of glorious fresh snow! This has, unfortunately, made the conditions all the more scary. The danger warnings have been spilling out from every organisation. Ski areas have been posting avalanche warnings of 4/5 on the danger scale (the resort is generally closed when it gets to 5/5) the amazing PGHM rescue service have been sending out warnings as have the councils and other mountain information services. There have been many naturally propagating slides around the Alps and unfortunately some set off by skiers and snow shoers who perhaps had not heeded the warning set out.
But despite all this scariness one cannot just sit inside and not have fun! We stole a brief lull in the falling snow and headed up to Grands Montets to see what we could see. Amazing powder was the answer! Trying to stick to lower angled slopes and skiing on well skied areas to help minimise the risk we had an awesome few hours! Dan has decided now though that he needs new skis – bigger and fatter! With big smiles and tired legs we had a last run in sunshine and headed back to the valley for lunch before the sun had its way with the snow.
If your heading off piste in the European Alps any time soon please be careful and listen to the warnings, ski safe and reserved and have a blast!