Christmas in the Alps

It’s a funny thing being out here in the Alps at Christmas.  Christmas isn’t generally celebrated by a day of complete shutdown like it is in the UK.  The French and Swiss normally have a big family meal on Christmas Eve and then spend their Christmas Day either working or skiing.  Both myself and Mrs Burrows were working on Christmas day so it passed as a bit of a non-event.

better than last year

I had planned to cook Mrs Burrows a nice breakfast and open presents in front of a roaring electric heater but in fact, the phone rang the night before and I found myself basking in the sunshine at the top of the ski lift in Morgins, waiting for my client to turn up for a 2 hour private lesson on Christmas day.  It was a great lesson, a parallel level skier wanting technical advice on how to improve.  This is quite a rare lesson to get (the usual is debutants) so it more than made up for not being able to rip open wrapping paper!

The mountain actually gave me my Christmas present the day before anyway, as yet another big dump of snow meant that on Christmas eve, I was up skiing deep powder along with a few mates on snowboards.  Not wanting to bust my knees right at the start of the ski season, I settled for making pretty S shapes in the snow while they jumped off things and generally fell over loads.  I took a video on my phone that you should be able to see below which shows you just how much snow there is out here in the Alps so far this winter.    

It seems as if Europe is certainly where the snow is at right now and I don’t think that since the lifts have opened, I’ve skied on the piste yet, except for instructing and even then, the temptation is to jump off the side and into the deep stuff.

I’m trying to make a point this year of going out skiing with people who are better than me and this is leading to discoveries of lots of hidden valleys and gullies that are full of snow and where to go according to what conditions.  It’s been great and I’ve never skied so much snow in my life.

I’m also learning to take the right tools for the right job and I can highly recommend the Scott Pure’s that I bought in the summer.  At 101mm underfoot, they float really well and are fast becoming my favourite for days when it’s dumping up top.

As if loads of snow before the tourists arrived couldn’t get any better, the skies have cleared for the arrival of the masses at Christmas and New Year and we are now teaching under bluebird skies.  Nice and warm for instructors who have until now been absolutely freezing in the fog, cloud and mist.  It’s suntan time!

Despite all of the roads now having been cleared of ice and snow, it seems that once the visitors to the region have managed to get the snow chains on their cars when there was a little bit of snow around, they can’t be bothered to take them off again.  We are all very amused at the moment by the sight of expensive low profile car tyres being ruined by clanking about on snow chains on clear dry tarmac.   Please people, take them off – it’s not due to snow for a week and you’ll be able to get much faster and more comfortably…

online here

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La neige arrives

After a lot of people getting very nervous and some dire predictions by local farmers that the snow wouldn’t arrive until February, the snow is here and winter has started at last.

I was wondering who the arrival to the village would be that would ‘bring the snow with them’ and it turned out to be my mates from home Cheeko and Hughsey, who flew out to surprise me for my birthday at the start of December.  My wife had organised a surprise party for me at The Avalanche and I couldn’t believe it when my boys from home showed up.  (actually I cried – sad I know)

Of course, you know by now the usual carnage that follows and I was pretty glad to get rid of them a few days later, as my liver had taken a real pounding.

oh dear

This weekend was the formation weekend at the ski school where we all get together for a ski and work on things like technique and the progression of skiing from a complete beginner all the way through to parallel skiing.  Last year, this had to be done in two groups of French and English but this year was done entirely in French as there are only 3 British instructors at the ski school (which should mean more work for all of us!!!).  After a year abroad, I understood most of what was said.  This is what progress looks like.

my office

The seasonaires have started arriving in Chatel and the girl’s night out kicks off the winter season tomorrow night with 44 of Chatel’s finest ladies tearing the village up.  This also means that there will be plenty of local single chaps out checking out this season’s talent and trying out their best moves.  Judging by last weekend’s efforts, it’s pretty obvious who’s got game and who hasn’t.  Let’s just say that inviting the new chalet girls to an X-Factor final party doesn’t count as good ‘game’..

It’s snowing big outside and a few of the locals have been out riding the powder and one guy going to the effort to skin up the local highest peak, the Mont de Grange (2400m+)  Not really my style to be honest but we were all pleased for him.  I’ve just dragged my big fat skis out from the cave in anticipation of a powder day tomorrow morning :DDD

online here

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