As a guide there is nothing better than having clients that are up for adventures, want to reach high points and bag peaks all in the sunshine! What more could you ask for? That way my office 'window' has a fantastic new view every day. Lindsay and I have just finished a fabulous week in the very snowy alps with Scott and Carole. This was just a few days ago up at Chalet Loriaz, above Vallorcine at 2020m, where we enjoyed wonderful views over lunch.
Some folk have to worry about their commute to work with leaves on the train-line or dicing with the M25 - but this is what holds us up in the morning! This was taken an hour ago in our Swiss village, Finhaut, which is just along the road from Chamonix. The clearing process makes a great warm-up to start the day, but not advisable in high-heels! We’ve had a huge amount of snow fall in the past 48 hours and it continues as I write…more forecast throughout the week!
We have just finished a fabulous two days with a group of UK journalists who write for various publications. We have found that it's a good way to gain publicity for what we do and its always a treat to introduce people to activities they have never tried before. I took the group snowshoeing in the morning in the beautiful Berrard Valley while Julia spent the afternoon teaching them cross country skiing, before rounding off the day at a new spa in Chamonix. Always great to soak up the sauna after a day of activity! One of the great things about our valley is that there is so much on offer even if you are not a downhill skier.
Today I have been learning to telemark ski in less than ideal conditions - a bit 'Scottish' I would say with a blizzard raging. However, it hasn't snowed since New Year and we were due some more of the white stuff. My friend Kimberly is a great telemarker and she provided some top tips in white out conditions. Having some very bad habits engrained over the years in my alpine downhill skiing, it was good to start a new discpline with someone who knows what they are doing. I had intended just trying to learn as I went along, but there is no doubt it's best to get expert help right at the start. Anyway, by tomorrow we should have about 25 cm of fresh powder and my day in the office may need to include a couple of hours on the slopes as well.
What a day - 2009 dawned to blue skies, and 30 cm of fresh powder! Julia and I headed off to Vicheres, a tiny resort of just three lifts in Switzerland, to celebrate our joint birthdays. Neither of our mothers would have had a particularly great Hogmanay the years we were born as I arrived on the 1st and Julia on the 4th, though I am sure Julia would point out there are quite a few years between those two events! One of the reasons we set up Tracks and Trails is because we are both so nosy - always wanting to see what's over the next mountain and round the next corner, though maybe 'inquisitive' sounds better.
Anyway, its one of the reasons we are always seeking out new routes in places such as Vicheres where hearing an English voice is a rarity, and lift queues are virtually unheard of. The overnight powder had created a good layer on the hard packed snow underneath, enough to have us squealing with delight as we bounced our way down the mountain. After a few runs we put on our 'skins' and went off touring over to the Bec Rond area - a small and inviting summit - where there were absolutely no tracks. The views from this ridge are absolutely stunning - Mont Dolent, Mont Velan, the Grand Combin and many more. The ridge from Plan Monnay is a popular snowshoe walk, quite understandable given the viewpoint it provides - 360 degree panorama! We finished off our day by an off piste descent in untracked perfect powder until we reached the tree line at which point we found a steep descent down a forest clearing. Much fun was had coping with the deepest fluff of the day and attempts not to wipe out a spruce tree created much hilarity! Hopefully, you might join us for snowshoeing at Vicheres one of these days?
Meantime, from Julia and myself - very best wishes for 2009, we hope it's a good one for you.