Saturday, 12 April 2014

My best day's skiing

Me on the Mont Blanc run.
This was my best day's skiing so far. I had a really good day, it felt as if my edges were biting and I was more in control than previously.
We had a fairly short morning's skiing, but it was very good and we covered 11 miles in total at an average speed of 10mph (you'll gather that Sam has a GPS unit).
The day started up Cachette (as usual), then a ski down to L'Arpette, which takes us up to 2400 metres, then down into the bowl of Arc 2000. We skied down Plan to Arc 2000, where we picked up the Varet gondola up to the start of the long blue called Vallee de l'Arc. This is quite narrow at first, but was not too busy, and then it steepens and opens out. It's a nice run and we followed it from top to bottom at Comborciere, where it finishes.
The snow is really disappearing quickly. There are huge patches of earth showing on the Comborciere black run and, as we took the chairlift up, there were piste marshalls down below taking out the markers and closing the piste. It's a little sad that the snow is going, although the marmots, the cattle and sheep, and the countless spring flowers are very glad to see the back of it.
From the top of Comborciere, we dropped down past Mont Blanc and skied the Mont Blanc blue back down to Arc 1600. It's the first time I've done Mont Blanc and the first time I've skied all of Vallee de l'Arc.
The snow was starting to get a bit slushy towards lunchtime, so I was happy enough to finish. I was really pleased with my morning and I even managed the last tricky bit down in the 1600 without too much trouble.
In the afternoon, we drove back up the mountain and parked just below Arc 1950 at a restaurant near the foot of the Comborciere lift. We got the courtesy bus up to 2000 and walked across to the Varet gongola that I'd taken in the morning, then up the cable car to the top of the Aiguille Rouge at 3226m. There's an amazing view from the top - you can see the whole of the south west side of the Mont Blanc massif, across the valley to St Foy, Mont Pourri right next to you and many other high peaks which we couldn't identify (see panorama shot below).
Sam and Lucy at the top of the Aiguille Rouge
The ride up was quite busy with people intending to ski the Aiguille Rouge black or the Arandelleres red down from the top, but on the way down it was very quiet and we were soon back on sunny 2000. There's a free pedestrian gondola down to 1950, so we took that and waited for the bus there to take us back to where we'd parked.

In February, we'd gone to Le Chalet Du Pre St. Esprit (see Last Day in Sammy Ski School) and were freezing. We tried to take a short cut across the car park and Lucy sank almost up to her armpits in a snowdrift. Now, we were basking in sunshine, watching afternoon skiers slosh through the mush. While we were having our drink, there were a couple of people coming down Comborcieres (the black that was being closed in the morning). They got to the bare patches and were wondering how to get around them; they'd obviously decided to ignore the “piste closed” sign at the top - some people are determined to keep the season going as long as possible.