Monty B and Winter Returns

That’s right Winter has returned to the Alps, we were expecting spring skiing in March. That’s long sunny days with hard packed piste in the morning with slushy snow in the afternoons.

Well Bettie and I decided to Ski Brévent area yesterday. Two reasons for this were it is in full Sun all day and provided a bit of shelter from the wind that had closed The Le Tour ski area at the head of the valley. Well we were forced of the mountain at 3:30pm due to – 20°C temps at the top station and frozen fingers. Here is a photo we took and it looks great with Monty B just above my head, But it was officially “Bloody Freezing” PS note that “Pappa Smurf” has returned “Green Hat” it’s still the warmest hat that I have and I’ve tried lots over the last 25 years believe me!

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This is the view from our balcony this morning with Monty B just above us. We are planning to go ski Les Grand Montets area today. Let’s hope that its a bit warmer today.

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Here’s a collection of some of the photos we have taken.

 

The forecast is for a couple more days of Sun before the Snow returns and we are expecting another meter of snow next week, with sub zero temperatures every day.

 

Well that was just Before Alex arrived and Bettie left to go home to meet her Father who is coming to stay a few days before we head for Italy and a cycling holiday. It’s a tough life being retired.

Alex is here so that he I and a couple of friends can plan an attempt to skitour to the top of Monty Blanc. He has hatched a plan for a week of training in preparations for the tour to the top of Monty B.

One trip was to ski tour to the Grand Paradiso which is the highest mountain contained within Italy. It is just over 4000m high. Day 1 was to tour to The Victor Emmanuel hut  and then on Day two skin to the summit of the Grand Paradiso. Well I say skin but at the top it was a crampon walk up and across a Glacier and then a room know scramble to reach the summit. Here are a few photos from the trip.

As I write the end of this post I am sitting in the bar of Hotel Dory in Italy. We didn’t even try to get to the top of Mont Blanc. There are several reasons for this but the main one being that the winter has returned and two days of snow were forecast and duly arrived. We also learned that we would need more than a day to recover from a 4000m ascent. Also I was pushing time because I had to get back to the UK in time to fly out to Italy. Alex, Chris and I did skin up to the top lift in le tour. More photos.

And finally our French Ski trip is over and we have had a great time in Chamonix although we didn’t ski as much as we thought we would, also we didn’t try nordic skiing or snow shoeing and many of the other thing we planned to do. Still next year we may get to spend a whole season next year.

Next post will be about cycling in Riccione, Italy.

 

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International Women’s Day & Me old Hat

So Betty and I have settled in to Chamonix life. In our nice apartment, It is right in the middle of town. This has some advantages, but can also be quite noise at night. Even though we are on the 5th floor. 4am it a good time to shout a lot! espically if you are off your tits and like to let the whole town know it.

Now back to International Women’s Day.

The local cinema in Chamonix had a screening of “Voies Féminines”, which translates to Women’s Ways. The film was in French, but we checked and there were English subtitles. So we decided to support the movement by parting with £15 for two tickets. What we didn’t realise that there were to be four films all in French and also the women in the main film were there to talk about their experiences, of following their passion in the very male dominated world of  Climbing and ski touring  etc. Also two “I assume” local dignitaries (both Men?) were there to introduce them and ask them questions.  It is needless to say our French skills were lacking and we didn’t understand any of the Q&A session. Still we had a good time and the Women were amazing. See poster for the film below.

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Oh yes onto me old hat.

I have been skiing since about 1985 and in that time many thing have changed in my life. For a start Alexander had not been born yet and I was still married to my first wife. Now to cut a long story short in about 1990, When Alexander was 3 and I had just split with his mum, I had a chance to go on a ski holiday on my own for the first time and the day before I realised that I need a wooly hat Pour Ma Tête. I rushed into C&A’s and returned with the following.20180317_143912.jpg

This hat has been travailing with me to various ski resorts from Austrailer, Canada, America and Europe. For the last 30 or so years.

Here it is on its first outing in 1990’ish in Courcevel with Mont Blanc in the background.Old Skiing Photos (10 of 16) (1)

and one from 2015 which I think is in Tignes20160712_144114

It has been snowing here almost constantly and we are hoping to get out skiing again tomorrow. That’s  if they stop blasting the mountain to make it safe and the visibility clears.

 

 

 

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Chamonix

Bettie and I, have had a long held dream, of spending a season in a ski resort. If fact we were even going to try and work as chalet host one year but decided that we would wait until we retired and do it in style and just rent an apartment. Well we thought we had it sorted back in August, a friend of ours has an apartment that links into the 3 Valleys ski resort. But as it turned out that option didn’t materialise and we were left with nowhere to go this year. So we went skiing at Christmas and I had a cheeky long weekend with Alexander (see previous blogs). Well now we have rented a very nice apartment in Chamonix for the month of March. Not saying that the car was a bit crowded but the skis just about fitted.IMG_1446.JPG

Here is the view from our balcony.PANO_20180307_124349.jpg

We have been here for three days now and haven’t even thought of skiing yet. Now this is quite a shock to me, our normal ski holiday evolves around if I can get to ski the afternoon we arrive. In the past I have driven through the night arriving in the resort at about 5am. Followed by a couple of hours sleep in the car while we wait for the resort to open and then up skiing. This all sounds a bit crazy now but it’s what ski holidays were all about. Eating your lunch on the lift so I would waste time in the restaurant when the slopes where at their quietest.

We have been skiing at last this was day four and we only went because some friends are coming to stay and they wanted to now what the snow was like. Well I can report that there is plenty of snow and its been snowing in the town which is only 850m above sea level. IMG_1469.JPG

Ray and Jackie have arrived so we went out to try some beer in the Big Horn, which had a mini beer festival on.

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Bettie spotted this painting/montage in the lavie so took a quick snap. I’m not sure if I like it that much.IMG_1474.JPG

Snow in the car park at the bottom of the Grand Montets.IMG_1479.JPG

Bettie and Jackie enjoying a Hot ChocolateANFR6601.JPG

Now some of you may have noticed that I seem to be a bit Hairier than usual.  Well this is because Alexander has a crazy plan to summit Mont Blanc, A have agreed to join him and a couple of others., I decided back in January, that I was going to go full mountain man and not cut my hair or have a shave until, we had stood atop the big white mountain. Which is kind of OK, but due to the excess of snow it’s looking a bit on the doggy side of too bloody dangerous until the Avalanche danger drops a bit. So I might be hairy until this time next year 😉

 

 

 

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Ethical Home Hunting In Devon

Last weekend saw Bettie and I back in the West Country looking for a place to retire. This is part of our ongoing plan to discover the country and look at potential areas where we might want to settle down and spend some quality time close to the see and follow a slower pace of life. A month or so ago I was reading an article in Pebble magazine about Totnes which according to Pebble is one of the most ethical places to live in the country. With coffee shops like the Hairy Barista a Vegan Friendly Coffee shop also Totnes Brewing  a Craft Beer Brewery in the middle of town.  It also boast a Zero Waste food Store Called Earth Food Love  They state that they are The Uk’s only Zero Waste, organic, bulk-buy, plant-based, wholefoods shop.  Also The Riverford Farm is located just outside Totnes. These are the guys that will provide you with a Organic Veg box to your door on a weekly basis.

Well this sounded just up Bettie’s and my passage. So a month later we are off down the M5 for a long midweek break. We wanted to see what all the fuss was about and also visit the south coast. Totnes is about 12 miles from the sea. Heres Bettie with the full Blue, Blood moon in the high street. As you can see its not a very wide high street.  Altough to be fair this was towards the top where it narrowed and also where most of the organic/veg/ethical shops were.

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We both enjoyed Totnes, we had a hairy Coffee and some Kraft Beers.

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Ski touring with Alex in Chamonix

I am back in Chamonix for a long weekend with Alexander. A quick for four days, of skiing and ski touring.  I have booked into an AirB&B and Alex is staying with Chris his best man from his wedding last year. We have a grand plan to summit Mont Blanc in March/April later in the year and this will be a good test of my fitness. I’ve been ill to many times last and this year so it should be way down on when we did the Haute Route last year.

Well the Alps have had a bumper year for snow this year and we managed to get out everyday. Although we didn’t get in any real big climbing days “I happy to report” With about 600m of climbing each day. I know this doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you have  a heavy backpack full of safety kit and are at altitude, it takes its toll.

Here are a few photos from the trip.

 

Good news is that Bettie and I have managed to book a chalet in Chamonix for March so we will be back for another month of skiing. :-).

 

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A long wait at the airport & I’m sick again :-(

We are now back from skiing. We left the apartment at 4:45am on Saturday. It was snowing and had been for some time. The journey started badly, there was a coach stuck on the small climbed up to our apartment. This took about 35mins for a snow plows to pull it out. We then walked down to our coach, he didn’t want to get stuck on the hill. So it was a bit disappointing for him to then get stuck at the first Conner trying to reverse back out onto the main road. 10 mins of rocking backwards and forwards going nowhere, cue for twenty blokes from the coach to just pushed it free, with the coach wheels spinning like crazy and the chains sparking of the road. The road down the mountain was then a disaster. No Gendarmerie at he bottom of the mountain stopping car without chains, leads to a succession of cars getting stuck on the way up. Other cars then try to drive around them and block the road on the way down. Especially if you’re in a very big coach.

Six “yes” 6 hours later we get to the airport, only to watch “from the car park” our plan take off. Cue a long wait for the holiday company to book us onto another flight. When we get to check-in they haven’t booked our skies. £80 charge. We get to the departure lounge to find the flight has been delayed for an hour.

We finally got home about 11:30pm “UK time”. A bloody long day and I only told Bettie once that we could have driven home quicker.

And to put a cap on the holiday, I have brought a serious bout of man flu home with me 😦

Well, here are some photos from our holiday, which dispute the trip home and the flu, was great, lovely snow and sun for a few days.

Happy New Year.

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Skiing in Val Thorens again

Bettie and I are back in Val Thorens for another “Escape Christmas” ski holiday. We have been going on holidays over Christmas and New Year for the last 25 years. There are two reasons for this:

  • We like to ski and enjoy the mountains
  • We also escape all the Christmas crap at home

Over the years our families have got wise to this and now we find we have to have two pre Christmas dinners, one with Betties family and another one with mine. As an aside we have only let our respective families meet once, and that was only because Beth & Alex got married and we couldn’t veto the guest list or make them have two weddings. It’s a little known fact that Bettie’s and my parents never met each other.

Back to Val Thorens, of all the ski resorts we go to this one holds a very special meaning for me. This is because in 1990 I had a holiday here that drastically changed my future life and ultimately lead to me meeting Bettie. Back in 1990 I was married to another person and Alexander was just 3 years old. For some reason I decided to join a ski guiding group that was advertised as advanced and by the ski company “Thompson” it was sold as a way to show you the whole of the Three Valleys in one day. So off I went and met up with a group of other keen skiers. We all decided that we had such a good day we would do it all again the next day. This went on all week and at the end of the holiday we exchanged contact details. It was at this stage I discoverd that John and Jane a brother and sister were Bookers as well. What are the chances of meeting a random person on a ski holiday with exactly the same name as you?

We have now been skiing and holidaying together on and off for the last 27 years. I also met Bettie at a post ski holiday party, 18 months later. So you could say that it was life changing. If I hadn’t joined that ski guiding I would never have met Bettie.

Here are a couple of photos of the Balcons area of Val T they are taken from the same spot but about 18 years apart you can see the changes.

When we arrived the resort put on a fireworks display, it was either to celebrate Bettie and I coming back to Val T or for the Christmas Eve celebration. I’m not sure which.

We have had a couple of great sunny days, but now the cloud has closed-in and it’s snowing. We are hoping for some clear skies tomorrow in which to enjoy the new snow. Here’s a photo from Christmas day, where we had a packed lunch on the mountain.

We have come with Skiworld and are sharing a chalet with 9 other guest so we still had to have another Christmas dinner. Not sure this escaping Christmas thing is really working!

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