Friday 23 November 2007

It has begun

Okay, okay, that's not really a picture from last weekend's ski-fest (over 1100 people bought tickets on Saturday at Zinal - better than the lift company expected) but we did have a couple of runs in great condition from the Corne de Sorebois at the top to below mid-station (nearly 800m of vertical) and if you were feeling brave there was a bit of powder between pistes. Without any base it was a bit of a mugs game but I enjoyed it. Sunday was wonderful - not too cold and beautiful blue skies, along with enough natural snow cover way down the valley that it felt like a day in March.
Wet this week, after really cold temperatures (down to -13C at night) and a bit more snow right now. It feels well on track for a good Christmas, though of course it could all melt away within a week. But I don't think so, certainly not above mid-station at 2400m, surely?

Tuesday 13 November 2007

Turned out nice again...

One cold front doesn't make a winter, but it's a start. A couple of days of snow has left the chapel behind the Auberge looking pretty and there's more to come tonight. It's also quite cold (minus 8C last night) so they'll be busy making snow for the delayed start of Zinal's ski season this Saturday (should have been last weekend, but a warm start to the week put paid to that).

'Very excited' doesn't even come close: I love the smell of P-Tex in the morning, and the thought that the first turns of this winter might be powdery ones, and that they'll be on the doorstep of our new home, is about as good as it gets.

Tuesday 6 November 2007

The last hike of autumn?

Despite being nuts about skiing, the snow-free months out here are wonderful too, especially when we get what counts for a heatwave in these parts, in November. Last weekend we were able to walk above 2500m, stopping for a long picnic and a doze in the sun. A couple of north-facing shady sections had tricky ice to contend with where a stream had diverted itself down the path and frozen solid, but otherwise it was like a mid-summer stroll. The big stags have calmed down in the forest (it was crawling with them during rutting season, and they bellowed into the night) and this time we saw just one with a harem of eight females. Bet he sleeps well. There was also a large chamois, who hissed at us and then ran straight down the mountain in beautiful bounds, springbok-style but over steep rough mountain terrain. Very impressive, though on the plus side he didn't have a pride of lions in hot pursuit trying to tear him limb from limb. I imagine that must be quite off-putting for his African cousins.