Justin and Calvin left a few days ago and the chalet seems awfully quiet without them. There have only been guests for the previous two weekends , no one during the weeks, so plenty of time to ski and do all those other jobs that need doing at the end of the season. All the remaining firewood was moved out of sight so that it doesn’t get stolen whilst the property is left unattended, not that it often is with Chester being around. Snow tyres on the car swapped for another season and a pretty good spring clean throughout. There was a certain amount of disappointment when it was realised that we would not be free to go skiing every day but we made short work of the tasks and profited from some late season snow and completely empty slopes. Mornings are always the best as the sunshine and warm breezes soon turn the south facing slopes to slush, or “soup” as the french call it, though it didn’t deter us from making the most of the sunny days, skiing until end of play, often being chased off the mountains by piste security. I haven’t played cards so often in years and it was good to pass on a few different games of poker rather than the ubiquitous ‘Texas Holdem’ that everyone seems to play these days.
Mark, the chef has gone too, he headed off this morning leafing a gleaming kitchen and a huge pan of french onion soup for Clare and me. That with leftover chicken curry will do just fine for our last dinner here. I am heading off to work on an eco building project for a few weeks, helping to contstruc a house out of wood straw and mud, I am so glad that the spring is here and the days will be warm and long, I didn’t much fancy taking that opportunity during the winter. Clare is heading off to stay with friends for a well earned break before her next guests arrive.
After the slushy mess of melting snow on the pistes yesterday I was in two minds as to whether to go out again today. Last day excitement and the thought of not skiing again for a year got the better of me. The conditions were excellent. It is absolutely amazing what a cloudless sky and a plummeting night time temperatures can do. No slush, perhaps a touch icy in the shade, but the best snow in ages. Clare and I enjoyed the morning much more than we had expected, returning to do each good run that we found again and again in case the next one was not so good, “shame to waste good snow” the sun shone and the sky was blue and everywhere we went was marvelous. Even the slow slopes provided plenty of speed and we covered most of the mountain in record time. As we often do, saving the big black ‘Terrenere’ till later on, earlier in the season it remains icy well into the day, so it’s best left for a while, not so now, the sun is higher and its popularity meant that it had been well used by the time we got there. Bumpy and a bit slushy, it was quite churned up, fun but heavy going. My legs, already tired from a morning at breakneck speed complained most of the way down and Clare felt the same so we decided to head to a mountainside restaurant for lunch.
An hour or so later I passed the top of that very same piste on my way to a more promising run and the top was roped off, I glanced at the signs which warned of avalanche and thought little more of it. Avalanches frequently happen here, especially when the weather is warm so they had probably closed the run as a precaution. I could see several new slides in the distance well away from the path of any marked routes and marveled at the course of nature and the changing of the seasons, I had been there just a couple of weeks ago enjoying fresh powder, off piste, without a care in the world. Would I have done that today, No Way.
I found that wonderful last run and blasted it a couple of times before heading back down to the chalet. I leave tomorrow and still have washing and packing to do, nothing like leaving things till the last minute, at least I know where I am going next. Up the fast six man chair, across to the Mirabelle which was so beautiful this morning, now cut to shreds and smattered with stumbling beginners, unused to the changing conditions and further down the mountain. The narrow snowy ski track passes the bottom of the ‘Terranere’ and I remember the signs. Looking back up the mountain, with high peaks looming above the ski trail I see why it is closed, there was an avalanche, not a huge one, but impressive none the less and completely covering the route that we had taken not a couple of hours before. I thank the powers that look over us that it waited until we had passed by and that I have spend another most wonderful winter enjoying these great mountains without mishap or injury. There are many who think I shall return.