For skiing its still really pre-season here in the Alps. So far there have been a number of storms off the Mediterranean depositing snow to the South of the main divide of Mont Blanc and the Pennine Valais Alps. Tignes, Aosta, Cervinia have good early coverage with Gressoney reporting 1-2 m. The next storm is about to roll in off the Med and I’ll be trying to hit Gressoney mid week once it clears.
Yesterday I went for a ski tour with fellow British Mountain Guide Jon Bracey to border of Italy and Switzerland thinking we could catch the fall out of the storms. I’d say we definitely scored a ‘win’ with about 40-50 cm of powder in our 500 m 40/45 degree couloir but it’s very hit or miss and the mountain one valley was bare. So it’s good if you choose location carefully but for the moment Chamonix, Arolla, Zermatt, St Anton still await the big northerly storms. With all the southerly Foehn storms I’m sure there is a lot of snow in the Valley Blanche and even the North Face of the Midi is pretty white but the snowline stops at the foot of the Chamonix Aiguilles and doesn’t cross the valley. Wepowder have hinted Andermatt caught the snow from the south but I haven’t checked this.
If you are holding on to book a last minute Christmas ski holiday then I would choose your resort based on current snow conditions and not just hope it will come to your favourite resort.
Its been a crazy 6 weeks. After some preseason skiing on grass and rocks in November I left for my final trip on construction job in Brazil. Expecting summer it was a let down with 2 weeks continuous monsoon rain that caused widespread flooding and multiple fatalities. We were on standby for about 10 days and I was able to train every day in the gym, eat well and sleep a lot. I was pretty psyched that this time round I might return from work in better shape than I started in. Christmas and my birthday were non events away from family and friends on the other side of the world and I felt pretty lonely. Then I got the unexpected news that my Dad had died suddenly and 2 days long days of travel alone got me back to Scotland. The short dark mid winter days of Scotland pretty much reflected the mood in the family and I found it really oppressive after Brazil. I was really close to my Dad, he pretty much taught me everything I know and having had so many adventures in the hills together it was so sad to see him go. That said I was happy for all he achieved in his life, but for my Mother it will be hard to come to terms with after 50 years of marriage.
Finally I am back home in Chamonix. The last few days have been good to be back on the hill and skiing fast is a welcome distraction from my crazy mind. I feel pretty introverted but spending time with close friends has been amazing and slowly I’m starting to feel grounded. As it turns out my arrival home coincided with the end of a 7 week drought and we have been lapping up the powder.
Dave Searle http://davesearle.me/