New year, new adventures

12th January 2010, by Chris Gill

Lovely groomers [11 Jan 2009 - (c) Andy Davies]

Lovely groomers [11 Jan 2009 - (c) Andy Davies]

We have a new resort blogger! ‘Father Ted’ is a snowboarder, and spending the season in Les Houches / Chamonix [lucky ***!!]. He is a newbie to the area and will be keeping us updated on snow conditions and life in resort during his stay.

Arriving in resort to see in the new year, Father Ted reports on his first week:

Seeing in the new year …

New Year’s Eve:
After a week of rain in the valley, New Year’s Eve arrived with a perfect storm of water and freeze… just about the time the clubs closed and seriously drunk people made their way home. This turned central Chamonix into a rather bloody version of ‘Dancing on Ice’. Should you need either a taxi or an ambulance on NYE in central Cham – forget it. If you can limp, start limping.

New Year’s Day:

2 January 2010:
Snow, good riding, wounds healing. Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a successful launch.

4 January 2010:
Against all weather predictions, I open the shutters and…. wow, there is 10 inches of snow sat on top of my car, at village level. Juggling and hopping ensues as I try to eat toast, brew coffee and put on snowboard boots at the same time. What it lacks in balletic grace, it makes up for in exuberance, spillages and swearing. Somehow I make the first lift – it’s 50 yards from my flat and I’m sprinting.
I start with on-piste, first tracks at Les Houches before moving into the trees. One foot of powder everywhere and up to two where it’s drifted. There was still powder to be ridden at the end of the day – a testament to just how quiet it is in Cham in the first week on January. It really is like having your own private mountain. Champagne skiing.

First week 2010:
It remains this quiet at Les Houches: blissful, un-crowded conditions. There are a few more people about in the main Chamonix sectors, but I haven’t spent too long there yet. I’m sure the crush will arrive before long, but for now in Les Houches it is straight onto all lifts – with the potential to seriously open-up on uncrowded pistes, including (in the early mornings) a perfectly groomed Kandahar. A few dustings of new snow have livened up the pistes. Other than some flat light and poor vis, it has been good riding.

Current Recommendations

If the visibility is poor head to Les Houches, not all of you mind… I don’t want a stampede in my own personal ski area! On sunny days, Le Brévent and La Flégère seem to be catching the sun quite nicely and there were still small pockets of powder to be found a few days ago.

A quick word on après hang-outs

I’m new to Chamonix, but so far…

In Chamonix central: the newly opened Boogie Woogie on Rue de Moulins is small, cosy and seriously friendly. Everyone talks to everyone else because you’re basically standing beside each other. It is run by two fabulous Australian girls, and is one of the best value bars in Chamonix. In Les Houches the Delice has fabulous food, a seriously good value happy hour and wi-fi – which is where I’m sending this from, in between glasses of red.

Happy trails,
Father Ted

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