Team building in La Tania

13th December 2011, by Chris Gill

Team photo outside the Bouc Blanc

Team photo outside the Bouc Blanc

Just a week or so ago team WTSS was contemplating taking hiking boots on their Christmas jolly to La Tania but, arriving in the resort on Sunday night, all faith was restored in early December skiing: the mountains were white and the snow falling lightly on our little piece of winter wonderland in the trees. And there were certainly no Monday morning blues, as our ‘working’ week began with heavy snowfall and a euphoric ride up to the powder.

When we arrived at midnight, Dave and Ian were already comfortably installed in Ski Amis’ delightful Chalet Elliot – which is normally split into two chalets, East and West, but which we had all to ourselves. The chalet is tucked among the trees, on the hillside above the resort; it is a short walk to the lift down to the ‘front de neige’ and gondola station, but a delightfully quiet spot. Most of La Tania’s chalets nestle up here and, with the snow dumping it down on Monday morning, it was a good sheltered place to be.

Chalet Elliot in La Tania on Monday 12 December 2011

The runs to resort were not open on Monday, given thinner cover; but these were soon transformed by a foot or more of fresh powder falling throughout the day. And lots of people skied the blue run back to the village at the end of the day, satisfyingly unpisted and with a fresh covering of new snow. We skied knee-deep powder and followed treelined pistes covered in squeaky winter snow. Bliss!

Up on the open slopes we skied across to Courchevel on very good snow; most of the pistes and lifts above 1850 are now open. The sun even made a brief appearance, casting a warm winter glow on the slopes. By the time we had gone up to the main ridge at La Vizelle, though, the weather closed in rapidly and blizzard conditions took hold.

Skiing in zero visibility and with the wind whipping snow off the ridges is not much fun, even if there is a foot or more of powder on the slope down. So, we were happy to retreat to the Bouc Blanc above La Tania for our team Christmas lunch; the lamb shanks, veal and tartiflettes went down a treat. Good wine, good company and an excellent opportunity for a group photo or two. Two of our team also reported another satisfactory lesson with New Generation, in difficult conditions for novices – they have highly recommended the school two years in a row now (more about that later).

Then it was back to La Tania for a soak in the hot tubs – complete with delicious mulled wine and homemade chocolate brownies from our very attentive and welcoming hosts, John and Hannika. And this was followed by an excellent four-course meal and wine in the chalet. To be able to relax, chat and chill out in a warming lounge is one of the plus points of chalet holidays; we loved it!

John clearing snow from the access road.

Tuesday morning provided a brief weather window, so it was off over the valleys to Méribel. A lot of lifts here remained closed, including the new gondola. But the blue Biche piste towards the resort was in fine shape and virtually deserted. Lower down there are a few stones and artificial snow, but generally cover is decent now.

This early in the season, and on a weekday, some restaurants were closed until next week. Our chosen runs towards St-Martin-de-Belleville were closed too, so it was back to La Vizelle via Mottaret for a quick lunch on the ridge. Mistake to linger: the bad weather returned and we had yet a second descent off the mountain in high winds and poor visibility.

Ian and Dave above Méribel on Tuesday 13 December

We wanted to burn some calories before our slap-up Christmas meal courtesy of Ski Amis that evening, so followed long runs down to Courchevel 1850 and back up to the La Tania area. Turkey, trimmings, Christmas pudding, wine and crackers … all laid on for us. What a treat! The company’s owners Christine and Ed joined us too, and we had a throughly enjoyable evening.

The early part of the week has been mild, and Monday’s freezing level had risen by Tuesday evening. Snow became rain below 1600m. By Wednesday morning it was raining heavily in La Tania, with fresh snow falling only above the Bouc Blanc. The home runs were a little heavy and wet, but perfectly skiable. And we enjoyed a last run down the Folyères blue in to the resort, albeit hard work near the end.

The good news is that heavy snow is forecast throughout the week, and the temperature is falling again. Anyone venturing out here in the next week or two is going to have some splendid conditions, especially when the weather clears up a bit. Sadly, for us we had to leave it behind and head back to a stormy Geneva.

Team bonding, eh? Enjoying the hot tub at chalet Elliot

Details:

Team WTSS’s stay in La Tania was arranged by Ski Amis, staying in Chalet Elliot. The chalets each sleep eight in four small bedrooms, on a catered basis with afternoon tea, canapés and four-course dinner; plus the use of an outdoor hot tub. Prices start at £599pp for the end of January (excluding travel), although availability in these two chalets is filling up fast.

John and Hannika – Ski Amis hosts



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