Friday, 20 February 2009

Snowshoeing for everyone!

It's been a month of mixed weather so far - very cold, lots of snowfall and pretty windy. But in between times we've also had some great sunny days and even during the bad weather we have been able to find good conditions by switching between countries - being based on the alpine frontier we have the choice of slipping into Switzerland or across into Italy if the weather is dodgy here in France.
The fresh snow allowed us to perfect the Snowshoe Roll and other similarly upside down techniques, most of which seemed to involve digging.

We've had some great walks far from the crowded ski pistes. This last week there were holidaymakers from Britain, Swizerland, and two thirds of France, but the lift-free mountains were also crowd-free - most days we don't even get to say one "Bonjour".

There is amazing snow-cover throughout the Alps region - unusually so, since most years it seems if one side of the Alps has lots of snow, conditions are leaner on the other. But not this year. And more is forecast, as soon as Sunday.

Over in Italy I have been accompanied several times up my favourite peak by a local village dog who not only loyally stays with us despite the temptation of faster skiing groups, but also entertains us with his antics in the snow - we could not ask for a more energetic and joyful companion.

And so the winter continues. These last few sunny days could lead us to believe that spring is coming but don't be fooled - it's only mid February - there another two months of snowfall yet. But the days are getting longer, the sun stays out later and there are SO MANY SLOPES TO RUN DOWN!!!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

An amazing week!

A week ago the forecast was "iffy", the weather turned cloudy Sunday evening and the next few days, whilst not looking bad, did not look really great.

How wrong that forecast was! It went from good to better to amazing! The snow was generally great for snowshoeing (although pretty blown for skiing above tree-line) and the weather cleared to perfect by Tuesday - the clarity of the views was exceptional.
This was a week where we were able to do everything we set off to do and by the end of the week we'd run out of superlatives to describe the conditions. We did classic snowshoe summits in France Switzerland and Italy and also had a wonderful two days at the Grand St Bernard Hospice where there were only 6 other people staying. It must be said that the snow there was blown to bits and I was grateful not to be skiing. This meant that there were very few skiers around, but snowshoes will plough through anything and plough they did.
The weather has now changed and tonight they are forecasting 70cms of snow over in Courmayeur and 40cms in Turin! We are just hoping all this will stabilise for next week in the Aosta Valley. Meanwhile for this week we have a mixed forecast but already today was okay in the woods with fresh snow. And over here on the north side of the massif we are somewhat protected by the Föhn so let's hope for a week half as good as last week, which would be just fine.