Looking forward to great conditions for UK Half-Term week
9th February 2012
The weather forecast on the radio yesterday morning talked about sunshine, light snowfalls, warmer than recently; almost none of which was true but what failed to be mentioned was the absolutely howling gale which closed a number of chairlifts and telecabines. It’s very disappointing that a breakfast-time weather forecast listened to by many people in resort, and used by so many to plan the day (what to wear & where to go just for starters), can be so wildly out.
The Foret bubble out of Le Praz was open for a couple of hours then closed. The Crêtes chair closed mid-morning as did the Chenus telecabine. These lifts are all on the exposed ridge between Courchevel & La Tania/Meribel and really do swing around when the wind gets up. I was swinging all over the place on the Plantrey chair by the time it got to the top.
When the wind gets up like that, it whips the top layer of snow off the surface of the piste creating a hazy junction between snow and sky and it was almost impossible to move on the green Loze Est into the gale. As the wind was removing the top layer of soft snow, so it was leaving behind hard packed icy snow which wasn’t especially pleasant. Of course this also introduced massive wind chill so all exposed skin became quite painful. I think the best description is that the pistes, and skiers, were wind-blasted.
I retired frozen to my favourite restaurant, the Bouc Blanc, late morning for a plat du jour of boeuf braisé with choice of frites, gratin, crozets or pasta to go with it; all for €14.00. The black run, Jockeys, connects this restaurant directly to Le Praz but it looked a bit too much like hard work when I peered over the first steep wall so I bottled out and took its sidekick called Murettes. This is a red run that goes to the same place and has been ‘snow-cannoned’ this year and is regularly pisted. It’s a lovely run through the trees and much preferable when Jockeys is baring its teeth at you.
When I got to Le Praz there was a huge queue at the telecabine station. Now we don’t do queues in Le Praz but this was a follow on from the wind. Upper runs were closed; people skied low to stay out of the wind. One of the two bubbles out of Le Praz goes high enough to be wind affected and so was closed for most of the day. Try and look at the electronic noticeboards to see if lifts are still open as getting into a dead end like La Tania, Le Praz or 1650 when the main lifts aren’t open is never a good idea.
You’re probably spotting that as I’m writing about yesterday, I haven’t gone out today. Correct! The family & some friends are arriving by plane and car starting from this evening onwards for the half-term holiday so I’ve been ‘making like a chalet-boy’. Changing beds. Cleaning floors. Cleaning bathrooms. Shopping. Hopefully I’ll get at least an 8 out of 10 for my efforts.
I wrote on Tuesday that the weather forecast of ‘Snowing Thursday and all Weekend’ would probably change and it has. Today, Thursday, is bright and sunny and the wind has gone. It looks like we should warm up to a manageable -9°c during the coming week with perhaps a little snow on Tuesday (…but don’t bet on it). Looks like UK half-term week, with all this snow, will be one of the best ever.
Conditions at time of reporting: