Archive for the ‘Downhill Skiing’ Category

A Little White Relief   4 comments

Let me take you away from all the grey skies, rain, floods and mud in the UK. First week of February is ski week for me and my ski buddies and we were back in our usual resort, The Three Valleys in France and our usual apartment in Mottaret.


The weather let us down again this year. We had very mild temperatures and 24 hours of rain over the first few days. We even had to spend a whole day indoors – skiing in the rain is no fun at all. After the rain the temperatures dropped, the wet snow froze solid and the fresh snow we had just blew off the top leaving icy slopes behind for the rest of the week.


We managed to stay positive by regular visits to our local and very friendly bar for a few beers.


We had a decent half day on the Monday before more snow arrived.


This was the view from the apartment on the Tuesday.


Time to practice Avalanche rescue in the slopes outside the apartment. You bury a Transceiver in the snow and take it in turns trying to find it.


Despite the fact you can’t bury it very deep and its pretty obvious roughly where it is, it’s much, much harder than it looks. Its a vital skill that we should really practice every year but often don’t.


Whilst the skiing wasn’t as good as in previous years at least the weather was much better in the second half of the week.


No fresh powder to play in but the area is huge and its always good to travel around on skis and just enjoy the crisp, clear, cold mountain air.


Hopefully the photos give you a little bit of lift. They are working for me!


My favourite view across to Mont Blanc.


Plenty of laughs.


Seriously huge amounts of food consumed.


A really great trip with good company and always highlight of my holiday year.


The trip home provided almost as much excitement as the skiing. We flew home in the middle of storm Ciara. Me and UF flew into Liverpool and it was a very bouncy affair indeed. I’m pretty good at handling bumpy flights but this one had me a little anxious, palms sweating. I’ve never felt an aircraft lurch so dramatically before. The Pilot was a star. He gave us regular updates and seemed completely unruffled – at least his tone was! Despite the wind the landing was close to perfect and he earned his round of applause from the Passengers. THO only just made it into Bristol. MM didn’t make it to Birmingham at all. His flight was turned back to Geneva and he had to make it home by train over two days!


Skiing in a Winter Wonderland   18 comments


Just in case any of you are pining for a taste of winter, deep snow and blue skies let me fix that for you. A few photos and tales my my ski trip to the French Alps a few weeks back with some gratuitous food and beer pictures thrown in.

This was the view from the balcony on our second full morning.


Took a while to reach this point after some travel hassle. We do this same trip every year and its normally gone without a hitch. This year we all faced delays and cancellations and losses. Me and THO had our outbound flight cancelled (ironically due to snow in the UK) and had to fly out the next day from a different airport (that flight itself was over an hour late). MM had his flight from Copenhagen cancelled and UF only just made it. Instead of all arriving in Geneva at the same time on Friday we arrived in 3 stages across 24 hours adding to the grief with transfers and car hire. And as final gesture EasyJet and its partners lost UFs bags for a few days!


Despite all this we only lost one rather foggy day of skiing and the rest of the week was a cracker. Fresh, deep snow and abundant blue skies, cold enough to keep the snow light and fluffy, not so cold as to be unpleasant.


Magnificent conditions and views.


And the company of like minded souls (although this is MM and he’s a bit mad!)


Probably the best day over in the quiet far reaches of Courcheval 1650.


Fabulous weather and some awesome untracked powder runs.


Skiing is energetic and much intake of food is required.


Haven’t really got the hang of selfies and the ability to smile at the camera – I was happy, honest.


Beer is not essential but it would be rude not to.


After lunch we took on the off piste route down into the Vallee D’Arval. Its down the valley to the snow covered lake in the photo below.


Amazing route away from the lifts and more deep untracked powder to play in.


Looking back at our own tracks


THO had done this before and was a little disingenuous is stating there was a “bit of flat stuff to exit the valley”. For that read a couple of miles of skating and walking in the sunshine. It was well worth it though!


An evening shot while on our way to do the shopping.


Shopping is a tedious activity at the best of times. We’ve discovered the best way to dull the pain is with a beer in a very friendly and convivial bar around the corner from the supermarket. We went shopping quite often.


Look closely at the photos below and you can see the zip wire cables that cross well over 1,000 feet above the valley.


Its been here a few years but this is the first time I’ve seen it in use. Here’s someone giving it a go, not sure I’d want to!


We’ve had a few leans snow years but this year was superb. Its rare to see the area looking this white.


Evening shot of the Aiguille de Fruit from the balcony.


Not every day was blue sky.


More off-piste fun off the back of Mont Vallon. Utterly horrid at the top, superb at the bottom.


Off-piste skiing is hard work, more food was required. My second favourite eating place this one at Cafe del Mott (don’t remember the name of the best one but it was good)


Our last night saw a superb show of pink Alpenglow from the balcony.


And one final day of skiing through to the last lift before a rather more trouble free journey home.


Superb trip with great mates. Hope I’ve not been too smug. I hear winter may be returning to the UK soon 🙂


Almost a week’s skiing in the Alps   14 comments


January brings my little treat of a week-long trip to the Alps for some skiing.


After a couple of years of less than perfect snow conditions this year was set to be a good one. Tonnes of snow right down to the lowest levels, cold sunny days with a top up of snow forecast for midweek. What could be better


Not having the flu for the entire time I was out there would have been better. Instead of being out every day I had to try to catch a few hours when I felt well enough to crawl out of bed. For the first few days this was pretty much all the skiing I saw – the view from the apartment balcony


It probably wasn’t the best idea to head out into -19C cold dry air with flu but I had to try


I managed a few half days in the first half of the week.


My friends were the best, they never complained about sharing a flat with a seriously sad and ill-looking mate and were saintly in the way they encouraged me to head out, kept my spirits up and did all the shopping and cooking


There are worse places to be ill I suppose and many, many people worse off than me so I put a brave face on things, savoured the great skiing that I did manage and accepted the long lay ups in bed to recover. Good company and many laughs still made it a great week



On the last two days I managed to summon enough energy to ski all day. I paid for it in the evenings but the conditions were superb and as you can see the views magnificent




The classic view of Mont Blanc to the north, showing just how much bigger than the rest of the Alps it is


Some wonderful cloud inversions in the Isere valley


And over towards the Ecrins




I normally take videos but this year it was as much as I could manage just to get out.


As I was trying to keep my exertion to a minimum I was skiing much more in control and strangely felt I was skiing better than I ever have done



It would be easy to look back and be frustrated at how things turned out. seeing the photos now, makes me think of all the good days and half days I enjoyed rather than any regret for the days I missed.

I think I paid a hefty price with my health though. One week after coming back and I’m still not fully recovered although I’m hoping I’ve now seen the back of it. Today has been my first day without painkillers, headaches and a hacking cough. Time to plan some summer holidays in the sun


A Review of 2017   18 comments

I’ve read quite a few blog post in the past few days reviewing other peoples 2017 exploits. I enjoyed them so much I thought I’d do the same. Good excuse to look back through my photos and remember what we got up to. At my age I need help remembering stuff!.

Acutely conscious of the modern trend for these awful “round robin” letters you get at Xmas (we get one of these smugograms every year) I tried to select photos that bring back a particular memory for me so its more a personal, family introspection on outdoorsy stuff, than a blow by blow account of the year. As its based on my photo collection if I didn’t photograph it, it ain’t here!


We started the year off in Tenerife and New Years Day was spent on this rather splendid beach (the earlier part of the day was in the mountains but I cocked up the photos from that part of the day!)


Returning to the British winter, a walk along the Cats Back in the Black Mountains with TBF, memorable for a cloud inversion after a very wet morning. A reminder that despite our travels we are lucky to have some stunning scenery on our doorstep


A solo day out in the Brecon Beacons, the first snowy walk near to home and pretty much the only one with significant snow during the early part of the year (made up for it at the end)


A glorious day out in the Black Mountains with TJS and a cooked breakfast on a cold Table Mountain. I like this photo though as it has Mynydd Troed in centre shot, my very first mountain climbed when I was about 10


And my usual skiing trip (only a weekend this year) to finish off the month. Snow was a bit rubbish but we had a laugh nonetheless



Another solo day on Fan Fawr in the Brecon Beacons. I remember this day for a very mild Friday afternoon (16C) and snow in the mountains 18 hours later


A short walk with TBF on Hatterall Hill



The first weekend of the month is always spent in Scotland with friends of long standing. A new location at Bridge of Orchy and a two out of three days were magnificent winter days. The walk along this ridge high above Rannoch Moor on the first day was superb


Me and TJS also managed a cheeky backpack into the Black Mountains. Straight from work on the Friday for a one nighter in my new tent. Need to do more of these this year


2017 is the year I rediscovered cycling – mainly to help my knee and also to be less of a lazy layabout during the week. The Hardman – a VERY keen and VERY fit cyclist caught wind and insisted we meet up in the Peak for a trip along a couple of the old railway trails. A cracking sunny day and I survived cycling with the Hardman!


And we finally managed a meet up in the Berwyns with Uncle Fester after a few aborted attempts



More cycling and solo trip through the Brecon Beacons on the “Gap” route. Cycling to over 600m was a first for me and I started to feel that I almost, might, actually enjoy cycling.


Easter and a major backpacking trip with TJS to the Cairngorms. The weather was wild and windy but we had a couple of superb wild camps and TJS bagged his first Scottish 4000 footer


I even coaxed TJF out for a bike ride along the Brecon and Usk canal


May Day weekend was mostly in April. Mixed weather but we had a fine gaggle of friends on a hike around Greendale, taking in Buckbarrow and Seatallan



No finer way to celebrate a birthday than a lunchtime hike. This one was on one of my local hills, Bryn Arw with TBF


Followed by a weekend away in Cornwall. It almost felt tropical on the white sands just north of Padstow on one of our walks


Whitsun weekend was spent with our good friends in Silverdale. The Sunday was a real winner with a long but easy stroll and a fantastic pub lunch. Weather was mixed the rest of the time but great company, many laughs and a chance to relax



A different walk from the usual mountains. One of the small hills that overlook Gloucester and across to the Cotswolds. Not something I’d do every day but a nice change


One of the highlights of the year was the long-planned backpacking trip with the kids into the Howgills. Despite poor weather we gave it a go and it was a huge success. The kids really enjoyed the adventure and I’m hoping they have caught the wild camping bug



After the backpack trip I was out of action for a few weeks recuperating and resting after a minor knee op. Didn’t affect my water based fun though, a nice albeit far too long trip down the river Wye


By the end of July I was back in the hills again (the knee op has been a great success I’m pleased to say). A fine evening stroll with TBF and TJS on Ysgyryd Fawr (we even took a cheeky cold beer to drink on the top)


Another “local walk for local people” – this time Garway Hill where we reached the top, saw this nasty storm approaching and raced it back to the car. We won.


Late July brings the annual camping trip to Towyn Farm on the Llyn Peninsula. We packed in lots of walks and beach fun in a very mixed few days of weather. My abiding memory though was this game of Kubb which was huge fun with both adults and kids alike taking it far too seriously and larking about in equal measure. A happy afternoon



The big family trip of the year, a rail trip around some of Europe’s finest cities. An real change from our usual outdoor camping trips and it was real success. We all took took to the city life rather well you might say. One of my best ever holidays. A few photos that made me smile

One of the many fountains in Paris (we called this one the fountain of throttled fish)


A monster thunderstorm in Turin


My favourite seafront walk in Venice


The Colloseum in Rome – of course


Schloss Belvedere in Vienna (courtesy of an unplanned extra couple of hours from a very late train)


The thermal baths in Budapest – “like taking a bath in a wedding cake”


A stroll along the Spree river in Berlin on a sunny Sunday afternoon


And the railway bridge over the Rhine in Cologne



Back to earth with a bump. A few days after the heat and sun of Europe we were walking in the Black Mountains in driving rain and cold winds!


But there was still enough warm weather left for a round of the hills near the Talybont Reservoir in the Brecon Beacons



A walk with friends in the Roaches on the dreariest day of the year (when everywhere else was sunny – I’m not bitter)


More evidence of my new found cycling passion (probably too strong a word). A ride around the tracks of the New Forest while TJS took a look around Southampton University


And why settle for one trip to see major cities when you can do it twice. As a special treat for TJS 18th Birthday we spent a week in Barcelona. Probably my favourite city but despite all its famous sights, this little known hill and its view overlooking the city was my favourite spot



After sunshine comes the reality of winter. A couple of cold but beautiful days. One in the Black Mountains on the Sugar Loaf and Crug Mawr


And one of my favourite walks in the Black Mountain


A delayed birthday treat weekend for TBF saw us in Padstow for a couple of nice meals and walks along the Cornish coast and Dartmoor



And last into the proper depths of winter. The first snows saw me and TJS head into the highest peaks of the Black Mountains


The day after saw the biggest dump of snow I’ve seen in my own backyard for many a year. Walks around my village in deep snow under crisp blue skies were wonderful


The start of the Xmas holidays is marked with an annual get together of my University friends and their families. Always great fun but this year we could climb the hills in snow (rather than wet rain) and play at snowballs


Finally coming full circle with a return to the Canary Islands to spend Xmas in Lanzarote and Xmas Day sunning ourselves on the beach


Well I enjoyed looking through my photos, choosing a few and reliving a great year. Hope you enjoyed it too. All the best for 2018 🙂

Annual Trip to See the Snow?   6 comments

End of January means my annual ski trip treat. Just a long weekend this year as TJS wanted to try it but can’t take a week out of college so I thought it a bit harsh to go for the full week while he stayed home.

In truth not best skiing trip I’ve ever had. The runes were bad after a journey to the airport involving a puncture, a closure of the M1, getting the flight time wrong in my head and me making my flight with only 10 mins to spare (exaggerated a little for effect – the flight was 30 mins late so that bought me some time) There has only been two major falls of snow in the Alps this winter and slopes were amazingly bare and thin. Looks like there is plenty of snow from the photos but trust me this is bare by Alpine standards. It surprised me greatly to see such a change in the usual conditions. Perhaps global warming is to blame but my Uncle Donald in America told me that’s just a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese so it can’t be that


We did have some nice sunny days though and even if the skiing wasn’t as good as it could be it was still great fun. Clear skies and winter air is always a treat and any day spent away from work is a good one







This does of course leave more time for convivial eating and lunchtime drinking in the sun



My camera had another fit and went into strange mode for the next few pictures. Not exactly representative of the views at the time but an interesting effect






A nice sunrise before a cloudy day


It even rained on my last day – skiing in the rain is even more miserable than walking in it. I’ll leave you with my abiding memory from the trip. The Le Red Wine bar which is now my spiritual home. Gave us a decent excuse to go shopping as its next door to the supermarket. If Carlsberg (or Grimbergen in this case) did supermarkets……



Fun in the Winter Sun   10 comments

Back to late January for some rather nice photos of mountains, snow, selfies and over-indulgence



For the first time I went for a whole week’s skiing when fresh snow never fell. Not great for off piste powder skiing but rather good for cruising in the sunshine and topping up the tan.



Obligatory selfie



Ski bums




Blue skies


Cold beers



And some skiing


Snow-capped peaks as far as the eye can see


A proper mans drink and a ladies tea cup


Blazing sunshine



The roof of Europe



Yet more food


And we even squeezed in a little more skiing





Mountains galore



And a slideshow with video footage thrown in for free…..

Boys (and Girls) Weekend – Downhill at Glencoe   4 comments

Late February/Early March brings with it our now traditional get together of a group of friends from the past 30 years. Before we all gather on the Friday night, me and a select group always head up a day early to make a day of things and providing there is some snow this normally involves a day’s skiing at Glencoe Ski “resort”

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

The past few years haven’t been terribly successful. We’ve had not enough snow, too much snow, white-out conditions and broken lifts. This year however, all the lifts were running, the snow was good (you could actually ski all the way back to the car park, rare at Glencoe) and the weather whilst not exactly glorious was not too bad.

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

Any day skiing in Scotland when you’re not in a white-out is considered a good day!

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

We even had some fleeting glimpses of sunshine, although there were some pretty nasty squalls of snow to make us feel more at home

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

So a few photos and video of a fun day out.

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

I’ve managed, through the marvels of SD card readers and cloud storage been able to grab a few photos from GM from this day and others in the weekend so you get the unusual privilege of seeing me in the shots. I’m the short one in the green jacket if you’re interested 🙂

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

glencoe, southern highlands, glencoe ski resort, skiing, downhill skiing

Back to our fine hosts at Suie Lodge (via a cheeky beer at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel) to meet the gang. The weekend was off to a grand start

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