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……
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.
And some skiing
Snow-capped peaks as far as the eye can see
A proper mans drink and a ladies tea cup
The roof of Europe
Yet more food
And we even squeezed in a little more skiing
And a slideshow with video footage thrown in for free…..
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”
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.
Any day skiing in Scotland when you’re not in a white-out is considered a good day!
We even had some fleeting glimpses of sunshine, although there were some pretty nasty squalls of snow to make us feel more at home
So a few photos and video of a fun day out.
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 🙂
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
My annual ski trip to France and back to the same place as last year in Mottaret. I think we’ve found our spiritual home for our ski trips.
Some new pals this year. TBF who started skiing before I did came along for the ride. Equal measure of enjoying some time away from the day-to-day grind of mum and housewife and a love of the mountains in winter. Like me she loves the cold clear air of the high alps and the felling of warmth from a mountainous blue skies. Not entirely sure that she completely shares my passion for unsafe velocities on snow but there is hope
Also joining us was The Yorkshire Gardener. Like TBF she started skiing many years ago after spending some time in Colorado. She hasn’t been for many years but seeing as, like me, she’s approaching the half century milestone, decided to treat herself. Spending a week cooped up with me and Uncle Fester is debatable as a treat but it takes all sorts
As always we had a fabulous time. We were a little worried a few weeks before the trip. The Alps up to then had one of the worst snow seasons on record with several resorts suffering badly from a lack of snow. Even in the week before we went the slopes looked bare and rocky. Before and while we there though the weather delivered what for a skier is a perfect mix of regular snowfall intermixed with blue sky. By then end of the week there was metres of the stuff. Luckily we’d seen it coming and moved the car underground. Would have taken us a couple of hours to dig it out had we left it outdoors.
Having some new members of trip was rather nice. It was especially nice seeing TYG enjoying her first skiing for 20 odd years, it really was a special treat for her, although I’m hopeful that she’ll be able to join us on a more regular basis – she gets the croissants in the morning for a start! 🙂
TBF was less enthusiastic as she needed some lessons.
We hired a guide/instructor for a couple of days, the skilled and friendly Rab Macnab.
We split each day into a half day for TBF to try to get her up to Intermediate level and a half a day for me and UF. TBF found the learning a little frustrating but by the last day all the tips were starting to click and things were progressing nicely. Now that both our kids are older, again, I’m hoping she can join us on a more regular basis. Whilst she sometimes got a little down on herself, she improved markedly from the start of the week and I think she enjoyed the week – at least I hope she did
Me a UF had a day on-piste with Rab to help us improve our own technique. UF has had a few lessons over the years but I’ve had just one half day, having been pretty much self-taught. Rab was very generous in his praise after watching us ski but you could see the “but” coming in his assessment from a mile away. Let’s just say I still have a long way to go. Our second half day was off piste and Rab took us to some new little known corners and into one terrifyingly steep drop that we both bottled out of. It was a cracking afternoon though. Rab comes highly recommended and I think it’s a given that we’ll be seeking him out again next year
The rest of the week was a mix of blue sky and heavy snow but we got out every day for a full day which is the main thing.
A trip to remember for all the usual reasons but also this time for the different vibe we got from having some new people with us to share the fun. If only I go skiing every week 🙂
Back from my skiing trip to the Swiss Alps. Had an “awesome” time. Full write up of my adventures to follow once I’ve edited the vast amounts of video I took with my HD Headcam but while I get around to it here are a few photos and a little video clip to get you in the mood.
Cloud Inversion with Mont Blanc behind
View from the apartment balcony
GM and Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc from Mont Fort
Valais Alps from Mont Fort
Bet you can’t wait – but just be patient 🙂
For the past few years our tribe of ex- Manchester University students (plus honoured guests) have been heading up to Scotland for a winter weekend getaway from the pressures – sorry – pleasures of family life. This is the sixth year we’ve done it and previously we’ve stayed in a cheap but not very cheerful hotel near Crianlarich. This year we decided to splash out and try a new hotel and we weren’t disappointed.
Friday 4th March – Glencoe Skiing
We normally gather on the Friday night but this year GM, MM and me took an extra day off and despite there being very little snow (again!) we headed off to try and find some skiing in Glencoe. After the usual hearty and unhealthy fry up in Callendar we arrived at the ski area where it didn’t look promising but the lifts were running and despite the top lifts being out of order we thought we’d give it a go
GM and MM wading through the snow in the car park
Once above 6oo metres at the mid station it was clear there was enough snow for some fun so after a couple of brief runs low down we put the skins on and headed up to the top of Meall A’Bhuridh in overcast but bright and dry conditions. It’s munro number 209 for me and despite GMs protestations that using the ski lift to get half way doesn’t count I’m claiming it – especially as we skinned up it twice this day.
MM and GM enjoying lunch on the summit
Skinning up for the second time
After lunch on the top we did try and get further into the Blackmount but there simply wasn’t enough snow. We satisfied our cravings with some descents back down to the main ski area down Etive Glades. Whilst the snow was a bit heavy it was continuous and, best of all, deserted. and the 400m descent was great. After another couple of runs in the lower area (steep and interestingly patchy at the bottom) we returned to the summit again. The skies began to clear and after some glimpses through the thinning veil of clouds it cleared completely treating us to some spectacular views down over Rannoch Moor and across to Glencoe. We descended Flypaper which is pretty steep and would be fantastic in better conditions especially with the views. Once at the bottom we found we could ski back to the top of the chairlift via the line of the drag lift which provided a really pleasant finish to the days skiing with the ever clearing sky and expansive views
MM with Flypaper to the left
We’d been playing with my Headcam during the day and the collected footage is below. Still need some practice getting the angles right but it is a fantastic way to relive the days fun.
Despite the patchy snow it was a really superb day and well worth the effort to get out. The brew in the cafe with the view across to Buchaille Etive Mor was well earned
A well earned brew
Buchaille Etive Mor
We drove back across to our weekend hotel under a cloudless sky with awesome views of the Blackmount, Ben Dorain and Ben More. We arrived at at the Suie Lodge Hotel to a warm welcome ready for a few beers and a hearty meal to await the arrival of the rest of the posse. By 11pm the numbers were complete minus, alas, UF who had been struck down by nasty case of “feeling a bit glandy”. After we’d recovered from the shock, wiped away the tears and raised a glass to our missing comrade, we proceeded to take the p**s out of him for the rest of the weekend. UF – we salute you!!
Saturday 5th March
After the usual haggling between the 11 of us about where to go – we split into two groups, 4 heading off towards Ben Lawers while the rest of us sought a route befitting our level of fitness i.e. not very far. Independently ED and me came up with a route to traverse Stuchd An Lochain by leaving a car on one side at Pubil in Glen Lyon and then driving round to the dam at Loch an Diamh. We could then start at 400 metres and walk over to the car.
It’s an eventful drive to Pubil as the “road” from Glen Lyon is ever so slightly potholed but enjoyable nontheless unless you happen to be in the back of my car when I’m driving. Strangely no-one fancied that option. Glen Lyon is a wild spot and not somewhere I’ve been before and my eyes were drawn to the north facing corries on Meall Ghaordie – one for next year.
It was pretty damp and dismal when we set off but these weekends are great for catching up with the boys. We only meet up a few times a year so it’s a great chance to catch up and tell a bunch of old stories – a bit sad but they still make us laugh and that’s the main thing.
The dam at Loch an Diamh
A quality baggers path led us easily up to the summit ridge for a lengthy lunch and more stories and chat.
Lunch on the summit
The ridge is broad and easy angled, giving just the right terrain for walking and talking, and as we progressed the cloud thinned in places giving some views north and south into the impressive corries particularly down to Lochan nan Cat. Despite the encouraging signs we never saw the sun that kept promising to show up.
EWO and GM enjoying what passed for sunshine
GM and Lochan nan Cat
Having bagged the summit (munro 210 for me) we felt our appetite unsatisfied and the now named Eternal Weather Optimist (EWO) convinced us that his personal patch of blue sky that forever sits above his head (the deluded fool) would show itself to all of us if we climbed up the Corbett next door. He always says this and always (and I mean ALWAYS) climbs an extra hill at the end of the day so no real surprise at his suggestion. This time however he was nearly right. When we arrived at the summit of Sron a Choire Chnapanich the sky started to clear, there was blue sky above, the sun came out (kind of) and we were treated to some misty views back down to Loch an Diamh. Sadly it never really cleared but in Scotland you take what you can get and we savoured the views, just long enough to get cold and decide that it wasn’t going to clear fully.
"It's blueing up laaads"
Loch an Diamh
Time to head back down to Pubil over the boggy ground that can only be Scotland, play at taxis and back to Suie Lodge for more beer, food and stories – and yes, some of the same ones from earlier in the day!
Sunday 6th March
After saying goodbye to our excellent hosts at Suie Lodge, this morning’s “where shall we go” argument was between Ben Venue and Beinn Chabair.
Suie Lodge Hotel
There was heated debate, factions, claims, counter claims, negotiations, arbitrations before we all gave up and fell in behind the Hard Man (HM) who seemed to have a real urge for Ben Chabair so we met up again in Inverarnan by Loch Lomond.
ED had already set off when we arrived and it took us a good 45 minutes of serious effort (for me anyway) to reel him in. He’s suffered a bit with his health and fitness over the last few years so it’s great to see him really able to enjoy long days in the hills again.
An excellent path got us easily past the really steep lower slopes to emerge on the wild and VERY boggy moorland where the path promptly vanished. It’s a long trek up towards Ben Chabair and the heathery/boggy terrain was becoming a little tiresome but once we hit the wild corrie holding Lochan Beinn Chabair the ground improved and we could see our route above.
Lochan Beinn Chabair, summit looming behind
The weather was pretty dreary and grey but it would be a fabulous place when clear with the complex crags and knolls of the west ridge of Beinn Chabair looming high above. As we climbed higher everything became coated in ice and frost but unlike the day before there was no sign of the cloud clearing. We ascended the south ridge and all reached the summit (munro 211 for me) for the obligatory team photo. ED compares us to the Bash Street Kids in his blog. All I can say is we’re an excellent testimonial for Care in the Community.
Combined Years 350+, combined mental age 100 (mostly Old Father Sheffield)
The route down twists and turns through the aforementioned west ridge knolls. On a better day it would be interesting to take this ridge all the way down and explore the many crags and hollows. On a dreary Sunday with legs wilting after a couple of decent days and long drive home we simply retraced our steps back to the end of Lochan Beinn Chabair and back down to the cars.
As always my flickr photos are here or you can take a look at the slideshow below that I’ve posted on YouTube
The “Jolly Boys Outing” over for another year – roll on 2012!
I’ve now had time to play at being a film editor with my Go Pro HD Headcam footage from Porthcawl. I’ve been using CyberLink PowerDirector 9 to put it all together and it’s pretty easy although takes a bit of practice to choose the right output file and retain the High Definition footage. The clip is below and I’ve also added back into the main blog entry
Hope you enjoy it!
GM is now in on the video editing act. I’ve added his masterpiece to my Skiing blog from January but here it is if you can’t be bothered to scroll down