I’m sitting here waiting to press my coffee as big, fat flakes fall into the valley. Waiting seems to be the name of the game this winter. From Zabljak, to Snowbird, to Chamonix, we’re either waiting for the skis to open or the clouds to clear. Skiers, so picky about the weather.
Yesterday we woke up to snowy skies and the valley socked in. Since I just arrived, I’m excited, but the rest of our crew has been here a few weeks and is getting frustrated by the foggy, low visibility skiing, and lack of big days. As my mind wandered to the Grans Montets, they discussed driving south to Cassis for a few days of climbing on the Mediterranean. After a long breakfast of coffee, eggs, and checking the webcams again and again, Crystal and I decided to investigate the conditions at the Grans Montets.
Pea soup would be a generous term. Despite Crystal’s skittalicious attire, if she skied more than 10 feet in front of me, she was gone. The snow was creamy where it was fresh, hard and icy where it had scrapped off. The first run was an exhausting length of European norms, with miniature, ultra-controlled, turns. Skiing like that when you’re 5’2″ on 178’s is like wrestling a marlin. As the afternoon rolled in, the clouds slowly parted, and we could see rays of light across the valley at Flegere, calling our name.
After dodging beginning snowboarders down the solo open piste to the valley, we ran for the bus and headed for the next area. Luckily my 4-hour pass was valid at all Chamonix resorts, (do you hear that Park City, Deer Valley, and the Canyons?) and we rode the tram into the sunlight. Flegere’s playful, rolling terrain greeted us with cream cheese powder as we played through mini couloirs and ogled the lines above us. But sadly, we had a time limit and wanted to make the tram at Brevent before my four hours were up. After a few runs, we took the tram to the next resort and hustled to make it to the top for a glass of gluwein.
The cafe at the top was already closed by the time we got there, but luckily, Crystal had explored this area during her previous trip to Cham, and took us on a quick hike to a small couloir. It was a smooth, small cornice into soft, big turns. A pretty sweet end to the first day!