23 / 01 / 2015

Flying around the ViaLattea

Well, finally winter has arrived in the western Alps. This week it’s actually felt like I’ve been in a ski resort for the first time this season, a fact helped massively by the snow that finally started to fall last week and continued for the first 4 days of this week. Temperatures too have been behaving themselves with them being consistently towards the correct end of the thermometer.

We were managing, only just, before the snow arrived but you could sense the massive relief shared by everyone when the first few flakes started to fall last Thursday. It had been forecast but we dare not count our flakes before they’d fallen.

The period up to the 15th January had been a testing one with high winds causing some of the already reduced number of lifts to close, restricting the skiing area still further. This had the knock on effect of funnelling everyone down the same runs and consequently skiing was becoming a chore.

The combined effects of the natural snow and the cannons firing pretty much every day this week has allowed a few more runs to be open which is a very welcome sight. Runs that were bare a couple of weeks ago are now open and skiable.

The link across to Montgenevre is also open and with today being the first time we’ve had blue skies in nearly a week I decided to see what it would be like to ski across to France. It started well. I was the first into the bowl so had the well groomed slopes all to myself. When I got to the bottom the first fly landed in the ointment. Something was wrong with the chairlift. “10 minutes” shouted the lifty so I decided to go for my first coffee.

Sure enough about 10 minutes later everything was working again and up I went to the top of Fraiteve before descending down into SanSicario. I was back on track. The snow underfoot was good and I seemed to have the whole mountain to myself. I took the gondola down to Cesana and then started the series of 3 lifts back up the other side of the valley to the top of the Monte della Luna area.

This is one of my favourite places to ski. The runs are easy reds that wind through some stunning scenery and the snow up high always seems to be good. Today was no exception. As I neared the bottom of Claviere I sensed something was not right. My normal route to the bottom was closed despite the valiant efforts of the cannons and then when I finally hiked up to the lift that takes you to the border a second much larger fly landed with a splat right in the middle of the ointment.

I could see people on the lift but it wasn’t moving and there was an ever increasing queue at the bottom of it. It soon became apparent that this wasn’t going to be a 10 minute job. I decide to cut my losses and head back to Sauze.

It turned out that it stopped for 45 minutes but eventually got going but by then I was heading back to familiar territory and lunch at the Orso Bianco.

Despite the failed attempt to get to France I had a great day skiing on some good snow. Yes there is still the odd stone about and an ice patch here and there but generally the skiing is good. I even managed to find a little off piste to boot.

The 7 day forecast looks promising with possibly more snow towards the end of next week, some forecasts even have a light dusting for this weekend. I don’t want to end on a low but a 3rd possible fly in the ointment could be Friday when temperatures look to rise and the snow could possibly turn to rain in the village.
  

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