12 / 04 / 2012
So that’s another season under the belt. It’s fair to say that the 2011/12 season wont be remembered for the plentiful snow and fantastic off piste. Officially we had less then a meter of natural snow all season.
Back in the day when I first started doing seasons this would have been a disaster. My mind takes me back to my first season in 1988/89. The only slope to open briefly was Clotes thanks to it being the first slope to benefit from cannons. Nowadays as a result of some serious investment from the Via Lattea, cannons cover most slopes which is an absolute must in these days of climate change and unpredictable snow.
It’s not enough to just have cannons. You have to look after and ‘farm’ the snow too. The team in charge of the Sauze area deserve a special mention for working miracles this season. We’ve seen temperatures range from -29 to +35, we’ve had extraordinary high winds, sun, snow (a little) and rain but despite this we’ve had good skiing all season with all the links remaining open right up until the end. (high winds understandable closing links occasionally).
And so it is because of this that I find myself encouraged and optimistic for the future. If we can ski for 4 months of the year on less than a meter of natural snow then surely people should feel safe booking their winter holidays to Sauze?
We’d all prefer waist deep powder and perfect on piste snow but if this season is towards the lower end of the epic scale then happy days!
Irony is something that isn’t lost on me so after waiting all season for the first big dump of snow I did find myself chuckling quietly to myself Tuesday night as I dug my car out of the snow and set off early for my ferry back to the UK for fear that I wouldn’t be able to get down the mountain if I left it any later.
On the day the lifts shut the heavens opened and we had more snow in 12 hours than we had all season. For those workers that are left behind, Montgenevre and powder beckons, that’s if you can get out of Sauze. I’m not bitter though and as I spent 12 hours in my car crossing France my thoughts never once turned to what the guys were up to, honest.
It’s been another good bunch of workers this season and once again we’ve been spoiled with live music options. The Chaps, formerly known as Beer Pressure were back out along with a new band who after much deliberation called themselves ‘The Pistey Boys’. Both groups provided some very memorable evenings and hopefully both will be entertaining us again next season.
The Big Snow Festival made Sauze it’s home for the first time at the end of March. They brought with them a colourful bunch of party goers all there to indulge themselves in some top music with the mountains as the back drop. Hopefully they’ll make Sauze their established home for the next few years.
A summary of the season wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the new lift layout. The changes that came into play this season seemed to have caused some people much distress. I do not count myself among them.
It’s obvious that something had to be done about the old 2 man Rocce Nera chair lift which takes you out of Sportinia. As funds were not available for a brand new chair lift the only option open to the lift company was to move the Triplex quad. This does mean that Sportinia becomes somewhat of a bottle neck during busy periods and potentially a single point of failure for those needing to get out of Sauze into the wider area.
Having skied all season I can honestly say that this did not cause me any issues. There was the odd occasion during New Year or the February half term when I felt I didn’t want to stand in the queue for Rocce Nera so I simply by passed it and either skied down the new Grand Pista to Jouvenceaux, where there were no queues, or down red 11 to Lago Nero (top of Clotes).
Lago Nero was another new configuration. This was the old Pian della Rocce chair which was basically swung round on its axis to finish just above Sportinia. Because of this change runs like 11, 29 and 2000 became more accessible with a quicker recycle time. It’s important to say that no runs were lost due to this change.
Even at the height of the season when queues were at their worst it still took me less time to get from Sportinia to the top than it did last season. In these hard times I welcome any money spent as a positive sign and who’s to say that’s the end of improvements? There’s talk of further changes and additions coming in the future so watch this space.
I’m conscious that this is fast becoming a novel so I’ll leave it there. It just remains for me to thank everyone who has read my ramblings over the season. Also thank you if you’ve liked and or contributed to the facebook page. I’m already looking forward to next season and hopefully meeting a few more of you around Sauze. Until then enjoy your summer and be warmed by the fact that we only have another 240 days or 345,600 minutes until the start of the 2012/13 season!