Eventually it came.
On the 13th and 14th of January it snowed, it snowed quite a lot. We had about 50cm in town. There was excitement in the air.
Chamonix on a powder day is always a bit of a bundle, everyone is keen to be up first and get some freshies. Understandable really. Its really good fun! On the 15th I met Pete at the bridge behind my house at 8am. We skated through the woods and were at the lift at 8.10. There was already a queue starting to form. Taking our places we huddle, much like Emperor Penguins do, in the cold for the hour wait we had until they opened the doors.
Powder days bring out all the big guns. Not necessarily in terms of the caliber of the skiers but the actual skis. Individual skis that look like a snow board on each foot. Pete had his original 10 year old K2 Pontoons, the first of the big skis. These things are 132mm under foot. That’s enormous. I had my K2 Darksides, these are mere 128mm…still pretty big! You get an awful lot of float when you have planks of that size attached to your feet and the feeling when they are working is marvelous! An holidaying Australian family wondered over to ask a question about what time the lift was going to open. The Gentleman took a look at our skis, then at his piste skis. Chuckled to himself, wished us a good day and wondered off to the ski shop to go and hire some bigger skis..
It was a cold day, a cold windy day. The top lift was on standby, not sure if it would open. In this situation you have choices to make. Very serious choices. Do you queue for an unknown time in the hopes that they will open the lift while the less fussy rip up the powder from the open lifts, or join them and reap the rewards.
Meeting up with Alex, Grant, Nick and James, we decided the latter was the best use of time…actually skiing rather than standing in the cold! We chose well. Two stunning runs off the Bochard left us ready for the top. It was 1030. Sliding into the main station we heard that they were going to open. There was one lift of people ahead of us in the queue. There’s enough mountain to go around.
Standing in the cold munching on bacon sandwiches the blingyblongy tannoy goes off. A French voice explains that they are just making the last arrangements to open and that it was cold….minus 22ºC ambient and minus 50ºC with windchill. A hesitant high pitch sigh waves through the building. Some folk leave the queue…. We put another jacket on.
They were right, it was spankingly cold but the snow was worth it. The wind had had her fun with patches but the more sheltered stuff was deep and predicable. Like flying through clouds, such a good feeling. One magical run down the front face and I was done. I’d had my fill for the day. Also chasing the bigger boys all morning was hard work. I bowed out and skated down the home run to town and was home for tea shortly after.