Monday, 12 January 2015

A mix of bon and non-bon.

First lesson of navigating ski-routes on mountains: never assume things are as they may appear to have been.

Second lesson: always plan escape routes.

So this morning we went up on the Super Morzine cablecar (telecabine) then the Zore chair lift. We did the blue Serraussaix run that we covered first yesterday to the Proclou chairlift, then went up that. At the top to the right there is a steep descent to enter the Proclou blue run, shortly followed by a turn to the right again for the Proclou 1ere Glisse GREEN run down through the woods past The Stash stunt area.

This green run has enough steep bits a our level to challenge our control abilities and enough gentle parts the rest of the time that we could relax and just enjoy the runs down without stress. It worked well for us and we managed a couple of hours skiing quite happily before stopping for a crepe and a rest at the Yeti creperie at the top of Proclou by Avoriaz.

Re-charged, Chris decided that she felt confident enough to attempt the blue Proclou run, by the first run after lunch is normally poor - muscles have tightened and cooled, the body feels rested, but is stiff and the focus has been lost. The initial run in that we'd been doing was fine, but then things went downhill rapidly (see what I did there). The sun had been out & made the slopes really slippery, and speed & control were much harder. First we managed a tumble together, then someone came past and caused Chris to fall over, badly bashing her nose on the piste and bruising her hip (there's now a large swelling).

So we had blood, trembles, tears of fear & pain, complete loss of confidence and injuries to sort out. We cautiously skiied down the rest of the slope (no way out of that one!) then attempted to work out a way off the mountain without skiing - wasn't going to happen! If someone falls & is injured then the rescue teams can stretcher them off, but if you're just a bit bashed & wobbly then it's up to you. The only ways to get around are the lifts, and *mostly* they only go up, the exceptions being the 2 cablecars running to the Avoriaz plateau. Getting up & getting down is your responsibility, and ain't no-one gonna help you (there are signs about this at the cablecar station & in the travel information).

We couldn't go back down as we'd come up because the 2 runs to the Zore chairlift were closed so the only way back was back up to Avoriaz & take the blue to (as we thought) Lindarets like we'd done the day before. Except we found the Lindarets run to be one of the 'impossible' runs from yesterday.

So we walked in ski boots across to Avoriaz in the hope of finding a taxi etc to take us down. No taxis in evidence (the streets are full of snow!). Calling the rep was sort-of helpful, but he wasn't really listening when I tried repeating his directions back to him, and they did not prove terribly useful anyway.

So we walked on.

We'd pretty much reached the end of our strength and feet had reached the point of pain when we heard a horse sleigh approach - an Avoriaz taxi! They took us to the lift station, and from there we managed to hobble eventually back.

Tomorrow skiing is off the menu.

Chris is in quite a bit of pain now (I just asked - "less miserable, but sill in a lot of pain") after ibuprofen & tiger balm consumed as suits each and a hotish bath. Whether she can go out at all tomorrow or not remains to be seen (I'd like to be on the mountain for sunrise & sunset, for Chris that's too much) but we'll find a way to manage. As for this evening, the restaurant has a 'vin du jour' and I think we may be sampling some of that later.


  1. That's too bad. A day going so well and then tanking so completely. Sorry you guys.
    I'm impressed that you are up there at all, taking on the mountains and even skiing. That's pretty cool, James Bond cool.
    ...just watch out for the truck sized snow blowers.

  2. Thanks Randall. Skiing is so much fun when it goes well, and I love that sensation of having done something a little 'on the edge' successfully, even if it's pretty tame really. We're philosophical about it, and though I may have another day on the mountain tomorrow with Ben (after a week on a snowboard he's been teaching others how to do it) that's probably 'it' for the skiing.

    Chris is really the James Bond level brave one in this. She's conquered fear that made her literally weep from fright, and picked herself up time and again from painful falls to keep going. Wisdom knows the difference between pressing on despite everything when it's a matter of life & death and deciding enough is enough when it's entirely non-essential.

    And we did get a ride in a real sleigh yesterday. ;)

  3. I was quite moved reading your posts - it feels like a very different, rather more precarious experience than the skiing we have been doing here in Japan. Thinking of Iwatake, for example, the only way down from the top of the mountain is either via the Gondola, or down a Red run, which at least is well signposted and in a few places has easier options, if the skier takes it easy.

    And, maybe it's a cultural thing, but here if someone gets themselves in the wrong place, the lift staff will make it easy for a beginner to go down a chair. There is one place in particular I'm thinking of, where a rather innocuous looking chair takes you up from the top of a green run to a point where your three options are, ski down the olympic downhill practice course, ski down the steepest part of the olympic downhill course, or ski down a crazy off-piste section between the trees. I regularly see lost beginners going back down that chair.

  4. Fern, I think it is a cultural thing. The French seem to have an attitude of "this is how it is, so what happens is your responsibility now". In a way I like it: the lack of barriers on natural hazards, the possibility of doing something not completely safe without someone waving their arms and wringing their hands about it. At the same time it can make for (possibly artificially) scary situations, where it *feels* like you could get lost & not be found until the spring thaw.

    In retrospect I suspect if we begged a lift attendant then we'd have been allowed down, but it felt like a difficult situation at the time.

  5. I was reminded of this when we saw a chairlift in operation yesterday at the Chavannes slope. Many chair lifts go at a moderate speed, but this one was really quick, literally knocking people off their feet when they were stood waiting for the chair. There was one small child scooped up and nearly spat off again because they couldn't cope with it. To be honest I've never seen anything like it elsewhere, and it looked like an accident waiting to happen. We used that same lift today, and although it was a little jarring, it wasn't too bad, so maybe someone had tried cranking up the speed.

  6. Toni - I guess it's the balance. In Japan, if you want to ski off the side of a run or trail, through the thick stuff, or whatever, no-one is going to wave their arms. But, I've not had the experience of feeling lost on a run either. On one mountain, there's a wide open ridge red run where visibility often gets poor on snowy days. However, there's a huge navigation light (like a lighthouse lamp), which even on bad days gives you something to ski towards.

  7. As you suggested, different cultures each have their own way of handling things, whether polite and careful deference to the customer or a slightly indifferent gallic shrug.


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