Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shreddin' the Pow!

Got back from Chamonix yesterday and boy was it incredible! I planned on going to Crans Montana on Saturday but I met a girl, Mallory, Friday night who said she was going to Chamonix Sunday and Monday with one of my friends from my cours de vacances so I opted for that instead. I knew beforehand that Chamonix is super well known for skiing, but I was a bit hesitant because I read that if there isn’t fresh snow in Chamonix it’s not good for skiing.  At the same time, the forecast showed that it was supposed to snow in Chamonix Saturday, Sunday and Monday. And it didn’t just snow, it dumped!

On the train up to Chamonix we could see that it was already snowing even at the lower altitude, which was very promising. Once we got off the train we found the hostel and decided that we would go for the afternoon since it was already around 11:00. There were four of us Mallory, from Vancouver, Rob from Australia and Calvin from Hong Kong. Adri, a friend from my cours de vacances would show up at night because he wasn’t feeling well in the morning. Among us Mallory and I were the only ones who had ever been on the pistes before. Calvin decided to rent skis and Rob a snowboard.

Once we arrived on the mountain at around 1:00 we could barely see, the snow was coming down so hard. Mallory told me beforehand that we wouldn’t stay with the rookies all day and I was content with trying to teach them a few things but we basically showed them how to put on the skis and snowboard and where the bunny slope was and then Mallory told them that we would part ways because the snow was too good to pass up. I felt that this was kind of mean but I’m glad I’m not the one who said it. We were hoping they would want lessons but they decided to give it a go on their own. The pistes were very poorly marked and we had to ask people how to get to where we wanted to go especially since we couldn’t see anything.  The snow WAS fantastic but the visibility was not.  In fact I was following Mallory and then suddenly lost her and we would find each other until 1.5 hours later.

That night Calvin decided he wanted to leave because he wasn’t enjoying himself. Apparently he hit some kid, got told off in French and fell into a ditch and had to have people help him out. He returned his skis but was too late to take the last train back to Switzerland so he ended up staying the night. We saw Adri coming when we were on our way to dinner and told him he could take Calvin’s bed because we didn’t know that Calvin didn’t make the train. Nobody was working reception after 10:00 p.m. and there were plenty of extra beds in the hostel so Adri ended up getting to stay the night without paying.

There was a guy our age from London, Julian, whom we met in the hostel and he was telling us about his experiences that day. He was telling us where he was riding there was tons of untouched powder so we asked he could show us the next day. Turns out, he was vacationing for 2 weeks in Chamonix and was snowboarding every day. He was on day 7 and apparently just started that week which seems incredible, since he was really good.

It continued to snow through the night and in the morning it was clear. Perfect conditions for a powder day! We caught the lift up in the morning and were skiing by 10:30. I tried for a little bit to show Rob some things on the snowboard but then we reached an untouched powder field and that was the end of his lesson. He understood though and was repeatedly saying he didn’t want to slow us down. The pow is definitely all that it is hyped up to be. I wasn’t very good and still am not very good at riding it, but it was so much fun! We were the first ones to touch that pow so we were making our own lines. By around 1:00 the ice started to show up since it hadn’t snowed in Chamonix in over a month and the powder was being depleted.  Julian showed us another part of the mountain where he was and said the pow there was better and less touched.  We went over to explore and it was just as fun as the morning. In some places the snow was turning hard but mostly it was still perfect. We found a rock that was super fun to jump off of and there was no fear about not landing because the snow was up to our waists in some areas. And finally on the last run there was another little natural jump that I hit and got 4-5 ft of air, according to Julian, and landed it! It was such a blast!! I can’t wait for another powder day, which might not happen while I’m here but makes me want to continue once I return stateside so much more!

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