Today we are watching the snowfall outside again, and the tennis on telly! Got my tax submitted last night - 20 minutes before the deadline.
The snow has come back with a vengeance. Lots of deep powder, but we could still see the trees outside our bathroom window
and the snowplough had cleared our carpark
and our road was negotiable
but, most importantly, the snow was brilliant... though it wasn't long before the brief sunny interval ended and the weather got back to what we now regard as normal - no more photos today!
It was a sunny day, so we took the opportunity to visit les Contamines - very nice when it is sunny (only) . The snow conditions were probably best we've ever seen there. Like the sign says - it really is a ...
Skiing locally - bottom of the étiole, overlooking Megève town
Went up the Princesse today. Stopped for a quick snack at the old farm beside the "Finance" run. Later, discovered the new restaurant on the right at the bottom of the Princesse Noire. Pleasant and cheap for Megève area. It is also accessible as a left fork off the run-out from the Princesse red/blue
At last the ski season has started properly. We skied locally and renewed fond memories of the Combloux scenery, and typically crowded January pistes!
This was us going up the Pertuis chair at just after 10am and Tricia about to ski down Ambourzales 5 minutes later.
We met Peter, Jim and Ian in the Bachais at 11 and tootled over to la Giettaz for a snack lunch. Nice day.
First news since last season. The Alps have very unusual weather this year. Before Christmas, the Savoie papers said it was the worst since 1900. We remember superb skiing last year but how interesting to read back over the old news items... Today it is snowing, which was desperately needed. The view from our window is much the same as 14th Jan 2014 except it is already deeper and still snowing hard - everything is open, and snow depth is already above annual average - more importantly cold weather is forecast.
The first significant fall this season was on 27th Dec. We had good snow for New Year week but on a warm dry base and many runs closed during the last two weeks of extremely warm weather (see our snow record). The new trick of snowing on Saturdays caused chaos on the roads. People took 12 hours to get here from Calais, elsewhere thousands were stranded. The police in Sallanches were stopping cars and making them fit snow chains before coming up to Combloux (unless they had snow tyres). That is a new thing and it caused delays but not so bad as Val d'Isere, where there were no checks on tyres and someone reported taking 11 hours to descend the first 20 miles because of incidents.
Coming into Combloux: there is a new "Alpage Café" on the right before the pharmacie, and further up on the left, the small bakers is now a pizzaria. The village now has 23 restaurants and two bakers.
The skiing has been amazing. For two weeks now the overnight temperature at 1200m has not fallen below zero and daytime temperatures have been up to 20°C but over 75% of runs were open and in good condition! The south facing run down to Christomet was still snow covered, and some runs such as "les etudiants" were smooth, hard packed and very fast. Piste maintenance is fantastic here - how do they do it? The three runs down to Megeve closed but the link to Giettaz stayed open so we have not felt at all limited.
Yesterday, the runs were still good but wearing thin in a few places. Today we are not skiing, because rain is forecast and we are already in cloud (and we need a rest). Overnight there will be a new snowfall and tomorrow winter will come back to the slopes - just in time...
All of our apartments are currently available until Combloux skiing ends on April 12th.
Snowing again at last. The weather has been bizarre - too warm - but I guess that's better than the floods in UK, blizzards in Florida, and gales in higher resorts...
I've done a few website mods including a daily snow recorder.
We arranged the traditional meal in the Cassina, for 26 of us this year and surrounded by a few tables of bemused frenchmen!
We didn't ski yesterday. It started raining mid-morning (as forecast). We had a drink in the Cassina and booked for New Year's Eve, then went back for dinner, booze and telly - overnight, the rain turned to snow. This afternoon, we played arond in 30 cms of powder and stopped off at the Porrez to book 2nd Jan soirée. This evening it is still snowing. I've linked snow report and lift/piste status into our website.
Combloux had been fun but according to the internet, skiing was better at les Contamines. At the Gorge it was 5°C and calm, but the 2nd stage of the gondola was closed and everyone had to queue for the chair... At gale force the "foehn" is not a warm wind and a blast of icy snow is not soothing to your face.
So, we braved a couple of runs then headed back - no snow on lower slopes, Gorge lift now closed because of gales, big queue for bottom of Signal, then a 20 mins walk back to the car... on reflection Combloux would have been a good choice, other resorts like Chamonix were closed.
Another surprise! We enjoyed skiing Combloux even though there is very little snow, it is well above freezing, and only half a dozen runs are open.
Drove to Combloux. Excellent weather en-route. Surprised to see hardly a patch of snow in the village and green grass in front of our apartment. The same weather that is causing havoc in the UK is pulling a southerly (foehn) wind up over the French Alps.
I did some changes to make the website more usable on iPads, and also put a link top-right to switch between screen and A4 printer format.
[ My menus now scroll off screen, but that's what everyone is used to because sadly the industry shied away from ergonomic methods using "frames" in favour of simpler glossy websites. ]
I've updated some information such as webcams and ski prices which the french sites eventually publish.
This is an interesting time to look at webcams. Snow can be dumped on one peak or one face and not its neighbours. That's only apparent during the first snowfalls.
We've just spent 18 days here and are driving back to the UK this morning. Here's the pretty morning we woke up to. Until now it has been lovely weather around 20°, but we've been busy cleaning and checking the apartments and re-decorating the coin nuit in our own place.
It's been a long and eventful time since our last news. We drove back to UK on Feb 13th to find the house at 6°C. It was a miserable saga until the boiler was replaced on Feb 22nd - it's never been that cold in the Alps!
We had nearly caught up with everyday events by March 8th when we came back to Combloux, and we've been too busy to blog since (in a nice sociable sort of way).
Our daughter Helen has been with us since Friday and the skiing has been superb. Mid-March, and the snow was cold and hard-packed with all pistes open! This morning we woke up to lots of fresh snow, falling fast and looks to be set in for a long time. We went out to play on piste this morning and now we are off to Geneva to catch her afternoon flight.
It's just so beautiful here that you can't help taking lovely pictures even in winter: and even with a modern camera where you just have to point and hope, then find out if it worked next time you get out of the sunshine! We wrote up some fresh thoughts on all this last week, when we had a professional photographer staying here.
Heavy snow again today and being fair weather skiers it's nice to look out at!
It's also a chance to update some of our 90+ website pages - some are complex and some rely on external info that gets harder to find (and internet formats keep changing). We want to buck the trend that websites seem to get less usable by pushing stuff you weren't looking for instead of what you wanted to know.
Upkeep can be a chore but always gratifying to meet people who have found it useful and give us feedback. Latest was: "your tip to use a bungee to tighten snow chains was most helpful".
Yesterday we skied locally and took a few photos (until the camera got too cold) ...
Turning right from the top of the drag towards the Bachais restaurant
Looking back up the etoile red, which was in superb condition
Looking out across Megeve from the same point, Mont Blanc already had its hat on, which is a reliable indicator of snow to come the next day.
Then heading from Jaillet towards Christomet. The sun was already "voilé" and the cold was starting to penetrate the camera as well as my fingers.
Today we took the Princesse lift and skied the Mont d'Arbois area. Good snow and not many people. The photo says it all!
We were late onto the slopes today because I installed a WIFI extender in Apt C. Apts A, B and C all have an excellent signal now. The snow was good, light and fast - and of course very few people around. Now at the end of a lovely afternoon we are sitting at home with a cup of tea looking out across the chamonix valley ...
As far as skiing is concerned the recession does seem to be over! After two years of running at a loss, we've had enough bookings to be in the black again this year and already have twelve bookings for next season. A few people have asked advice about buying apartments. Looking around, it appears that sales are picking up, more are being advertised and prices seem to be rising again.
Great skiing today. The day started overcast but fairly clear, -3°C and about 6" of fresh powder at our apartment. On the pistes there was 10% sun and half metre of powder. It all looks very promising for the February holiday weeks. All of the apartments are empty until Friday, so I can fit some smalls jobs in.
Ski conditions have been highly variable so far this season - just as the weather seems to have been all around the world. Not so many sunny days, temperatures up and down and quite frequent snow or occasional rain. Fresh powder one day and spring snow the next!
We were unable to get out early and by late morning all of the car parks were full and cars were parked for about 1km on the side of the road up to la Cry, so we decided to walk instead ...
... Its another new phenomenom this season: far more day trippers and long weekends for french apartment owners. Combloux is still relatively uncrowded so I dread to think what the other resorts were like.
We walked up towards Cuchet, through the ski de fond pistes ...