Originally published 26 December 2017
Snowing like crazy on the top of the mountain
The blog is running a bit late. There was a technical issue and I couldn't upload photos. The website folks got it taken care of quickly, so here we are!
We did our regular morning thing and decided to repeat on our favorite ski area, Les Houches. It fit our style better, the terrain was more our speed, it’s a big resort, we just liked the place. Now that Christmas is over, we found out that it is quite popular with Europeans as well.
Our skiing days so far have been incredibly uncrowded with a minimum of people on the slopes and absolutely no lift lines. The week between Christmas and New Year is a big week for skiers as well as the local economy. Today, there were noticeably more people on the slopes. We actually had to wait in a lift line at the start of the day, but compared to American lift lines….we didn’t really have to wait in a lift line. We’re talking 3-4 minutes.
We board the telecabine (gondola in the states) and for the first time share the ride with other people. The lift line only took a few minutes and they were loading the gondolas light. After this, we didn’t have anymore lift lines even though the slopes were somewhat crowded. There are a lot of lifts, they move quickly, and when you ride a lift here you’ll ski for an hour or so before you have to get back on one. Even crowded, it’s still a great place to ski.
On the slopes at Les Houches
Laurie had remarked on the way down the valley about the fog on the mountain. While there was some fog, the bulk of what we saw on the mountain was the snow line. By the time we got to the top it was really coming down. We were cautious due to the “flat” light, skied our way down the mountain and the visibility improved.
We took a late morning break and had pastries and coffee right at the bottom of the lift. You can literally ski right down to the bus stop in the town of Les Houches. Across the street from the bus stop is a heavenly bakery/coffee shop. Holiday treats were common at work before I left but I tried my best not to eat them. I told folks at work that I “was in training” for France as they are serious about their pastries here. The photo in the slide show will bear witness to this.
We finished our coffee and pastry and headed back to the slopes. We headed back up top and it was just dumping fresh snow. We were skiing in that powdery snow that you can hear “squeak” when you ski on it. While the visibility was spotty, the snow was the best I’ve skied in my lifetime. Carving turns was effortless, with no ice chatter. It was simply fantastic.
While the snow was amazing, visibility was a real roll of the dice. We were skiing in close to white out conditions. It was getting difficult to see the trails, and when a little fog rolled in, we had some real trouble navigating. I missed a trail once and we wound up on another advanced slope. The snow conditions were so good though, that we skied it down to the bottom and got back on the lift.
It was snowing so hard that the snow stuck all over Laurie
With the dicey visibility, and our fantastic luck with conditions this week, we decided to count our blessings and made our last run of our adventure. We got to the bottom early afternoon and boarded the bus back to Chamonix. We put 4 fantastic ski days on the books with no injuries and no problems. We did good. No………we did fantastic!
We dropped our ski clothes at the apartment, and returned our rental ski equipment to the rental place. We rented from Chamonix Ski (www.chamonixski.com) and the equipment was top notch, the staff was great, they gave us great tips on which areas would be best suited for us, and they were right down the street from our apartment! If you’re in Chamonix, these are the guys you want to rent from.
We were going to try and make the ice caves at the glacier, but ran out of time. We decided to wander the town of Chamonix and enjoy our last afternoon/early evening before we had to pack. The downtown had came to life just like it had on the slopes. There were tons of people in town and it was starting to get crowded. There were a LOT of people in town.
We opted to get a bit to eat and wound up in a burger place called Poco Loco. We weren’t sure but we get to the door of the place and it is covered with Trip Advisor ratings and awards. We go in and the place is really crowded. It’s not difficult to be really crowded in the place as it is around eight feet wide.
The dining area at Poco Loco
No, that’s not a typo. The place is literally about eight feet wide. It’s on two levels with the bathroom in the basement. It has a ship ladder that takes you from floor to floor. It has ceilings in spots that are so low you have to crouch. The fire marshal that checks my Tennessee jobsites would have a stroke if he ever saw this place.
They seat you wherever they have seats. Doesn’t matter if you’re with the folks or not. If there’s space at the table, that’s where you’re going. We wound up sitting a family from Holland, a mother and her two grown daughters. The mother was a teacher, one of the daughters was an engineer living in Amsterdam, and the other daughter was a ski instructor/rock climber who lived in Chamonix and was planning on moving to Spain. They were all together for the holidays and were going skiing the next day.
We had a fantastic time having lunch with them. We talked about travel, languages, where we lived, where they lived, hobbies and interests, they were great to chat with and made our lunch so much more enjoyable. We love meeting people like this and had a great evening with Anne Marie and Russ at the Monkey Bar and we had a great lunch with our new friends from Amsterdam at Poco Loco. Meeting people from other places in the world when we travel makes it so much more educational, as well as enjoyable. We hope to meet more people like them on our trip.
We wandered a bit more downtown, did some souvenir shopping, and headed back to pack. Tomorrow we catch a bus back to the Geneva airport and a flight from there to Nice. We’re hoping all goes well as there is a snow storm moving in. Wish us luck on getting to the airport on time. We’ve got our fingers crossed.
Chamonix slide show, day 5