Sunday, 29 January 2012

Too cool for school?

With the exception of those lucky enough to have practically been born on skis or those who have amazing innate ability, skiing and snowboarding are not easy sports to master. Even once you have got the basics the slightest thing can throw your progress off course; a change in conditions, a bad habit picked up unconsciously or more often than not simply forgetting what you already know.  Having invested money in a winter sports holiday why not invest a small amount more and take lessons? The reasons why people don’t always take lessons are varied, for many it is the thought of a week of “bend zee knees” and “follow me” when they would rather be with their fellow holidaymakers even if it’s painful to keep up at times.

If you are reluctant to join a group lesson have a think about private lessons which are usually for between 1 and 3 people and can accelerate you progress and more importantly your enjoyment so you get the very best out of your time on the slopes. We have recently enjoyed the company of friends from Australia, it’s a long way to come and we haven’t seen them for 4 months so we wanted to get around the mountain together safely and have fun. We are skiers they are boarders, one person has about 6 days snowboarding under their belt the other has enough experience to have been Heli boarding. The solution to our predicament was in the form of Marmalade – that is Ski Marmalade and a couple of private lessons with Greg Jones. So what was so good about the sessions? Well according to our happy visitors:

  • ·         Greg was observant, quick to pick up on what could be improved
  • ·         The suggestions on how to improve were clear and concise
  • ·         The amount of information and guidance given was well paced and not overwhelming
  • ·         Greg listened as much as he spoke – sounds silly but learning anything has to be a partnership
  • ·         They left with a clear idea of key things to work on
  • ·         They got around the mountain – when you are with an instructor there is no time wasted pouring over Piste maps you can cover a lot of ground quickly
  • ·         They had FUN – isn't that what a holiday is all about?

So if you can afford a ski holiday you can afford lessons, here in Meribel a 3 hour private lesson for between 1 and 3 people will cost you between 200 and 300 Euros. It’s a small price to pay and will no doubt increase your holiday enjoyment immensely. So even if it means leaving your friends for half a day take the plunge, unless you are a hairdresser you probably don’t cut your own hair so unless you are a ski Instructor don’t try to teach yourself or someone else skiing or snowboarding.
Greg and his colleagues at Ski Marmalade can be contacted at:  they offer other great mountain experiences other than private lessons so check them out. Learning from a professional really is quite painless so treat yourself and give it a go!

Snow update - another glorious week here in Meribel and it's snowing again, pictures to follow on next Post

Monday, 16 January 2012

January in Meribel

January is considered by many people to be the short straw of times to ski, it has a reputation of being cold, sometimes very cold. We have skied many times in January, coming from Australia it is our main holiday period so it is relatively easy to get time off work, far from being the short straw we actually think we hit the jackpot each year. January in Europe is the time everyone goes back to work to recover from the Christmas and New Year excess, once the Russian New Year is over the slopes are empty, everyone relaxes a little after the frantic busy festive period and there is time for a chat with shopkeepers and business owners.

This last week has been January at its' best in Meribel. The sun has shone every day and the snow is in perfect condition right across the Three Valleys. We have skied empty slopes, lift queues are non existent and there has been time to finally unravel the mystery of that red crocodile which we posted about back in December. The Crocodile is part of the "Monumental Works " Exhibition which has resulted in a wide range of pieces of art appearing in the villages and on the mountains around the resort. This is not a new idea in Courchevel and certainly adds interest and puts a new perspective on the amazing scenery which nature has provided. Here are a few snaps of other pieces in the Exhibition we have seen while skiing this week

In addition to these amazing pieces some of the bubbles on the Gondola lifts have become moving pieces of art painted by a selection of 20 major artists. We will try and catch a couple of those this week and report back.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Weather and more weather

An extraordinary amount of snow has fallen in Meribel since the second week of December but the last 24 hours has still caused surprise. Yesterday morning we skied on a soft layer of fresh snow in reasonable visibility on the lower slopes of the valley. 
Limited visibility especially higher up

In the afternoon we crossed over to Courchevel and by the time we had decided the visibility was not too great and the wind was increasing the lifts had started to close. As a result we endured a difficult descent from Saulire in high winds and almost zero visibility. By the time we reached Les Allues heavy snow was falling and abandoned vehicles were blocking the road. News from  Val d’Isère  was that the road from Bourg St Maurice was closed due to high winds and avalanche risk, by the early hours of the morning the storm reached Meribel causing mini cyclones of wind blown snow up and down the main street in Les Allues. At 4.00am power was cut and by morning everyone was realising how dependent they were on electricity and mobile phone connection.

Early morning snow clearing required to free the residents from this Les Allues Apartment
Sitting at home in the decreasing temperature seemed pointless so we set off for Meribel Village and skied away a couple of hours in soft fresh snow which continued to be topped up with ongoing fresh snowfalls. Loud explosions reverberated around the valley as the Pisteurs blast away the potential avalanche risk. Off Piste today was rated 5/5 which is extremely dangerous due to the amount of fresh snow and the added danger caused by the effect of the high wind overnight.
The following pictures were all taken around the Altiport and Meribel Village, not too many people about but an awful lot of snow. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.