Today was the day we were supposed to wake up to a white Chamonix. We had been manically watching the forecast for the past few days and all signs pointed to a nice dump of snow overnight. However, when I woke up at 5 AM and looked out the window there was nothing. Then around 6:00 I hear what no skier ever want to hear - rain on the roof. Then it got louder and louder without a flake in sight. It is so depressing to know there is precipitation in the area and it is falling in the wrong form. One of the great things about Chamonix is the elevation change. Just because it was raining at 3300 feet, where Chamonix town sits, does not mean it was raining up at mid mountain at 6000 feet, let alone at the top of the mountain at almost 11,000 feet.
We kept our fingers crossed and Peter and I went to go up to Grand Montets to check the snow and give a report on conditions. We optimistically packed a lunch and headed out. Once we were halfway up the first gondola we started to see white on the trees and then we saw a ski line carved through fresh powder. The mountains all around us were blanketed in white. (Forgive the poor quality pictures, I am not up for bringing the camera yet, so these are with my phone).
Now I have to say if you don't ski you will not appreciate this, but if you do ski and have experienced a good powder day you will know the bliss that was about to ensue. Then halfway up the second lift the clouds broke and it was sunny - a double whammy - snow and sun, what we call a bluebird day. I sent a quick text to Stacie to let her know the conditions looked great and then buckled in for what looked like a great ride.
We popped out of the lift, buckled our boots down and took off. With the first turn I knew we were in for a great day. We bounced down the mountain floating in the powder hooting and hollering with joy. There is nothing like fresh tracks under blue skies.
Stacie texted back and said she was on the way, but Lea was not coming - I was bummed. Peter and I kept doing runs while she worked her way to the mountain. Then on about our 5th run it happened. We were skiing a steep line when I looked hear Peter yell. I turned and looked back up to see his ski running down away from him and Peter on his back. He kept yelling "no, no, no", which I thought was a little dramatic for what seemed like a little fall. I chased after his ski and finally caught it and yelled to make sure he was ok. He said "I am fine, but the front of my binding is still on my boot". I looked at the ski and sure enough he had blown out his binding. It was the price we paid for buying used rental skis.
Fortunately we were about 3/4 of the way down the mountain, so we strapped his skis on his back and he boot packed out. It was a pretty major setback and he was disappointed. Just then I heard a ping on my phone - Stacie had arrived.
Once we made it to the run that took Peter to the lodge, I hurried on to meet up with Stacie. I was a little early and as it happened Peter and Stacie showed up at the exact same time, then 10 seconds later Lea appeared! They had played a joke on my by saying she was not coming. I was thrilled to see her out here. These mountains are huge and the runs can be overused and icy, so I was thrilled to see Lea continuing to try to make it work and get better, it took a lot of courage, but that is something Lea has in spades.
We quickly made a plan. I Peter and I would trade boots and skis and I would head back to town to see about a repair, while they stayed and skied. Lea and Stacie took a run while we swapped boots and ate our sandwiches. Once we were done we waited for the girls. After the one run Lea decided it was enough for one day. The runs had indeed become icy and it was not fun so she was going to come back with me.
We headed back to town and swapped Peters skis out with the shop we bought them from. They were great about it. Snell Sports in Chamonix town center if you need anything they are awesome.
It was a pretty long day so we had a nice fajita dinner after Stacie and Peter got back and then headed off for an early bed time. Peter and I start a three day free-ride ski class tomorrow and we are going to need every ounce of energy we have to keep up with our guide / instructor.