January 27th, 2015 - Argentiere, France - Day 163

I woke up at 3:30 this morning to the sounds of a large tractor clearing the streets of Argentiere.  While I was not happy to be up that early in the morning, I was thrilled with what I saw outside; snow and lots of it.  

There is nothing quite like being in a ski town on the morning of a big dump.  It was hard to tell exactly how much fell, but it looked like 8 to 12 inches of the lightest snow you can imagine - it was like smoke.  

I settled in and got some work done while the rest of the family slept, then once everyone was up we decided to try to get out early and catch some fresh tracks - and the great news was Lea was coming too!

We made decent time in getting ready and were out the door just as the lifts were starting to turn.  Our bus came pretty quickly and we were up the mountain a few minutes later.  We had decided to go to La Tour to try to avoid some of the crowds at Grand Montets.  

Lea wanted to work on her turns on the front side until lunch and the rest of us wanted to head back to the back side for some steeper skiing and some trees.  The snow was almost too light as you would occasionally go all the way down to the bottom layer of crust and slide out.  In other places you would hit a drift and go waist deep before you knew it.  I have skied for a long time and consider myself pretty good.  At home I rarely fall, but within the first few runs I had taken three nice falls by hitting these deep patches while going fast.  Peter has some nice video of me tomahawking down a slope and losing both skis, which I am sure he will post here soon.

We had some great runs and then headed back to the front side for lunch.  We picked up Lea, who had been running laps on the front side and headed down to our favorite little lunch place La Passion.  We had a nice lunch and near the end Lea made my day by saying "I am coming with you guys - I am ready".  We had been missing our fourth musketeer for a while on the slopes and we were all thrilled to have her back.  

In the immortal words of Peaches and Herb "Reunited and it feels so good"

While it took her a while to get comfortable with skiing in the Alps, our little bug bounced around the back side of the mountain like a champ.  She had her wonderful form back s well as her confidence - it was awesome to see and so much fun to be skiing as a family again.  There were still patches of ice around (Lea's favorite) but instead of freaking Lea out she just named them Dijon (because nobody likes Dijon mustard) and every time she hit one she would yell "DIJON!".

Peter was still ripping down the mountain, but was not jumping because his knee was still a little tender.   So I decided that I needed to be the daredevil for the day.  In actuality I had been trying to keep up with Peter for weeks now and I am starting to get comfortable and enjoy jumping and dropping cliffs with him.  He has pushed me to be a better skier, which is so much fun.  So on our last run together I told everyone I was going to drop about a 10 foot cliff - but in the end I took a smaller route.  Stacie and Lea were below me to watch and Stacie said "aren't we in your way".  I said no and proceeded to drop the smaller route and then run right into her :-).  She was a good sport though and laughed it off.  

We headed to the lodge after a while and got some hot chocolate.  The girls decided to call it a day and Peter and I went back for some more runs.  It bugged me that I did not drop the cliff I said I was going to, so on the first run back I told Peter to head down and get a picture of me doing it.  This time I hit it in the right place and actually stuck the landing - it was a rush!

Old man river trying to keep it young

Sticking the landing - my knees would tell me later how much they did not enjoy my new hobby

Peter could not take it any longer and decided he needed to take part in the jumping.  With the soft powder to land in he did not think it would hurt too much.  So he started working on his "grabs" where he would reach down and grab his ski, during the jump.  It is not enough to just successfully huck yourself off a cliff, you need to do it with style.  

Working on his grabs in "little Japan"

We bombed through three runs and even hit our little powder stash on the last one.  

Knee deep in the Powder Stash

We took the last chair up the back side and hurried home.  Stacie made a wonderful pasta with sausage and we collapsed into the couches for our nightly ritual of Newsroom.  We were all exhausted from an epic Powder Day as a family.