January 5th, 2015 - Chamonix, France - Day 141c

Our first day skiing in Chamonix.  We woke up fairly early and Peter's first question was "when can we go skiing?".  He had been waiting for this day for a very long time and was ready to be on the first lift.  As typically happens we moved slower than we hoped and it took a while for everyone to get their gear situated, get dressed and get out the door.  As we were finalizing our dressing ritual Lea asked "has anyone seen my gloves?".  Nobody had, because she did not have gloves.  She skied most of last year using an old pair of my gloves and we figured we would just buy a new pair when we got here, but had forgotten about that when we first arrived.  So we were all packed up but still needed to hit a store on the way to the resort.  We actually ended up hitting two stores because the first one did not have any gloves Lea liked that were her size.

After the shopping we went to the bus stop and jumped on the #11 bus towards Grand Montets, the largest of the Chamonix resorts.  It took us about 20 mins on the bus and we were there.  We jumped on the first gondola and were on our way up the mountain.

 Our first gondola ride in Chamonix

Our first gondola ride in Chamonix

The first gondola only takes you to mid mountain.  From there you can take the tram to the summit, or another gondola up to just below the summit.  Since there we wanted to warm up before going for the hard stuff, we decided to head to the gondola and save the summit for later.

We had sunny skies and it was fairly warm.  There was not a lot of new snow, but up high on the mountain we were able to find soft snow off the marked trails, even some powder stashes.

 First day out in the big mountains

First day out in the big mountains

Everyone made their first tentative few turns and then settled in.  On his first run Peter decided he was warm enough and started jumping off small rock drops and throwing some 180's for good measure.  This is a free skiers paradise and I think Peter has found heaven.  

The mountains are huge here, like nothing I have ever skied in North America, and they are intimidating.  The main runs are a little icy since they have not had snow in a couple of days and most people use them to get down the mountain.  While Peter was off ripping everything he could the rest of us slipped and slided our way down the mountain doing the best we could.  Lea was a trooper in tough conditions.

After some time on the slopes we went and had a great lunch and then took another few runs before calling it a day, all in all a big success.

We loaded back on to the bus to head back down to Chamonix and found out the bus still needed to head to the end of the valley before going back down to town.  We sat and relaxed as we passed through Argentiere on our way up to La Tour.  Once there the bus driver made us get off the bus and switch to the one behind us for no apparent reason.  When we got back on the bus was packed, but we found seats.  By the time we made it to Chamonix the bus was loaded to bursting.  Then we made a stop on the north end of Chamonix that must have been close to a school because about 50 little French 10 year olds pushed their way on to the bus.  The next stop was ours and when we arrived all heal broke loose.  About half the bus was getting off at this stop, but the kids were blocking the exit and had no intention of moving.  In fact their intention was to find a way to climb back further into the bus to secure a seat while everyone was trying to exit.  They started attacking like a wild pack of baboons lowering their shoulders, climbing over the rails jumping from seat to seat.  I have never been closer to punching a ten year old in my life.  The french adults were screaming at the kids, I was yelling "out" and yet the kids just kept coming undeterred.  We finally made it off the bus and could breathe again, but vowed not to be in that situation again.