Daily Archives: January 14, 2004


Wednesday night is chalet maids’ night off, typically the night all
restaurants are packed. We decide to get takeaway pizza. Chris and I
fetch them, and discover that restaurants are still virtually empty.

After dinner we put on The Usual Suspects from our
apartment’s small video selection. Bizarrely, it’s a (genuine) Academy
Screener: “For your consideration” pops up on-screen every so often.
Chef hides in his room and reads.

It’s bucketing down with snow again. Will tomorrow be another


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Different strokes

Andy’s back. He did go down Les Esserts after all, but his
(British) instructor also took him through a housing estate,

I can’t touch my toes any more, but it’s generic stiffening rather than

Mikey joins us; we watch Weakest Link on BBC Prime, then La Cible
on TV5, a French game show with no British equivalent. (I include this
information only to make Andy Shire tut.)

Chef, Mikey and Andy then disappear to Big Ben and its pool tables.
Chris, Melanie and I read (I’m now on The
Future of Ideas
, by Larry

On BBC World we notice Bush’s “strategic” (ie blatant election-year
blather) announcements about returning to the Moon and sending people
to Mars.

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Where’s Andy?

Back at the apartment, Melanie tells us that Andy’s having his
lesson right now. He was told when he booked it that he wouldn’t be
going to Les Esserts, as it was too icy. Given the shortage of
beginners’ slopes and all the closed runs, we have no idea where he’s
been taken.

After a shower I discover that I can touch my toes. First time since
last Summer! I guess this exercise is doing me good.

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Lunch is spag tom again, with beer. Melanie didn’t fancy coming up
to join us. We spot Graham, one of Mikey’s mates who’s also here this
week with some friends.

After lunch Chris and I say we’ve had enough, and take the cable
car back to Verbier. We could ski down a blue run but it’s apparently
very tedious, according to Chef. My back’s telling me to take it easy

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Real skiing

“They’re all blues today,” says Barrie, meaning that the reds will
be as easy as blues due to the snowfall. He and the others promptly
lead Chris and I down our first red of the holiday. We have no idea
where they’re taking us, we just trust them…

It’s going pretty well. I face-plant in some powder near the end of
the red, which wakes me up. Then it’s up the Les Ruinettes chair lift,
a short red back down to the top of the cable car station, and a narrow
blue bit to the Fontanays chair lift, which takes us to the La Chaux
area at 2260m.

There’s a nice blue here down to the La Chaux 1 chair. At one point
I get ahead of the others so I can film them all descending the
steepest section. Chris sneakily joins me before I can get the camera
out. The others wait until I give the signal, and come down together,
just following another group. It looks great.

Barrie brings up the rear, taking a side route to avoid the crowd. But
he runs out of room and can’t stop, ploughing off the piste into
powder, popping out of his skis and coming to a halt head first with
his legs in the air. “Bye Barrie!” I say. “Best wipeout of the
holiday so far!” says Mikey. The rest of our group take photos of him,
while a few people from the other group, er, go and help him. Action
footage of this will soon be available.

At the bottom of that run we join the queue for the La Chaux chair.
A helicopter buzzes over peaks nearby, dropping charges into the
dangerous areas to set off avalanches. It’s level 3 risk (out of 5)
today, but on-piste skiing is fine.

Barrie, Chef and Mikey decide to take a harder route back down to
the La Chaux chair again – through the “freestyle area”, AKA steepness
and powder. Chris and I take the nice blue again.

At the steep section I decide to roll camera while skiing down.
“Are you sure?” asks Chris. “Well, the camera’s three years old now,”
I reply. Even so I make sure I don’t fall over. At least this time I
get to film Chris’s run down the hill. Just after he joins me I manage
to fall over while not moving. On film, bah.

It’s a glorious day, pistes busy. Chris and I are both enjoying it,
and so’s Barrie, as we make everyone stop regularly so we can take
photos and it lets Barrie rest his dodgy knee.

After some more of this Chris and I declare that it’s about
lunchtime, and we head to the cafe at the top of the Médran
cable car.

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Off we nearly all go

Chris, Chef and I take the number 2 bus to the Médran cable
car to meet up with Barrie and Mikey. Melanie might meet us for lunch
later; Andy’s gone off to book some private tuition.

We take the cable car to the area known as Les Ruinettes, 700m further
up the hill.

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Looking good

I wake and peek out of the window. It’s not raining or snowing!
I nip into the living room, where we can see down the valley. It’s a
bit overcast, but looks good. Chris, Melanie and Andy join me. It
brightens up! The weather forecast says there might be some snow in
the afternoon, with more snow overnight, becoming unsettled again
by the weekend.

Today could be our best day!

Chef appears. “You do know we’re not meeting until 9:30, don’t you?”
he says, and goes back to bed.

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