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Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors

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Earn Your Turns

Posted on
January 9, 2021

Hi everybody, and welcome to another post from your favourite Méribel blogging ski instructor. My goodness people, this time last week when I wrote the previous post, the UK wasn't in a third lockdown. Yet again, so much changes in such a short space of time at the moment doesn't it? This puts me in a bit of a pickle, because you see all I want to do is say how enjoyable a time I'm having here in Méribel. And yet I'm fully aware that many of you will be having challenges at the moment. Instead perhaps you might benefit from a little bit of mountain love and escapism. If so, please keep reading.

Skinning up past the artificial mounds of snow towards the top of the 'Legends' chairlift.

The situation and measurements here in France are different to the UK. Various rules on the number of people meeting both outdoors and indoors (six maximum indoors) and mask wearing are all common sense. Bars and restaurants are closed and have been for a while, except for takeaways. They were due to reopen towards the end of January, but this week the restriction period has been provisionally extended to the middle of February. There is a night-time curfew, depending on your area of France is either 6pm or 8pm. Here in the Savoie it starts at 8pm through until 6am. These rules are applicable wherever you live, whether in a large city or a ski resort. Speaking of ski resorts, what about the running of ski lifts?

The date for opening the ski lifts continues to get nudged back. The next 'review' will take place on January 20th. The French Government has previously said that they won't consider allowing the ski lifts to run until the daily infection rate is below 5,000 cases a day. This week the daily figure has bounced between 15,000 and 25,000 positive cases.

Dormant ski lifts don't mean that we can't go skiing, as mentioned last week. You have to 'Earn Your Turns' by skinning up the mountain. This last week I've teamed up with friend and fellow ski instructor at the ESF, Ian Saunders.

One of the routes we took started from outside the Méribel-Mottaret Tourist Office, weaving our way up to the top of the Tougnete ridge to the pisteurs hut next to the top of the Tougnete chairlift. It was lovely being up on that side of the mountain, overlooking both the Méribel and the Belleville Valley.

At the side of the Choucas ski piste. To the left the 'S' shape in the snow is a summer mountain bike track.
Ian reaching the top of the old 'Cherferie' drag lift line next to the 'Choucas' piste.

In normal times, one would need to take two chairlifts with a short ski between them to get to this same viewpoint. We reckon that would take maybe between twenty to twenty-five minutes dependent on the speed of skiing and any lift queues. How long did it take us to skin up?

Three hours. Yes, Ladies and Gents, three hours. Granted we don't use lightweight touring kit to speed things up, and neither of us are into breaking personal bests. This is why the phrase 'Earn Your Turns' exists. Tell you what though, check out those views, it was worth it.

Soaking up the stunning views.

On another day we chose a different route from Méribel-Mottaret and used the 'Sittelle' blue piste heading towards the direction of Mont Vallon. It's funny how when skiing down in normal times you don't notice the gradient. I can confirm that when skinning up ,you feel every little change in gradient, I will now see this piste differently in the future!

The 'Sittelle' blue piste above Méribel-Mottaret

Our destination was the base of the new Bouquetin chairlift (more about this in a future blog post), which replaced the old Plattieres 3 bubble. It was a stunningly beautiful day, freezing cold, but at least the sun warmed us up a bit. This time it only took us two and a half hours to get to our destination.

The unusual viewpoint down towards the Mont Vallon bubble and the Plan des Mains chairlift.

After a warming glug of coffee from a flask, a nibble of ham and cheese to re-fuel, and a quick rest of the legs; it was time to head back down the mountain before catching a chill. After ripping off the skins from the base of our skis, we aimed for the 'Sittelle' piste again, but not how you and I would normally know it. It was deserted, and still beautifully groomed at 2.30 in the afternoon. What a treat. Oh, and there was some lovely light powder snow to the side of the piste as well.

A priceless empty piste, 'Sittelle'.

Now for something completely different. Last year Méribel hosted a mountain top stage finish in the Tour de France. Harriet and I were fortunate to time our summer holiday with the event. I thought that I'd show you the difference almost four months apart in the high mountains. It's the same spot where I stood to grab these photos.

Turn around one hundred and eighty degrees, and you see the top of the Altiport chairlift.

How cool is that? And hard to believe that there's a road underneath the snow in winter. Click on this link if you are interested in seeing more from that amazing day.

So what's the plan for the next week or so, more of the same again I guess, if that's alright with you? It looks as though we are due some snow mid-week which will certainly change the skinning experiences. In the meantime everyone, please please Stay Safe, Stay Healthy and Stay Fabulous. Martin.

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With our skills- based system of learning, we give you the tools to safely negotiate any demands the mountains make on you, helping you to increase your comfort zone and ski in a wider range of conditions. Whether you are a nervous novice, a blue piste cruiser or an all mountain adventurer, we tailor your ski lessons to create a perfect fit. The question is, which one are you?

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