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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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From heatwaves back to Méribel powder skiing

Posted on
July 21, 2014
From heatwaves back to Méribel powder skiing

Sure enough the first proper heatwave of the summer has arrived. Time for me to shelter in my office with the blackout blinds drawn and the fan on full blast; and think about skiing, powder skiing in fact. Yes I know it feels a little odd thinking about skiing in such weather, but let's go with the flow. Even now in July, many people are still asking how the snow conditions were last winter. So how did they compare to previous winters?

The winters of 2011/12 and 2012/13 were judged as being fantastic with significant and above average snowfalls. A few times during the course of last winter I overheard many seasonaires moaning about how rubbish the conditions were. In fact the latest reports state that the snow conditions were average, in other words not that bad at all. February was by far the best and saw the most frequent of the snow storms. It felt as though every other day it snowed. This of course is fantastic news for keeping the pistes in great condition. And it is also great timing for the busier periods of the school holidays.

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For many years I've had the pleasure of skiing with the same family every British Half-Term week. The day before we were due to ski together at the start of the week, we experienced another heavy snowfall. That evening before we started I contacted them and suggested they bring their 'All Mountain Skis' and off-piste safety kit the next morning. I kept my fingers crossed that the weather gods would cheer up and blow the clouds away. Oh my goodness, what an incredible sight in the morning, blue skies and deep fresh snow. Don't forget you can click on the small images for an enlarged version.

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Going up on the first lift together we were all rather excited looking down on what was soon to be our fresh playground. But then it dawned on me, even though I have skied with Helen and Chris for many years, we had hardly ever skied in fresh powder before. And as intermediate and more advanced skiers out there know, skiing in deep fresh snow is a very different thing compared to cruising around on pistes both technically and psychologically.

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Soon after skiing away from the first lift, we found a decent pitch to the side of the piste and had a chat about technique in the powder. Helen and Chris did really well on the first section down, and slowly but surely built up their confidence in this different environment. We looped around in the same area a few times in order for them to continue building their confidence, and develop a feel for this incredible sensation under foot.

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Once we decided that skills had developed nicely we aimed for another area, because after all it was the busy school holidays (the British half-term AND Parisien holidays) and we were visible to others wanting our glorious pitch where we had been practising. So where did we go?

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I'm sure you will understand if I don't tell you, don't want half the world finding our secret stash next winter. Look how deep that snow is, you should have seen their smiles, amazing. Now when I speak to Helen and Chris next winter about those magical 'skiers dream days' they will totally understand.

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Both Helen and Chris skied extremely as you can see in these photos, and I was personally really pleased with how they performed. And on a personal note, it is very rewarding being able to introduce such fun to people in these often rare conditions. We are frequently exposed to these picture postcard conditions in the advertising of ski companies, and on the covers and inside all ski magazines.

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The reality is very different. It is common for holidaymakers to go through a few holidays without the fresh powder and clear blue skies. Which of course makes it very difficult being able to practise. I guess this makes days like the one Helen, Chris and I had even more special. In fact the very day before I was skiing with Gilly and John, in fresh powder, with next to nothing visibilty some of the time. Look at the difference.

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Ok, back to the heatwave, better keep topping up with water especially after a long bike ride earlier this morning. Why go cycling in the heat? Fitness training for next winter's powder days of course. If you enjoyed this blog post, you might like another from the archive titled 'Oh, Those Crazy Mountains', click here for the link. Feel free to share away on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ by using the social media buttons below. Or leave a comment, it is dead simple to do.

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