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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

MH2SKI Blog

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Lemons, Thinking Deep and Digging Deep

Posted on
February 20, 2021

Hi everybody and welcome to another post from your favourite Méribel blogging ski instructor. Where do I start? Firstly I really hope that you are all staying safe during this period of stupid stupid Covid. More than ever before, I'm very aware that the vast majority of you are stuck at home and would do anything for a visit to the mountains. It looks as though it's not possible to ski in Scotland at the moment either with the ski lifts remaining shut. Fingers crossed Prime Minister Boris and his chums will be able to deliver encouraging news with relaxing of some restrictions in the coming days.

Top of Mont de la Challe

The mountains continue to provide a very surreal experience to the lucky ones who are able to be here. This week would've been the main UK half-term holiday week, and we are now half way through the four week period of the French school holidays. During late afternoon, and leading up to the 6pm curfew time, the town is actually quite busy. Some of the bars are open serving take-away drinks. After people have bought their drinks, they have to leave any terraced areas associated with the bars. This means they spill out onto the street! Not sure how this fits in with effective social distancing? However up the mountain during the day, it is possible to find some peace and quiet...

The Bartavelle black piste high above Méribel-Mottaret!
Bartavelle, our 'Piste du Jour' that day.
I'm still not wearing the 'red' uniform.

I read somewhere this week that in Chamonix the visitor numbers (beds occupied) are at 30% of what they would be for this time of the winter. I realise that Chamonix offers a different winter experience to Méribel, so it would be interesting to find out if the percentage would be similar here. That said, 30% is still several thousand visitors each week. The main thing that I've noticed is that the vast majority of cars in Méribel are French-registered. And those of you who are regular visitors to this resort will appreciate how unusual it is that the main language in town is French. There are next to no 'foreign' visitors here at all.

There's no news on the ski lifts opening, and unlike the decreasing UK covid figures, the French daily infection rates are holding steady between 20,000 - 25,000 cases. I can't see that the ski lifts will open at all now, not until the summer holidays start just like last year. Likewise, bars and restaurants aren't expected to open until 5th April, at the earliest.

I noticed on Instagram this week a quote from a friend and fellow ski instructor, which said 'When life gives you lemons, make lemonade'. I haven't heard this quote for years, and it was a nice reminder to try to be optimistic and make the most of things. So for Ian and I, our 'lemonade' is grabbing our ski touring kit and going for long walks up the mountain.

Looking across to the Saulire peak, with Méribel's Altiport just in sight on the left.
Roc de Fer, at the top of the Olympic Express chairlift.

For those of you who enjoy endurance sports, for example running, cycling, hiking and swimming, you will be able to relate to the following. Exercise can feel absolutely amazing. Sometimes there's a beautiful flow and you love sport so much. On the other hand you can enter into a phase where it's the complete opposite. Your body hurts, muscles ache and tire, and your ultimate destination is still very far away. Like many of us, I hate this phase! Trust me, you get to experience this frequently when ski touring. I've even tried breathing in and out of my ear lobes and belly button, but that doesn't make any difference..... that's how desperate it gets.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Because there is always a buzz at some point, and also a long lasting sense of achievement. The other day Ian and I chose a route - a very big walk up in fact - which took us close to five hours to reach our destination. And I've got to be honest with you, some of that walk was really quite unpleasant. We both had moments where we had to dig very deep to carry on. We were knackered by the time we had reached the top, and our legs were cooked. What was the ski down like? Educational (difficult!) at times, with a few powder turns thrown in for good measure. It was a huge day, but for me afterwards (not at the time) there was a great sense of achievement of being able to skin up over 1,200 metres. We even squeezed in some apres ski back in Mottaret, with a small beer served in a plastic beaker before walking (hobbling) away from the restaurant terrace! Beer is the new lemonade now by the way!

The day that the Sahara sand blew in!
Courchevel Moriond (1650)

There are often times when hiking up and looking across at views, when one contemplates life. It's a great opportunity for reflection. I have some family stuff going on at the moment back in the UK, and heading out into the mountains with the fresh air is without doubt a much needed tonic. You get to clear your head and look at scenarios from different angles when in this majestic environment. It's possible to see little things in a better way, and deal with bigger stuff with more of an open mind.

Looking across to Méribel Village on the opposite side of the valley.

A couple of weeks ago, I spotted another quote on social media, this time posted by Sophy my sister in-law, who lives in Houston Texas.

"Hiking - I don't like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains - not hike! Do you know the origin of that word 'saunter?' It's a beautiful word. Away back in the middle ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply 'A la sainte terre', 'To the Holy Land.' And so they became known as the sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not 'hike' through them" - John Muir.

I quite like that, but blimey talk about thinking deep! I've tried using the word saunter more recently, but still slip up and use hiking.

Heading (sauntering) up towards Saulire.
Fraser taking a short well-earned breather (contemplating life, admiring the view).
Fraser dropping down the big face of the Col du Fruit.
Ian looking very happy with himself.
Ian doing his thing.
My turn.

Well, that's it for now. The (French) school holidays continue, the days are getting longer, and the alpine sun is increasingly stronger as we head towards March. In the meantime; 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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