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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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Les Villages

Posted on
January 5, 2012
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I’ve been skiing with John and Gilly this last week, and to say we’ve had an amazing week would be an understatement. The story of this winter season so far has been regular heavy snowfalls, with this week being no exception. It’s literally snowed every other day.

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As soon as we met up last week, it soon became apparent that neither John nor Gilly has had much experience of skiing in the powder. So what a baptism of fire it’s been for them both! We began by speaking about the differences of skiing in the fluffy stuff compared to prepared pistes.

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In fact we probably skied just as much off piste than on piste. They had plenty of new experiences as well in terms of skiing new areas. Most of the time skiers tend to head straight up to high altitude to find the best of the snow conditions. But this week we had many more options available to us. Often the weather was so poor (or brilliant, depending on your own stance on heavy snow storms) that meant the best conditions were much lower than normal.

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We enjoyed a few off piste routes below the Altiport area. We also skied the piste down to the hamlet of Raffort countless times, not often open or advised below the resort, but it was in amazing condition. We even skied all the way down the piste/itinerary to Méribel Les Allues in lovely deep fresh snow. But one of the highlights of the week for us was to follow the infamous itinerary all the way down to the spa town of Brides Les Bains miles below on the valley floor, which is at a ridiculously low altitude of just 600 metres.

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I have only ever skied down there twice before, in all of my fourteen seasons here in Méribel (or should I call it the Méribel Valley now), because it is rare to have snow at such low altitude. But what a treat. We started our off piste descent at Le Blanchot restaurant just below the Altiport piste, and followed the route to the hamlet of Le Plantin which is located on the road between Méribel Village and Courchevel La Tania.

 

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We crossed the road, naughtily on skis, and continued down through the massive forest that lines the valley.

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There’s something very special about skiing through a snow-laden forest in complete silence away from the busy festive pistes. Words can’t quite do it justice, but we did try as we continued on our way lower down the valley.

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Tree-lined track after tree-lined track, shepherd hut after shepherd hut, even the odd cluster of bee hives were negotiated. The occasional hamlet was skied through including Le Villaret and Hauteville, or Sticks Ville as I call it !?! But then finally we reached our destination, way down in the depths of the dark valley at this time of year in Brides.

This trip was one of many highlights of the week. I wasn’t only guiding John and Gilly around some of my favourite areas in snowy weather like this. We worked hard at our ‘performance threads’, took video footage and immediately put into practice  new skills, and visited a few quiet, quaint and secluded gems of mountain restaurants as well.

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A couple of afternoons with rare clear weather allowed us to delay our last ski home. We stopped for a final hot chocolate of the day, watching the sun go down on the western mountain horizon. The light at this time of day is just beautiful, often missed by people rushing down the mountain to happy hour offers in town. Whilst watching the light transform the landscape, John, Gilly and I celebrated our success of the day. What a way to finish a day on skis. This view is of the Mont Vallon peak in the final light of the afternoon, taken from the quirky Choucas mountain restaurant just below the mid station of the Saulire bubble.

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An epic week, in epic conditions spent with lovely people. Even though I’m a little weary from the festive period, I couldn’t ask for a better life. One of my dream jobs just keeps getting better and better. Happy New Year everybody.

Martin

P.S. Oh, I bet you can’t guess what the weather is doing outside as I tap away on my keyboard? Yep, how did you guess? It’s still dumping down with snow yet again as heavy as ever. What a season this is turning out to be.        

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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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