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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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The Summer of 2015 in Meribel Part Two

Posted on
August 31, 2015
The Summer of 2015 in Meribel Part Two

So here I am typing away on my keyboard, on a wet and windy August Bank Holiday Monday, feeling sorry for myself. Why? It was just over a week ago that my wife and I returned from Meribel and finished our summer holiday. In fact the resort officially closed for the summer only yesterday. Life sucks. It's just not fair. Everybody in the world hates me...... and any other teenage grumps that we all uttered in our youth. Tell you what though, what an epic holiday it was. And fingers crossed will be repeated again next summer. And another thing, the resort will re-open again in only just over three months time for the start of the winter. How awesome is that? So following on from my previous blog post, what else did one half of mh2ski get up to?

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My mate Canon was heavily involved again funnily enough, which won't surprise regular readers I'm sure. Over the last couple of years I've dibbled and dabbled a little bit with Wildlife Photography, which by the way I still officially suck at. However, one of the reasons why I give it a go is because it is a great excuse to head further into the mountains. More on this later. I've attended a couple of workshops in the UK recently to help me gain more photography knowledge, both technical and field craft. One of the guys who runs these workshops is called Andy Rouse, or Randy Grouse as I call him. I am one of his biggest fans, and if you like wildlife photography it is well worth finding his work online. One of the things I respect about Randy, is that first and foremost he is an animal lover.

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This may sound a little odd I guess, but ultimately Randy has complete respect for all things in nature. For him, getting 'the shot' isn't the be all and end all. In other words, he does his best to make sure he doesn't startle and upset his subjects, and keeps within a safe distance of their 'personal space'. And this is something that I'm trying to develop with my basic wildlife photography. After all, an animal's existence depends greatly on how and what they eat for survival. If humans unsettle them whilst they are in the process of refuelling, especially in a harsh environment like the high mountains, then their lives becomes a little harder.

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Ooops, almost sounded a little tree hugging ranty there, sorry about that. In summary I try to photograph respectfully. One of the most common animals living in the high mountains are marmottes (or the English spelling is marmot). Marmottes vary greatly in terms of their personal space, most of them can't stand the sight of us getting within 30 metres. They will let out an ear-piercing scream to warn other marmottes of human presence. Marmottes are real team players, they help each other out in their survival. However if you get lucky, and I mean lucky, you might be able to get within perhaps 10 metres of those marmottes who are a little more tolerant to humans. 

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This can make it quite a challenge to get nice photos of marmottes. But I'll stop there before boring you too much. Needless to say it is fabulous being able to observe wildlife in the Alps, whether a camera is in your hand or not. Here are just a couple more images.

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Speaking of going high up into the mountains, there was a certain hike that I had never done before and wanted to break the duck so to speak. From above the ski village of Meribel Mottaret, you can walk up into the Vanoise National Park. This incredible national park was the first to be created in France back in the 1960s, and features many glaciers, including Meribel's own Glacier de Gebroulaz. I've skied on the Gebroulaz many times, but had never been up to it in the summer before.

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Wow. What an epic place. It took quite a few hours to walk up there, but was well worth it. I even managed an old fashioned 'selfie'. Who remembers placing a camera (in my case my tiny little compact) on a solid object, putting the camera on a timer, and legging it to required position?

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It was a fantastic experience, and you felt so remote being up at high altitude with no-one else around. Or so I thought! Just after turning around from the glacier, I heard a tiny rock fall, and saw slight movement out of the corner of my eye. After squinting for a few seconds, I spotted a bouquetin (or Ibex as they are more commonly known outside France). About a hundred metres away, on the edge of a cliff and moraine, was a tiny group of bouquetin. I couldn't believe my luck, seeing bouquetin up at high altitude is as hard as finding a needle in a haystack.

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With a bit of puffing and panting, and raw field craft, I was able to get a little bit closer. Again, I didn't want to get too close and unsettle them. A quick glance from them is ok, a longer glance means you are almost too close and is a message to get no nearer. This time there was an even more an important reason to respect their personal space, there was an ickle lickle baby bouquetin present, the first time I had ever seen one.

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I guess like any baby animal, they look so cute. It was amazing to watch them move around the moraine, up and down cliff face, and interact with other bouquetin. It was a real privilege to watch these rare mountain creatures. Just before leaving I caught sight of the baby bouquetin suckling from its mother. Randy Grouse wouldn't applaud these shots, but again the experience was not only about the quality of the photography, it was just being there that counted. The five hour hike home was a happy, if also weary, one.

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All of these 'Nobby No Mate' expeditions took place before my wife and two of our friends, Milly and Richard, came out to Meribel on holiday. As soon as they arrived, it was full on holiday mode with eating way too many tartiflettes, kilos of cheese, a few too many bottles of wine and whiskey! However, each day we went out into the mountains and had a great time. We spotted the odd marmotte whilst hiking, and visited a few refuges as well.

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Another old fashioned selfie !?!

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It was such a great time, the Meribel holiday of Summer 2015. But all good things come to an end sadly. And there ends this year's summer blog posts from the mountains. Next time I'll write about something to do with skiing, and start the countdown to the upcoming winter. If you can't wait until then, click here for a link to a winter blog post. Feel free to share away on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ by using the social media icons. Or leave a comment below. I hope you've all had a great summer as well. Martin.

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