15/2/12: The Holidays Start!

An empty piste. Not what you'd expect to see during February half-term-time, right? Well, it is a cross-country piste, I suppose.

The holidays are here and town is busy. Word's got around that Chamonix is one of the only places with snow this year, and people are learning more and more to book late and follow the snow. So town's rammed, the restaurants are all busy and the pistes are full. Tip: stay away from bottlenecks for the next three weeks! That means avoid the Lognan cable car at Grands Montets, and (worst of all) the main cable car at La Flégère.

The one saving grace is that this week, it's the Rhone Alpes part of France on holidays (the locals), which means at least the punters up there know how to ski. The Parisians aren't here...yet.

The snow is holding up well. Pistes are lovely - cold and fast - although shaded aspects with a lot of skier traffic get pretty nailed and end up as boilerplate ice by midafternoon. There's no powder off piste; that's long gone. And with a relatively low sun angle and cold daytime highs, there's no warmth to soften the snow right now either. Even most of the tour-to stuff is tracked out (Berard Valley et al).

My advice? Ski the pistes until your legs can't carve any more, then party late and soak up the good vibes around town right now. It's meant to snow this week - not much, but there'll be soft snow around somewhere.

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