Ski Medley


By Ernie and Marjie Di Rollo

We crossed with, our motorhome, from Portsmouth on the 2nd Feb., at 22.30 and returned from Calais on the 13th March by the 13.30 ferry. Because of the weather conditions or by choosing to travel, we did not ski for eleven days, three of those being due to falling snow. The net result being that we skied for 27 -28 days. The snow conditions this year have been so flattering that I was beginning to believe that I was a good skier. It was only when I got out of control that I came to earth with a bump!

Our first rendezvous, at Lauterbrunnen (Murren), was with our ski Club friends, Dot and Tony Keates, who were still recovering from the cold weather of Cervinia. We had some wonderful skiing. This was only limited by the pisteur's slowness in digging out the ski tows. These had been buried by deep snow which had fallen over our first two days in the resort. We did get to the Schilthorn restaurant (of James Bond fame) and twice skied the long black Schilthorn/Kanonenrohr run. Again due to the heavy snow Tony was unable to achieve his wish of skiing "O God".

Having waved Dot and Tony off home, we left for Samoëns. We again had super snow and skied much of the Flaine area. For old time's sake we had a coffee at the Bissac. The last time we visited it we had the company of people like Steve Wardle, Ray West and Nigel Koenen - Nigel hope your boot problems have now been solved! Do you remember how sore your feet were?

After a six days we set off for Crans Montana, again, wonderful skiing. We went right to the top of the Glacier Plaine Morte. The scenery was fantastic and seemed very familiar and reminiscent of the view from Verbier, which of course was across in the next valley. We were able to spot the Matterhorn, quite a different shape compared with the view at Cervinia 4478 m, the Gabelhorn 4063 m and the Dent Blanc 4357 m. The skiing here was very varied with more difficult runs above the tree line and easy itinerant routes through the trees back down into the valley.

At our next stop we met up with another Ski Club friend-Alan Brown, who was repping, for the Ski Club of GB, in Saas Fee. We had two great days with him, on the first day it was rather leisurely but on the second day the group voted down his suggestion for a coffee stop, consequently we managed much more skiing. Alan had me acting as sweeper, I'm not sure whether this was because he thought I was a menace to the other skiers or that he wanted someone reliable at the back!

From here we travelled on arriving in Leysin (Les Diablerettes Area) here we met up with more ski club friends, namely Ian and Sue Webster. In the morning, Ian knowing the area well, took us on an itinerant route which, this year due to the excellent snow, was skiable right down into the valley. At the end of the route Sue gave us a lift to Les Diablerettes where we had some more wonderful skiing. We caught the train and bus back to Leysin.

We next headed up through the Great St Bernard Tunnel to reach probably our favourite resort of Serre Chevalier. The skiing here was so good that, on two days out of three, we just took the local area pass. The Olympic black (called Luc Alphand) was closed as the 2003 European Junior downhill race was taking place.

From there we went through the Montgenevre pass to stop in Claviere, which we used as our base to ski the Milky Way resorts of Montgenevre, Cesana Torinese and Claviere.

From here we headed towards Sauze D'Oulx, the other end of the Milky Way, where our eldest girl, Lisa, was just starting a three week stint as a Ski Club rep. We had a couple of days skiing with her. On the third day, (it sounds so easy), we popped over the hill to see our youngest who was skiing for a week in Sestriere. Here, above Borgata, we had a couple of hours skiing, playing around off-piste before heading back to Sauze. Some years ago we had skied Sestriere and thought of it as being a resort with ice and hard packed snow. This year proved that it is a very good and varied resort.

It was now mid March and on most days towards 1 p.m. the snow had started to get pretty heavy, we had had a wonderful time and both agreed that we should head for home. That is what we did-What a season!!

Reflections

Switzerland

Generally ski passes were costing £25 per day.
Reductions for those over 62yrs.
Piste marking in my opinion was poor, no Lollipops only poles at the side of the piste.
Having got used to buying Carte Neige, in France, or Snow card, in Austria, I was very surprised to find that on trying to purchase Ski Insurance in Switzerland that they have no such system!

Murren

We stayed in Lauterbrunnen and never really came to terms with the transport system and wasted a lot of time. We should have got advice from those who had been before and maybe divided our time between here and Grindewald.
Towards the end we found that the free dedicated camp site navette, every 15mins at peak times, linked up with the post bus which connected with the cable car, which linked up with another cable car, each waiting for the other. This reduced one journey of 1 1/2 hrs to 30 mins! (Swiss efficiency of yesteryear!)

Crans Montana

Super resort. Transport system both off and on the slopes great.
Possibly could be skied out in three to four days.
Congested pistes resulted in us witnessing three wipe outs, at the same spot and on consecutive days, needing two blood wagons and one helicopter.
Free Ski bus, every 40mins, around the resort and direct from the Campsite. No ski pass necessary.

Saas Fee

I know Alan and Bryce were both there; it would be interesting to hear what they think! I spoke to one guy who said that it was a two to three day resort. We seemed forever to be on some form of transport! Probably due to the very long runs.
Ski bus 20 yards from Campsite free with ski pass.

Les Diablerettes

More like French style resorts with lots of fun skiing and well organised.

France

Ski passes all much less expensive than Switzerland generally £18 for whole areas.
I like the way that the piste lollipops count you down the slopes. In poor visibility it is so useful to go from post 20 to 19 to18 etc. Tell the Swiss and Italians!

Samoëns

In its own right a nice small resort.
Over 60's reductions on the local pass and that of Grand massif Area. Local are pass net cost £12.
Ski Navette 30 yards from campsite free to all every 40 mins.
The free bus links Sixt a fer Cheval with Samoëns and Morillon.

Serre Chevalier

Probably our favourite with lots of varied runs above and below tree level.
Great fun this year especially of piste.
You've got to be 65 for reductions on lift passes, which are an absolute must if you use the buses along the valley.

Italy

A reduction for over 60's on Milky Way passes but not on local passes.

Claviere, Montgenevre

Small compact resorts very enjoyable. Busy at weekends due to closeness of Turin.
Local passes cost £12. The in the ticket office advised us that at £18 the Milky Way pass was expensive! The clerk obviously had not been to Switzerland.
Montgenevre probably had the best snow of the Milky Way resorts.
Milky Way chairs and tows were almost all painfully slow.

Sauze D'Oulx, Sestriere and Sansicario

Sauze has one fast quad chair all the other tows and chairs were dead slow.

Events to recall

At Crans Montana the view from the campsite was across a frozen lake. We witnessed one person playing "Snow Golf" across the Lake.
Again at Crans we were woken up early one morning by a terrible roaring "wind like noise". This appeared to come from under the bed. We thought that our gas boiler was on the blink! Half an hour later, on drawing the curtains we were fascinated to observe that a hot air balloon was being inflated on our doorstep. Hence the roaring noise.

At Lauterbrunnen we were repeatedly woken up by giant iciccles breaking off the nearby giant waterfall, which was almost completely frozen.

While on the ski slopes of Murren, Tony Keats created many moments of hilarity when adults and children spotted his backpack. As those of you have seen it, it is modelled after "Shaun" of Wllace and Grommit fame.

In past years we had found that the weather has varied considerably.
Most of the campsites have had cross country tracks from their gates. Last year, having had lessons over a three year period, we committed ourselves to buying cross country skis. This we did in Samoëns, we saved £50 per pair compared with the price quoted in Switzerland!
The downside was that this year, with the weather being so good, we were reluctant to sacrifice downhill days to go cross-country. In consequence we only did three days on our new skis.

Hope to see many of you at Pat and Harry's!

Ernie and Marjie.