The temperature has been steadily dropping in Chamonix over the last month or so but we’re still a few weeks away from the lifts opening and winter being under way.
Impatient as ever, we decided a road trip was in order so arranged a weekend away with our mates next door to the glacier in Tignes. Despite being run off their feet organising this coming winter season for their chalet company, Gary and Sarah were more than keen to get some early tracks in so we all piled everything into the Valley Fever van and set off.
We arrived to a beautiful sunny afternoon and decided a short hike from Tignes-Le-Lac towards L’ Aiguille Percee looked pretty inviting. With Gary as Nav, we made our way up the mountain but it wasn’t long before he took a ‘classic Gary’ abrupt turn off the path and headed straight up the face of the mountain. I’ve only known Gary for a few months but have quickly learnt this is just normal for him, there always seems a more interesting route and you’re best to just follow.
So with the short hike cranked up a notch, we aimed in the direction of Aiguille Du Chardonnet. After a few stops and re-tracing of steps to retreive my dropped beanie, we arrived to a peak and looked back over the incredible scenery. The sun was just beginning to creep its way down so we did the same and returned to the hotel to change for dinner and a well deserved beverage!
In his youth, Gary did a season in Tignes as a bar man so we of course returned to some of his old haunts and found some friends from past seasons to reminisce with. But with the prospect of skiing the next day, we were eager for a good nights sleep and headed back at a very respectable hour.
The alarm went off, Phil and I grinned at each other and lept out of bed for breakfast. We gorged ourselves on croissants and then made the drive to Val Claret to ride the funiculaire to the Grande Motte Glacier. I was really shocked how great the snow was! Obviously it was hard packed but it was really grippy and great for just hammering down and getting the ski legs back. In the afternoon, the snow softened up slightly but it also revealed some rather daunting patches of black ice that had to be carefully avoided. Especially for the snowboarders Gary and Sarah.
The sun kept shining, we all kept riding but all too soon the lifts were closing and it was time to leave. We all had such an awesome weekend, of course the skiing but also the break away and seeing yet more of the French Alps.
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