I always like to round the season off with a trip to the alps with family and friends at Easter.
Although I do sometimes ski tour after this I look upon our shop End of Season bash as exactly that. A celebration of another season skied with a road trip to the snow for some cruising around and lazy lunches in the sun. Seriously you should try it!
This year we packed our 2 cars and 3 vans up and 20 of us headed out Les Deux Alpes for some late season fun. We are well practiced road trippers now, having done this for the last 15 or so years. Most UK skiers either don't know that skiing continues so late in the season or dismiss the late season as not viable snow wise but I can tell you that we haven't missed a ski day in every Easter trip we have done in all that time, In fact on one particularly late Easter Trip (Easter was late April that year) we skied waist deep powder in Tignes on. the 1st of May!
We set off after an exciting meet up at the shop on Good Friday morning and head down to the Channel Tunnel. Always the worst part of the 1000 miles or so drive to the snow. Once on the other side the French Toll road network does an awesome job of whisking you to the slopes with the minimum of traffic or delays. Money well spent.
We usually stay over in Reims, a great little town just a couple of hours south of Calais en route with some great, cheap hotels just off the motorway and the biggest all you can eat buffet restaurant you have ever seen! Up the next day and a convenient McDonalds breakfast (the staple breakfast of the ski race scene in the UK) and fully fuelled we're off with the windscreen pointing south.
Its always and amazing feeling to see the Alps rising up in front of you towards the end of the drive. The excitement of the final miles of the journey, up twisting mountain passes where the snow starts to appear, just in small pockets at first and then if your luckier still, in great quantities when you reach resort altitude.
We arrived in Deux Alpes mid afternoon after the obligatory Friday Big Shop at the Carrefour supermarket in Grenoble where I do my best Gordon Ramsay impression and do a shop for food for the 20 of us! I love cooking for everyone on these trips with others taking it in turns to be my Sous Chef. Cue lots of garlic chopping and merriment around a big table in the evenings. Its an integral part of my enjoyment to get back from skiing mid afternoon and have a few beers while I prep the evening meal all while listening to everyone excitedly chattering away about their day up the hill. A tonic for the soul.
This year we had particularly great accommodation at Chalet Grizzly courtesy of Sunweb. Great accommodation, three hot tubs and convenient location a stones throw from the best apres bar in Deux Alpes, Polar Bear Bar. Everyone loved the Chalet and we are gutted we haven't managed to secure it this year but there is 25 of us for Easter 23, so it's too small!
We had a great week of skiing with variable spring conditions. Pretty good snow up high and Les Dues Alpes has great high altitude skiing for sure. The resort did a great job manage a warming snow pack and even managed to keep the resort return runs in great fettle. We managed to ski down everyday.
I do always look to ski La Grave if I am in the area but conditions were not safe of extensive off piste skiing so discretion was the order of the day, there will be other chances.
Apres was often at a very posh off licence which had a great selection of wines recommended by a very knowledgeable sommelier and charcuterie nibbles to calm the hunger pangs until dinner. Very civilised!
Later on THE Polar Bear bar awaited our presence and we did it the service of attending on most evenings. It was the least week could do. Taking one for the team and all that.
This trip was particularly awesome for me as I got to see my daughter, who is 15, storming the mountain with her buddies. All three of them are racers so it was a sight to behold and a fair few skiers were surprised after seeing their standard of skiing on the runs at their young age when they took their goggles off in lift queue's. Proud Dad moment for sure.
Also, for the first time in years my long suffering wife really enjoyed her skiing., She has some medical issues that have gradually eroded her love for the sport but after a year of hard work and commitment with a trainer (thank you Fierce Fitness Horwich) and a Ski Mojo to help her knees she enjoyed more skiing than she has in the last 10 years! She smashed it, Proud Husband moment!
Reverse itinerary drive home and that's it for another year.
Late skiing, underrated.
You should try it sometime, you soul will thank you for it!