Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Monday, 23 February 2015

Combe de Tardevant ski tour

To build upon the great success of our piste skiing Dave suggested we head over to the Aravis (Alps) to tackle an easy ski tour. Dave knew this 'quieter' area of the Alps well and we based ourselves in the camper van at the scenic end of the road car park for a few days. 

Dave scoping the first route

We headed part way up here to mess around on the first day
Its a beautiful spot, perched at about 1400m, with extensive views of the mountains and combes nearby which provide lots of opportunity for snow shoeing and ski touring. Busy carpark by day, quite camp spot at night. The light as the sun set, and stars were amazing, but it was quite chilly trying to capture it all.

You can see it's well skied, and they hadn't had fresh snow for a week or so

Dave showing how it's done...
The first afternoon we did a short trip part way up the Troude la Mouche to perfect our skinning technique and try the off piste descent - all seemed good.

This is easy right!? Time to head back down

Beautiful evening light.

So with confidence high the next day we set off to the Combe de Tardevant and a high col at 2400m. 

For me this is steep ski ground!
Wow quite a way still to go
It initially went well, and it was fun skinning higher and higher in this beautiful landscape, but I did start to get concerned as we were skinning up slopes that seemed fairly steep to me, and I wasn't sure that I had the skills to actually ski down them. It had an easy ski tour grade of 2.2, but I didn't really know what this meant in reality. 

Getting high now (can you see the other tiny figures left of Dave?)

At the icy high point (too icy to go along the ridge)
Near the top the snow got quite choppy and icy, but we made it to the col and the extensive views over to the Mt Blanc range. I think we were both a bit nervous about the descent, and even the other locals who were clearly good skiers made the descent look difficult we didn't hang around on top and gingerly started our ski down. 

Mt Blanc range behind

Dave dropping into the choppy snow (it was steeper than it looks!)
It went okay, clearly I didn't have any style but we made it in one piece - quite an intense 6 hours out! I now appreciate I need to improve my skiing lots more, and gain some 'off piste' skills before the next one, but it was a fantastic experience and as I'd hoped a great way to travel through the 
mountains in winter. 

Lunch stop after the steep bits (phew)
Note - The next day we woke to fresh snow and had soooo much fun skiing in fresh snow all day from first lift to last lift at the local resort/pistes. Great fun skiing fresh powder, and even though we had to drive through the night so that I could catch my plane at Paris (there's a story there!) it was  well worth it. A great trip. 

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Ski road trip....

Yay - just back from a brilliant ski road trip. Tied to school half term (not ideal!), I ended up getting a flight to Paris where I got picked up late on Saturday night at a very cold and austere Charles de Gaulle Airport. Fun times as its been ages since I've caught up with Dave, and a midnight stop over at a random french 'aire' (services) with beer and sushi at 1-2am (I forget) in the camper van was cool. 

My rough winter plan (at the moment) is to get better at skiing, so that I can ski tour and basically explore the mountains in winter. Why I left it this late to learn to ski I don't know!??

Beautiful evening light on the drive back to Kev and Sue's house
Last winter I took the plunge and basically spent a week skiing on piste and got comfortable on blue runs with the occasional red thrown in, but not very in control! 

Dave and fatty (its a spare jacket - honest)
So first stop on the road trip was a few days skiing in the Auvergne and meeting up with Kev and Sue. To start with we camped at Super Besse, and the next day hit the slopes. Surprisingly I felt reasonably good, loads better and more confident than last year. We had a great 3-4 days skiing at Super Besse, Le Lioran (beautiful but compact resort), and Mont Dore, and were well looked after in the evenings by Kev, Sue (the only vegetarians I know who eat pork) and the cats  at the Chateau. 

Dave heading into the clouds
After a great few days we headed East towards the Alps and I was secretly pleased with my skiing progress, as I now felt happy and in control on red runs, and had started to try black runs. I know there's a long way to go, but all good so far.....

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Hawes water and Gait Barrows

The cold, foggy weather didn't encourage us out on a big bike ride as we'd planned so we headed to  Silverdale instead to amble around the ancient landscape.

The weather gave an ethereal feel to the day, as we wandered through woodland listening to the call of wildfowl that we couldn't quite spot see on Hawes Water, just visible through the reeds and mist.

Snow drops in the woods

Gait Barrows was also a 'pleasant' spot, and is important for its flora, particularly rare orchids and ferns, but we didn't see much of this today!

Hawes Water shrouded in mist