Sunday, 24 July 2016

Skiing with kids

The first day skiing with kids for the season usually instills dread.
Invariably it will be bluebird with a foot of fresh powder, and I'll wake, convinced we can still get first tracks - even by ten o'clock when we haven't even managed to co-ordinate 3 pairs of gloves, or find 3 pairs of goggles that aren't broken. Sometimes the day starts to regress into an event horizon such that the harder you try to get everyone's shit together, the further away in time slips the possibility of ever actually skiing. And the more flustered I get, the more indifferent the kids. 
Then we discover that since January both Charlotte and Balti have outgrown their boots, which is massively inconsiderate of them. I try to force them into these same boots until they are screaming in pain, to no avail. Lucie fits into Charlotte's boots, which means I have to re-drill her bindings into skis that are already completely riddled with holes. When the boots still won't engage, I have to go to the garage and actually saw out a baseplate matted with ancient petrified Araldite. Having to saw through bindings is definitely a new low point in my ski-tuning career. And having to buy two new pairs of boots at resort prices doesn't elevate my mood any either.
Of course it will only be once we have driven up the road to Hotham and the weather has closed in again with the feral-ometer off the dial that one, or all three of the kids will declare that they've left this or that essential item of weatherproof clothing back at the chalet. At this point it is very challenging to not strangle one of them.
Once we're skiing en-famille though, all is forgiven. We find some pockets of untracked powder above Blue Ribbon, and the kids are skiing well. There is no complaining, and lunch at Yama is excellent with the saki helping me to relax even further. 
Earlier in the week I'd cooked parsnip soup and osso bucco which go down a treat on Saturday night. The champagne and relaxing in front of our fire isn't too bad either.

The following (last) weekend I had a brief ski at Hotham on Friday in the rain, which was so awful that I ended up driving down to DP to dig out our driveway instead. After moving more than 2 tonnes of snow, I decided it might be time to invest in a Kassbohrer. Then on to Falls where I'd booked a bed at Nelse for my tele instructor's course.
I figured it would be cheaper me qualifying as a ski instructor than paying somebody else to teach my kids how to ski properly, and Charlotte is already hinting that she wants to tele. 
The course was run by APSI and was fantastic, and whilst the conditions at Falls weren't brilliant, it was a terrific weekend of learning, with a great group.
After my very first tele turns last May at Baw Baw, I am now qualified to teach a craft for which there are no clients. Tele must be really easy.
If anyone wants a lesson, I'm cheap. 

Saturday, 16 July 2016

The Ramshead Range

The Main Range really turned it on for us last weekend. After big snowfalls to low levels, the only trick for us Mexicans was trying to find where all the good stuff had been deposited.
We spent Friday exploring Thredbo's awesome terrain - it really is a world class resort when it's on.
On Saturday we tried to sneak in to the Leather Barrel, but from the top of Ramshead it was a fortress of boilerplate. A renowned member of the forums suggested sneaking in via the Golden Gully, but after a worthy sniff we decided it was just too dangerous without crampons. The day was sunny with not a breath of wind; a bit of a rarity for these parts in my experience. 
We got a nice line on fresh windblown east off the Ramshead summit, and then climbed the Southerly Ramshead where we got a similarly sweet line southeast - all the way down in to the Bogong catchment. Amongst the trees, whilst gentle terrain, the snow was superb. We had another couple before climbing back up to the ridge to ski down to DHG and managed a lift home from a renowned KNP guide and photographer.
On Sunday we pushed further south (towards Victoria where obviously the snow was better), and had several lines off the Southern Ramshead down terrific rocky terrain, with amazing views stretching forever. We finished by continuing along the ridge down in to Siberia where I'd previously left the car after an early morning jog. Then the long slog back to Vicco.
Will hopefully return for the thaw later in the season.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Pointe de la Rechasse 3212m

Roland took Charlotte and myself up Rechasse last week.
The day before we hiked up from Pralongnan through some heavy weather to the refuge Vanoise.
Charlotte and I went on a successful edelweiss hunt in dramatic late afternoon light, before a hearty refuge lasagne. It was my first time in the new refuge which is considerably more comfy and clean than the last. Beer on tap of course.
We woke at 0430 and as usual Roland was already finishing his breaky as we fumbled up the stairs with all our gear in a disorganised mess. He gets ready like a ninja.
Although it had rained overnight, the skies had cleared to a still and magnificent day.
We put on crampons and roped up at the snow line, and the sun rose over the Grande Paradiso as we were half way up the glacier. 
There was a small climb up a chimney to the arete, and then a slow climb up the arete itself before the summit. Although there were a few small whimpers, Charlotte managed to hold it together despite the novelty of crampons.
We had tea and madeleines on the summit with the most magnificent views in every direction, including back to the chalet at Courchevel where everyone else would have still been sleeping.
Charlotte freaked out a little on the descent which was probably expected. We descended down to the vastness of the Vanoise glacier which was like another planet, then down, negotiating a few crevasses back in to the cirque and then rejoining the trail of our ascent.
Roland demonstrated to us the traditional alpinist art of bum-sliding for faster descents, a technique used by Kilian Jornet for his Mt Blanc record.    
Perhaps that's Charlotte's next objective.
Back in Pralongnan we returned her climbing boots and crampons before meeting with the rest of the family at Prioux for lunch in the sun.