Despite going to bed with clear skies, and in spite of our disbelief that the forecasted snow would arrive, arrive it did and by morning we were woken to pretty steady rain and evidence of snow not too far overhead.
As is often the case in Chamonix the wind was keeping the top lifts closed so we made the call to head through the tunnel to Italy.
This is often a winning option – and this was reinforced when we exited the tunnel to see at least 20cm of fresh snow adorning the railings. There was talk of perhaps heading to La Thuile for some ski touring, but when we saw how much snow had fallen on the Italian side we pulled into the nearest carpark with a ski lift and decided to ski some pow. The top lifts weren’t open but Courmayeur has a good amount of sheltered tree skiing which is less in abundance on the Chamonix side. We split into a couple of groups and went powder hunting – once we got up the mountain at least 35cm had fallen and it snowed hard all day.
We kept the terrain pretty mellow due to avalanche possibilities and stuck pretty close to the lifts but in the afternoon we decided to check out one the lower half of the Dolonne area. It was whiteout visibility near the top, but when the pitch mellowed and the visibility improved we were treated to a lovely stretch of powder skiing with faceshots in abundance. We got some lovely video footage which definitely was received with envy by our friends at home!!
However eventually it was time to pay the piper – the couloir narrows at the bottom and the exit follows a creek bed – this could well have been completely dry preceding this snowfall, so we definitely found some sharks under the snow and our skis were definitely worse for wear at the exit. Doesn’t matter skied powder.
The groups met at the Maison Vielle restaurant for a late lunch which became an italian extravaganza with all sorts of local delicacies and the quirky atmosphere it is famous for.
We rolled out of lunch and made our way back to the car, including a few freshies of course, after a fantastic powder day that nobody anticipated.
When we returned to Chamonix the snow line had dropped and it was dumping in town, it was time for a spa and a beer at the Chalet before another wonderful dinner & anticipation of the day ahead with the potential for freshies….