A Snow By Snow Account Of The Ski Inspection Visit!
After picking everyone up in Manchester, Leigh Delamere, South Mimms and Maidstone, we headed for Dover to get away from the relentless UK weather. Wifi on the coach came in handy for the latest transfer news!
We boarded the ferry on our massive 71 seater coach (plenty of room for everyone). We met a few school groups on the Ferry who were also travelling out to the Alps. The Channel is not as rough as expected.
We made good time, only 12 hours from Calais despite traffic around Chambery. Coach drivers Jim and Don have done a great job. Travelling through France, the snow was looking sparse in the valleys. However, we couldn’t believe it when we emerged from the Frejus Tunnel up into Bardonecchia with knee deep powder and heavy snow still falling. This looks good!
We met Francesco (Halsbury Rep) and Dave Reilly (Area Manager) on arrival and headed off to get some pizza for lunch! We then met Rob and Chris (ski techs from our ski shop) in the Blue Room. They had our ski equipment ready and labelled with our names on. Very impressive ski fit!
Everyone settled into their rooms and we met in the bar for a welcome meeting before dinner. Still snowing.
Still snowing but the sun is poking through.
First days skiing in Bardonecchia: We all walk up to the ski school meeting point and the beginners meet their ski instructor.
We have two ski guiding groups and one snowboarding group. The conditions are perfect with fresh snow on the piste and blue skies. A few people tumble in the deep snow (Simon Thomas!!!)
Everyone heads back to the hotel for a buffet hot lunch which is very much appreciated. Still finding ski legs!
It was tough getting going again after such a lovely lunch, but I think everyone made it back onto the slopes!
Another Bluebird day (not the Cardiff City type!) and we are off to Sansicario, part of the Milky Way’s massive 400km of piste. We break off into ski guiding groups and make the most of the great conditions. We have some really fast skiers in the group. However, it is more like controlled falling than skiing!! (not mentioning any names, Mark Seller!)
We head to the Hotel Olympic Centre for a lunch time meet, right on the piste. Some Group Leaders are staying here at Feb half term so everyone takes a look around the hotel. Everyone now wants to book this hotel!
Pm: skiing breaks off into groups again, my group heading off to Claviere with beautiful quiet runs through the trees. A couple of people ski off into France, making the most of the sunshine on the peaks. A great afternoons skiing; we even see a Welsh flag!
Skied down to Cesana to meet the coach and stop for a drink in the Hotel Solaris. Now everyone wants to book this hotel! Drink of the day, Bombadino!
Back at our hotel in Bardonecchia, all having dinner, great food and plenty of it. Jess’s birthday and the hotel have made her a massive birthday cake - the whole restaurant sing happy birthday, including all the Italians. Great night. Not sure what happened to my bit of cake!!
Skies still blue and we’re all off to Sestriere (another part of the Milky Way). We warm up on an uphill blue run (keep up Kev) and then head towards the Pragelato slopes which are quieter and in the sunshine ;). Really lovely wide open runs for those long carving turns. Fantastic views from the top of Sestriere. Lunch back at the ski school meeting point, where School have their hot lunches. The Milky Way is proving a bit of a hit!
On our return, our coach has been blocked in by 2 cars. 10 teachers and Halsbury staff managed to find another parking space for the car!! (pictures to follow). First casualty today: Brett in the fun park, jumping and taking photos at the same time, very impressive. I blame Simon T!!
Visited some more of our hotels in Pragelato, everyone now wants to book these hotels! Ladies not happy that we are late back to our hotel, no time to get ready for New Year (hair straighteners)!!
The special New Years dinner is ready to go! However, some Mafia looking types have nicked our seats. Francesco does his best to take them back but they are well under way with their pasta. Halsbury Ski Team (the fantastic 4!) retreat to the bar to give everyone the space they need to enjoy dinner. Everyone joins us in the bar after dinner for a few festive drinks before entertainment commences in the theatre. We have an Italian and then a GB New Year countdown (an hour later) and then the Italian v GB dance off competition begins (no contest!)!
A slow start to 2014 for most of the party. However, those that managed to drag themselves out at a respectable time, best skiing conditions were to be had. Empty slopes, great snow and sunny skies. However, some don’t make it onto the slopes of Bardonecchia at all that day!
We wake up to heavy snow (not forecasted) and we are due to ski Sauze d’Oulx today. Dave and Francesco go ahead to check out the road conditions. Thumbs up and we board the coach with snow chains at the ready! About a 3rd of the way up the road to Sauze the time has come to put on the snow chains. The first one goes on in seconds, the 2nd has no intention of giving us an easy ride. 45mins later we’re moving again.
We finally get onto the slopes with heavy snow falling. The trees help with visibility lower down but the best skiing was to be found up top. Conditions meant an earlier finish, but the bar was warm and the hotels we saw very welcoming (apart from one Brit who’d had too much Apres!) Another great day on the slopes.
Final day of skiing and the coach drivers are resting for the return journey home tonight. However, we catch the local bus to Jaffrau for an amazing last day of skiing. Empty slopes and fantastically groomed piste. Heavy snow makes the piste lovely and then just before lunch the sun makes an appearance and conditions are perfect. Couldn’t have wished for a better last day.
After skiing, we washed, changed and loaded up the coach. One last dinner at the hotel (and what a great last dinner!), the food at the hotel has been excellent all week, with so much choice. We say goodbye to Dave, Francesco and the Groome Family and head off into the night for our journey back to the UK. What a fantastic week, great hotel and food, amazing skiing conditions, lots of resorts skied and many friends made.
Missing the Italian hot chocolate already…………until the next time………