Chamonix is a special town for many reasons. The humbling size and scale of the valley's surrounding mountains will always be what draws us back. Add the natural beauty and this place is hard to beat in the realm of special places. We're blessed that we've been able to visit here with so many good friends to enjoy life in these mountains.
Heidi's winter ski week had been shortened this year so we wanted to minimize our travel and max out our ski time. The easy choice was France. Europe is having an outstanding snow year, travel time was at a minimum and there was a chance we'd run into some friendly faces from Colorado and California.
Waking up the first morning with driving rain and warm temps our optimism for skiing wasn't very high. We knew there was plenty of snow on the ground to ski but we learned that all the recent storms had started with snow and ended with rain. The first day was a wash for skiing but a little extra sleep, a trip to the market, and lots of coffee and wine our anticipation for the next few days was high.
With Amanda and Rogish not due to arrive until late evening we met up with a friend or a friend who is now a friend for a beer. Paige is spending the winter in Chamonix with her partner Dan who is on a ski patrol exchange from the Aspen Highlands. We'd never met Paige but quickly learned we all have plenty of mutual friends to make the connection. It was really a wonder that we all hadn't met earlier. As Jeff and Amanda arrived Paige called it a night and planned to meet us in the next couple of days to ski.
For three days the weather was perfect and we took full advantage. We skied the Grand Montets with 40 cms of new snow one day, we toured around the Swiss/French border another, and to top it all off we skied our last day with a gang of 13 friends. What! Everyone knows that's impossible in the alps. But somehow the ski gods wanted that group to ski together and we obliged. We took some risks but mostly drank wine and skied powder. A huge thanks to you all, it was one for the books!!! What a Crew. (Roster: Heidi Hanssen, Andy Dennis, Jeff Rogish, Amanda Weiss, Evan Gould, Becca Gould, Kara Lavine, Sara Tuft, David Eugene Martin, Amy Galipeault, Nowell May, Paige Freeman, and Jon Gately)
Of course, it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns. Remember that rain I'd mentioned at the start of our trip? It played havoc on much of the snow throughout the range. Precise decision making was essential to keeping your teeth. While we were rewarded with some of the best skiing of the season we also had to makes some sacrifices to reap those rewards. Most people don't go out looking to ski frozen rain runnels. But we kept coming back for more after each lap. It's all part of the experience of skiing in the Alps and we wouldn't take a minute of it back. There is no such thing as bad snow, just bad skiing.
As quickly as we arrived we were headed back to Rome. On the drive out of the valley, we started reminiscing about this trip and just how good special friends and skiing make us feel. This sudden separation from the things we love most sparked some emotion and brought to believe that Chamonix must be a unique place if you have a tear in your eye when you leave town.