Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thrills, spills and Dentists bills

The title is courtesy of Carl and Megan. The day started well but by the end we all, other than Caron, had had enough of the day. Caron, on the other hand seemed to have had an almost perfect day other than having had some moron skiing across the front of her ski's.

Caron and I started the day by extending her pass into the Val Thorens ski area for 21 euro, we had started out earlier than the van der Riets since Caron is slower that they are and sure enough, they caught us before the Bruyere lift. Just after that Megan took a wrong turn and had to walk back up a slope and by the time they caught us again we were right next to the Caron lift.
On the way down into Val Thorens the pistes were just perfect, there had been another 5-10cm of snow and with the pistes recently groomed it was great to ski on. The following photo is only of interest to someone who ski's, those are my tracks in the foreground and I'm quite proud of them even though the slope was minimal. It's not so easy to get one's tracks to look like railway lines.
Once the van der Riets had caught us we immediately separated again, I went up the Caron lift to do gentiane with Caron once before heading for the snow park to catch up with the van der Riets. This is the time when the day started to go pear shaped. I caught up to them and it was quite obvious that something was wrong, Megan had done a little off-piste in the new snow and the fronts of her ski's sank and during the wipe out she broke her front tooth on the ski pole. Fortunately there wasn't any blood, just an exposed nerve which at -9 deg C must have been quite painful. Carl had this very stoic resigned look on his face, his last three days have consisted of skiing while feeling terrible, taking the day off to recover and now most of the day is going to involve sitting in dentist rooms.

So while the van der Riets headed back to incur more medical bills, I ventured forth into the valley below the Renod and Bouchet glaciers which proved to be very hard work. The day after snow is definitely the most beautiful day to be out but, from a skiing point of view, it's really hard work. Lots of moguls and uneven and soft pistes to negotiate. My route was
  • Up the grand fond lift and down gentianes (not the same one Caron is doing)
  • Up the peyron lift and down peyron
  • Back up the peyron lift and down peyron again
  • Up the rosael lift and down chamois, eteriou and the end of fond and back down to the Caron lift.
The wind at the top of the col between the valleys was something else, you had to actively walk downhill, skiing was not an option and even managing the ski poles was a mission. The best method was to drag them forward on the ground before planting them, actually lifting them up like one normally does just results in a plant next to one's boot which isn't very useful when trying to move forward. I tried to stop in front of a piste map but before I knew it, the wind had blown me past it and trying to manage a paper map would have been completely impossible so I didn't even try. Peyron was quite hard work but I think that tomorrow when the snow has compacted a little it would be a very nice run.
I met up with Caron at Chalet de Caron pictured below, she had been going up and down gentiane the whole time. She says that she did it 7 times so I think that I am safe to say that she really enjoyed it. This is just as well considering the effort and trauma not to mention expense experienced in getting her here.
I just had to take a photograph with Caron under the sign at the entrance, I just couldn't get a break when there wasn't anyone else on the steps.
We both headed back down and met the van der Riets at home for some lunch. After lunch we headed out in the gloom to BK park at Alistairs instigation which was definitely a mistake. The park is like a toboggan run but done on ski's and snowboards and in the gloom it was really difficult to see the bumps and drops not to mention the camber and, most importantly, the edges. As a result I skied into thin air and down a small drop of 3 or 4 metres, nothing damaged but not enjoying the ride at all. Caught up with Kirsten and Carl and Alistair and started again but now there were skiers and snowboarders shouldering their way past because we were obviously going too slow. As a result, Kirsten was forced too close to some netting and when she turned her ski's caught and she did a backwards somersault down another 3 or 4 metre embankment. I'm not sure whether I was watching Kirsten backflip or the guy behind caught my ski's but I also went down and then the whole queue of people behind ploughed into me. Again, nothing really damaged but by now we had all had enough and decided to call it a day. Even Carl fell while trying to avoid running over Alistair although compared with a backwards somersault down a 4 metre embankment it barely rates a mention.

We gingerly threaded our way home and Kirsten and Carl took Megan off to have her tooth fixed and we, almost all, had a running snow ball fight the whole way down the path until Alistair fell and hurt his broken hand. Caron resolutely refused to join the in the childish festivities no matter how many snow balls she was peppered with. While Kirsten and Carl went to the dentists Caron and I did some shopping at the market for a new fleece and bought some t-shirts to commemorate the trip which in our current frame of mind mostly consisted of "I survived" themed t-shirts. The dentist was taking a bit long so we headed up taking Alistair with us and an hour later got a phone call to come and rescue Kirsten and Carl. The dentist only accepted cash and they didn't have enough and the ATM was being snoep about dispensing more cash. I walked down and was able to draw some cash because, although my standard bank card was refused just like Carls, I also have a nedbank one which worked.

Finally, we all made it home for supper which would be Megans first meal with her new dentures. Between Megan's tooth and the adventures at BK park we had all had enough of the day.

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