Yesterday morning I had run out of milk. The SPAR down in Plagne Centre has UHT milk reliably but only gets pasteurised milk on Wednesdays (and mostly because I asked I think, they’re kind!) There hadn’t been much new snow for days but everywhere around me up here was white. I didn’t feel like hopping on Cerise and cycling down so around 11.00ish (SPAR is open 07.30 to 12.30 and 16.30 to 19.30 and only on weekdays) I nipped down the stairs to see if the way down the slopes looked walkable and it did. Clearly pistebashers had flattened two narrow pistes that run from Aime2000 to Plagne Centre. Back up for backpack and money (I hadn’t thought it would look OK and had wondered about cross-country skis or snowshoes) and off I went.
As you can see, the snow on the metalled track there had melted in parts and of course once the dark tarmac is exposed it soaks up the sun. I legged it off and did think, “Hm, this is a bit different from nipping round to Coop in Tulse Hill!”
It was, I really didn’t need the thick fleece I had on, though perhaps just a t-shirt would have been too little. At first I was squinting with the sun (I never remember sunglasses) but everywhere (well, with a few bits of tarmac and trees excepted, was white, the sky was pretty uniformly blue and this looked like a fun trip.
So I legged it down, very happy with the winter walking boots I got half price summer 2018 when I first arrived here. Where I cut off piste bashed snow I could sink in a few inches and a bit did puff up and get into the boots (get gaiters Chris!) but I was generating enough warmth to dry that out fast. I guess 600m or so and a few bends lower and Plagne Centre comes into view. That peak in the distance beyond Plagne Centre is Bellecôte and the sadly diminishing local glacier.
A bit more walking brought me down to Plagne Centre itself.
When I came out of SPAR (oh yes, this week they did have pasteurised milk, last week none!) I met this sight.
They looked really happy. I’m not sure how high they had walked up to ski down. The kit looks fairly serious so I’m guessing they’d gone up for an hour or two before the run down. I think it would probably be a three hour walk to the top of Grande Rochette and if it’s not pistebashed all the way, you’d need skis with skins or snowshoes. Definitely not the local look back in Tulse Hill. Probably not going to sit on the local bench and just drink in the sights looking up to Grande Rochette and les Verdons.
So, now with full pack, enough for a week if I need, I was turning back. up to Aime2000. This was the view ahead.
If you look carefully, just above that apartment block, halfway up the slope is a skier walking up. (The lifts won’t work until the season starts on 14.xii.19.)
I think he’s got the downhill skis with skins or the toothed surface that allows you to ski (laboriously) upwards as if you had cross-country skis. I walked on for a bit, finding it hard going, a bit like walking up a sand dune as many steps, if I didn’t choose the best packed, hardest piste bashed snow, sank in up to an inch. Funny how much that slows you down and sucks energy. Then who should emerge off piste between that main slalom piste and the minor run into Plagne Centre that I was labouring up. As usual, click on them to get the full image.
We waved and smiled and he slipped off to his lunch and I felt all of amused, lifted and a little bit envious and wondering why I wasn’t doing that! However, with views behind like this …
[OK, I give up on getting the o with the circumflex in there!] … and this just behind me, the skier had dropped down round the end of that bunch of trees on the right crossing my path up the slope there.
And soon enough I was coming home.
Aime2000 really is a bizarre and wonderful building. These could have done with some rotating and cropping but they’ll do.
Yes, it’s a diferent way of life up here!