Well it’s Thursday (14th July 2018 for the record) and I arrived up here on Monday. Time for an assessment of things. This was my first sight of Aime2000 from the taxi (50 Euros, though a lovely driver!) coming up from Aime.
(I am working on how to insert ‘photos of various sizes here: I will improve on this but no joy so far.)
I hope you can see something there and you’re probably wondering why such an obviously awful shot is doing here. Well that zigzag slightly left of centre on the skyline is Aime2000.
That’s blown it up a bit. I hope you agree it’s an iconic silhouette! The driver dropped me off at the main entrance where we found these sad remnants from the skiing season, well, clearly from the Christmas end of the skiing season. I think he was a bit worried that I might find the place a ghost time with everything as dead as those trees and I confess I was slightly rattled. However, the first set of lifts were working and I and all my luggage were soon up from that level to the G deck that runs the full length of the enormous building. Everything was silent and the usual lifts up from there to our level (L) weren’t working but I realised that they wouldn’t be, only the goods lift would be … and fortunately it was. Lugging that lot up five floors would have been lethal.
So I made good use of that life up and down to the “cave” (cellar, actually just level D where we have a storage cupboard for our things to hide in when we’re subletting the appartment) and I moved what I needed from there and unpacked my luggage.
Whoops, rather an embarrassing ratio of alcohol and alcohol related things from the cave to the perishables I’d brought up from the valley!
I headed out to find the local Spar supermarket. Closed. Oops. Google maps assured me that the one another mile or so on and a few more hundred metres back up to on a level with Aime2000 would be open. No. Actually it closed in April at the end of the ski season apparently and won’t open I think until the next ski season starts just before Christmas. Oops, suddenly that fridge wasn’t looking so funny. I legged it back down to the first Spar … aha, big relief, it opens at 16.30 until 19.30 (and 07.30 to 12.30).
On that first round trip everything was green but speckled with yellow patches.
Bird life included a full house I think of swifts (common or alpine?), swallows, house and sand martins (or are they crag martins?), wagtails, larks, goldfinches, choughs and something with a blue flash a bit bigger than a thrush that was keeping well away from me. Hm, my continental/French ornithology is very rusty and must remember to take my binoculars even if going to Spar.
Me in the first lift with edibles (that backpack is full to the top!).
What was striking walking around was how much snow was still here from Easter and the ski season. This is meltwater pouring out of one of the conduits below Plagne Centre. Yes the grey below me is the pebbly mess at the edge of the road by my feet but that dark mass is unmelted snow covered with grot. That’s one of the places where the vital local snowploughs dump snow off the road in the snow season and you can see that it takes a lot of dirt and grot with it and as the huge mass of snow melts slowly as things warm up it looks like that. A whole new experience for me: loads of black snow!
Here’s a more beautiful view from a bit further back up the road between Aime2000 and Plagne Centre (and the Spar that does open!)
You can just make out something on the rock ridge to the left that is the top of the telecabine lift up there and there are some visible constructions on the relatively gently rising ridge to the right that are the top ends of ski lifts. It looks to me as if there’s enough snow left in the red run that comes down the saddle between the two ridges for me to leg it up there with my skis and have probably 800m of run. It looks as if the top bits of the black run to right below those right hand constructions is also still thick with snow.
I’m sure the snow surface is completely impossible for skiing now but it looks as if its sufficient snow that might be hard to walk without snow shoes. Maybe some time next week I’ll dig mine out from the cave, sling them on my back and go up there to find out. Not sure how far up there I’ll be able to get on the mountain bike so it’s a good few hours hike without wheels … but the bike is a story for tomorrow.
From that evening and about 30 minutes ago (18.15ish for the record) the clouds settled in.
In fact, for most of the last 48 hours not even that building below me was visible.
Why 18.15? Because that’s when, writing this, I looked up and saw that Mont Blanc had finally become visible: the first time in four days. I think that’s the longest I’ve ever been up here without being able to see it/him/her. However, partly as I must get back to work and not go through the rigmarole involved in getting pictures off camera and ‘phone and up to the site. A proper celebration of Mont Blanc here is for another day. Meanwhile, I go back to work and continue acclimatising.