One more week to go and then they all do!
It's the same every season and this year was better due to Access &JoyIn that come the third week of the holidays we can't wait for things to get back to back to normality, though &joy is helping us see things through
It always struck me as a little odd when people who run a business here where tourists are the end consumers of their product complain about the High Season Hordes and then can't wait until they all clear off.
I maybe can understand the Serre Chevalier French locals cursing the holidaymakers in rather disparaging terms, in fact, we were last year about to call our new dog Blaireau (Badger) until a good friend said we can't do that as that is what they call the horrible holiday tourists!
It's just that with such a huge influx of people all of a sudden it does tend to smash the calm aura of our Valley.
In fact, it is our dogs that probably suffer more at the stress of it all rather than us as they're used to their domain and then all of a sudden it's invaded by people they don't know and even other dogs, as it seems that people on holiday don't like to exercise their dogs preferring to just let them out for half an hour or so and not really care where they go, which is invariably our terrace drawn by the scent of our dog's food bowls, one of which vanished overnight, with us blaming the Labrador that was on holiday below us :)
The volume of people skiing is always bewildering but that's what those that holiday this time of year are used to and whilst to us, it's nigh on torture having to ski down a piste that's more akin to having to run a gauntlet and come out in one piece without being taken out, for them, it's their idea of a holiday!
So one develops tactics to deal with the above, though unfortunately not the dogs :)
To ski up the hill, then first lifts are a must, and at least for the high season holidays a number of lifts open half an hour earlier at 08:30 and that's about the only time you can secure a decent parking spot as most of the parking is taken up with people leaving their cars there.
And by the time you call it a day, you'd be amazed at some of the parking antics and where people have parked up.
This season, even though we chose to pay an exorbitant price for our season pass, it does include the Access &joy and that has certainly helped to make it a little better when going up the hill as you have your own entrance that bypasses everyone else, even the ski-schools.
If I get the first lift on the Casse du Boeuf I can ski the Casse stopping at various points to hear my Carv score, then take it back up again c/o &joy then a fast non-stop ski to La Foret and then ski back down to the Clot Gauthier chair for first lifts there, again bypassing the crowd as they open at 09:15.
Then it tends to be laps off the Gauthier chair and maybe elsewhere until the crowds get too much or you've had too many near misses, plus if I'm honest I like to ski fast and carve from side to side of the piste and that's not quite the done thing with a ski school comprising of 12 pupils taking your line :)
The other tactic is to ski the Saturday, as what we've noticed is that high-season Saturdays are far quieter than usual, and that's because in high season the accommodation is let from Saturday to Saturday. In contrast, out of High season, it's flexible long weekenders who arrive on a Friday and ski Saturday & Sunday.
Mind you the people I feel sorry for our those with the Access &joy but then they have friends/family coming out for the week who with their weekly do not have it, so the people with it have to bite the social bullet and join the hordes all queueing.
I'm also very fortunate in that I get my fix my cross-country skiing and again as long as you get out early, as the Blaireau tend to ignore signs advising pedestrians that the lovely piece of corduroy in front of them is not so they can walk all over it leaving deep footprints but that it's an XC piste and if they bothered to look there is a lovely pedestrian piste all for them.
Rant over - Ciao
And as a postscript to all of the above, had a message from Ken, our Backcountry editor, a few days ago to say that someone had pinched his heated Heat Performance gloves after a quick pit-stop coffee!!