Living in a well known, massively overcrowded ski resort can become trying at times, especially during the school holidays. Being a non native myself I have no grounds to complain about the influx of expats and tourists in Chamonix, however it does nothing to dampen the irritation of never-ending queues wherever you go, from ski lifts to supermarkets, an endless sea of clueless punters trying to make themselves understood and carrying their skis as if they were a transporting a small child.
Couple this with a pitiful amount of snow falling in December, and the winter season was off to a bad start, with many of the pisted areas becoming so hard packed with artificial snow that it was more like ice skating than skiing.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, once you’ve lived somewhere for a while you start to learn how to escape the crowds and find the places that remain quiet and untouched, even in the busiest periods. Having only discovered the joys of ski touring in the last few years, and the pleasure and solitude it brings, I still marvel at how just a small amount of effort uphill can bring the finest rewards. Often the reward you are seeking is that all important powder stash, or the best snow around that can’t be reached from a piste. But sometimes no matter how heard you search, the reality is that the snow is pretty awful everywhere, and the best you can hope for is a day filled with beautiful views, fine company, a good lunch (!) and most of, total avoidance of those icy, crowded pistes, resulting in a long run down with no-one else around (even if it does involve a bum slide at the end!)