Friday thought #82 Ski time!

Yes it’s here, I clung on to autumn for as long as I could, but I have finally given in and embraced winter! Although at this time of year the nights are closing in, the temperature plummets, and the sun retreats into hibernation, the wonderful thing about a place like Innsbruck is that with winter comes SNOW! Last weekend we dusted off the skis and had a fun blast round the busy pistes followed by a superb (and considerably quieter!) ski tour.

A great star to the winter and exciting to be back on the skis. Watch this space…

Stunning views above the clouds
Stunning views above the clouds
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The snow was surprisingly good!
Peaceful touring
Peaceful touring
Atmospheric snowy peaks as far as the eye can see
Atmospheric snowy peaks as far as the eye can see
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Friday thought #15 Snowy walks and ski tours!

Winter is coming to the mountains!! It’s getting darker, much much colder and the snow is imminent. It keeps falling high up and we’ve had some teaser flakes on the ground down here, but we’re still waiting with baited breath to see when REAL winter is going to hit. A few resorts have tentatively opened across Switzerland, France and Italy and getting back on the skis was as exciting as ever, but as always happens at this time of year, it’s hard to let go of summer! We’re still clinging on to the beautiful sunny and autumnal walks and the wonderful feelings that come with with hiking up a stunning mountain trail and breathlessly reaching the top, knowing you’ve just done something brilliant.

But this last week I’ve discovered that it doesn’t have to end quite yet! Snowy walks under blue skies are still possible, just! Once the skiing kicks in properly I’ll be all over it and love every second, but I think when skiing people often forget their surroundings and just don’t have the time to stop and appreciate the mountains in the way you can when travelling uphill, and a lot slower! That’s why ski touring is so special. You drink it all in on the way up, appreciating every second and every peak, then when you finally reach that summit, strap on your skis and get your reward, you know you’ve earned every turn.

We’ve done some wonderful early season ski tours already this year and fingers crossed for a good winter so that there will be many more to come, but this week a friend suggested a snowy winter walk, and we managed to sneak one in, maybe the last of the year, and if so it was a good one! Forest trails are so beautiful in winter, and this is the perfect time of the year to enjoy them. In a few weeks they’ll be buried until spring so make the most of them while you still can!

Breathtaking views on snowy walks
Breathtaking views on snowy walks
Beautiful, snow laden branches
Nature at its snowy best
Beautiful, beautiful ski touring, with the added bonus of the Mont Blanc Massif in the background!
Beautiful, beautiful ski touring, with the added bonus of the Mont Blanc Massif in the background!
A tough finish, but totally worth it when this is what you're aiming for!
A tough finish, but totally worth it when this is what you’re aiming for!

Getting away from it all and making the most of bad conditions

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!)

Slightly challenging conditions at the end of a long day!
Slightly challenging conditions at the end of a long day!
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Ah, a whole mountain to ourselves…
It should always be fun…

Do something every day that inspires you…

Ok, so maybe every day isn’t possible! Understandably life often gets in the way, but it’s so important to try and do something as often as you can that either inspires you, takes your breath away, or simply makes you smile. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, it could be stopping to look at a beautiful view, making the effort to watch the sunset, pulling over in the car to admire a rainbow, or simply pausing to appreciate where you are. All too often people find it difficult to look past the negatives in their day, without stopping to appreciate their great friends, their comfortable life, the people that love them, and the food in their fridge!

It is perhaps an old cliché, but I do think the simpler things in life are often the most pleasurable. Daily life is so hectic, juggling the work/life balance, that people often don’t feel they have time to even stop for a minute, myself included, because in that minute that you paused to take a breather, imagine all the things you could have done, the emails you could have sent, the phone calls you could have made… We’ve all felt like there’s just not enough time in the day, but if you take on too much and never pause for breath, you begin to lose perspective of why you’re here in the first place. Money is a huge driving force behind how much you take on, but there has to be a balance somewhere, and I see it as so important that every now and again you sit back and appreciate what you have, and where you are.

Have you ever stopped to think about how much worse it could be? The answer to that is probably ‘a lot ‘, so next time you feel overwhelmed, try and find time in your day to talk to that person you didn’t have time for, or to stop and take a photograph of the light through the trees that you may never see again. In a hectic day at work, take five minutes to get in touch with that friend you just haven’t haven’t had time to reply to, because if you’re anything like me, an e-mail from an old friend is a ray of sunshine on a never-ending day, and a sure way of making you smile!

Despite being tired and with a million things on my mind, I managed to get out for a quick ski tour after work yesterday afternoon, and wow was I pleased I did!

The sun sets over a spectacular vista on the ski down
The sun sets over a spectacular vista on the ski down 

A lonely peak peers out through the cloud inversion
A lonely peak peers out through the cloud inversion