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Good days, bad days
Saturday December 20, 2008 - Email this article to a friend

The high levels of snow have brought smiles to most people’s faces, but not to everyone and not all the time.

It seemed ideal.

A week with a mountain guide in Val d’Isere with record-breaking snow levels.  There were reports of perfect powder everywhere and conditions you’d sell your Granny for, or at least re-mortgage the house.

The only problem for PlanetSKI reporter, Heather Jefferies, when she arrived was that everything was closed, winds were gusting at 150 kph and people were being advised to stay indoors for fear of avalanches. 

“It was really frustrating not being able to go to ski but obviously it was impossible given the conditions,” she told us over a poor quality mobile phone line. “I guess we’ll just have to play another game of charades!”

It was the same across dozens of other resorts. Zermatt was cut off, Verbier closed for a day and many people simply had to stay indoors and ride out the storm.

wilkie_400One person who had a lucky escape was John Wilkinson, who runs the excellent boot fitter, Surefoot, in Val d'Isere. An avalanche ended up in his bedroom.

"I was in the front of my flat watching TV at around midnight and heard a loud bash and bang. I thought that someone was breaking in," Wilkie tells us. "However as I looked towards my bedroom I found what you see in the photo. It was lucky I hadn't decided to have an early night!"

For those driving it was pretty bad too.

drive_400Some friends drove to the Swiss Alps this week from the UK, including our content editor, James Cove, and it took over 12 hours from Calais.  Normally it’s around 9 hours.

“It started snowing at Troyes about half way through the journey and for hours we crawled along at 20mph in heavy snow,” they told us.  "The gritters were doing a great job but we ended putting on chains on the road running up to Verbier at 1 o’clock in the morning.  It was the longest and worst journey to the Alps we've ever made”.

James went to the UK to see a couple of his favourite bands play the Brixton academy, read his blog here.

More fool him we say!

But spare a thought for the people on these buses after they slid on ice in the USA and were left hanging off a bridge. See the video here. Scary stuff.

We have already catalogued the problems the snow has caused with power lines brought down, villages cut off and sadly the first avalanche deaths of the winter.

The snow may be good, but like many things there are 2 sides to the story.

iceikle_400And the other side to Heather Jefferies’s story has a happy ending.  After the blizzard, the skies cleared and her group had 2 perfect days in the powder.

“It was the most amazing skiing with powder everywhere and no-one else around.  It was the best!” she enthused over a slightly better signal from her mobile.  “I would have waited a month for a day like today.  Anyway can’t stop I’m going off to lie in a hot-tub and then jump in the snow”.

Winter has got off to a good start.

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