The Ski far.

~ Thursday 28th January 2021

It goes without saying that it's been a strange year. The Covid restrictions have made it very difficult for everyone of course, with British skiers also having to come to terms with Brexit! Switzerland has kept the lifts open, but restrictions have made travel all but impossible, and very delicate avalanche conditions await anyone who actually makes it to the mountains.

The early season was very dry in the central Valais and skiing off-piste meant dodging rocks...

Ice was good though - here's the keen team from the Grand Hotel Kurhaus learning to climb ice.

Avalanche conditions were bad because of the thin snowpack - here's a lucky escape on a sunny Saturday in Arolla. The classic trap of skiing fresh tracks next to the piste, then spreading out across the steepening slope until it got too steep. A small slab, but enough to carry the skier 150m downhill and bury his skis. The green line marks his ski-less walk out!

The avalanche problem was partly create by wind - if you can see drifting snow, you know to expect windslab.

Luckily we managed to find enough stable snow for the first day on the road to becoming a British Mountain Guide - at least for the 4 candidates who were already in France. 2 others were unable to travel.

There has been some good touring. Here at the Col de Bréona, with 1500m of descent on gentle angles to les Hauderes.

Massive avalanches on the Pointe de Vouasson, a local classic descent but best avoided for a few weeks i think!

And some more excellent skiing on the Pallanche de la Cretta - after a long slog up in fresh snow we enjoyed 1500m of fresh snow all the way to the valley bottom.

As I type this it's pouring rain at 1400m, Cat 4 avalanche risk and Cat 5 in the upper Valais, the lifts and even the road to Arolla are closed and it's forecast to continue for 48 hours! 2021 is turning into a very unusual season.

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