Reporter: Phil Jones
BEEP .. BEEP .. BEEP ..... The alarm clock rang at 4am and the weeks of anticipation were over - today was the day. Usual early start - 5.15am at Manchester Airport the SCoM Alpe d'Huez trip was on!
After a relatively painless airport wait / flight we arrived in (very) sunny Grenoble and, with the hills green with fresh spring flora, there were a few concerned faces as the transfer coach meandered its way through the valley towards Alpe d'Huez. There seemed little change in the colour of the landscape as the coach rose through the 21 bends on the road leading to the resort - although by this time talk on the coach had switched, focused on the fact that those over 72 years of age would have to PAY for (heavily discounted) lift pass.
Saturday afternoon was spent relaxing / sorting out lift passes / etc in preparation for the week ahead with all but one (Andrew) heading to a café / bar in the sunshine.
We awoke to a Sunday morning of (more) glorious sunshine with blue skies (this would be the pattern for the week) and, following a quick breakfast, the various groups of SCoM skiers headed out for the morning. The Hodgkinson-Winstanley party headed off for a morning jaunt in the Signal area with a Day 1 warm-up planned to "blow away the cobwebs". Following a quick break for the (excellent) hotel lunch and we went back out with the glacier and Sarenne the target.
Day 1 set the tone for the conditions we should expect during the coming week with hard packed slopes in the mornings and soft (slushy) bumps in the afternoon as temperatures reached 15C.
Monday brought more clear skies / sunshine and as the groups departed there was no expectation that the (hard) morning conditions would claim a SCoM victim. As the groups returned for lunch, news of Wendy's unfortunate accident and injury started to feed through and, although the news was sketchy at first, it later transpired that the medical assessment was a broken hip and an end to Wendy's skiing holiday for this year. There was a sombre mood across the wider SCoM group at dinner as the news spread. Wendy's bubbly personality would be missed for the remainder of the week.
As the week progressed, the skies became clearer and the sun seemed to become warmer impacting the conditions across the resort, although great conditions could be found with a little planning. Slopes around L'Alpette, Oz and Vaujany held up well in the heat whereas those in Auris deteriorated quickly with Serenne / Tunnel opening / closing intermittently across the week.
Favourite slopes of the week were Col de Cluy (described one icy morning as "wonderful" by John H!) and La Fare with the "cow" restaurant in Montfrais winning best chocolat chaud this year.
Thanks to all my ski buddies for a great time particularly Brian, Janet, John H, George and Peter.
Special thanks to David Shepherd, John Weatherell and all those involved in organizing the trip - another great job!
A big GET WELL SOON to Wendy - see you next year!
And finally ... some advice for those taking photographs on the slopes ... Remember to pick up your ski poles before getting on a long lift.