Club Holiday To Méribel - March 2013
Reporter: Iain Macintosh
Having wasted 39 years of my life as a non-skier, I am now trying very hard to spend as much time as I can on a pair of skis. The club trip to Meribel provided another fantastic opportunity to get closer to achieving this goal.
The obligatory early start at Manchester Airport and late packing the night before meant very little sleep for me. I was greeted at the airport by the usual collection of smiling faces and hellos. The check in, transit through security and flight itself went well.
At Geneva, the Inghams coach was parked a little way from the terminal building. We had to drag our baggage and skis uphill to the coach park. Once the correct coach had been located, we were on our way.
On arrival, the Chalet Les Grangettes hotel were very organised. Room keys had been left in the bedroom doors, therefore avoiding a registration bum-fight. The hotel was conveniently positioned right next to the Chaudanne, a main hub for chair and bubble lifts into the 3 Vallees system.
I had challenged myself to trying to ski with different people each day.
On Sunday, I was escorted down to Saint Martin De Belleville and across to Les Menuires by Deborah Massey, Liz Beattie and Elaine Allen. The snow conditions were a little hard packed, particularly on the lower slopes.
A decent dump of overnight snow provided me with my first ever powder day on Monday with the “Hardcore” blokes group of Phil Jones & co. The day was a great mix of powder & banter, with the discovery of a hidden gem in the form of the Hotel Le Lac Bleu snack bar thrown in for good measure.
A proposition from Dave Miller for some powder/fresh snow tuition around La Tania and Courchevel on the Tuesday was an offer difficult to turn down. I should have had an early night before this one! I learnt lots of stuff in the best conditions I've ever skied in! A fantastic all round day where there was even a lunchtime opportunity to find a geocache in Courchevel.
Wednesday took me across to Val Thorens with a small group led by Brian Richardson. At the top of the Cime Caron bubble, the weather was very poor. We dropped down the Combe De Rosael run towards the fourth valley in poor conditions. It was very windy, with the driving snow and poor visibility making the run down extremely challenging. Our group split after lunch, with Brian & I covering most of the Val Thoren system, sometimes in thick cloud and sometimes in sunshine with the weather being so variable. On the way back in to the hotel, I persuaded Brian to join me in finding my second geocache of the trip on the combe laitelet run. The cache was found easily and we left one of the SCOM cards in it when we replaced it.
Wednesday was the hotel staff night off so we were left to fend for ourselves. I went to the La Flambée Italian restaurant just up the road from the hotel with a group of around 20 other SCOM members. There was yet another decent dump of snow during the evening and overnight.
On Thursday, I had a day out with my brother around La Tania and Courchevel. He is lucky enough to live an hour or so away, so I do always try to have a day with him when I’m skiing in the area. We had a good number of coffee stops to chat and catch up, but we also covered a pretty good mileage too. It was the latest I was back to the hotel all week. I was so late that I missed the excellent afternoon tea that was laid on each day.
I had put some feelers out to try to hook up with a few different members on the Friday, however for various different reasons, it never happened. The “Hardcore” blokes group took pity on me and took me back in to their bosom. It was a warmer, sunnier day, culminating in an early finish due to the snow turning to slush mid-afternoon.
The very early start for the transfer back to Geneva was unfortunately compounded by the idiots shouting outside the hotel for half an hour around 01:30. The transfer, check in, security and flight was again, very straight forwards. The big advantage of the early start is we were back at Manchester Airport for midday.
This trip was tremendous for many different reasons. The snow conditions were on the whole fantastic. I skied with loads of different people during the week, many of whom I’d never skied with before and I picked up lots of new skiing skills and techniques.
The hotel, although a tad basic, was comfortable. The hotel staff were efficient and attentive. The trip organisers had obviously put some effort in and done some homework, the results of which made for a most enjoyable and memorable trip.
I’m really looking forwards to doing it all again in 2014!