I know there’s a few people heading to Tignes in the next few weeks who read this blog and have seen me criticising the snow (or rather its absence). Well, this one’s for you.
I’d finished another shift, my 8th day in a row, beginning to feel like I was never actually going to ski. Having expected to be skiing over a week ago, the whole snow thing seemed a mere myth as I looked out over the tranquil lake at what could easily be a summery evening in the French Alps. Water flowed calmly under the bridge I stood on, a few fish dancing in the gentle current, the last section of the hot, dark orange sun just disappearing behind the shoulder of a distant mountain.
Without warning a giant noise sounded behind me, churning away. It was foreign to me, unable to work out what it was. As I turned, I was greeted by snow, and lots of it, billowing skywards. It was the happy sight of a snow cannon, pumping out man-made snow in a bid to get the slopes covered. Previously the temperatures had been too warm to render making snow worthwhile. This was a sign, and an exciting one at that; colder temperatures were on the way, and along with that, the promise of snow.
The next morning as I awoke, I peered through the crack I always leave in the curtains, ensuring my first sight every day is of the mountains. They weren’t there. Nothing. I couldn’t see anything. Half-asleep and confused, it took a minute to realise that thick clouds had enveloped us in the night. Shortly, a pass in the dense clouds offered a glimpse at the environment we now lived in, and the marked transformation 7 short hours had made. It was like being in an old film, everything black and white, its bleakness beautiful. Snow had fallen. Snow was still falling. Compare the photo below with this one I tool just 4 days ago!
Walking around town, feeling the snow falling softly on your face, the vibes were different. An air of excitement and anticipation had replaced the previous feelings of dejectedness. Groups walked around the completely frozen lake, many gazed up admiring the white slopes, children ran in the snow, unable to hide their excitement. The buzz of the town I find indescribable but nonetheless characteristic of my previous experiences of the relaxed ski resort atmosphere.
The two nights since it has been the drone of the snow cannon whirring away on the piste just outside my chalet which has eased me into sleep. The season finally feels like it is just beginning and although the pistes aren’t open yet, they’re continuously getting whiter since ‘transformation day’ and it won’t be long until 140-odd days of straight skiing can begin!