After Friday Frenzy - the traditional end of week gathering of the various boys and girls - of last night, I woke up this morning with a peacefully dozing Tinks. I got up and popped the kettle on for the first fruit tea of the day and sat myself in front of the computer to check up on breaking world events, the latest project developments, if someone had overtaken my iSketch and most importantly, the weather and snow conditions of the mountains in the valley.
The resulting information was good, very good - no natural disasters around the world, no panic emails reporting broken code, sitting atop the iSketch hi-score table and a solid half metre of snow topped with a beautiful layer of fresh on the Grands Montets. Things were shaping up well.
A few texts and phone calls around to the boys resulted in being picked up by Mark from the center of Chamonix and meeting up with various boys and girls up the mountain. We duly set off with Mark a little worse for wear as a result of the exertions the previous night and arrived at Argentiere as hyped up as if we'd consumed a heady cocktail of Red Bull and sugar cubes the entire journey.
No queues at the bottom cable car and small pockets of friends meant that an impromptu meet & greet session followed and with everyone beaming from ear to ear we jumped on the lift and headed up to Lognan. The only open higher lift from there was the Martmottons chairlift so up we went struck dumb by the incredible snow and shifting cloud dominating the passage upwards. There was pretty much full coverage of the mountain - thin off-piste but some really good windblown sections.
We ripped the thicker off-piste to the left-hand side of the piste initially from the top of the Marmottons lift before rejoining the route and riding on some really good soft snow back to the mid-station and then joined a late-arriving Crampons for another few blasts down the same route. It was really good - we all skied like shit, but hey - first full day back, what do you expect? The beauty was that for every bad turn, bad trick, bad jump, there were two great ones. And some of the powder to the side of the piste was really, really good. The summer drought of fresh snow was seized and broken in two and everyone helped themselves again and again.
It's a great feeling to ride on a really quiet mountain where you keep bumping into friends and laughing and smiling and seeing everyone beaming ear-to-ear, all enjoying the situation regardless of any external factors - very pure riding. It's great to be there with your friends who just love to be there. Conversations on chairlifts always conducted with a smile tugging at the corners of the mouth, laughing commiserations for those falling over underneath the lift, cheers ringing out for people on the piste really ripping it up or landing a slick trick. Just awesome.
Crampons and I joined up with another group of friends after a quick coffee at Longnan then had a few more runs before a final run down the Pierre a Ric home run right down to the mountain and onwards for an apres-ski beer in the Elevation bar. Just a perfect day. I'll admit the really low visibility that drifted in and out was like being in a horror film sometimes, some pistes were as lumpy as the mid-Atlantic and there were patches of seriously icy snow ready to catch the edge of the unwary skier. But I had an absolute blast. And all the guys we rode with had a blast too.
We're all going back out tomorrow with snowshoes to get some untracked powder. I can't wait.