Sunday, March 22, 2009

Arrival at Alpe d'Heuz

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We made it! After a train ride down the hill from Wengen, a six hour bus ride (that included a lunch break at a Swiss Burger King) we made our way up the 21 hair pin turns from the valley to Alpe d’Heuz, high in the French mountains near Grenoble. (This is a stop on the Tour d’France though none of us elected to come up on a bike.)

Alpe D’Heuz is a stark contrast to Wengen. While Wengen was a charming old mountain village this place is slick and contemporary. It sits on a treeless hillside, climbing up the hill to create a triangular shaped village with lots of little French cars driven by weekenders eager to enjoy the last snow of the season.

Ski lifts of every type seem to sprout from the village in all directions. I don’t know the area size but it is big. They claim 118 runs and, though some of the lower ones might be closed, there are still lots to chose from. Lifts crawl up sun drenched slopes and there are several snow covered peaks competing for skier attention.

After lunch, the 12 of us that ran into each other on the hill, decided to tackle Pic Blanc, at 3300 meters the highest point in the resort. From there the choice was the Serenne run, the longest in the resort that would take us down to about 1800 meters, or take the tram back down. Six chose wisely and returned to the tram (Lin Sanford, Vicki Geist, Sue and Rich Smith, Mo O’Neil, Lorrie Meyer). The other six (Steve Sanford, Larry Geist, Bob Dixey, Ed Meyer, Kathy and Steve Dennis) decided to try the Serenne “because it was there.” Bad Choice.

The top was a narrow, icy chute with protruding rocks to keep you on alert. The next section was loose snow with rocks scattered about. Then there was a wonderful section of very wonderful skiing. However, the lower half of the run could be characterized as rock strewn slush; lots of work, hard on skis and not so fun. But the intrepid group made is down and will not return. We later learned that John Powis made the same mistake and we will likely hear of others as the evening progresses.

Some in the group availed themselves of guides for the first day so will likely have better news to report.

The bottom line is that the resort offers lots of skiing and there is still a good base to work with.

Oh, by the way, the weather is clear and sunny again. Our luck is holding.

It has been a quiet time for the spoon. Tom Naden received it on Friday for his restaurant antics and passed it on to the Turnovskys who he blames for the whole mess in the first place. Now, by agreement with the Turnovskys Tom is back in possession and looking forward to a Sunday night presentation.

While the past few days have been low on spoonable events early reports suggest that today, Sunday, was bountiful. Time will tell.

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