Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Winter Comes to Alpr d'Heuz

Tuesday, March 24
Monday evening was clear and cool; stars were scattered over a clear black sky. We all suspected Tuesday would be another fair day.

But the front desk clerk said it was going to blow and snow Monday night and Tuesday. The Meyer’s Monday guide predicted similar conditions. The waiter at the slope side restaurant began stacking tables Monday afternoon, predicting high winds. The gondolas were all removed from their cables and stored at the bottom of the lifts. The CNN weatherman said a storm was sweeping across Europe.

The clear Monday skies turned out to be deceiving. Tuesday morning dawned with six inches of new snow, winds whipping around the hotel and drifts in the lobby. By 9:00 am, the normal start time, the lifts that were occasionally visible from the hotel, were not running.

A problem? At 9:15 Claudine led Eva Sabo, Jason Tang, Robb Rough, Mark Matthews, Robin deRegt and George Naden into the white fury in search of an operating lift. She was hoping a poma might be operating somewhere.

The not-so-hardy/sensible part of the group savored their morning coffee while contemplating a more leisurely departure predicated upon a favorable turn in the weather and operating lifts. The weather never turned though a lift did begin to operate.

How bad was it? By 10:30 Claudine and most of her entourage was back in the hotel. According to Mark, the only runs accessible from the lift were wind blown and offered intermittent ice patches to keep you alert. Even for the dedicated, conditions didn’t justify the effort.

Kim, Gretchen, the Turnovsky’s and John Powis were all seen in ski gear but no one braved the hill for long.

Making the best of the weather most of the group took advantage of the downtime to find great places for lunch that didn’t require a lift. From early reports, all were successful.

In honor of Ron Lyle tonight is “cheap wine night.” (Inexpensive wine night for the more refined readers.) The goal is to find the least expensive, drinkable wine in town and bring it to a party being held in the area of Kevin, Sylvie and Mark’s rooms. Multiple rooms are required since none of the rooms are particularly large. It is not clear who will define “drinkable” but one can only assume it will be a fair contest. No box wines or plastic bottles are allowed.

Monday evening Steve Sanford was able to pass on the spoon. He first reported on several runner ups.
On Sunday the Powis’ managed to get separated on the first run of the day. They never reunited. It is unclear who lost who and the parties to the event have yet to agree. They seem to have made up and continue to share a room.
Monday morning, in front of spoon holder Steve, Gretchen managed to get her pole caught in a fence while boarding a chair. She spun from the chair, lost her ski and was dumped unceremoniously into a snow pile beside the line. The lift was stopped and she reboarded with grace worthy of a long time ski masters student.

The winner was Kevin OKeefe. As he tells the story he was speeding toward a lift line when he noticed a woman in red on a converging course. She appeared to be looking right at him and he was certain she would be turning but, alas, turn she did not. When it was too late to avoid a collision he somehow lost a ski and slide into the innocent woman bringing her down. It was then he noticed that, out of 5000 people on the hill he had taken out Mo O’Neil from our group. Hoping he hadn’t been recognized he thought of leaping up and yelling at her in French, to deflect the blame. But the wounded lass rolled over and said, “Kevin?”

For that regrettable act Kevin now wears the spoon.

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