What a funny old season it’s been. January, usually a dry month, buried rocks and trees with metres of snow that just kept on falling. February brought both antarctic cold and French Riviera warmth, causing the rocks and trees to prematurely resurface. March brought out the tulips in my garden, and now April has snowed all over them — consistently. The sun has disappeared.
With the ski resort of La Clusaz due to close fully at the end of April, the locals are getting impatient. Town is quiet, business is slow, and they finally have time to wind down and enjoy some hours on the mountain. Normally, the season ends with at least a few warm, sunny days for us all to enjoy, but not this year. The constant fog and flat light of the past week looks set to continue, much to the dismay of those of us trying to squeeze in as many days skiing as possible.
Yesterday, for example, I was with a friend at the top of La Balme. The fog was thick and we decided to wait to see if it would clear. Ten minutes passed and there was no change, apart from the arrival of another friend with some of his friends grumbling. They were the only ones at the top with us for the whole time we chatted. One of the guys said he wanted to wait with us rather than face the fog. Imagine closing your eyes and trying to walk in a bumpy field without falling over, then add in so many cold, wet snowflakes hitting you in the face that they cause a constant sting, and that’s what the mountain has been like lately. Don’t get me wrong: we were there because the draw of the fresh powder outweighed the stinging faces and uncertainty during foggy moments. The rocks and trees are once again covered. The mountain — when visible through all the fog — looks like early winter, with the promise of great snow coverage for weeks.
So, for the first time that I remember, there is too much snow falling in the French Alps! And when May begins, I’m pretty sure a whole lot of us will be looking at the glowing white snow on the closed ski runs and cursing Mother Nature just a little bit for taunting us so. Either that, or we’ll be trying to justify paying ridiculous prices to go to resorts that a high enough to stay open all year round. Zermatt, anyone?