Though I’ve been a Ski Club member for a while, this was my first time on a Freshtracks holiday. I was looking forward to having guides show me some of the best terrain in the Chamonix valley as well as skiing with fellow Ski Club members on the Off Piste Adventure trip.
Luckily for me I’d come at the perfect time, with a storm dropping almost a metre of snow on the mountains the day I arrived, giving Chamonix a much-needed refresher. Arriving at Les Houches train station, one of the chalet hosts, Marcus, picked me up in his 4X4 and drove me and my rather large amount of luggage up to Chalet Shiraz, which sits just up the side of the valley along from the main street of Les Houches village.
The chalet is well equipped for skiers. A heated boot cupboard and a ski rack filled with fat freeride skis, suggested that the other guests were back from their day on the slopes already. After dropping my bags in the room, I headed upstairs to say hello and found the others enjoying tea and cake while watching the highlights of the racing from Kitzbuhel on the wide screen TV. The group was made up of 6 men aged between late 30s and early 60s and a woman in her 60s. Most had been on numerous Club trips before but two of them were, like me, on their first Freshtracks holiday. We chatted a little about their day, it had been pretty cold and windy up at Grands Montets where the guide had taken them, but the mixed conditions had given them a chance to find their feet ahead of an action-packed week.
We settled down to a fantastic dinner prepared by Marcus & his wife Audrey and chatted some more about our ski experiences. Though the group didn’t know each other before, there was already great camaraderie from a day’s skiing together, with jokes being made about mishaps and photos shared between them on WhatsApp. This was a contrast to chalets I’ve stayed in previously, where the different groups skied on their own and dinner conversation could be a little awkward.
The massive portions of Moroccan Lamb were quickly demolished by hungry skiers who had spent a long day in extremely cold conditions, and extra helpings were quickly and gratefully taken.
Our Ski Club Leader, Brian, relayed the plans from the guides for tomorrow, which according to the forecast, involved more snow and low cloud. We would head to St. Gervais and take the lift up to the Megève ski area as most of the Chamonix lifts would have late or limited opening due to avalanche risk. After an evening coffee, everyone retired to bed fairly early, keen to be well rested for tomorrow’s fresh snow.