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Trip Report - Christmas in the land of Oz

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Week 18th December to 25th December. We stayed in the ski station Oz-en-Oisan which is part of the Grandes Rousses ski area, more commonly known by the name of the main town Alpe D'Huez. On the trip was me, my wife, son aged 5y8m, daughter aged 3y5m. Also staying in the resort were my wifes parents, both in their sixties and retired. Both have skied in the past but the dad had a knee op and because he isn't particularly sporty will probably not ski again. Mum is much keener but is currently ill and so was not skiing. Both apartments were rented direct from the owners. We shared the cooking - eating and socialising in the evening at alternate apartments. We had stayed in the same apartment at Easter so knew exactly what to expect. Since Easter the owner had got a new sofa bed which wasn't overly relaxing to sit on but was very easy to convert and was a nice big bed. It cost 300 Euro's to rent our apartment. My wife's parent's apartment was theoritically bigger with a mezzanine level with a double bed, toilet and extra living space. It was 500 Euros' to rent. But it was really hot up on the mezzanine and was quite cramped in the downstairs dining/living area. Our apartment had a triple bunk bed. Basically our apartment was far better and far cheaper. One of the beauties of direct rentals is that our owner told us the apartment would not be occupied before we arrived and would not be occupied until Sunday when we left. So we were able to move in immediately on arrival and depart at our leisure the following Saturday.

As usual we drove, crossing by Eurotunnel which was paid half by a voucher for the screw up from last christmas and half from Tesco vouchers conversion. We were really lucky to be going over Friday night rather than Saturday. Thus avoiding all the snow here on that day. The crossings and drive up and down were incident free. In particular on the return leg we arrived early at the terminal but went straigtht through and straight on. Thus we did door to door in 13 hours. And that was with me driving 70 mph to conserve fuel. One thing that did help was getting the APRR tag for the toll booths. That worked flawlessly.

Snow conditions wise it was an odd week, especially given the sort of weather you were having back in blighty. The forecast was for a dump of snow Saturday night but it never materialised. A shame as clearly the amount of snow was less than ideal. Still it was cold initially. However as the week progressed it became warmer and on Wednesday and Thursday we had rain going at least as high as 1800m I would say. Oz at 1350m lost all it's snow, though the runs home stayed skiable. Friday it turned to snow and by Saturday morning everything was white again. Suddenly there was a bit off piste to be enjoyed whilst many pistes were very icy underneath the fresh snow, and therefore not so much fun.

As per my previous reports we continue to self teach the children. Our 5yo son (now in his 4th week) grew in confidence as the week wore on. At his insistence he was using poles pretty much all week. Early in the week we gave him quite a bit of coaching to try to get him parallel skiing more. But we eased off as the week progressed to let him do it in his own time. Also taught him to do hockey stop which he was getting good at. And various other tips and tricks. On the Friday mum dabbled off the side of the piste with him and some more on Saturday. I also did with him in the afternoon. I was surprised at how easy he got into it and how much he enjoyed it. There was a bit of sting in the tail though. He was persuaded to come with me for one last run on Saturday while mum skied back down with our daughter. We cut this corner that we had before. It was a short pitch but quite steep and deep. First time he did it fine. This time he face planted. He lost a ski. Naturally he was crying and whimpering. And time was marching on. So after a 15 minute search I decided to abandon it and get us off the hill. So I skied with him between my legs, not fun for each of us. poo-poo happens.

The 3yo daughter (done a week and a bit before) had only skied pretty much on the pole, between legs until now but mummy quickly got her snowploughing on this trip. Our problem back in April was any sense of the need to control her speed. But 7/8 months on she was really good. So she was able to ski by herself most of the time. Occasionally she downed tools saying it was too steep. You knew when she was really enjoying it because she would start to sing to herself!

My wife put in a dodgy contact lens and she ended up going over to Alp D'Huez to see an optician as she was worried she may have done some damage. But it was deemed OK, though she was sent over to the Medical Centre were they gave eyedrops. She had to pay 40 Euros despite having her EHIC card and she is reclaiming that from the NHS now she is back home. What it did mean was that I had to ski with both kids for a couple of hours. Bloody hell. The problem with the daughter is that no matter how many times you ask she won't ski on your tail. Quite often you'll find her on the opposite side of the piste. And then matey boy, 5yo suddenly wants to go like the wind, especially if he sees any the snow park or a long schuss. I told him off nicely twice only for him to do it a third time disappearing into the crowds at the bottom of the DMC. So I had a right go! Thankfully the rest of the week we always took one each, sometimes splitting off for a bit so he the fella didn't have to wait around for his sister. I reckon in 12 months we'll be able to travel together pretty efficiently as a group.

As a result of my wife's mum being on the easy list we had very little personal skiing time. We had a couple of hours Thursday afternoon when the weather was pretty drab and the kids wanted out. The Tunnel was open so we went down that but it wasn't much fun because of the lack of snow and the vis. We had a little bit of fun on some of the mid-level runs though.

One of the great things about the ski area is that me and the lad skied for almost an hour from the top Rousses before we had to get another lift. And when it was in good nick, Wed afternoon/Thy morning, skiing all the way down to Vuajany was great.

Pics to follow.
snow conditions
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
The town of Oz-en-Oisan

3yo cutting loose:

5yo in the powder:

5yo showing delight

More powder please


The 5yo and 3yo in unison:

Daddy button lift:
ski holidays

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