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Savoie Prefect warns skiers to take care

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Snow&skifan, interesting comments and worth taking note of views from tour reps in the area.

Yet the current pics of Sella Ronda pistes look quite good, considering the lack of natural snowfall. See ‘Aussies do Europe-Live Trip Report’ thread.

But you’re right about not taking too much notice of published snow depths. Intelligence from impartial people on the ground far more useful.

Also I hope your plans are back on track after what must have been a very disrupted weekend.
snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
IanTr wrote:


The French resorts have not - yet - got their act together in the same way. Perhaps they have not yet felt their way of life to be threatened sufficiently..?


This winter France has just come out of a major drought (water is still scarce and there are concerns if there is a repeat of last year's weather) which has restricted snowmaking, some areas have already run out of water. Maybe the Dolomites have more reservoirs but they are pretty controversial to build in France and you have to be able to fill them. There is also a question of cost, spending millions of euros making snow no-one wants to ski is not a great business plan.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
davidof wrote:
IanTr wrote:


The French resorts have not - yet - got their act together in the same way. Perhaps they have not yet felt their way of life to be threatened sufficiently..?


This winter France has just come out of a major drought (water is still scarce and there are concerns if there is a repeat of last year's weather) which has restricted snowmaking, some areas have already run out of water. Maybe the Dolomites have more reservoirs but they are pretty controversial to build in France and you have to be able to fill them. There is also a question of cost, spending millions of euros making snow no-one wants to ski is not a great business plan.



Last year's problem was too much snow. Val d'Isere had a record breaking snowfall. Did you mean another country?
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@bar shaker, there was a serious lack if rainfall after that though.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
There's plenty of snow here, and good depths, as well as on the valley floor unlike many a Northern Alps resort such as Morzine (Morerain) etc

Current conditions are nowt to do with snowmaking or not, and pistes are in tip-top condition, just that with the crazy holiday period and huge numbers of skiers snow get's scraped off the corduroy after a couple of hours and in certain places where the sun's been at work briefly that then becomes ice.

Also where people are crocking themselves like me are in those areas where snows been laying around and has gone through the freeze melt and then stayed frozen as people go out for a walk.

And this week will be more of the same with strong winds and uber cold temps.

I'm going for a walk with the dogs OH and daughter up towards the Izoard using our ski touring gear on an XC country trail that walkers / skiers are able to use as hopefully will be safer than walking and my crocked back will just about be ok, hopefully.
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IanTr wrote:
@dublin2, the Dolomites resorts seem far better able to manage when snow is scarce as in recent early seasons.
I've skied in the Dolomites when natural snowfall has been lower than you would like and extensive use of artificial snow has contributed to snow depths on many of the pistes. The quality of the snow was no better and no worse than artificial snow anywhere else I've skied. If temperatures stay low the snow on piste is harsh and scratchy, and on busy sections polishes to hard and sometimes icy conditions that we all know and few like. If temperatures rise the piste softens and on busy sections the snow gets cut up and you can get a lot of sugary snow which doesn't bind together and easily easily pushed around to form unconsolidated mounds. This also happens to natural snow if it is old and has not been refreshed by a recent snowfall. Cold temperatures keep it polished and scratchy, warm temperatures it more easily cuts up and the snow stops binding together.

Some areas might have invested in the capacity to make a lot of artificial snow to cover a large proportion of their pistes, which is great, but I don't believe for one minute that those areas are making "high quality" snow. It's just artificial snow pushed around by piste-bashers the same as every other resort investing in this technology. Has anyone ever skid over a mound of cannoned snow were it has been deposited by the cannon (I say over, as you can't ski through it)?
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
bar shaker wrote:


Last year's problem was too much snow. Val d'Isere had a record breaking snowfall. Did you mean another country?


I don't think you are familiar with the weather in France.

https://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/auvergne-rhone-alpes/haute-savoie/fin-periode-secheresse-haute-savoie-prefecture-leve-mesures-restriction-usage-eau-1594137.html

The worst drought since 1976. In the Haute-Savoie ski resorts were only allowed to use snowmaking from mid December.

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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
PeakyB wrote:
@Snow&skifan, interesting comments and worth taking note of views from tour reps in the area.

Yet the current pics of Sella Ronda pistes look quite good, considering the lack of natural snowfall. See ‘Aussies do Europe-Live Trip Report’ thread.

But you’re right about not taking too much notice of published snow depths. Intelligence from impartial people on the ground far more useful.

Also I hope your plans are back on track after what must have been a very disrupted weekend.
snowHead


Thanks very much. We got home to Sussex at 3pm yesterday.

We got very lucky with this mini Snowmageddon for 2 reasons:

1. For the first time in about 12 years we took a package; normally we travel independently when skiing. So instead of being stuck at Innsbruck after a cancelled scheduled flight, we had the attentive care of Inghams. They were fantastic, great communicators and by 6pm we were in a 4* hotel in the beautiful city centre.
2. We were patient during the Sat afternoon at the airport. I’ve mentioned this already - 100 of the 125 Inghams guests on our cancelled flight disappeared on Saturday afternoon, rushing to book their own motels at their own cost or to get legged flights on Sunday from Zurich to Gatwick at their own expense, some paying £1,000’s in total. All to get home a few hours earlier! Now having to make a claim against the airline or travel insurer. We also got offered and took one of the few seats on a lunchtime Sunday flight home, because we were with Inghams staff at the city centre hotel. The hoardes who later emerged from their privately booked motels had to get a 20:30 flight.

I’ll book with Inghams again when it suits our plans.
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davidof wrote:
bar shaker wrote:


Last year's problem was too much snow. Val d'Isere had a record breaking snowfall. Did you mean another country?


I don't think you are familiar with the weather in France.



I admit I'm only really familiar with the weather in Tarentaise. Lac Chevril was virtually full in the summer and still is. Where have they run out of water?
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Got back from 8 days in Les Contamines at the weekend. Have to say, I read the media reports of dangerous piste conditions in Haute Savoire with a sceptical eye. Les C had good albeit rather thin cover all over the mountain. Very few true ice patches even by the end of the week. Almost no grass and rocks. The pistes were definitely firm but pretty respectable for this time of year I'd have thought. Les C car parks were full all week and I saw ESF and ski club jackets from neighboring resorts, Jura and even Argentiere so perhaps conditions were worse elsewhere.

There was plenty of evidence of intermediates skiing faster than was appropriate for their skills but it never felt really hazardous.

Disappointment was the offpiste conditions where a spell of rain had left unpisted snow rutted and hard plus cold temperatures stopped it softening. Can't think of a week where I did less off piste skiing for years and years.
Still, enjoyed the challenge of trying to link shorter carved turns on hard pistes.

Overall summary, mustn't grumble at all.
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rob@rar wrote:
IanTr wrote:
@dublin2, the Dolomites resorts seem far better able to manage when snow is scarce as in recent early seasons.
I've skied in the Dolomites when natural snowfall has been lower than you would like and extensive use of artificial snow has contributed to snow depths on many of the pistes. The quality of the snow was no better and no worse than artificial snow anywhere else I've skied. If temperatures stay low the snow on piste is harsh and scratchy, and on busy sections polishes to hard and sometimes icy conditions that we all know and few like. If temperatures rise the piste softens and on busy sections the snow gets cut up and you can get a lot of sugary snow which doesn't bind together and easily easily pushed around to form unconsolidated mounds. This also happens to natural snow if it is old and has not been refreshed by a recent snowfall. Cold temperatures keep it polished and scratchy, warm temperatures it more easily cuts up and the snow stops binding together.

Some areas might have invested in the capacity to make a lot of artificial snow to cover a large proportion of their pistes, which is great, but I don't believe for one minute that those areas are making "high quality" snow. It's just artificial snow pushed around by piste-bashers the same as every other resort investing in this technology. Has anyone ever skid over a mound of cannoned snow were it has been deposited by the cannon (I say over, as you can't ski through it)?


rob@rar, who said anything about “high quality” snow...!? The Dolomites resorts always manage to get the Sella Ronda and other principal pistes up and running, even if they’ve had little natural snow early in the season. If you’ve booked a family piste-skiing holiday there, the chances are that you’ll find plenty to ski even if the surrounding fields are still green. Given similarly poor early-season snowfall in many French resorts there seems to be a far higher risk that you’ll end not skiing.

The point is only that the Dolomites resorts have perhaps become a safer option for early season piste skiing than many other areas, directly because of the investments they have made.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
IanTr wrote:
rob@rar, who said anything about “high quality” snow...!?
Don't comments like "a safer option for early season piste skiing" imply some sort of quality of experience as well as the quantity of artificial snow which can be manufactured if the temperatures are low enough?

IanTr wrote:
The Dolomites resorts always manage to get the Sella Ronda and other principal pistes up and running, even if they’ve had little natural snow early in the season. If you’ve booked a family piste-skiing holiday there, the chances are that you’ll find plenty to ski even if the surrounding fields are still green. Given similarly poor early-season snowfall in many French resorts there seems to be a far higher risk that you’ll end not skiing.
I've skied early season in France (including the end of November and all of December) as well as Austria, Italy and Switzerland for the last 15+ years. Never once not been able to ski, even in years when the season started very poorly. A combination of altitude and snow-making have ensured that a reasonable proportion of the piste network has been available, and in some years conditions have been spectacular.

IanTr wrote:
The point is only that the Dolomites resorts have perhaps become a safer option for early season piste skiing than many other areas, directly because of the investments they have made.
I don't think it is safer than many other areas. How many big resorts now don't have snow cannon coverage on a good proportion of their pistes. As I said, I've skied from the beginning of the season for 15+ years and not once has there been insufficient snow to ski. The years when natural snowfall has dominated the quality of the experience has been far nicer, but when resorts have had to supplement the natural stuff at least skiing has been available even if the experience is somewhat compromised. Although I'm very happy to see snow management and manufacture get better and better, for me the use of artificial snow will always be a compromise on the real thing, on piste as well as off.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
IanTr wrote:
rob@rar wrote:
IanTr wrote:
@dublin2, the Dolomites resorts seem far better able to manage when snow is scarce as in recent early seasons.
I've skied in the Dolomites when natural snowfall has been lower than you would like and extensive use of artificial snow has contributed to snow depths on many of the pistes. The quality of the snow was no better and no worse than artificial snow anywhere else I've skied. If temperatures stay low the snow on piste is harsh and scratchy, and on busy sections polishes to hard and sometimes icy conditions that we all know and few like. If temperatures rise the piste softens and on busy sections the snow gets cut up and you can get a lot of sugary snow which doesn't bind together and easily easily pushed around to form unconsolidated mounds. This also happens to natural snow if it is old and has not been refreshed by a recent snowfall. Cold temperatures keep it polished and scratchy, warm temperatures it more easily cuts up and the snow stops binding together.

Some areas might have invested in the capacity to make a lot of artificial snow to cover a large proportion of their pistes, which is great, but I don't believe for one minute that those areas are making "high quality" snow. It's just artificial snow pushed around by piste-bashers the same as every other resort investing in this technology. Has anyone ever skid over a mound of cannoned snow were it has been deposited by the cannon (I say over, as you can't ski through it)?


rob@rar, who said anything about “high quality” snow...!? The Dolomites resorts always manage to get the Sella Ronda and other principal pistes up and running, even if they’ve had little natural snow early in the season. If you’ve booked a family piste-skiing holiday there, the chances are that you’ll find plenty to ski even if the surrounding fields are still green. Given similarly poor early-season snowfall in many French resorts there seems to be a far higher risk that you’ll end not skiing.

The point is only that the Dolomites resorts have perhaps become a safer option for early season piste skiing than many other areas, directly because of the investments they have made.


+1 for the impressive coverage in Dolomites even on lean years, not just the Sella Ronda resorts either, both Alleghe/Civetta and San Martino do a superb job. A few years ago when there was barely any good snowfalls during the season I was at San Martino several times and the pistes were as good as any I've skied on, unfortunately (for them) the place was dead each time, the ticket office told me that if there is no big snowfall reported on the news then people from the city just don't bother skiing.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
rob@rar, check out the December reports from the Morzine/Avoriaz/LesGets thread (this discussion started in the Haute Savoie) and compare them with those from the the Dolomites thread. Neither area had great snowfall, but the one with the lower snowfall somehow managed to deliver better piste-skiing conditions than the other...

There are differences between different ski areas across the Alps, and these are not only a function of climate/weather. Some areas are better managed than others, and the Dolomites resorts deserve recognition for what they have achieved in this regard.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@IanTr, The PDS has plenty of snowmaking equipment installed, it isn't much help if it isn't cold enough to make snow.
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Snow&skifan wrote:
The Dolomites/Sud Tirol pistes are currently in very poor condition with a real lack of snow according to the Inghams manager we dealt with over a two day delay at Innsbruck Sat/Sun. (They’re based in Italy, but help the Innsbruck rush at weekends).

A case of don’t always go by the online published piste depths?


I have to disagree with this. Just back from a week over new year in Selva.

Pistes were in pretty decent nick considering the lack of natural snow and numbers of skiers. A few icy sections on a few runs but nothing like Courchevel in late Dec 2016 when their runs were like skiing on an ice rink.

We skied the sella ronda twice , Arabba (headed to marmolada but winds stopped the final ascent) , Alta Badia , Seceda (including La Longia).

Apart from the numbers of people on home runs at peak times , it never felt dangerous.
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Its not that the French are somehow poor at making snow, its just that their slopes and their climate are not as suitable as the Dolomites, 260 miles to the east.

The whole skiing strategy in north east Italy and parts of Austria, is dependent on 100% snow making. Over the last 40 years they have evolved it to the point where it now delivers a reliable product every year.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
IanTr wrote:
rob@rar, check out the December reports from the Morzine/Avoriaz/LesGets thread (this discussion started in the Haute Savoie) and compare them with those from the the Dolomites thread. Neither area had great snowfall, but the one with the lower snowfall somehow managed to deliver better piste-skiing conditions than the other...


I wouldn't choose Morzine or Les Gets for early season skiing, I'd go higher. I was in Les Arcs in the 3rd week of December, conditions were excellent on piste and the off-piste was pretty good for that early in the winter:



IanTr wrote:
There are differences between different ski areas across the Alps, and these are not only a function of climate/weather. Some areas are better managed than others, and the Dolomites resorts deserve recognition for what they have achieved in this regard.
I'm well aware of that. I'm simply making the point that no matter how good a resort's snow management, the use of artificial snow is, IMO, second best to the natural stuff. Skiing on 100% artificial snow just isn't as good as skiing on natural snow. My priority for early and late season is altitude not plentiful snow cannons (although all major resorts have plenty of artificial snow making capacity, so it's not really a choice of one or the other), maximising the likelihood of natural snowfall. I well understand that with altitude you are more likely to be affected by high wind and poor visibility, but I'd much rather take my chances with that than a higher risk of skiing on an artificial piste created down the middle of a green field.
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Peter S wrote:
Over the last 40 years they have evolved it to the point where it now delivers a reliable product every year.
What is the product? Is skiing on 100% artificial snow as good as skiing on natural snow?
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@rob@rar, I totally agree.

I was in EK in November and December and we had similar (amazing) conditions.

We looked at buying in Morzine and dismissed it because of the length of season you could reliably ski in. Morzine gets reliable mid Jan and ceases to be reliable by the end of March. That was advise from friends who already lived there... and were looking to move higher. I appreciate that Avoriaz is higher, but most of the surrounding pistes are below the village.
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bar shaker wrote:
@rob@rar, I totally agree.

I was in EK in November and December and we had similar (amazing) conditions.

We looked at buying in Morzine and dismissed it because of the length of season you could reliably ski in. Morzine gets reliable mid Jan and ceases to be reliable by the end of March. That was advise from friends who already lived there... and were looking to move higher. I appreciate that Avoriaz is higher, but most of the surrounding pistes are below the village.
In December and April I think having access to high terrain, in whatever country or area you want to ski, remains a good rule of thumb. An extensive snow cannon network is a useful failsafe (which most large resorts have including higher altitude ones), but I don't think that should be the primary reason for choosing a resort. In any event, there is a surfeit of accommodation in all resorts in the first part of December and the first half of January, so 'chasing the snow' is a viable option.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Sorry to hear of those who are injured by slipping on icy paths or roads when out walking

As keen winter walkers in the UK and abroad we have invested in crampons for the mountains and walking spikes for icy paths and roads (these are the type that are constructed of rubber with 6 or eight metal studs that sit under the foot and heel). They are not expensive, are available in different shoe / boot sizes and slip on easily over footwear (even ski boots). They have enabled us to walk on hard snow and pure ice with no mishaps and are regularly used by those in ski resorts and the UK who go walking / running in icy conditions
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@gazza330, I have some, I normally use them, but on this occasion the walk was unplanned, and on the way there not needed.
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On the subject of water I received this in an update from the La Plagne lift co. (SAP)

Quote:
The water reserves decrease.

The lake at Coches is almost empty, 20 000 m3 to Pierre Blanche, 15 000 m3 to Pra Jourdan, 5000 m3 to Lovatière, 40 000 m3 to Forcle.

We have consumed to date more than 430,000 m3 of water and therefore produced in the order of 860,000 m3 of snow.
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https://www.amazon.com/Yaktrax-SkiTrax-Tracks-Traction-Protection/dp/B01LZGGH0M?tag=amz07b-21
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sidas-ctrskiboot17-Ski-UNISEX-ADULT-SHOES/dp/B071WPW8L3/ref=cts_sp_1_vtp?tag=amz07b-21

Further to my previous post here is a link to different walking spikes
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@Snow&skifan, glad you got out of the Innsbruck weekend bottleneck without too much disruption.

Good to see positive comments about Inghams too. I was impressed with them last year. Based on your experience, they’ve done well in challenging circumstances. I wouldn’t hesitate to book with them again either.
snowHead
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
After a bit of research for things suitable for winter trail running as well as everything else, I have just bought a pair of these.

https://www.facewest.co.uk/Kahtoola-MicroSpikes.html

They get cracking reviews, but might be a bit hard-core if your just walking about.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@thecramps, ooh. I'd be interested to hear how you get on with them. I imagine they'll take a bit of getting used to at first.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Quote:

In December and April I think having access to high terrain, in whatever country or area you want to ski, remains a good rule of thumb.


yes, although its worth remembering that getting decent cover requires a combination of
a) precipitation (or cannons)
b) low enough temperatures
c) nature of terrain (i.e., you need more precipitation on screes slopes than pastures)

High terrain obviously helps with b, generally helps with a but often has a counterproductive impact on c.
Late season when snow levels have had opportunity to build up then all that really matters is b. Early season the balance between b and c is more complex.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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Last two years the same has happened between the Northern and Southern Alps so it's not necessarily altitude.

Both regions received substantial snow late November and we were skiing powder all December, ok lifts were only open weekends so we were touring other days.

Then Northern Alps had three days of Atlantic frontal driven rain 22nd onwards (?) to 2,600m which trashed the lower slopes and accelerated the current situation while the Southern Alps did not get the rain, hence we still have the snow in the valley at resort level which is causing the walking issues.

And re the likes of Snowtrax whilst many geezonaires have them, you actually don't get around to using them.

I bought mine after I did my ACL and was a bit wary of walking thereafter - on the whole people make do without them, and dare I say it there is a bit of a "numpty I'm a tourist" associated in wearing them, and I know, I of all people given my current situation, should not be saying that, but there you go. The strategy being just to avoid any dodgy bits and be careful all the time, and in my case stick to the shoes/boots that you know work rolling eyes

And we have this running event in ten days time
http://www.trail-serre-chevalier.com/?page_id=984

Matériels fortement recommandés :
• système antiglisse pour chaussures (type Yaktrax ou chaussures à pointes).
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Poster: A snowHead
I am sure I read somewhere that a limiting factor on making snow at altitude was having enough water stored up there, as pumping water up that far was completely impractical.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@thecramps, yes this is why the Grand Massif has dug a number small lakes next to pistes in the last few years, so they can store the water up there. In 2017 Haute Savoie said they would make resorts with no stored water turn off the snow cannons in mid-January, if the real stuff did not arrive...luckily it did.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Would seem that the current conditions (in France) are still dangerous to even the most hardened experienced mountaineers.

A guide friend of mine who lives in a village above La Grave went to visit his neighbour last night and never made it, he was found out cold (in the unconscious state), and then when coming round he told me he had no idea where he was, whether it was summer or winter, and then the mildly amusing bit, he looked at his hand (he lost a finger in May) and was convinced it was not his hand!

Nine days on for me and I'm still in pain but I'm doing stuff though rattling down the piste I can live without for the time being.
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