Snow socks, nets or chains?

So, Winter’s well on its way here. Snow’s on the roads this morning with the first of the closures through too much snow. Orange alert for some areas today giving some fun for travellers. Winter driving? Help comes in either snow socks, nets or the good ‘ol classic snow chains.

Without trying to give too much of a lesson about driving on snow, winter or snow tyres aren’t just for snow, they work better in cold weather too. Yes, an expensive addition to your garage but, don’t forget when your winter tyres are fitted, your summer ones aren’t getting worn down (think about it). The grip you get from these bad boys is amazing and you don’t have to stop, nor drive slower. Don’t be convinced that your London stylee 4×4 will necessarily cut the mustard over here. When you need something to get you out, you need something substantial.

Nets? I had a pair…..once, never again. They had a lifespan of about 3 minutes. Seriously, even if there was a fault in the manufacturing, you wouldn’t want that mess up around the track rod and stub-axle would you? Especially when it’s 15cms deep and -10°.

Socks? They’re Ok until your tyres spin (especially when ice is around) when they disintegrate very quickly indeed due to them being made of fabric. Easy to put on but also that means that they’re easy to come off too. A cheaper option than chains if that swings it for you.

Chains? Yes the way to go, and the only way to go if you really need substance. Ok, they cost more than the others and it takes a little bit of time to get used to putting them on but when they’re on they’ll cut through ice to get you out. When you’re stuck at 45° across they road, sometimes chains will be the only thing that’ll do it for you. Me, personally, I’d rather spend more cash, and learn how to put them on. With practice, they take (seriously) about 2 minutes per wheel to put on.

In the Aosta Valley in Italy, it’s the law to have snow tyres fitted between mid October and May, be warned. In France, you must be ‘equipped’. You don’t have to have snow tyres on, but if you have an accident and you don’t have chains on and your tyres aren’t correct, you are liable for a fine. A one-time colleague rolled her car 20 metres from her house on her way to get her tyres changed over. Car smashed, pride hurt, snow tyres flying around in car and she was lumped with a fine. Seems a bit harsh eh?

Buy whatever you opt for in the UK, know how to use them (practice at home) and don’t be embarrassed to use them. Shiny bonnets and grills don’t look too shiny when they’ve hit a wall nor clever when your motor rocks up at home in the UK on the back of a breakdown truck.

Good snow and skiing before the holidays

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A few calm days are ahead teaching through in Courmayeur but here in Chamonix conditions couldn’t be better.
Last week saw a group from the tour company Jagged Globe that had awesome skiing. A few days of low cloud didn’t matter as the rocks are so well covered you can ski anywhere!
Yesterday was with a chap who’d flown from Sydney to see if these reports of great snow were true, as the above photo shows, he wasn’t disappointed!

By 1130 we’d done 2 laps on the Grand Mur skiing the central gullies (that usually are too rocky) in top of boot deepness. He was happy and I wasn’t feeling too shabby either. By midday we’d skied 3800m of descent in only 3 runs – the beauty of the Grands Montets!

Bring on the holidays.

First winter holiday period over

This morning at Le Tour was like chalk and cheese from the past week’s skiing. Places in the car park, no queue to get up the first lift and the best bit….no-one at the Autannes chair.
We shouldn’t complain though. The holidays have been blessed by superb conditions. You want regular dumps of fresh snow? You had it! Sunny skies? You had loads.
If only all ski holidays were like this, life would be perfect.

The caption for the photo should be ‘you didn’t see it line this very often over the last fortnight’.

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Fantastic skiing at the Grands Montets

What a morning! A late start due to avalanche control, but the lift priority works a treat 😉 (check the photo)
40cms was advertised having fallen at Lognan, but we didn’t see proof of that. At the top if the Bochard though I coild believe it. A few laps of the Lavancher bowl with one down the middle being just fantastic. A big smile from the group said it all.

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Opening day at Le Tour

The much awaited opening of the ‘rest’ of Chamonix happened yesterday. Ok, the weather got worse as the day went on but we had excellent skiing.

A couple of runs on the front-side before heading into the back bowls towards Switzerland where the snow was untracked.

A few things are new for this season, a new turnstile for the Autannes chair, a couple of very high tech snow cannons at the bottom of the Evettes piste and the permanent timed slalom piste (heavily sponsored) under the Autannes chair too.

A fantastic start to the season at Le Tour!