If you had any doubts, or thought the "jury was out" (as I was reading in the motoring section of the Times yesterday!) on Global warming, you'd be hard pushed to deny it if you had come skiing with me last weekend to Switzerland.
January is normally the coldest time of the year. Occasionally poor snowfall might mean the slopes were a little bare, but most of the people who we talked to just couldn't believe what they were seeing. They couldn't remember anything like it! This was more like spring skiing than January skiing! Birds were singing, the sun was so hot (and this was on the top of the mountain) you could ski in a thin fleece. At lunch on one day I was down to my base layer and that was just about right. Even at the top of the mountain where there was still, alhamdulillah, plenty of good skiing, the pistes were showing bare patches. Further down it started to become impassable. In fact it was only just possible to reach the half way station. Some intrepid skiers even managed to make it all the way down, but I was told that you needed to take your skis off and walk sections. I didn't bother trying!
In the gardens of Geneva flowers were out that normally only appear in May.
A sure sign that this is not some passing phase, or normal temperature fluctuation, is that banks are refusing loans to any ski resorts under 4,500ft. One regular to Crans, who, like my brother, has a flat there, said that the low level skiing is finished.
For Crans this is all compounded by the fact that its slopes are South facing, so it gets more sun and snow melts more quickly.
As for Crans the resort, it has a certain charm, but this is rich persons resort, and the shops down the winding high street have Gucci boutiques and £10,000 watches on display. The cheapest ski pants I could find for a certain teenage son who forgot that he had none inspite of asking him to check several times was £100! We hired a pair instead.
There are some fantastic runs that go on for miles, and as long as they are not crowded you can cane it down at blistering speeds. Although finding your way back across the slopes at the end of the day can be a mission as my son found out when a lift operator refused to let him on two minutes after the barrier was up and had to go down to an ajacent town. There is a free bus service though that links up the three resorts spread across the base of the mountians. A lot better than Trois Valleys though! If you miss a lift there and get stuck in the wrong valley its a 45 minute and expensive taxi ride back! As promised I did practiced some X-tremism to feed the RADICAL in me.
Video clips forth coming, inshallah, although don't expect to much.
Otherwise enjoy the pics, and understand why visiting the Alps, even if you don't ski, offers some real "subhanallah" moments!
If skiing tempts you a group of about 25 of us including wives and kids are heading off to Les2Alpes from 17th-24th Feb. Normally you wouldn't have a chance of booking anything by now, but I've heard bookings are down, and the chances of last minute bargains are big. There are stupidly cheep flights to Grenoble (the nearest airport) but I recommend for more flexibility and less environmental impact that you drive. Not as much hassle as you might think, especially with two drivers.
If you decide to take the plunge and join us let me know and we'll have a meet up point somewhere and make a jammah in the middle of slopes! Hey and if its hot enough we can even have a bar-b-q! There are plenty of Muslims in Grenoble and halal meat!