Tignes Nov 7th 2012

Beautiful sunny day, no wind and warm on the body when in the sun – very much like an early Spring day. The snow cannons are working hard which means that the ambient air temperature must be around minus 7 °C.                             Today I was trying out touring equipment and trying to get some exercise in. With only the train working up to 3000m it was a good opportunity to try some skinning. I generally dislike being closed up in the train. It resembles the city underground too much. Photography is a good excuse to take a break! Mont Pourri in the foreground and the higher Mont Blanc in the background. The valleys heading to Champagny at the back of La Plagne. Panorama view from the Panoramic Station – just before I get blown away by a gendarme helicopter that lands with its blades about 10 ft from my head! The Signal over in Val d’isère and Le Fornet skiing area and glacier beyond. Back in Tignes – race training ruts in fresh snow.   Snow covering crevasses – but there is no lift at the bottom which is why nobody has skied there. The Leisse Glacier.       It took 1hr 51mins to climb about 1000m and the skiing was really enjoyable off piste on the descent. Best of all was the solitude with the snow and spectacular views – a great feeling. Combine that feeling with the endorphines from the exercise and it’s hard to beat. Going up the train is slightly depressing unless the weather is bad – but climbing up feels really good! My shoulders aren’t working now though! During the climb I applied my understanding of Chi technique from  other sports and it was excellent. The twist of the lower spine as the leg extends behind just gets all the power out of the glutes and lets the body almost topple up the hill seriously improving economy of effort. This also keeps the posture strong and functional giving a restorative and healthy workout. The ski equipment from Paul might be old but it is very good. It might not be the lightest out there but it skis very well. Much lighter and the skis would only be good for ascending. My Garmont Adrenaline boots are finally being put to good use! The first few turns descending were off piste and were a bit sketchy – until the rust came off the edges and the base got used to sliding! After a few minutes I felt comfortable in the wind packed snow and had a good feel for the equipment. I used to ski everywhere on 150 World Cup slalom skis so that taught me how to use my body to adapt to just about anything and make it work well. Skiing is not about the skis it’s about the body. I applied the Chi technique to descending too – protecting the back and progressively getting more out of the skis even when back on the piste. The old Hagan skis actually felt very responsive and quite sweet. The old Silvretta bindings are surprisingly practical and well designed making them a pleasure to use.

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