Winter has arrived…Christmas Shredding…hell yeah!

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all had a great Christmas and are looking forward to another great New Year!

For those that follow my blog posts, you’ll know about my theory, that it’s the local school kids that predict and post the local weather forecasts here in Chamonix?

When we have no snow, its the same old story, the clear skies that you see, with snow forecast for the coming week, somewhere it will say forecast reliability poor, but in small font hidden at the bottom of the page.

When we have bad weather, say like we had all summer, it’ll say exactly what you see, bad weather but with fine weather coming at the weekend.

It’s the Tourist forcast, made for those coming in at the weekend…

So having gone to bed last night with clear stary skies and a forecast saying that it would snow, it was quite a surprise to wake up this morning to find that Winter had really finally arrived…and to put it lightly, arrived in STYLE!

As with all outdoor enthusiasts, I spend quite a bit of time watching the weather. I’m sure I’m not the only one that checks 3 or 4 forecasts to try to find one that agrees with what I want to do.

In the summer, I check through numerous different weather sites to try to find one that give a small weather window in order for us to gain access to some summit somewhere or enough fine weather for the rock to dry out and give us time to climb something up in the mountains. Once I find the one I like, I’ll go with that one and suffer the consequences…Yep the other 4 would be correct!

In the winter, if we’re waiting for snow, I’ll be checking all the sites to see if any snow is coming our way.

Normally you can tell which ones are being optimistic and which ones are realistic but if they all match up then there’s a good chance that the prediction is correct.

Our snow here in Chamonix normally comes from the North West.

For it to be snow of any consequence it’s normally got to be a three day storm, this signifies a significant weather front coming through. Anything shorter than that will just give us flat light and mixed conditions but nothing to get excited about.

After such a dry November and December, (and for me, partly due to the fact that I’ve taken Christmas and New year off and so don’t need to follow the weather quite as much as I do when I’m working as a Guide) this latest forecast caught a lot of us out here by surprise.

Of course, the Local kids have been predicting snow for us since early December, or more to the point since the lifts were due to open and the holiday season due to start, we’ve had a typical tourist forecast scenario running since early December.

And so, with clear skies and snow forecast yet again, we all went to bed last night thinking nothing of it.

Around 3 in the morning the cat woke me up and I looked outside, clear ski and no sign of snow, typical tourist forecast I thought and went back to sleep.

At around 6am I was woken by Loren, nice and early, to see if I wanted to get up and play happy families, which of course I did.

As I got up, I looked out side to see what sort of day we were in for, only to find that winter had arrived and those crazy kids had finally got it right, I guess law of averages means that they would get it right at some point.

It’s now the early afternoon and there’s an impressive amount of snow fallen and still falling…Winter has definitely arrived…we’re saved!

Early winter season is always quite an unpredictable time. I think every year we forget the stress of waiting for the snow through December and we also forget that when it comes it really comes and comes to stay.

After many years of playing this game, I’ve taken to running my pre season courses In Tignes where I can almost guarantee that there will at least be some snow to ride.

I’ve also learnt to relax and enjoy the Christmas and New year period without the stress of having to get out and fight through the crowds and try to ride a Backcountry Snowpack that has no real base to it.

It’s taken quite some time but in the end, I’ve learnt to wait, and so as the rest of Chamonix have been stressing and worrying about the lack of snow, I’ve been chilling, confident that it would at least snow before my next courses start in 10 days time and the mountains will be quiet once again.

I’m already feeling it I’m ready to Ride and Guide and I can feel it coming, I can feel the excitement building…

In the mean time, I’m enjoying some family time, training my legs hard in the Gym and this year, after insisting that my girls, Manon and Loren learnt to ski, I’ve succumbed to getting them snowboards and throwing the skis away.

After all, I’m also a fully qualified Ski teacher, ex ski racer and yet in the past 8 years I only ever ski when I go out with them!

Conclusion…Snowboarding is way more fun and so I’ve spent the last few days getting out with them and getting them started on there snowboards.

With limited snow and poor conditions I changed the learning progression a little, side slipping was out and we followed an advanced learning curve straight into turns and parctised bending the board using foot pressure to make it turn rather than trying to turn it.

I’d never really tried the foot pressure approach with kids before and wasn’t sure how they would take to it but was pleasantly surprised to see it working right from the off with both of them dropping heel and toe side turns right off the bat and they are loving it.

As soon as they saw the snow this morning they were out in the Garden shredding on their boards…wicked!

Manon is now rocking a fat stance same as her Dad…Nice!

I can’t wait to get them up there for a shred now that there’s some snow and it’s not just rock hard ice everywhere…Imagine how easy it’s going to be after learning on a tiny patch of uneven blue ice! Can’t wait…I’m looking forwards to some proper McNab clan shred time this coming week.

My next course starts on the 5Th Jan, It’s my new Advanced Slackcountry Splitboard format, basically a do anything, go anywhere and just hunt the best of the best sort of week.

I have 2 of my strongest regulars on it and 2 places available for anyone that feels up for an active week of anything goes advanced hiking and riding.

Personally, I can’t wait to get started and this new open ended course format is very exciting…I love the idea of being free to just hunt out the best of the best…

I know this is what I do on most of my courses anyway, but what a great way to get started, small group, fast pace!

Sounds good to me!

So lets see what this storm brings us.

There’s lots of wind up high and most of the lifts are closed today.

Lots of wind means there could be dangerous windslab forming so we will need vigilance as usual once we get out the back and we also need to remember the history of what has already formed underneath this latest snow fall and remember that lower down it’s not lying on a solid base but just powder snow covering rocks!

The winter is here, we start to watch and learn and our journey begins…

Bring it on!