Fun off-piste in powder in Les Houches!! [video]

This January, Chamonix has received more snow than any January since 1967.
Over two metres 10cms fell in just one night in Argentière a week or so back.

So, when yet another 40cms of snow fell yesterday at chalet level, and with visibility greatly reduced throughout the valley, Helen and I chose to ski our own backyard: to explore the off-piste possibilities in Les Houches.

In Chamonix, most people head up to Grands Montets when there are powder snow conditions – which unfortunately means it also gets tracked out very quickly.

Instead, we sometimes go searching for the interesting and excellent little routes and lines that can be had in Les Houches.

Les Houches is so under-rated for off-piste skiing, but it holds some superb hidden gems….

This is one of our favourite spots for off-piste here: down through the trees over by the Grand Bois button lift.
This year has seen SO much snow fallen that it is thigh-deep in places – and today was simply exceptional.

Bluebird day off-piste on Grands Montets

We are SO lucky to live here in Chamonix valley.
Every now and again, we get to experience conditions that are simply PERFECT for great ski days.

Take yesterday, for instance.
It was one of those bluebird days with not a cloud in the sky.  We headed up to Les Grands Montets, one of the five ski stations in Chamonix valley which is world-renowned for its acres and acres of off-piste terrain, and found it virtually empty.

It would have been simply rude not to have taken advantage of this by heading up to the very top.

Normally there is a long queue for the top station, but yesterday, we were lucky and scarcely waited.

Here’s a little local’s tip: The buvette at the top of the lift station at the very top of Grands Montets serves potentially the best Croûte Forestière in Chamonix valley.  Perhaps it is the altitude. Perhaps it is the method.  I don’t know.  But over the past few years, we have consistently enjoyed this simple Savoyard meal here.  Fresh bread, a heaping of creamy mushrooms, topped with a slice of ham and a handful of grated cheese, add a swig of white wine and a pouring of fresh cream and bake for a few minutes to melt the cheese and wine down to a gorgeous, creamy, sticky consistency.  Absolutely delicious at 3230 metres above sea level.

Sustainance applied, Helen, Tim (Helen’s nephew) and myself stumbled down the 30-odd metres of metal steps (ski boots and steps are rarely a gainly combination) to the snow, where leaving the pistes behind, we headed out onto the untracked Glacier d’Argentière for our descent.

Please note that we would not recommend this route to our guests or people who do not know the area without a guide. This is glaciated terrain, and just a few metres past the rope marking the piste, you ski on snow bridges over hidden crevasses. Last year, a guide died here when the snow bridge he was on collapsed, so it can be deadly terrain.

Helen and Tim on the Glacier d'Argentière

Okay. Warning aside, the Glacier d’Argentière is staggeringly beautiful.  We were virtually the sole people skiing the top half, skiing open patches of perfect powdery snow, carefully finding the route, avoiding those place we know there are crevasses, before dropping down amongst the towering seracs and icefalls.

Once we’d dropped onto the main body of the glacier, we were joined by a few other skiers taking the same route out.

Helen skiing the crowded glaciated terrain

Sadly, we only had time of one top bin, but we quickly skirted over to the Bochard lift to grab a last descent down the Lavancher bowl.  Again, awesome conditions with lovely soft snow….

View from Lavancher towards Brévent

View towards the Aiguilles Rouges

We arrived back down at the Pendant lift just before it closed.  Just as the liftie was pushing the seats up on chairlift.

All in all, one spectacular memorable day!

Helen and Tim


Complimentary peak performance coaching for skiers…

As part of our ongoing mission to continually improve the value of staying at Maison Jaune, for this Winter we are proud to launch a new service: complimentary peak performance coaching for all our guests.

A HUGE part of skiing performance is your mental game.

It affects how you ski on a day to day basis.
It affects how you ski particular slopes.

Your inner game controls how you respond to falls, ice, moguls, steeps, carving, speed…
and that in turn affects how you enjoy skiing and the quality of the emotions you feel when you ski.

For most people this is haphazard.   You have good days and you have not so good days…

What if you were to discover how to make EVERY day a good day!
What if you were to discover how to ski your best every run!

Sounds pretty amazing, right?

As you may know, Leighton is both a life coach and author of the book, “Skiing without Fear” – which combines neurolinguistic programming techniques (NLP) and visualisation with skiing.  It’s aim is to enable you to step up your inner game and take control of your state whenever you ski.

This is key to being able to tap into your ability to perform at peak levels and truly ski at your best.

This Winter, we are offering a complimentary peak performance course to our guests.  Coupled to our ski orientation, Leighton will accompany you on the slopes and work on your inner game.   He will teach you some fantastic jedi-mind tricks to build your confidence ready for skiing, together with some powerful tools to enable you to control your current state of mind, so that you can perform at your peak whenever you wish.

Powerful stuff.

More details here: Peak performance NLP coaching for skiers


Powder off piste in Flégère.  Game on!

Powder off piste in Flégère. Game on!

Still fabulous skiing to be had….

Although there has been precious little snow for about 9 weeks now, we are still skiing in and out of the chalet without any problems!

The pisteurs have done a fantastic job and we are out skiing in great conditions….
It is warm – 10°c – sunny and spectacular!

Chamonix Les Houches - simply beautiful

Sure, it can be a little slushy in the afternoon in Les Houches – like any spring-time conditions – but Grands Montets is still fabulous – though a little rocky off-piste!  Look like Grands Montets will still be open until the 8th May!!!

The best thing is though that there are SO few people here at the moment.  Lift queues? I don’t think so.

Skiing Les Houches on Sunday March 20th!

Kandahar World Ski Championship in Chamonix 2011!

Today was the Mens downhill from the World Ski Championship here in Chamonix – well, Les Houches, to be precise…

This event is named after Lord Roberts of Kandahar – a Victorian general who famously lifted a siege of the Afghanistan town of Kandahar – who gave out medals at the first ski competitions back in the 1900’s!

Le Cassure - the first jump (50-80m!) of the Chamonix Kandahar

Apparently  in 1911, Henry Lunn the travel agent (Lunn Poly!) organised a downhill ski race in Montana, Switzerland and Lord Roberts donated a magnificent trophy.  This race was known as the Roberts of Kandahar challenge.  There was no piste or trail, and the first descent of 5000 feet took 61 minutes!

Later, in 1928, his son, Sir Arnold Lunn, teamed together with Hannes Schneider, to create a combined downhill/slalom contest, which was known as the Arlberg Kandahar.  This took place in St. Anton and was held annually until the start of World War II in 1940, and resumed in 1949.

The sites of the A-K expanded to include Chamonix, Sestrières in Italy, and Garmisch in Germany.


Today, there was a fantastic atmosphere – it was AMAZING to see these top-class skiers flying down the route that we know so well (and ski so badly in comparison!).   Somewhere between 20 and 40 thousand spectators lined the route and the finishing line.

Just after launch on the Goulet

Helen and I got to see the jumps at the Cassure – the first jump where they drop into the bowl which is normally horrendously moguled… and also le Goulet – the steepest part of the “Verte des Houches” – where they must be jumping 60-90 metres!!

November… and we’re skiing!

Back in September, in my long-range weather forecast for the Alps winter 2010, I predicted an early cold start to the Winter…   and abundant snow…

It is with a lot of relief, it looks as though my forecast is coming true:

The UK has had its earliest snow since 1983…
Temperatures dropped to -18 degrees c in Llysdinam in Wales on Sunday…

… and here in Chamonix, Grands Montets opened its doors on Saturday….  and we were there to celebrate.

Ok.   The visibility was poor.  Flat light.  It was still snowing slightly.
My boots hurt like the worst time since the first time last year!

But it was simply fantastic to be out skiing again!

Snow on the hot tub deck

Snow on the hot tub deck

So the big question here is:  When is Les Houches going to open?

Well…  Les Houches has a history of trying to rival Grands Montets for opening dates –  and GM opens fully from the 6th December.  Next weekend!

Given that just five minutes ago, the first piste-basher was creating a base on the piste outside chalet Maison Jaune, I think there will be a partial opening here next weekend!   The Compagnie du Mont Blanc is unlikely to open the Prarion lift until the 19th, unfortunately!  Spoil sports!   However, SEPP, the company that controls most of the other lifts here in Les Houches, is likely to open the rest of the mountain as soon as it is able…

There is more snow forecast in the next few days and the temperatures are quite cold and stable… so we’ll just have to wait and see….

My first book is finally published!!

I have finally published my first book, entitled “Skiing without Fear”.

It is an instruction manual on how to use neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and visualisation techniques to overcome fears surrounding skiing and learning to ski.  At 102 pages, it is quite a small book – but hopefully will be an influential book in the future.   My hope is that as many people that have read “Inner Skiing” read mine!

Skiing without Fear

I often wondered why noone had ever combined NLP and skiing because, to me, they seemed a natural fit as the mental aspects of the sport seem to hold back the most people – rather than the physical technique of how to ski.

… so I finally got around to doing the research – I read over 30 NLP books for this project which combined with my training as a life coach, and all the NLP stuff I’ve learnt since I first heard about NLP back in Australia in 1991!!

It is available on and – simply go here :  or search on “skiing without fear”.

New video of Les Houches – showing the Kandahar Chamonix world cup run

March is here…   This means we can look forward to warm days, lots of sun, and BONUS, there is still plenty of snow and skiing left!!!

Unfortunately, I am still recuperating – though I sneaked a cheeky ski in for the first time since December when I went for a ski last week…   .

I managed just a single blue run – and it took me three days to recover!!  Not good.

Anyway, it gave me the chance to play with some video footage… and put this short video together…  enjoy…

It shows the Kandahar ski run – the Chamonix world championship run!

The footage was filmed by Helen and Tim in early February this year of chalet guests, Ian and David, skiing the Kandahar.    The music is “The Road” by the Levellers.

Can you find her in the video?   She appears twice!  albeit, briefly…

“Skiing without Fear” website and eBook launched today!

After much webwork – much done whilst I was convalescing in Annecy hospital – the website and eBook for “Skiing without Fear – for beginners, intermediates, and experts ” were completed, tested and launched today…

Skiing without Fear - for beginners, intermediates and experts -

The book is a collection of NLP and visualisation exercises designed to help fearful skiers to overcome their fears, and more advanced skiers to build their confidence – even to be able to produce their peak performances whenever they wish.

Paperback coming soon….
Whilst the eBook launched today and is available for just $9.97 at the moment, the paperback edition will be available hopefully from the end of the month once we have received our ISBN numbers.

It will also be available to purchase from the “Skiing without Fear” website, and via

For more details on the book, read extracts, purchase the eBook – or join the Skiing without Fear forum, please visit:

Fantastic snow through January…

January was an “interesting” month…  I fell ill and ended up actually being hospitalised in Annecy for over two weeks… (hence no blog posts in January).

Thankfully, I am now out, and prescribed a nice selection of medications, and am slowly coming back to health…  In a month, I lost about 20kg of weight… Now I am out, Helen has me on restricted duty…  Unfortunately, it looks like I will not be fit enough to ski for quite some time yet!!   This is rather disappointing as the snow is currently amazing…..  Tant pis.  C’est la vie!!

Consequently, it has been a very busy month for Helen, keeping the chalet running smoothly…  So, a big thank you to Tim, Helen’s nephew, who is helping us out mornings and evenings, and Nikki who has been a fantastic help with the cleaning…  So, it has basically been service as normal!   We have been lucky to have had fantastic guests who have been very understanding of the situation too…

Tim’s chosen speciality is canapés and aperos…  and “apero-boy” as he has been nicknamed is even planning a book…  Good luck with that, Tim!

Anyhow…   January is now over and February has begun…

This means the days are getting longer and warmer…  and the snow is simply perfect at the moment.

There should be some great skiing for our guests…..

Sunset on the Mont-Blanc massif - 3rd Feb

Sunset on the Mont-Blanc massif - 3rd Feb

Helen and Tim enjoying a glass of Champagne in the hot tub with four-time repeat guests, Paul and Lorraine

Helen and Tim enjoying a glass of Champagne in the hot tub with four-time repeat guests, Paul and Lorraine