The Ski Blog 11th January 2018. When It Rains In Morzine

Why skiers are more often in the wet room than the white room in Morzine

Guest ski blogger, Chris Tomlinson, author of Skiing With Demons, chalet host and creator of the Morzine Chalet Project has been in a cafe with his umbrella up in Morzine watching the English paddle off to the lifts...

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The rain has finally turned to snow in Morzine. I'm starting to feel a bit less left out now, having spent the last week listening to the stories about epic snow, avalanche Risk 5 and travel chaos around the rest of the Alps -  well, maybe not the avalanche and chaos bit.

But I like it when it rains in Morzine - not least because, when it rains, the bookshop sells more of my books!

Even though rain turns into money for me, I do feel sorry for my guests who’ve been looking forward to their annual skiing trip only for it to turn into a snorkelling one.

When it rains in a ski resort other nationalities go shopping and the more sensible British settle into a coffee shop with a good book – but it’s only the English who insist on going skiing in the rain!

It could be our stoic nature or our hatred of waste that forces us up a mountain when water is running down it. We don’t want to waste the lift passes we have already procured or lose a precious day’s skiing. It might be that, with only other English people on the slopes for comparison, we feel like better skiers on a rainy day.

However, despite our penchant for aquatic skiing and the fact that we come from a green and pleasant land, where it rains quite a lot too, we seem to wear the least waterproof clothing of any nation. I know it grinds having to buy specialist clothing for a holiday but an anorak for George and some walking trousers from Cotswolds Outdoor are never going to cut it.

My guests often set out hoping the precipitation might be snow higher up, but I know they’ll be down early looking like drowned rats and walking in that my-pants-are-wet way.

I also like the rain because it forces most guests to relax. Having been brought up by Ski Nazis (see No 11 of the 19 Worst Ski Chalet Guests), I used to feel guilty if I didn’t 'carpe diem' and catch the first lift up in the morning whatever the weather.

There is always someone staying with me who drives the Nazis' agenda and makes me set an early alarm. They rush through breakfast, break into a sweat donning layers then frantically assemble the vast array of kit needed to go skiing. I sometimes wish I had adopted a simpler sport - like water polo, for instance, you just grab your Speedos and go. But rain dampens the resolve of all but the most hardened ski fascist and gives reprieve from the normally hectic agenda of a chalet host.

I also like chilling in the chalet when the weather is lashing against the windows. The empathetic rain puts me in a reflective mood and I often have a productive day of writing. I put myself in a Jimmy Hendrix frame of mind: ‘Rainy day, dream away – Ah, let the sun take a holiday’. In my case, no marijuana is needed to achieve this karma.

Rain means skiing is off the cards for me and I can take a relaxed approach to the day. I can leave the chalet unburdened by equipment or geographical objectives and run a few overdue errands.

Once the aquanauts are dispatched and the errands are done, I like to sit outside my favourite coffee shop in town, watching the other mad dogs paddling off to the lift. I sit outside under a brolly, sipping coffee, listening to the rain pattering on the canopy above and the bellowing of the swollen river that runs below. It’s time to enjoy living in the Alps rather than sliding down then.

Once I’ve got the soggy rodents home, the chalet turn in to a laundry with every available drying surface strung with damp garments. If there is a reward for going skiing in the rain, it’s that it amplifies the feeling of being dry, warm and safe once you are finally back by the fire, sitting in dry underwear. I’ve noticed that many of skiing’s rewards come post activity - such as the unadulterated pleasure you get when you finally take your boots off. I often think that the sole purpose of skiing it to experience that moment.

Despite still being English, I no longer go skiing in the rain. One of the benefits of being a Seasonaire is that you can choose when you go skiing and it’s quality not quantity I’m now after. I save my knees for better conditions and as Jimmy suggested, I just ‘layback and groove on a rainy day’.

Chris Tomlinson, author of Skiing with Demons