We were ski touring in Serre Chevalier when mobiles pinged with rumours that France was going into lockdown potentially within 24 hours. Was this the last tour before going into ski-hab?
So yesterday's ski tour was pretty darn sweet as not only was it possibly the last of this season but also because we were joined by five others, two of whom have hardly ski toured before plus the Rando Chiens. We were the COVID-9, Kevin suggested, as in, Company of Very Inventive Downhillers.
The sun was out, the snow was sublime, still groomed on the pistes and we were chatting all the way (using ski poles for social distancing). So the pace was leisurely for the 750m to the top of the Bachus (below, not working obviously). Except for Gavin, of course, who had to go that extra mile (literally) and 300m up to the Col de la Cucumelle.
So as the chuch bell rings out 12 noon here on Tuesday, 17th March at Style Altitude HQ in Serre Chevalier, there's a feeling of Armageddon. As the smaller chalet ops load their vans with beer, wine and loo paper ready to head back to the UK as soon as their last guests leave today, we're left with the prospect of no social interaction, limited outdoor excursions and the need for permits to go shopping.
Ski touring would seem like a good idea as it is in the open air away from others but the PGHM of Briancon have asked people not 'to go out and be reckless' in order to limit rescue calls and take up hospital services needed to cope with COVID-19. As the PGHM comments: 'The sky is blue, the snow is there and the mountains are beautiful. Great is the temptation to take a ride. However, the present situation and especially to come is such that each resource, each minute that will be devoted by medical teams to mountain rescue could be deducted from the management of the COVID-19 epidemic in progress and, therefore, ultimately most likely at the expense of another patient. In other words, from now on each aid is potentially too much aid for hospital services.'
Currently the snow is transforming perfectly for spring ski touring with cold nights and sunny days. Looking out at the view from our apartment of snow down to the valley on the north slopes it's like going cold turkey.
Will we survive ski-hab, kept indoors and restrained from skiing, let alone catching Coronavirus? Watch this space...
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