Easter Ski Tour 2018
30 March 2018
Returns: 06 April 2018
Les Menuires, France
Staff member in charge
Mr D Lumsden
Welcome to Dollar Academy’s 41st Ski Tour!
We have returned to Les Menuires in France. Our first visit to this resort was in 1984 and thanks to an excellent hotel, massive ski area, very modern lift system, good after-skiing activities and reliable snow conditions, we have made it our home since 1997.
Read the blog further below to keep up-to-date with our adventures.
After a very early start in Dollar this morning, our group of 105 pupils and 16 staff arrived safely at the Hotel Piolet in Les Menuires at about 3pm with the only hold up being long queues at Passport Control at Grenoble Airport. A quick and tasty lunch, followed by ski and board fitting and a trip to the Croisette shopping area were then all squeezed in before dinner. Our now traditional first night activity of bum-boarding (sledging on something the size of a large dinner plate) was again a hit with the pupils and staff. Although we are here late in the season there is still about one metre of snow around the hotel, and with some fresh flakes this evening, conditions are as good as they have ever been for us. Here's hoping for another great week in the Three Valleys.
Easter Sunday Fog and Sunshine
5 inches of snow provided fabulous but challenging ski conditions for our first morning. Skies clearing from mid morning to give bright, warm and sunny hours on the slopes thereafter. After a full day of skiing and a hearty evening meal pupils enjoyed an evening of games, trampolining, basketball and ping pong.
Monday Blues, and Reds and Blacks, as well as the odd Green
The sun was shining as we ate our breakfast, and the day did not disappoint. Any cloud was high and thin for the best part, and although the temperature reached the teens, the snow remained in great condition on all but the very lowest slopes. Groups headed down to Belleville, up to Val Thorens and over to Meribel-Mottaret, and the pupils are certainly getting the most from their full coverage 3 Valleys passes. For the first time in several Tours, some pupils skied on Snow Blades, or short skis, which we had brought from school, and they enjoyed getting to grips with the new skills involved. After skiing, a small group walked up to Reberty to experience "Speed Mountain", a mini roller coaster set amidst the snow, and after dinner they whole party could not contain their excitement playing Bingo, with the top prize being a pair of Beats headphones which were won by Hannah in Form VI.
Blue Runs and Hot Chocolate....Mostly Hot Chocolate
As a first-time Ski Tour-ist (member of staff), I have been simply overwhelmed.... by the snow conditions the stunning beauty of the mountains, the scale of the 3 Vallees resort and, most of all, by the level of skiing talent on display (teaching staff and pupils). After the morning lessons, I led my first group out on the pistes today, on a windy but warm afternoon and was impressed by the pupils' knowledge of the labyrinth of lifts and pistes. After two days of wall-to-wall sunshine, the conditions were a bit of a shock. The gondola swayed wildly on its way up, and we were quite relieved to find the upper half of the lift had been closed. We made our way to the nearest cafe (aptly named Sunny) and revelled in some creamy hot chocolates. After a brief debate about whether or not to carry on, it was (mostly) unanimous decision to battle the winds back to the hotel and a well-deserved rest. All in all, a brilliant day on the slopes.
All dressed up and nowhere to go...
Unusually, the howling wind during the night kept no one awake as all were in such a deep sleep after three days of skiing, and when curtains were opened, the blue skies and broken cloud promised much. As groups headed outside, it was clear that the stong winds were still present, and unfortunately the chairlifts in the Les Menuires area remained closed until nearly midday. ESF lessons were cancelled, and instead we headed up hill, on foot, to Reberty, for some sightseeing and shopping. We were back on the white stuff by 2pm after lunch but a number of groups did not last long as they were soaked by a very heavy and persistent dump of wet snow. Those who braved the weather were eventually rewarded with warm sunshine and three inches of fresh powder snow on the upper slopes in Val Thorens. Those who returned early to the hotel dried off only temporarily before entering the excellent swimming pool and "wellness centre" for two hours of relaxation. Tonight's evening meal of popcorn chicken starter, steak pie, veg and chips, and sticky toffee pudding was very popular, and after a rendition of "Happy Birthday" for our two birthday boys (Henry, 13 and Amo, 18), tonight's activity is a quiz organised by Conor, the SkiBound rep. The forecast for tomorrow is not terribly good, but inside our gloves, we have our fingers crossed...
Well, that wasn't in the forecast...
After a night of heavy snowfall we woke to more snow and thick fog. Nonetheless, the 9am instruction groups headed outside at 8.50am, and almost immediately the skies cleared and blue sky remained for the rest of the day. The combination of low temperatures, fresh powder and wall-to-wall sunshine meant that afternoon groups skied until after 5pm, and two very experienced skiers in the top ability group commented that it was their best day's skiing ever. With similar conditions expected tomorrow, we are hoping to end the Tour with another excellent day. Tonight's apres-ski activity was a disco in a night club in the town - most seemed to enjoy it, and, given their moves on the dancefloor, it was clear that some pupils still had plenty of energy left!
Another day to remember...
The forecast was spot on - warm, sunny and cloudless - the sun-tanned (sun-burned?) faces coming home tomorrow are testament to that. The snow conditions, especially on the upper slopes, remained very good, and after a busy spell in the morning, the pistes were really quite quiet for a Friday during an Easter week. All groups were out on the hill by 9.15am, and several were not back at the hotel until after 5pm. 51 staff and pupils headed to Courchevel for the day, while others ventured to Val Thorens, Meribel and St Martin - we have certainly covered much of the 3 Valleys this week. Ski test certificates were awarded by our ESF Instructors and badges were bought by pupils eager to see what level their friends had achieved. Rooms were tidied, fajitas and lemon tarts were eaten, and insects were quickly drawn during frenetic dice rolling at the Beetle Drive.
There are so many to thank - the staff at the Piolet, the teachers and support staff, Karen our brilliant school nurse, and our guest instructors (Andy, Dave and Aidan) who have skied the boots off our most experienced skiers all week.
Here's to Easter 2020...
Having previously reunited all lost property with its owners on Friday evening, as we left the Hotel Piolet early on Saturday morning, Chay, the hotel manager rushed out to the coaches with two single black gloves which his staff had just found in pupil bedrooms - click on the photo to the right for an enlarged image - one is The North Face and the other is Surfanic. If one of the gloves belongs to you/your child it can be collected from Mr Lumsden in Lab D1.