Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Mountains of Cheese

So in case you were wondering, for the last week I've been on a Winter Sports holiday in the French Alps. Not that I did any of yer actual winter sports, oh no. I've got better things to do with a week than spend it falling repeatedly on my arse at the bottom of a mountain.

I ate ...

Oh, the food. OH the BREAD and the CAKES and the MELTED CHEESE. In Janine World all the bakers will be French, I tell you.

I went in the hot-tub a lot. Though since this was a holiday with sixteen geeks, a depressing number of hot-tub conversations gravitated toward a discussion of ... phones.

And I went up mountains repeatedly. Not the hard way, you understand: by cable car. In the clouds...

And in the brilliant sunshine ...

Below is the view down on the village of Chamonix from the top of the Aiguille du Midi. At 3842m (12,602 ft), I have never been higher up without actually being in a plane. Actually I have never been up a real mountain at all before now. It was mind-blowing. The temperature was a breezy minus 23 degrees centigrade - and I managed to get my tongue stuck to my camera!

But Mont Blanc (complete with fab lenticular cloud) is still another vertical kilometer further up...

This is the beautiful blue, grit-streaked ice of the Mer de Glace glacier, seen from beneath the leading edge:

Thanks to climate change, it is shrinking  rapidly and will be gone in 30 years time.
These are what modern snowshoes look like; you need them to go walking on top of the glacier (which is what I'm doing in the very top picture of this post):

You also need a climbing harness so they can retrieve your broken body should you find a crevassse. The straps rub in places that played merry hell with my good judgment.

For which I blame the overeating ;-)

Total weight gain: 6lbs in 7 days


Kat said...

From all that Alpine fabulousness, Janine, the thing that most stands out is your tongue getting stuck to the camera! Can't even begin to imagine the whys and wherefores of that one. Please enlighten.

Oh, and PS: Raclette... mmmmm

Jo said...

Wow, what a post. Was there melted cheese on the camera?

Easy on, easy off, I guess. I hope.

Amazing photos! I thought you were skiing, at first.

I wonder will the cheese photos stop Danielle bitching about how he doesn't like the snow? Let's see...

Janine Ashbless said...

Heh ... Kat, I was trying to switch my camera on, only I had two layers of padded gloves so I couldn't touch the button. So I decided to use my teeth. That's when my tongue got frozen to the icey casing!

How can Danielle (and Veronic) not like snow?! It's so much better than mud!

Veronic said...

OK I have to admit those mountain shots are breathtaking! Still NOT a fan of the cold though! :)
Give me the hot sun, warm sand of the beach and clear blue waters of the tropics!!
Having just discovered your books I can tell you THIS: they sure can make a girl WARM in my crappy Canadian winter evening! (Dark Enchantment ROCKS!!) ;)

Emerald said...

Cheese and hot tubs are two of my favorite things. Seriously. I have a fondness for gorgeous scenery too, which it looks like wasn't lacking where you were!

"Was there melted cheese on the camera?"


So glad you had a lovely time, and thanks for sharing! Oh, also, I love what you said in the comments of your last post about your and Mr. Ashbless's theory of a piece of the soul being left behind in a quick return from a vacation. Beautiful (and I can see how/why it would have happened with this one).

Erobintica said...

Lovely photos & I think I gained a couple of pounds just looking at those food pix. Yum. Oh, and I've said it before - I love your travel writing!

Janine Ashbless said...

My gleeful thanks, Veronic! Do spread the word in Canada, please!

As for the mountain pics, that is some of the most amazing scenery I've ever clapped eyes on. Like I said, I've never been to mountains on any of my previous hols, so this was a totally new experience for me. I got giddy with excitement, not just from oxygen deprivation!

They're not kidding about "invigorating mountain air" either: when we were walking up the glacier, I felt physically better than I had done in months - like I wanted to run about and roll in the snow like a husky :-D

We were also fantastically lucky getting the right weather on the right days. I'm so grateful.