The Tactics of a Bluebird Day

Bluebird days. The holy grail of skiing. The heavens opened yesterday, bringing fresh snow and perfect, untouched backcountry routes to explore now that the sun is out. In Chamonix, it’s pretty easy to snooze and lose when it comes to the perfect bluebird conditions. 

Literally. Chamonix is full of early birds, and most places, the powder will be skied out by noon. It’s first lifts or find yourself skiing mogul fields in this resort. Admittedly, sometimes you can push it to a ten o’clock arrival, without losing all of the best snow.

If it’s a Tuesday in January, you can show up late to the party and still find something untouched.That’s definitely not going to happen on a Sunday in March. Today, the hill was so busy the side country was as packed as the piste. You had to go pretty deep into the backcountry before you lost the train of people following you.

They’re all hoping you’ll lead them to your secret powder stash, without leading them over a cliff. It turns out, a surprising number of skiers are not all that put off by the prospect of a potential cliff.

One of the big drawbacks of living somewhere like Cham is that it’s one of the most convenient big ski resorts around. That means that it’s the mountain of choice for day trippers everywhere. That’s the kind of thing that has an impact on a bluebird day. If it comes on a Sunday, the earlier you can get to the hill the better. If you get first lift, you’ve got a good two hours before you start having to queue for hours to get on the chair. By noon, everyone’s arrived.

You could keep going, but when even the backcountry feels like it’s 3pm on the home run it might be time to admit defeat. Screw it, the clouds are starting to come rolling in anyway. It’s been a hell of a morning; an early apres ski doesn’t sound so bad…

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