mardi 31 janvier 2017

Pic de Girantes (ski)

Pic de Girantes and back on skis in under 3 mins from Lee Sharp on Vimeo.

With temperatures rising and Sunday already booked up with other things, Monday seemed the perfect oppotunity to grab another ski tour. Several new acquaintances had expressed an interest in forming a posse, so after a few phone calls on Sunday evening a rendezvous was set for early Monday morning. Bas and Matt met me at Castet d'Aleu and we headed upto the Etang de Lers (1250m) where snow stopped further onwards travel.

The nordic skiing pistes helped us to save a little time climbing up towards the Port de Lers, but we were soon heading up through the trees heading for our objective Pic de Girantes (2088m). It's an interesting slightly indirect route which climbs to a col at 1810m before taking in an unnamed peak 1976m, crossing another col and then reaching the summit. We had a good skin track to follow from a large group which must have made the ascent on Sunday.

After a quick lunch we descended in good snow conditions. Below m the snow got very heavy and the final descent back to the car was in very sticky snow which coupled with the shallow gradient made even skating difficult.

12km, 800m/2500ft of ascent and a total of 2hr 40min for the trip.

mardi 24 janvier 2017

Tuc de la Coume (ski)

Tuc de la Coume mini adventure from Lee Sharp on Vimeo.

The forecast was for a sunny day but this morning the mist was cold and took some motivating to get Susie ready to get out but in the end we threw some kit in the car and headed for Cominac. The route to the Col de Vielle Morte was deep in snow and we had to stop a few miles before it as even the pinin couldn't make headway. After a long march along the piste forestiere we eventually reached the col and started the climb upto Tuc de la Coume. 

When we reached the open hillside (about 1.45 pm) Susie waited (she was in snowshoes) and I headed up towards the summit on skies. The sun was hot and the snow was transforming very quickly. About 50m below the summit I decided it was time to descend before the fresh snow turned to porridge. A lovely ski down on tired legs.

I skied down through the trees and fields, whilst Susie followed the path of our ascent...I descended too far then had to skin back up and in the confusion Susie and I missed each other at the rendezvous. Susie got back to the car before me and was alarmed that I wasn't there already - meantime I had waited at the rendezvous point, then reascended looking for Susie, before noticing her snowshoe prints descending. Eventually we met up at the car...all's well that ends well.

jeudi 19 janvier 2017


First ski of the year at Guzet today. The normal route to Guzet is blocked by an avalanche above Ustou so all traffic is having to go via Aulus. The route isn't very clear of snow and chains or a 4x4 are essential. I stopped at the Col de la Trappe and skied from there. Skied all the pistes apart from those on Freychet which were still be marked out when I was there, though just before I left Picou they seemed to have opened it for the first time. The off piste was mostly tracked out and now cruddy, though the few bits of untracked snow were glorious....perhaps a ski-tour soon.

lundi 16 janvier 2017

wind/temp/snowfall over last few days


All yesterday the snow fell. By night fall it had intensified and at 11.00pm we were forced to clear the snow from the polytunnel roof whilst wearing headtorches. By the time we'd reached the far end of the roof, there was already another 1/2 inch settled where we had began. 

Snow at 10.00 pm yesterday

There was no let up during the night and at 4.00am the electricity began to flick on and off. Outside the electricity cables were huge sausages of snow thicker than a shot-putters thigh and each isolator had collected so much snow that every pole was topped with a lolly pop of snow the size of a dustbin. I began to fear that structural damage was a short time away. From the house we can only just see the top of the polytunnel - it was still there, so it hadn't colapsed yet! At 5.00am the snow was still falling perhaps another 12 inches had fallen overnight...there was nothing I could do so I rolled over and went back to sleep. At 7.00am it stopped. Warm air had arrived and began to rain. The rain was heavy and it soon lubricated the snow slid from the cables and polytunnel roof - a reprieve!

Snow this morning, absorbing the rain

The forecast is for more snow today once the band of rain has passed and little tomorrow before the sun returns

dimanche 15 janvier 2017


A lull in the snowstorm yesterday so an opportunity to climb up Joubac in snowshoes. On the way down we called into Danni and Serge's for an impromtu l'apero.

Little snow overnight but more heavy snow falling non-stop today and tomorrow. 
Regular trips to clear the snow from the roof of the poly-tunnel with a rope.

Susie with her snowman

vendredi 13 janvier 2017

Here comes the snow!

The snow finally arrived at 6.00am and is falling thick and fast. It's forecast to continue until Tuesday so time to get the skis out soon. 

The chickens didn't know what to make of the snow and were too scared to walk out of the chickenhouse. In the end they flew to feeder and were totally confused by the "white stuff" and whether they could walk on it or not. They've retired to the chickenhouse once more. 

samedi 7 janvier 2017

Tuc de Coucou

A walk in the mountains before the snow arrives next week. We started very late so decided to climb the peak above Col de Part close to Tuc de Coucou (1894m on the map) from Pla de Lau. It's a steep haul out of the valley until you clear the timber line, then more reasonable. We left at 11.30 had lunch at the Cabane du Trapech de Milieu and were on the summit at 1.45. Lovely views in all directions. green looking East and hard and icy looking West (towards Pic des Cingles and Mail de Bulard).

Frozen falls below Pla de Lau at less then 900m

Cabane de l'Artigue with Pic de Lampau holding the only snow in the background

 Cabane du Trapech du Milieu (very clean well looked after cabane)


  Old rotten wind-worked snow near the summit

vendredi 6 janvier 2017

Wood (is good)

More frosty mornings as the high pressure continues to dominate...

This morning's work - a couple of stere of beechwood cut split and stacked for 2019.

jeudi 5 janvier 2017

The north wind does blow and we shall have snow...

Snow forecast for next last! I hope there's enough to help the local ski station as there's no snow there at all at the moment.

After New Year I had a nasty stomach upset that seems to have stripped my gut of all its bacteria. Everything I try to eat, however basic gives me stomach ache. Pressing on with the gite regardless, but temperatures are dropping - so maybe a proper door is next!

dimanche 1 janvier 2017


The remains bright and sunny has it has been since mid November and it's set to continue until the end of the month at least....a small chance of some snow flurries in 8 days time but no other precipitation. Ruby and Jasper headed back to the UK on the 28th.

Still mustn't grumble. The weather is allowing progress to be made on the gite. The stove is installed and working, the window reveals and cills are installed, upstairs is decorated and a start has been made on the plumbing.

The pig arc which I built on timber runners nearly 10 years ago, was moved for the first time without a hitch. It's now down in the spinney of birch trees where we plan to put the pigs in the spring. The last part of the big field in front of the house is also finally ours!

New Year was celebrated at Justin and Emily's where a soirée was held. We dined alfresco and boogied to DJ Max (Max Tenuta, Thea's other godfather who is visiting from Otsuni) until the early hours, despite the sub-zero temperatures.