today is May 23, 2022

17th January 2022 | James Cove, Aosta, Italy.

Last modified on January 18th, 2022

We are back at one of our favourite alpine bases, Aosta in Italy, until the end of February. It followed a somewhat traumatic experience even to get here. And now we have finally been back on snow…UPDATED

Update, Tuesday 18th January:

And so after almost two years away from the mountains it was time to put the skis back on.

I chose one of my favourite resorts in the Aosta Valley, La Thuile.

In fact one of my favourite resorts in the Alps.

If you have skied there and sampled its Italian charms you will know what I am talking about.

If you haven’t skied there then I advise you to do so at your earliest convenience.

It is an utter gem.

So, what was it like back on snow?

And after a few turns…

Across the Alps more snow is needed as we have reported in the PlanetSKI rolling snow report:

  • Dry and sunny in the Alps with big snowfalls in the eastern USA

But the exact snow conditions in the Alps is rather missing the point – the ‘experience’ of being out in the Alps at the moment is utterly brilliant after the last two years.

SnowWise s

That is what matters.

To be quite frank not many people care about the exact snow conditions at the moment.

We are all simply so glad to be sliding around on the snow after the experiences of the past couple of seasons.

Most people I have spoken to would describe the ‘experience’ of the conditions as “perfect” and that is what matters.

There are not many people out on the slopes so who would not want to be out in the Alps at the moment.

La Thuile, Italy. Image © PlanetSKI

La Thuile, Italy. Image © PlanetSKI

La Thuile, Italy. Image © PlanetSKI

La Thuile, Italy. Image © PlanetSKI

La Thuile, Italy. Image © PlanetSKI

La Thuile, Italy. Image © PlanetSKI

More to follow…

Monday 17th January

Arriving in Aosta. Image © PlanetSKI

Arriving in Aosta. Image © PlanetSKI

Make no mistake, pan-European ski travel in a car in Covid times is a stressful business.

First there was waiting for France to re-open its borders to the UK in order to plan ahead.

Then researching, obtaining and checking all the paperwork and taking a pre-departure test where a positive would mean plans going up in smoke.

There were several times when I wondered if it was worth all the stress.

Plus at the back of my mind was what would happen if I catch covid-19 in a foreign country, away from family and friends.

It is unlikely as I am double jabbed, boosted and recently recovered, but the thought kept popping up anyway.

There was the tension approaching the channel tunnel for a dawn departure across France and on to Italy.

Would all the paperwork be in order?

The channel tunnel. Image © PlanetSKI

The channel tunnel. Image © PlanetSKI

The joy when the first hurdle had been overcome and boarding the train was a reality.

I was on my way.

The channel tunnel. Image © PlanetSKI

The channel tunnel. Image © PlanetSKI

The weather was frosty and grey across much of France with the promise of a storm – it reflected my mood.

Crossing France. Image © PlanetSKI

Crossing France. Image © PlanetSKI

The answer to my rhetorical question of whetter it was worth it all was ‘No’ when I had to do a lateral flow test at a motorway service station in France ahead of the Italian border.

My hand was shaking as I did the swabs.

If the result was positive I would have to turn back.

It was negative.

Often I had wished I had never even got the process underway.

Then there was arriving at the France/Italy border through the Mont Blanc tunnel late at night after a 10-hour drive across France.

Mont Blanc tunnel. Image © PlanetSKI

Mont Blanc tunnel. Image © PlanetSKI

On the Italian side I was meet by border officials with gun carrying soldiers as back up.

I decided not to take a picture of the soldier standing at the end on my car bonnet.

I waved at him and he just stared back.

15-minutes passed while documents/passes/tests and passenger locator forms were checked and double-checked.

What would I do if I was not admitted?

As the border official walked back my heart was racing.

“Have a nice ski,” he said, as I was waved though.

I saw some familiar sign posts on the road down the valley and my answer changed from it not being worth the stress to a resounding decision that it was.

110%.

Arriving in the Aosta Valley. Image © PlanetSKI

Arriving in the Aosta Valley. Image © PlanetSKI

I punched the air in triumph and let out a loud cheer.

By chance the song ‘Celebration’ by Cool and the Gang came over the sound system, and I sang along at the top of my voice.

“It’s a celebration, Celebrate good times, come on Lets Celebrate, Come on and celebrate tonight, Celebrate good times, come on, ‘Cause everything’s gonna be all right, Let’s celebrate!”

I couldn’t remember feeling so happy.

Regular and long-term readers will know PlanetSKI was based in Aosta for 3-months of the fateful season of 2019/20.

Only we made just 6 weeks as coronavirus spread and we were forced back to the UK.

Northern Italy was not the best place to be at the time.

Now we judge it the time to complete the final 6-weeks of our plan from two winters ago.

Living in the Aosta Valley was one of the finest times I have spent in the Alps with PlanetSKI.

It is quite simply one of the greatest ski locations on earth.

The accessible off piste meccas of Gressony and Alagna.

The joys of Courmayeur and La Thuile at the head of the valley.

La Thuille, Aosta Valley, Italy

La Thuille, Aosta Valley, Italy. Image c/o PlanetSKI

Pila that is linked to the city of Aosta itself with a gondola in town.

Aosta, Italy

Aosta, Italy

And then the lesser-known resorts and utter gems of Crevacol and Torgnon.

Crevacol, Aosta Valley, Italy

Crevacol, Aosta Valley, Italy. Image © PlanetSKI

Torgnon, Aosta Valley, Italy

Torgnon, Aosta Valley, Italy. Image © PlanetSKI

  • Avoiding the crowns in the Aosta Valley: Torgnon
  • Avoiding the crowds in the Aosta Valley: Crevacol

If one wants to go further afield the world-famous resorts of Verbier, Zermatt and Chamonix are about an hour away.

  • From Aosta to Chamonix

Here is a small flavour of why we love the place so much, posted from our earlier stay in the Aosta Valley that was cut short by Covid-19.

  • PlanetSKI arrives in the Aosta Valley
  • Aosta – The Rome of the Alps

To say ‘we are looking forward to the next 6-weeks to continue our journey of exploration’ is perhaps the biggest understatement I have ever written.

I am back in my natural environment and can report the mountains look as beautiful is ever.

And the music of Cool and the Gang is on a loop going round and round in my head.

May it stay there for the next 6 weeks, and longer.

“It’s a celebration, Celebrate good times, come on Lets Celebrate, Come on and celebrate tonight, Celebrate good times, come on, ‘Cause everything’s gonna be all right, Let’s celebrate!”

I’ll be reporting back…….

James Cove

James Cove, Aosta Valley Italy. Image © PlanetSKI.