Working as a seasonnaire, with the snow capped mountains as your play ground; it is easy to lose respect for the countless peaks and valleys that we call home.
As this is the case, we picked up snow shoes and hiked away from the crowds. As Duchess Kate Middleton was pictured walking in the Alps earlier this year, if it’s good enough for Royalty, then it’s good enough for us to escape the queues, explore the local mountains and regain the respect that the mountains deserve.
Our first hike took us to the lost village of Monal high upon the mountains. The only path in the summer is a cart track that ends 500 metres from the village centre. The path in the winter is a one and a half hour hike from the valley below. The hamlet has similar status of ‘World Heritage’ and is a world away from Après Ski. The whole scene exemplifies the hardship of winter and portrays the mountains as truly unpredictable, as not 200 metres from the village centre an avalanche has slipped, this time without consequence, but as a reminder the mountains are in control.
Our second walk took us to the bottom of the Tignes dam. With an access road to the ski resort of Tignes planted on top of the dam, it somehow loses its mystical power. A walk along the narrow valley below shows again the might of the mountains. Man’s intervention may hold back countless cubic metres of water, but nature herself shows us who has the power on this short walk. With the fresh snow dotted with rocks the size of paving slabs the walk is intimidating at best. As the melting snow creeps into every crevasse and freezes, breaking apart not only the cliffs above but also the access road underneath our feet, every step has to be well thought out. The stunning ice falls, attacked by the warming weather, are a danger that creak and crack in the afternoon sun.
A safe return from both walks brings a revised view of our surroundings. Something that was easily lost by taking the Gondola and ski lifts every day.