Tag Archives: anzere

27/12/12 – The new Grilleses chair lift, Anzere, in pictures

Anzere, the sunny little Valaisan resort where I have skied almost every year since I was three, has a new lift. A few months ago I showed you some pictures of it being built.

Now it is fully in action and it’s no exaggeration to report that this four-seater chair, Grilleses-Conches, travelling 500 vertical metres mid-mountain in five minutes, has transformed Anzere’s skiing. Compared to before, the area (previously about 50km of pistes) seems half as large again, and the speed of the thing, compared with the t-bar it has replaced, feels supersonic.

I’ve ridden up and skied down a couple of dozen times over the past few days. Here’s what I’ve found…

Introducing the new-look Grilleses...

Introducing the new-look Grilleses…

Regulars are more used to t-bars, such as this one, Les Luys. But now they're in a minority

Regulars in Anzere are more used to t-bars, such as this one, Les Luys. But now these two-man drag lifts are in a minority

My first glimpse of the new-look Grilleses

My first glimpse of the base station

It starts considerably lower than the t-bar it has superseded

It starts considerably lower than the t-bar it has superseded

They have kept the lift man's hut from the old t-bar, complete with fully functioning clock, which the new lift station lacks...

They have kept the lift man’s hut from the old t-bar, complete with fully functioning clock, which the new lift station lacks

Ready for a first ascent

Ready for a first ascent

There's a nice view if you turn round...

There’s a nice view if you turn round…

...and to the left are some pretty chalets, previously much more secluded, but maybe now going up in value thanks to true doorstep skiing

…and to the left are pretty chalets, previously much more secluded, but maybe now going up in value thanks to true doorstep skiing

One half of this mayen (place to go traditionally with cows in May, if I understand correctly), directly under the lift, has been modernised. The owner of the left-hand portion has left it original

The right-hand half of this mayen (place to go traditionally with cows in May, if I understand correctly), directly under the lift, has been modernised

You can see the old t-bar hut on the right of this picture. The chair takes a route a little to the east of the old t-bar line

You can see the old t-bar hut on the right of this picture. The chair takes a route a little to the east of the old t-bar line

This cow shed is above the tree line, near the top

This cow shed is near the top. You can see the top of the telecabin on the left of the picture, on the horizon by the mast

Aaah! A double pylon! Don't panic, it doesn't seem to get tangled up with Le Bate, a longstanding two-seater chair

A double pylon! Don’t panic, it doesn’t seem to get tangled up with Le Bate, a longstanding two-seater chair

Fabulous views from near the top, with the Four Valleys (Verbier, etc) lit up

Near the top, with the Four Valleys (Verbier, Nendaz, etc) looking very close the other side of the Rhone Valley

The top station

The top station

What this lift means is access to more terrain. This is the original piste, which remains intact and lengthened, top and bottom...

This is the original piste back down, which remains intact and lengthened, top and bottom…

This is a new run, classified black, called Chaux de Duez. We used to ski it as an off-piste run - along with much of the terrain either side of it

…but there is also a brand new run, the other side, classified black, called Chaux de Duez. We used to ski it as an off-piste run – along with much of the terrain either side

The chair has made swathes off off-piste more accessible - though I suspect it'll be tracked more quickly than before, when these bits of mountain were less visible and with less obvious access

The chair has made swathes off off-piste more accessible. This is good, but I suspect it’ll be tracked more quickly than before, when these bits of mountain were less visible and with less obvious access

Much of the best terrain accessible from Grilleses can be seen here. But there's more behind me, and over that ridge...

Much of the best terrain accessible from Grilleses can be seen here. But there’s more behind me (taking the photo), and over that ridge…

Anzere's best mountain restaurant, the Tsalan, is on one of the half-dozen piste runs you can now do from Grilleses. This week I have been eating a plate of help-yourself salad, with cold beef, prawn cocktail and lettuce, priced by weight. Price ranged from SF7.40 to SF9.30. Definitely an example of cheap Switzerland

Anzere’s best mountain restaurant, Tsalan, is on one of the half-dozen piste runs you can now do from Grilleses. This week I have been eating a plate of help-yourself salad, with beef, prawns and lettuce, priced by weight. So far I’ve paid between SF7.40 and SF9.30 per meal. A prime example of cheap Switzerland

This is the brand new run down from Tsalan to Grilleses chair, very handy. It's lined with snow cannons - which have finally also been connected up on the original Grilleses run. Progress!

This is the brand new run down from Tsalan to Grilleses chair. It’s lined with snow cannons – which have finally also been connected up on the original Grilleses run. Progress!

A final view from the top, a spot on the mountain only visited by an occasional off-pister

A final view from the top, previously a spot on the mountain only visited by an occasional off-pister

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5/11/12: A cheap hot wine recipe

Vin chaud. Gluhwein. Vin brule. Hot wine. It’s the time of year when I think about making some, and look forward to ordering the first of the season – preferably in a cosy ski hut while it’s blizzarding outside.

At the Nederhut in Obergurgl, where I’ll be holidaying next month, it’s thick, dark, aromatic and very sticky if spilt. It comes in an earthenware mug that takes some knocking over, even with scores of merry après-skiers stamping on the tables.

Elsewhere I’ve drunk it from polystyrene cups, hot-chocolate vessels and heat-proof glasses with an impractical metal handle that burns your fingers (I think this was in Italy, where style won over substance).

Only occasionally do I find one that’s too acidic, too sweet, too bitter or lukewarm.

My wine pan. Orange shows size

My wine pan. Orange shows size

In Anzere, Switzerland, where I’ve skied since I was little, the tourist office hands out free hot wine on Monday nights in the village square, following a descente aux flambeaux by the ski school.

It’s one of the best I have tasted anywhere – and it’s usually white, as this is what’s grown mostly in the district.

At Central Sports, in the same village, Rene Schick, the owner, can sometimes be found handing out a very similar-tasting hot white wine to customers.

As well as being lighter than hot red wine, white has the advantage of being less messy. Which is why, when I last had a winter party, I asked Rene for his recipe. This is it:

Cinnamon sticks, oranges and a few little bits of star anise

Cinnamon sticks, oranges and a few little bits of star anise

6 litres white wine
4 litres water
3 oranges, cut into chunks, peel left on
8 cinnamon sticks
8 star anise flowers
Half a kilo of honey and/or sugar
…and a good dash of dark rum, if you like

Heat the wine and water, then add the rest of the ingredients and continue to heat for a while, stirring now and then. I kept mine on the heat for about an hour, very hot but not boiling.

Wine-box wine is fine

Wine-box wine is fine

You don’t need to use fancy wine – something like Muscadet, Soave or ‘table wine’ is fine (or cheap Fendant, if you’re making it in Switzerland). I used wine-box stuff, which worked fine.

Other essentials are a large saucepan and a ladel. I ladel the wine into a jug to pass around.

Polystyrene cups are a bit nasty – once I’ve used up the proper mugs I have in the house I give people large, substantial plastic glasses – not the tiny, flippy ones – then I half-fill them, so people can hold them without burning their fingers.

I can’t remember how many people this recipe ‘feeds’, but you can add more of all the ingredients once it’s flowing. None except the oranges will go off it you don’t use them up. Just don’t forget to add the corresponding amount of water as you top it up…

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5/10/12 – Chop ’em straight, stack ’em strong: the art of building an Alpine wood pile

This beauty is in Ischgl, Austria

This beauty is in Ischgl, Austria

Autumn has set in, it’s not long till the clocks go back and the blackberries (such as they were) are over. It’s the time of year when I light a fire in the evening – and that means it’s also time to get my wood pile in order.

It’ll be no surprise to skiers that the countries that lead the way in the art of building a successful wood pile are the mountainous ones.

The bars were traditionally used for drying hay, but this Alagna house also has lots of scope for wood storage

The bars were traditionally used for drying hay, but this house in Alagna, Italy, also has lots of scope for wood storage

From the villages of the Valais to the towns of the Tyrol to the dwellings of the Dolomites, householders across the Alps are masters in stacking them neat, stable, dry and, in some cases, high.

I have been photographing these labours-of-logs (sorry…) during my travels in the mountains.

We sledged past this Swiss super-stack in Gimmelwald, a lovely farming village just below Muerren in the Bernese Oberland

We sledged past this Swiss super-stack in Gimmelwald, a lovely farming village just below Muerren in the Bernese Oberland

As you can see, there are regional variations. Now I’m no expert, but what I think they all have in common is the following:

1. To make a good pile, logs need to be cut to the same length.

2. Larger logs are split to similar widths.

Here's another goodie in Gimmelwald

Here’s another goodie in Gimmelwald

3. Smaller unsplit logs – almost kindling-sized – are stacked all together, sometimes in their own section of the pile.

4. A good stacking place must be found.

5. Sometimes this place will have support at one or both ends, but often it doesn’t.

Freestanding stacks in Pontresina, in the Swiss Engadine, with perfect criss-cross ends

A store in Pontresina, in the Swiss Engadine, with effective criss-cross ends

6. To build an ‘end’, some sort of criss-cross system is used, such as two logs one way, then two at 90 degrees, on top; repeat up to desired height.

7. The pile does not necessarily need to be under cover – only the top layer gets wet or snowy – and if you leave any bark facing the elements, this is minimised.

Not as neat but it does the job. A wood store in a fjord-side hamlet in Steigen, Arctic Norway

Not as neat, but it does the job. A wood store in a fjord-side hamlet in Steigen, Arctic Norway

8. But most piles are next to a building with an overhang, such as most chalets have. In fact, it looks like many houses have been designed with a wood pile in mind.

9. The logs are usually very easily accessible from the dwelling.

10. Many households have a second, messier, pile of unsplit/chopped or partly split/chopped logs, which are being seasoned.

My dad has always kept a very organised, well-seasoned wood pile, and my parents installed a wood stove long before they became fashionable – which is probably partly why I started noticing other people’s ones.

The industrial wood-burner that heats half the ski village of Anzere, in the Swiss Valais

The industrial wood-burner that heats half the ski village of Anzere, in the Swiss Valais

And the village where I’ve done most of my skiing – Anzere, in Switzerland – now has a giant log-burner heating virtually the whole village (read about it in my Telegraph article here).

I, however, have only recently got the hang of dealing with wood. Or have I? Judge for yourself by looking at the little stack at my back door in Surrey – I know it’s not up to Alpine standards.

Peaslake, Surrey. How does it rate?

Peaslake, Surrey. How does it rate?

I confess that although I did the stacking, it’s my house-mate, Alex, who has been responsible for the sourcing and splitting.

Readers who know me won’t be surprised that I also have a box of easily ignitable material so I don’t have to waste money on smelly, synthetic fire-lighters.

As well as newspaper I’ve taken to hoarding loo rolls and egg boxes.

Amazingly, this is on the Isle of Wight. Its builder, Gert Bach, who runs the excellent Hillside b&b in Ventnor, is Danish

This is on the Isle of Wight. Its builder, Gert Bach, who runs the excellent Hillside b&b in Ventnor, is Danish

My uncle and aunt get their fire roaring – and fragrant – by adding orange peel, dried in a warm oven or on top of a Rayburn or Aga. I’ve tried it, and it works.

So I’m ready for winter. Bring round your loo rolls, egg boxes and orange peel, if you like – I can use unlimited amounts.

And finally, one of my favourites - another Gimmelwalder

And finally, one of my favourites – another Gimmelwalder

Meanwhile I think I’ll just go into the woods to fetch some kindling…

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Filed under Austria, Italy, Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw, Switzerland

19/9/12 – Anzere: new Grilleses chairlift takes shape

The top station of the new Grilleses chairlift at Anzere

The top station of the new Grilleses chairlift at Anzere, photographed in mid-September. The four-seater will take skiers from Grilleses village to a few hundred yards above the Combe and the base station of the Le Bate chairlift

The many friends of mine who have been to Anzere, where my family has had a flat for nearly 40 years (almost the age of the village), know it mainly as a place of T-bars.

There are four – the Combe, Les Luys, Tsalan and Grilleses – which cover at least half the skiable terrain, plus the Le Bate and Les Rousses chairlifts and the Pas de Maimbre telecabin.

A late-afternoon descent of Grilleses - with barely a soul around

A late-afternoon descent of Grilleses – with barely a soul around. The S-bends on the mountain the other side of the Rhone valley are part of the Piste de L’Ours at Veysonnaz

I’ve always been happy about this, as the T-bars have probably helped keep the place reasonably quiet – it’s still a brilliant place to find quiet slopes any time out of the very highest season.

I also enjoy T-bars in themselves: my sister, Teresa, and I used to swap places on the flat bits to entertain ourselves or jump on with unsuspecting ‘singles’ who tried to go up on their own.

Lift men and women at T-bars have much more sociable time with skiers than chairlift operators do. Also, on a T-bar there’s no chance of vertigo, and if it gets stuck, at least you can jump off without breaking a leg.

Near the top of the new lift, its chairs will pass below the Le Bate lift using a 'two-for-one' pylon

Near the top of the new lift, its chairs will pass below the Le Bate lift using a ‘two-for-one’ pylon

However, I’m excited that the long-planned Grilleses chairlift, due to replace the faithful old Grilleses T-bar, is at last being built. My parents returned from Anzere last week with excellent photos of the new lift-in-progress.

It begins at the pretty hamlet of Grilleses, well below the bottom of the Grilleses T-bar, near the skatable Les Reines descent to Anzere, ascends well to the east of the T-bar line and finishes a few hundred yards above the base station of the Le Bate chair, crossing its path via an ingenious shared pylon.

This is the base station. The hamlet of Grilleses - a summer 'mayen' - is to the right

This is the base station. The tiny village of Grilleses – a summer ‘mayen’ – is to the right

With the new chair completed, and the Grilleses T-bar removed, the terrain will be much improved, and access to various bits of excellent off-piste, some reached previously by two lifts or by traversing, will open up. (By the way, the strap on this website, of my mother, Juliana, and my friend, Kirstin, was photographed on the lovely Grilleses off-piste.)

Of all Anzere’s T-bars, Grilleses was always the most difficult – as well as the most prone to queues, from people returning from Les Rousses.

Grilleses at rush hour: at busy times the old T-bar was a bottleneck

Grilleses at rush hour: at busy times the old T-bar was a bottleneck

Its track had a left-slanting camber and an early steep stretch that became easily worn in melty conditions, and its route cut through off-piste the whole way up, leaving fallers to work out the best way back to the groomed slope (those who didn’t realise they could simply traverse across would usually make heavy weather of tramping back down).

However, when I worked for the ski school (1991-96) I took dozens of classes up – children and adults – without incident, using my own Rules of Riding T-bars. In fact, I think beginners who learn using drag-lifts benefit – the more time they spend actually on their skis, rather than sitting on chairlifts, the more quickly they get used to the feeling.

The Grilleses ski jump, Anzere

The Grilleses jump in 1990 – with me less in control than I look… The T-bar is on the right

The main thing that worries me about the change from T-bar to chair is: what will happen the Grilleses jumps? Since I learnt to ski in 1976 these have been about half way up on the left, in a handy gulley. Will people still do them if nobody is watching from the lift? Will they fall into disuse? Or will they get a new lease of life due to the possibility of starting from higher up, now the lift track isn’t in the way…?

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Filed under Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw, Off-piste, Switzerland, Transport

30/3/12 – Where to go for April snow?

Spring-like Ischgl slopes this time last year

Spring ski deals have been landing in my inbox thick and fast this week. Inghams has amazing April savings – Courchevel or St Christoph am Arlberg for £349, including flights and half-board – while Powder White has slashed hundreds of pounds off holidays in St Anton and Meribel and extended the season for several of its properties. I’m sure Crystal, Iglu Ski and other operators and agents have bargains as well.

Most cut-price offers are chalet-based – not my ideal set-up as I prefer b&b or self-catering to take advantage of “local life” – but when such great savings are on offer, no matter.

Do be aware, however, that even in a bumper snow year it’s still worth aiming high (a top of somewhere around 3,000m, I suggest) if you want quality conditions.

Afternoon ski-touring in the woods near Anzere

Even if – like in many places – you still have a metre of snow at village level, if it’s 20 degrees by day then that snow will be foot-deep slush by 2pm unless you’re properly high and – just as crucially – north-ish facing.

Last weekend in south-facing Anzere, which still has mountains of snow in the village (at 1,500m), by 1pm it was over, even on upper slopes (2,400m). I was happy to ski in the morning and go touring through the woods in the afternoon, or sit on the balcony or swim at the great new indoor-outdoor pool (more on this nice, affordable Swiss resort here).

The high slopes at Grimentz last weekend

By contrast an hour away in the Val d’Anniviers, the resorts of Zinal and Grimentz had wintry piste conditions from three of their top stations (each around 2,800-2,900m), and the week-old, tracked-out powder by the side wasn’t bad either. The crucial thing was that the worthwhile top slopes were north or north-east facing (the fourth top, which faces south at 2,800m, was heavy slush by lunchtime).

The other consideration is that places where you typically find lovely “firn” or “corn snow” off-piste at this time of year (caused by freeze-thaw) may not be as good as usual.

A wet-snow slide of the full snowpack that started on a slope of around 30 degrees and crept a surprisingly long way

In Anzere you can often ski almost every square inch of south-facing slope safely during freeze-thaw if you catch it at the right time of day.

However, the cracks in the snowpack that appeared in December – after 2m of snow fell on warm, bare ground – are still there. They haven’t responded well to blasting, but some readily slide off by themselves.

Sunny side up: lunch outdoors is a pleasure of a spring trip. Just don't necessarily expect to do much skiing afterwards

“Hors piste interdit”, read a sign at the top of Le Bate at Anzere, and patrollers were posted at strategic spots near the cracks, on the alert for one to turn into something like the lift-destroying, wet-snow slide of a few weeks ago near Valmorel in France (watch the footage here).

I may not ski this April, but if I was planning a trip for myself – an affordable week or long weekend with the hope of off-piste and enough late-season après-life – these are the places I’d consider:

The Guspis off-piste run at Andermatt in wintry conditions - but this is a good spring bet, too

Engelberg (Switzerland, nearest airport Zurich) – slopes to at least 3,000m, largely north-facing; open till 29 May; great guiding office (see my article about that here).

Monterosa (Italy, Milan or Turin) – Amazingly, until this resort closes on 15 April this Italian “three valleys” is offering a free lift pass to everyone who stays three or more nights (half-board) in Gressoney or Champoluc. The slopes go to about 3,200m and face in all directions, and there are legendary off-piste runs down wild valleys (with cheapish guiding) and superb, great-value food on and off the mountain.

Andermatt (Switzerland, Zurich) – Lower Naetschen will be closed, but the 3,000-ish-metre Gemsstock mountain has an amazing north-facing bowl and various back routes. Read more in my Telegraph report here.

Zermatt (Switzerland, Zurich or Geneva) – several high tops and possible guided descent of Schwarztor. Stay in the Walliserhof for a treat or the Alphubel for a bargain. My sister has found a super-cheap, central, family apartment but it’s such a steal that it has to remain top secret so she can always get in. Sorry!

...and when the slush sets in, here's what you can do instead

Ischgl (Austria, Innsbruck or Zurich) – up to 2,800-ish, but the main thing is that it has a lot of upper slopes and they face in various directions. A year ago we had a lot of fun there with Jim Costelloe, a Ski Club of GB leader who found us fabulous snow despite very scant cover. A friend and I even did an easy self-guided tour up a side-valley – although this year it would probably be less safe.

Tignes (France, Geneva or Chambery I think) – When there was virtually no snow last November, we had great conditions on the glacier. Stay on the upper slopes throughout the area for quality snow and see here for more about its group off-piste days out. Go the first weekend of May to catch the Black Shoes Telemark Festival’s 20th anniversary. The other high French resorts (Deux Alpes, Alpe d’Huez, Val Thorens) should be fine, too.

Obergurgl and/or Soelden (Austria, Innsbruck, Zurich or Salzburg) – They didn’t benefit from the big weather fronts in December and January, which approached from the north and blanketed the Arlberg again and again before arriving in the Oetz valley as wind. But now, conditions look great. Take the bus to the Aquadome at Langenfeld if it’s boiling hot in the afternoon and don’t miss the Nederhut après-ski on Mon, Wed and Fri.

I’m a great fan of St Anton, where I have been late in the season several times (most lately to do the Weisse Rausch, a mad annual race), but I recommend it less as a late-season place than my two other Austrian tips, as the number of its slopes that are really up near its tops, as well as being north-ish facing, seems to be fewer for its size, and rather scattered about, compared with other options. But if you like a busy town with plenty of après-ski, this is still a good bet well into April.

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Filed under Austria, Food and drink, Italy, Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw, Link to film, Off-piste, Racing, Ski touring, Switzerland

21/11/11 – Will it be a white Christmas?

The view from Anzere towards Veysonnaz and Nendaz late last month

Several weeks of mostly sunny skies and a forecast for more of the same across the Alps is leading to uneasiness in European resorts and among the people who are planning to visit them in the Christmas holidays.

The lovely autumnal views I admired in late October, when I visited the Valais for a few days, look largely similar now, I’m told, if a little more criss-crossed by bright ribbons of artificial snow.

Commentators in the papers are advising people to aim high early in the season. A friend of mine who works in Zermatt – where, I’ve heard, conditions on the glacier have been superb lately – sounds pretty worried on behalf of lower-altitude resorts. And a post on Snowheads, the forum for skeenites, entitled, ‘Is it too early for the OMG no snow thread?’ has had, as I write, 258 replies and 18,858 views since 4 November (http://tinyurl.com/88d54tt).

However, most years it is sensible to stick to high-altitude resorts early on, and I don’t think we should assume this European winter will be a dud (no concern, right now, in North America, where resorts such as Snowmass, Colorado, are opening early – http://tinyurl.com/7goveco).

No snow? No lift pass needed

Look up snow records from past years and you’ll find many a November when cover was close to zero and a ‘normal’ season followed. I use the Ski Club of GB’s historic snow data, all the way back to 1993 – only visible to members, but if you like looking at statistics and are interested in snow, it’s almost worth the subscription (£58) for that alone. Alternatively, igluski.com has data you can see for free, back to 2007.

It doesn’t take many days of snow to give reasonable cover. Another few storms like this one – http://tinyurl.com/7chpk3c – should do the trick.

Failing that, wait for my sister and her family to drive to the Alps in mid-December. Snow never fails to start falling as soon as they load up their rather fragile Toyota saloon for the journey to Switzerland. They always need their chains as well as snow tyres, and sometimes they need towing, too.

Unfortunately, this trick may not work in time for my first trip – which is in exactly six days. Perhaps this wasn’t the year to commit to a week in Tignes in late November, but who knows, maybe a blizzard will blow in to soften up the snow on the glacier and all that artificial they have surely been churning out. If it doesn’t, too bad, and as you can see here, you can have lots of fun on just a little of the white stuff: http://tinyurl.com/7jnsf8s

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Filed under Gear, Switzerland, Transport

26/8/11 – How to ride a t-bar

Apart from the dodgy stick action, these girls could be t-bar instructors

The other day my ski-mad cousin, Piers Forster, told me how he’d got caught up in a rescue operation on the slopes of Hochgurgl this April after a pile-up on a t-bar. The track was icy and steep, and several members of a British family had slipped off, slid backwards and knocked off the next pairs of skiers. And the next. Pylons, I gather, were involved, and at least one person was badly injured.

Piers and his family were nearby, and after calling mountain rescue my cousin himself became an unexpected hero. That morning, he had been up at 5am ski touring to the Langtalereckhuette and still had a rucksack full of gear. While the rescue guys were struggling to reach casualties on the slippery slope, Piers clipped on his crampons and tramped up and down the ice, helping get people to safety.

Piers (left), whose prowess with crampons saved the day after a t-bar pile-up this April

I have spent a lot of time on t-bars, having done much of my skiing in Anzere, Switzerland, where half the lifts are still t-bars. When I was little my godfather, a beginner, joined our family on a trip there. He headed ambitiously down La Combe, a red run, and while he got to the bottom without mishap, it took him all day to get back up again. A few years later a family friend broke his leg on Les Luys when a classmate fell off and slipped backwards into him. And when I was a ski instructor aged 19, my class of children once scattered on the Tsalan t-bar, some at the top, some at the half-way station and some between the two, after my instructions for disembarking had clearly been unclear.

So, although chair lifts have replaced t-bars in many places, they are still about, and it’s important to know how to go up safely.

1. Go up in pairs. Not only is it infuriating for others in the queue if people go up singly, it can be more difficult, especially on t-bars with a short shaft, which leave a lone rider unbalanced. And it’s more sociable: who knows who you might end up on the lift with?

2. Get on properly. Take off your pole straps as you reach the front of the queue. When it’s your turn, step into the space, being careful not to get tangled up in each other’s skis, and let yourself slide backwards into the wooden stop behind you, if there is one. Have your skis hip width apart. Don’t scrabble forwards – the t-bar will take you there in a minute. Hold both sticks in your outside hand. Face your upper body slightly inwards, towards your partner, turn your head to watch the t-bar approaching and stretch your inside arm behind you to catch it. Then thank the lift man!

Even waiting for the t-bar can be fun sometimes

3. Take off correctly. After you catch the t-bar, continue to hold the shaft with your inside hand. Hold the outside end of the cross-bar with the outside (stick-holding) hand. Avoid gripping too tightly as this will make you stiffen – just hold on for balance. Do not sit down or stick your bottom out. Let the cross-bar pull you along from behind your bottom, where it should rest on the lower to middle part of the buttocks. Stand upright, knees slightly flexed, upper body leaning slightly towards your partner. Keep your skis in the track, without your two inside skis touching each other.

4. Trouble-shooting. Most problems come from pairs leaning outwards, whereupon the inner skis press against each other, throwing both skiers off balance. If this happens, lean your upper body more actively towards your partner, shoulders pushing together. You can widen your outside ski for balance. On steeper stretches, lean your upper body slightly forwards and inwards. If the track is bumpy or icy, concentrate on leaning in, not holding the shaft too tightly, keeping your inner skis away from each other. And don’t forget to look ahead.

Little and larger

5. Children. It’s fine to put children on together – make sure they stand correctly for take-off (see point one) and they’ll usually just get on with it. Carry their sticks the first few times. To ride beside a child, put the cross-bar behind your knees/thighs to allow for the height difference. For tiny children, as long as you’re a good t-barer yourself, you can take one between your skis: our family used to ascend four to a t-bar like this. Lift the child in place at the start, and keep your knees together when you set off, so the child can lean on them. I’ve seen adults hanging desperately onto hoods or collars to stop tinies slipping back through a hole between their knees.

6. Getting off. Don’t get off until you really are at the top, usually a run-out after a hump. Stand a bit more upright, release the bar from behind your bottom, part company with your partner and throw the t-bar towards the chute. Clear the area – get right out of the way so the next pair has space to get off. If there’s a tiny run-out or a sharp exit, you may need more of a push to get free of it. Some people like to decide who’s going to get off ‘first’, which is fine, too. If you’re riding up with someone less experienced, put them on the ‘easy’ side for dismounting.

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