Chamonix Ski Season Without Skiing – Part 1

So what has it been like, living through a ski season in Chamonix without being able to ski or snowboard? Well first things first, how time flies, despite enduring a Chamonix ski season, without skiing or snowboarding! A year on this weekend since our last ski and snowboarding guests left luxury Chalet No.5, it has gone relatively quickly. That’s not to say it hasn’t been a challenging period, isolation, and other things, but we feel we’ve been lucky, and here’s our story why:


Will We Or Won’t We Opening This Winter – The First Question


There was lots of talk in November and early December around whether the season would start the week before Christmas ready for visitors, or not. Most of us felt it was unlikely, but few would deny we didn’t all live in hope. It wasn’t that we didn’t recognise and worry about the risks, they were unquestionably real, but it was a case of head versus heart. Skiing and snowboarding is so deeply rooted in ours and local residents blood, something we look forward to for months, and emotion sometimes trumps common sense.


Season Delayed Until At least 6th January 2021


The first announcement came at the start of December. That ski lifts would not open until at least the 6th January, after the Christmas ski holidays and New Year ski breaks. Despite the fact that many of us kind of expected this, it was still a bitter pill to swallow. The usual friends and family would not be visiting, and the fun packed holidays skiing and snowboarding would be missed. We understood why, and comforted ourselves by the fact that our disappointment was nothing compared to some of the suffering of others. We say this, but it was still a few days feeling a little down. That might sound selfish, but we are human after all.

Ready for the Ski Season
Chamonix Peaks

The snow had been falling since November, already the valley was filling up nicely. Above mid-stations it was likely to be immense, provided the lift-stations opened. The 6th January 2021 announcement regarding opening couldn’t come quick enough. By mid-December there was nearly a metre in the valley, and a lot more higher up. And still it was falling. The more it snowed, the more we all pined for a feeling of normality and a day or three on the hills!


A Privileged Few Get To Ski and Snowboard


We at least received some good news early in the third week of December. As often happens, the grapevine worked quicker than the formal process, that competition skiers would be able to ski and snowboard. It was a relief for many who have children and young adults in this area and we feel for this reason a good decision. They train throughout the year and this is potentially their livelihood  in the future (your future ski instructors). With appropriate controls in place, the risk we felt was minimal and has been vindicated to date (no breakout of cases). The Chamonix Ski Aplin Club and Chamonix Marie deserving a word of praise for their pragmatism.

Ski Racing Les Houches
Skis On Car

It felt good, the rest of us wouldn’t be skiing over the holidays, unless we went out on our touring skis, but at least Josh or son would. The first event was the Saturday our Christmas guests would normally be arriving. It felt strange, normally Josh goes to club whilst the rest of us get the chalet prepared, and / or go skiing and snowboarding.


We wondered whether he realised how lucky he was? Probably, but we may never know.


Lead Up To Christmas


It was strange the lead up to Christmas. The three weeks before Christmas are often spent preparing the chalet, training, observing and supporting staff. Then settling in the seasons first couple of weeks guests before the Christmas week. Not this time, whilst the chalet was prepped, it wasn’t with the same urgency, the usual fine chalet touches left to the New Year. Christmas shopping for us took priority, the first time in 16 years! Presents were wrapped well in advance, rather than Christmas Eve! You never really realise, but as chalet operators, Christmas is rarely about us, it is always first about you our clients. This year, the ‘new strange’ was weird and nice all rolled into one!


All we had to now do was sit back, uncork some wine, and wait for Christmas to unfold…….



Next week we will take you through Christmas, and how we maintained a special atmosphere amongst the snow! The week after will see us move to celebrating New Year in Chamonix during covid.  

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