Magic carpets, hidden sleeves. (2016, Vallee de la Manche, Morzine)
Updated: May 4, 2019
The hike wasn’t long, maybe 20 minutes or so from the top of the lift. A short traverse up and away from the Fornet bowl, ending at a little plateau overlooking the valley. The snow is fresh, knee-deep and sinks underfoot, at least until several people have trodden it down. Hidden in plain sight, just the other side of an easy ridge walk, lies Vallee de la Manche.
The conditions are bluebird perfect, giving us a clear view for miles down the valley, which we drink in for a few moments. Then we clip in, two pairs of skis and four snowboards between us. Marco doesn’t say much more than he has already, other than to follow him and enjoy ourselves. With that, he slides over the edge. We take another look at the white expanse that stretches out in front of us and follow him, carving through virgin powder, feeling that familiar surge - a heady mixture of adrenaline, flow and glee.
The joy of backcountry like this, is the uninterrupted view of where you’re heading, untouched by anyone else other than your companions. We swerve and glide, picking our own lines in moments when time has vanished and we’re just doing what we love. There’s no sounds other than those that we’re making, of snow spraying underneath us and, occasionally, our own exertion.
At one point, I look up and see Marco has stopped, pointing a ski pole up the valley. I wonder whether he’s picking out a hazard or marking our route. I scud my board to a stop behind the group, and follow their gaze. A family of ibex are grazing on the perilous slopes up to our right. Only the eyes of a person who has lived their whole life in these mountains could have picked up out this little scene.
We continue on. Ahead of us lies deeper snow as the descent through the valley steepens before shallowing out, exiting through thick woods and villages, eventually coming to an end at a stone Savoyard inn where we’ll warm up and enjoy an ample lunch. For now, we know nothing of this and simply soak up every turn, every whoosh of snow, every new view of the sparkling Portes du Soleil valley in front.
Go find your pocket: Contact Marco at http://www.marcoskiguide.com/en/