We loaded all our ski gear onto the bus taking us from Cern to La Thuile, Italy for the Moriond conference. By the time we reached the hotel, the rain had become snow, a good sign for the upcoming week of skiing.
The week started with fog, but the snow kept falling too. After a morning of presentations, we joined friends for an afternoon of downhill skiing the first day. The slopes were empty, the snow was pretty good, but we had to follow each other closely, slowly snaking our way down from the highest runs in white-out conditions. I hadn't ridden a chairlift yet this season, and although I missed skinning, it was fun to take run after run downhill.
Derek gave his talk on Monday morning, and once that pressure released, we decided to try a skimo route I found. After a long walk with our gear, we knew we wouldn't reach snow for an extended climb on the south facing slopes, so we started making our way up a closed piste at the resort to a nice high point above the lifts.
The next day, back to downhill. I spent the morning skiing with Jess, and after racing down for a quick lunch, joined the guys for the rest of the afternoon.
Wednesday was foggy again and still snowing, so we decided to skin up through the forest after the morning session, and have a late lunch before the ski down. While Derek attended the evening talks, I made it out for my only trail run of the week, up switchbacks, in the rain, and a fast downhill finish.
For the first time, we had sunshine, and we spent the whole day, Thursday, on the slopes.
After lunch in the sun, we joined the conference slalom race.
Our last day in Italy was sunny, but windy. The wind blew snow over the pistes, and actually improved the conditions.
We started to feel a bit tired from the week of skiing, dining, conference-ing, but we were still able to stay out one more late night for karaoke and some friendly competition.
I was surprised how stable I felt on my downhill skis all week, compared to the toothpick-rando skis. It's been fun to speed down the steep slopes over and over, but I need my skimo days in between, and wanted one more skin up before the bus departure Saturday. I had everything packed and ready so that I could race up the mountain one last time in the morning. I made it up quickly, and even had time to recline on the sunny patio with a coffee before my final (slushy) descent.
We all rushed to load our equipment onto the bus and ride home from a great week of meetings, skiing, making new friends, and celebrating time with close ones.