Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Spring Has Sprung, the Grass Is Riz. I Wonder Where the Snow Is? Easter Skiing Can Be a Lottery. the Trick Is to Set Your Sights High

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Spring Has Sprung, the Grass Is Riz. I Wonder Where the Snow Is? Easter Skiing Can Be a Lottery. the Trick Is to Set Your Sights High

Article excerpt

Byline: SEAN HIGNETT

SOME risks in skiing have little to do with injury: travelling early and travelling late. Early skiing last season was no problem. By Christmas the skiing in the Alps was already as good as it gets and remained so until well through the winter. Skiing late was a very different matter.

End of March and we were headed for the readily accessible ski areas close to Lake Geneva, probably as near as you can get to Britain for a decent downhill run. But, after the snowiest winter in years, not a flake had fallen for more than a month. Six weeks of sunshine had brought the temperature to a scorching 11C.

Two changes of train from Geneva Airport with hardly a minute between and we were on the final shunt, the ancient rack and pinion that twisted its way up to our base at Villars. The track-side meadows were bursting with primulae and cowslips, the cuttings tumbling with violets.

It should have been a heartwarming sight. Instead it increased our sense of foreboding, a sense confirmed when we reached Hotel Elite, as near as dammit in the same building as the bottom station of the gondola. In less clement times we would have been able to ski right back into the bathrooms. Now, though, spring was bursting out all over and it was going to be gondola up and gondola down.

That, though, was for later.

Villars is handy for a whole constellation of other ski areas and the first morning we headed for Leysin. When we rose up the mountain we found a perfect north-facing piste, cruising to the left, bumps to the right, crowned by what must be one of the most bizarre sights in the Alps: Kuklos, a revolving stainless-steel restaurant that takes an hour to complete the circle. While waiting for the dessert table to come round - in relativity terms for it was we who were revolving - the owner entertained, if that is the word, with cuckoo-clock cantatas on a variety of instruments. …

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