2013 decided to leave a bit of sour taste in the mouth here in the Vanoise, with the death of Lionel Blanc in an avalanche on the 27th December.
Lionel worked as a pisteur for many years in Courchevel, was a Maitre-Chien (avalanche dog handler) and involved in the training of Maitres-chien. For the last few years he had been running the Refuge du Grand Plan out behind Courchevel 1650. A regular stop in the winter with and without clients, the refuge was also a regular summer destination with my little boy Daniel, as toddler-carrying curtailed more adventurous days. Lionel was always smiling and happy to advise on conditions and will be a huge loss to the local community (not to mention his family).
It seemed fitting to me to toast Lionel with what remained of the bottle of malt whisky that Will had given me for my 40th - from one Les Avals connoisseur to another:
Goodbye 2013, goodbye Will, goodbye Lionel.