Monday, November 2, 2015

The Dark Side of La Grande Motte (More Cold Thermogenesis)

This (The first photo) is the North side of the Motte – which skiers seldom see. I’m standing on the south side of the mountain from La Plagne – namely “Champagny”.

At the small village of Champagny Le Haut (in the valley) we found a small stream from a waterfall above, with a nice deep hole for plunging into the glacier runoff water. The site was marked out by a row of Celtic standing stones and a nearby Buddhist cairn covered with Tibetan flags, pus a Christian temple of some sort. We were sheltered by the trees and the place was just amazing. The water was at 0.2°C but I had no trouble staying in it for 6 minutes – not even shivering either during or after. The pain dies away rapidly – after about 3 minutes due to the skin becoming completely anaesthetised. The water was quite fast running and about chest deep and although the sun was down I wore only swimming trunks and just splashed water over my shoulders, upper back and head.

After a lot of searching on Physics forums regarding the issue of how cold running water can actually get to – I eventually found the answer! All the physicists ramble on about their theories – but only one person I found actually went out and measured it – in mountain streams in the winter when camping. He found that it would drop to minus 2 °C. When he took a cup full so that it stopped moving it would freeze solid in the cup. I’m looking forward to plunging into some to this stuff later in the winter – it should be interesting!

The trick with cold adaptation is that it’s the skin that must be exposed – it’s not about core temperature. I could have stayed in the water much longer after the initial pain (not too severe) had died away – but it was getting late and I had to be sure to be able to drive and feel my toes for that! During the week I’d managed one 2 hour bike ride in a t-shirt and shorts – feeling fine in he chilled air at altitude. The only other cyclists I saw were wrapped up as if it was already mid winter. I didn’t even feel cold – once again no shivering at all.

It’s worth noting here that the last bug of any kind I caught was a 2 day mild cold last Xmas from people on holiday. Since then there hasn’t even been a runny nose to deal with.


La Grande Casse…


Champagn le Haut (can be skied to from both Tignes and La Plagne…

Looking through the tall grass to the summer slopes of Courchevel….


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