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Snow Report: Avoid the airport crowds in this bumper season

It's too early to say for sure, but the current ski season, now halfway through, is looking as if it will be the one that sees a return to growth in skier numbers after four seasons of decline. Specialist travel agency Ski Solutions (020-7471 7749; skisolutions.com) is among those reporting record-breaking January sales, with bookings up 23 per cent.

Skiing in Switzerland: Going off-piste in Grimentz

A drought in a resort famous for its epic snowfall. A mountain with the best steep terrain anywhere... in a heatwave. Crud, slush, mud: the life of the off-piste skier with a day job can be as frustrating as it is ruinous.

Portfolio: Dierk Maass

The Andean eco-region of the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve starts at 4,200m above sea level and covers more than 700,000 hectares in the far south-west of Bolivia.

Cycling: Cavendish has mountains to climb

When the world champion Mark Cavendish delivered a knockout bunch sprint to claim his 10th Giro d'Italia stage of his career and 33rd Grand Tour win yesterday it was very much business as usual – however, the Manxman then created a far greater surprise by announcing he would not be making a widely expected exit.

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Slopes with savoir faire: Val d'Isère still retains its centuries-old

Polo, the ski-shop manager at Les Barmes de l'Ours, Val d'Isère's swankiest hotel, is the kind of fellow one finds only in winter-sports resorts and Bond movies: charming, cooler than cool, with an impressive air of worldliness for a man whose horizons are all jagged and snow capped.

Feel the fear and ski anyway

After five years away from the slopes, Tracey Davies found the prospect of heading back to the piste terrifying. But a chance encounter taught her a new way to cope with her nerves