Wow, what a start to the New Year! 1 week in and I’ve already had 4 days of adventure – skiing in the French Alps, and what an eventful few days they turned out to be!
So I spent a lovely Christmas and New Years down south with the families down south and as tends to be the case I caught a bugger of a cold so was pretty much laid up recovering before jetting of to the Alps. It was the first time I had been on a plane for a few years so that in itself was exciting. It had been 18 years since I had skied! (still struggling with that number, makes me feel old)
So we were supposed to meet at Gatwick at 05:15 for our flight… 05:15 comes and goes… 05:30… 05:45… Now anyone who knows me will know I am not to fond of being late, especially when there is a clear cut off, say a plane taking off! Thankfully everyone arrives at 5:50 and we are through security and on to the plane in no time.
A short journey later and we were landing in Lyon, befor what seemed like an extremely long walk to a transfer coach. I must be confess to being a little unfit after the Christmas excesses, but equally I may have over packed my 70ltr bag!
The transfer was worry. As we got into the Alps there was no snow on the hills. I watched the altimeter on my watch climb as we made our way up the valleys… still no snow… and then thankfully a few snow capped hills… and then more! By the time we got to Val D’Isere we can see that there was enough snow to ski, PHEW! This time it defiantly hadn’t just been me worrying!
On disembarking we are shown to our chalet and introduced to our great hosts, Josh and Charlotte before heading on into town to pick up our gear for the next few days including ski passes. Now I’ve never been to a French ski resort before and to be honest had not known what to expect, Val however wasn’t it. Mock Alpine buildings full of expensive outdoors/ski shops, and very touristy… As I said I had no idea what I was expecting!
Tom and I headed to the bar, Coco Rico for a pint or two, In the words of my Granddad ” you have to have one for each leg otherwise you will wobble all over the place!”, wise man my Granddad. After that we returned to the chalet for the first of our awesome meals -Canapés and sparkling wine everyday followed by a great 3 course meal and free wine! Living like a king! Then after a long day it was off to bed early for all!
On the piste – Olympic run, Val D’isere
Skiing on day one was eventful… after just a couple of blue runs I managed to have a small spill, well I guess it was a rather large spill really! I have been told to embellish what has happened so here it goes… There was a loud roar and a mountain lion jumped out of nowhere trying to attack me, I head butted it as it knocked me off my feet before it ran off…. alternatively I just lost my balance and hit the ground hard enough that I possibly knocked myself out giving myself a juicy black eye, a potential cracked rib and concussion in the process. One of the group kindly described me trying to regain my feet as “look[ing] like Bambi on the ice” and that I had “left an imprint in the snow like a paper decoration”.
Thankfully there was one of the many mountain café/bars very close so I ended up in a chair cramming handfuls of snow onto a rapidly swelling eye!
Jen looking sympathetic after my wipe-out! Thanks for the photo Jen
After making sure I wasn’t going to die the others abandoned me for a few more routes, whilst I gathered my senses. After about half an hour I was roughly back to normal and continued to ski until lunch when we headed back to the chalet. I took the rest of the afternoon off, the blow to the head had rattled me a bit. Thank god for the helmet otherwise who knows how bad it might have been!
Day 2 was another interesting one. We headed over towards Tignes where the weather had drawn in. At the tops the temperatures had plummeted and visibility had decreased massively. It got so cold that my beard froze solid and even in a mix of ski and mountaineering gear I was starting to chill (and I am lucky that I don’t normally get that cold). Even the hair up my nose froze in the temperatures of about -20C (with wind chill), this had never happened to me before even in Scottish winters and it was an odd experience!
We did a Blue run in this terrible weather but being unable to distinguish the ground from the air and the blowing snow we stopped early for a break at one of the cafe’s where I called it a day. My skills just weren’t up to this and so I got down in the quickest, safest way I could (another blue to Tignes itself)
Day 3 and 4 the sun came out to play and the mountains were stunning! I kept mainly to the green runs, trying to improve my skills. It wasn’t helping much but I blame the skis, however being in the big snow covered mountains who could want more!
By day 4 my eye was recovering so I could see the full beauty of the place, I may not be a skier but man its a pretty place to spend your time!
After skiing for 6hrs on the 4th day we headed into town and picked up a hire car before heading to Grenoble Airport and an uneventful flight back.
Anyway that’s enough of my waffle, if you have managed to make it this far then…. well go have your own adventure!