Before the rush of ski endorphins melts into Christmas chocolates, movies and days by the fire, I thought I would capture some of the ski experience here and tell you about my second blue run – I’ll explain about my first too, 15 years ago!
I started a post about TG Ski and the stunning chalet we stayed in, in Morzine, while I was waiting at Geneva airport, but while I edit the video and zillions of gorgeous photos and fully do that justice, I wanted to give a shout out to Simply Hike who sent me my fabulous ski clothing. I went for a red jacket, black sallopettes and gloves from Dare2b, plus these festive socks, which I am now wearing about the house all the time and with my wellies.
The gear came in really handy before I even left the UK as we had loads of snow up here in Staffordshire, the kids even got that snow day they had been wishing for and we took the sledges out into the field. It kept me toasty throughout.
I’ve skied twice before, for one day age 17 in Germany and for a week in Austria when I helped out on a school ski trip as a teacher, 15 years ago. That ended in me and the group of kids I was with all getting the fear at the top of a mountain and taking about three hours to make it down a blue run. I spent the time picking kids up at every turn, and trying not to cry. I am sure I skied again after that, but my lasting memory is of the fear at the top.
So I was both excited and nervous.
Our brilliant ski instructor Sally, from the Snow Institute, gave four of us a refresher lesson on the first day. Karen from Mini Travellers and I had both skied but had finished on similar moments of fear, and Nate from World Nate and Hannah from Intrepid Introvert had snowboarded before. We made a great team and all progressed at a similar pace under Sally’s warm encouragement. It is like riding a bike, it does come flooding back via some kind of muscle memory. I didn’t think it would, beforehand I couldn’t remember anything much about how to ski, but just like having a second baby, it was all there.
After getting us all confident on the nursery slope, and then the ski lift to a smaller run, and knowing our past experience, Sally had suggested we could go over to the other side of the valley without her the following day, to try some gentler blue runs at Avoriaz, as the lift we needed to the more gentle blue at Pleney hadn’t opened for the season.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the right lift passes so in the end, so helped out by other bloggers on the trip who did ski, we took on a more challenging blue. Katie from Kalanchoe was an angel, led the way and carved out tracks for us and gave us pep talks, while Ben from Twenty-First Century Gent waited patiently at the bottom of each section telling us we were doing brilliantly like a true gent, even when we didn’t feel it.
This mountain wasn’t anywhere near as vertigo-inducing, from the top, as the one I skied in Austria, but after a gentle start, it did have some steep turns that we had to really concentrate to get through. I felt more confident though this time, perhaps because I didn’t have to worry about any kids. Unlike in Austria, I didn’t cry and I didn’t fall, although it was very emotional! I have learnt skiing is hugely mind over matter.
We cleared the tough bits, by following the tracks of the others, zigzagging back and forth across the slope, almost curving back up the mountain at each turn to keep the pace really slow. Then, just when I thought my legs couldn’t take anymore, and I was about to combust with heat, we turned off the wide run and followed a beautiful tree lined road all the way down. It was absolutely magical, like Narnia, and I wish all ski runs could look like this.
At this point I was absolutely over the moon with it all and when Katie offered to take photos I gleefully agreed!
I was really snuggly sat in the cafe’s outside deck afterwards as we drank hot chocolates and reflected on the experience. Although another top tip would be to take a hat to keep in the heat during the apres ski, once I peeled off my helmet my hair was sweat-drenched, from all that energy and mental steeling of myself I guess.
I think all the running and the Cobrafit classes I have been doing really helped to keep my legs strong, although my goodness you really feel the burn. In some ways, I wish we’d taken on some gentler runs first, but in others, I feel immensely proud of myself, and of the others too.
We all had very different emotional reactions to the experience, skiing I have learnt, is emotional. Wanting to eat, to sleep, to cry, to laugh, to scream, to call home are all totally normal reactions. Here is mine:
Nothing though beats the feeling of sitting down with a hot chocolate afterwards and looking back up the mountain at how far you have come.
Thanks, TG Ski for hosting us, to Sally at The Snow Institute for our lessons and Simply Hike for helping me look and feel the part. Look out for my next post about the truly wonderful chalet experience.
In Morzine, France, where we skied, the ski jacket and salopettes from Simply B worked out brilliantly. The jacket had pockets in all the right places, a perfectly located sleeve pocket for my lift pass which needs to be kept away from credit cards to work, but magically operates through your clothing. Two roomy pockets into which I managed to get hand warmers, a Twix because skiing uses lots of energy, my go pro and my phone. They were well lined too which seemed to preserve my phone battery while keeping it handy for shots. The inside pocket was perfect for keeping money and cards safe. I didn’t need extra liners or hand warmers, in the end, I found the gloves snug and cosy.