Friday, January 13, 2012

Season's Greatings! ;)

I bet you're thinking this will be a belated post on the holidays -- and I don't blame you. It's been a while since I last had the chance to post here, and in fact I always have some cool stories to share around Christmas. But more on those later.

What this post really is about is a totally different season. Christmas is really nice and who'd say no to a huge NYE party? Sure, the Swiss treasure these holidays just like the rest of us. But what they are even more thrilled about is THE SKI SEASON! And yes, boys and girls, seems that this year Santa brought all the snow over from the North Pole. =)
 So that you can really understand our amazement at this year's snow, I'll have to tell you how all our ski career started. It was a sad and gloomy early winter night in Geneva, and so we were over in Vevey visiting a friend. =) And we started talking about our plans for the winter and how we (husband + me) liked snowshoeing and why nobody ever comes with us. Then our friend asked us if we were skiing or snowboarding and we fell silent. We explained that we really wanted to start but it's so difficult to start a sport like that from scratch. Renting the stuff can be a pain (literally) and even if our friends were super nice we didn't think they could teach us properly...

Next thing we knew we had a chalet (next to Chamonix) booked for a week in February and our names were on the list of the French Ski School under the heading débutants. Actually, the guy was so nice that he chaperoned us all the way to and from the school every day, as we didn't have a car at the time. We took a 3-day course (3 mornings, 4 hs each), and on day 3 I was braving the red slope at the school's station.

All this happened in 2011, and though people kept telling us how crappy the snow was, we went skiing as often as we could. The Ski School had been a blast, and as we'd spent the afternoons practicing (at various stations), we were improving quite fast. We find that those early days were crucial as was having good equipment of our own.

You can imagine how thrilled we were when several stations opened on December 10 and it took us no time to decide that we'd be on the slopes that Saturday. We chose a station one hour from Geneva in the French Alps and left early in the morning to get there before the crowds. The fact that there were no crowds and tickets were half price should have warned us... But newbies will be newbies and to be honest we quite enjoyed the 2 (!) blue runs that were open and had lots of fun on the mediocre snow. Little did we know...

Next week we were going to Grindelwald (to use up a gift voucher at the Youth Hostel -- a marvel!) and we decided, of course, to ski. Again, there was a huge discount on tickets as it was snowing heavily. And we should have known. Well, us being us (heeeeaaaadstrooooong! :P), up we went. And skied 6 hours in heavy snow, no visibility and 150 centimeters of fresh powder. Without ever having skied in powder before...

OK, I'll admit we're sort of crazy. I could see that when we went back the next day (same conditions, slightly better visibility) and saw where we'd been skiing. If I say that I was standing in the middle of the slope seriously considering taking off my skies and sliding down on my backside, you'll get my meaning. Of course, nothing kills skiing like fear and it goes without saying that I ended up taking my skies off and sliding down on my backside. But that was only after I hurt my injured knee and sat there screaming for minutes, for the unanimous amazement of all the five people on the slope. Ahh, little did I know...

Little did we know, indeed, that there is such a thing as good snow. Last weekend, in Morzine, I was continuously asking myself who the hell we'd been kidding. Seriously, there had been only a handful of people in Grindelwald and even they stuck to the easier slopes! Well, I think from now on we'll be pickier -- if we can. :)

Next weekend we're going back to the chalet and we're spending a week there with a bunch of friends. I hope we'll have some good snow around Chamonix and the weather will be nice too! I can't wait!

Happy skiing guys
and a marvelous new year! ;)



Practical info
  • Buy good skiing equipment real cheap at Manor during their January-February sales.
  • Learn how to ski at the French Ski School (we did at La Poya, Chamonix, our instructos was the marvelous Papi.)
  • Check out the slopes of Megeve and Morzine, both around an hour from Geneva by car.
  • If you're in the area, don't miss the magical atmosphere of Grindelwald, and don't forget to check out the villages around and the amazing waterfalls of Lauterbrunnen!
  • Stay with friends or family at the Youth Hostel and give their homely and filling dinner a try. Ask for private rooms with mountain view! ;)
  • Have fun skiing and don't forget to keep warm and realistic of your skills. :)

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