Getting to where we are now has involved more ups and downs that your average week on the slopes. So how exactly did we get here?
During our first season we wrote a weekly ski blog about our experiences, mainly to keep family and friends up-to-date. Now, for the first time, we’ve decided to share this blog with you.
We hope you enjoy reading about the adventures and the misadventures of our first winter season in the Alps.
Names have been changed to protect both the guilty and the innocent.
So, week two is tucked up in bed, story read and light turned out. Our chalet hosting skills move from strength to strength. We’ve gotten into a groove, worked out which things we can adapt or make easier and we’re now finishing dinner service around 8.15pm – but perhaps we just have particularly hungry guests.
The main event of this week was Christmas day. Well, for the guests anyway. The main event for us was the company sponsored knees up on the Thursday (our day off). We had it all laid out in a simple 6 point plan:
1. Get up late
2. Pain au chocolat for breakfast
3. Meet up with some of our fellow chalet hosts
4. Ski over to the village where the knees up is being held
5. Christmas dinner and knees up
6. Taxi home with 6 people, 5 sets of skis and 1 snowboard
Points 1 and 2 went off without a hitch. We managed to cut the bakery delivery off at the pass, procure some pain au chocolat and creep back to bed for two hours more sleep before the first guests had stirred.
We should have known, however, that things were about to get more complicated when Drew and Loiuse (who are terminally late for everything) called to tell us that they were leaving earlier than planned and would meet us at a particular mountain restaurant at a pre-arranged time.
We duly left the chalet and headed off up the mountain to meet the others and ski off towards the much anticipated Christmas festivities. However, as the bubble climbed the mountain the weather quickly took a turn for the worse. Visibility was poor and the snow turned to hail. When we reached the top of the bubble and looked towards the next chairlift we could see immediately that it was closed. With the visibility growing steadily worse and the wind howling around us we did what most sane people would do, we decided to bypass the problem of the closed chairlift and take the universally hated and almost vertical draglift.
It is difficult to describe how uncomfortable a journey this was. Drag lifts are, well, a drag at the best of times. This particular drag goes from totally flat to 40 degrees in places. Throw in the vicious side-wind and the freakishly large hail you’ve got yourself a fairly miserable ride. Safe to say, both of us were severely regretting the decision approximately 30 seconds after grabbing the bar.
We managed to reach the top of the lift without being blown over a cliff, or bursting into tears, and assessed the situation at the top. The immediate assessment was ‘WORSE’. Visibility was so poor that we could just about see each other, and occasionally small groups of other people skiing slowly past shouting at each other in urgent English, French and Italian. Not only could we not find the way to the meeting point in such poor visibility, but a big flashing sign was telling us that pass we needed to take to get to the Christmas party was closed. We gave up at once on the idea of trying to meet up with the others. Points 3 and 4 of the grand plan were abandoned. Our focus now was on getting down the mountain as quickly as possible and making it to the Christmas party before all the free booze had gone.
Six great ideas, six closed lifts and an hour and a half later we gave up and called the resort manager, who sent one of the drivers to pick us up. Drew and Louise had spent an hour and a half sheltering in a mountain restaurant nursing a diet coke and a bowl of chips (goodbye 15 euros) and dashed over the pass into the next valley when it opened briefly.
You’ll be glad to know that points 5 and 6 of that plan were successfully carried out so the day was not a total loss. There were some casualties along the way, but not on the mountain. The resort manager’s girlfriend received some interesting texts after he left his phone unattended during dinner. Someone was pretty ill. Someone was taxied home early. Someone had toffee vodka poured down their neck (the resort manager again) and there was also an unrepeatable incident with camera-phone.
So, lessons learned?
1. On the hill our decision making is clearly incredibly flawed and in future we should do the exact opposite of what we intend to do.
2. Adopt new motto – ‘If you can’t see it, don’t ski it’.
3. Always check the prices in mountain restaurants before entering, even in a whiteout if possible.
4. Do not annoy me when I have a bottle of toffee vodka to hand.
5. NEVER, EVER give Graham and Drew a camera-phone that belongs to your resort manager.