If you’re not interested in skiing, then I suggest you have a quick look at the photos and stick on Country File.
Skiing. Mmmmm. It’s a Marmite sport. Unfortunately, answering the question is not as cheap as buying a pot of the black stuff and spreading it on your toast to see if you like it. We’ve skied every year since we can remember. And recently (the last 10 years) we have always tried to go out of season, and for longer than a week. It’s an age thing. Doing the usual Saturday-to-Saturday ski break is fine when you’re young and have more energy than an avalanche full of snow. You’re up early, you sky all day, you drink too much in the evening. And then repeat. It is exhausting; other than doing Everest base camp there is no holiday like it. The need to pack stuff in is mostly about cost. Skiing is expensive. The accommodation is not cheap, and hiring the equipment and the ski-passes would buy you a small car. Therefore, you really don’t want to waste a moment of it.
If you go for longer, own your equipment and drive to the resort, which is both cheaper and much more convenient for carrying all the gear, then squeezing every last ounce out of the holiday becomes less of an issue. Skis are skis and boots are boots. Our skis are 10 years old and my boots are 25 years old. I did say to C today that maybe now I’m working we should get ourselves some new skis (the newer ones are much fatter at the ends, but otherwise they’re the same) and then an old bloke got on the ski bus with 192 cm straight Blizzards from the early 80s. My skis are older carvers (slightly fatter at both ends) and 165 cm. Respect to the old bloke. By the way, I reckon that against hiring you’d pay for your own skis and boots within three years if you skied for 6 days a year. Then it’s all free.
So, we try and spend 12 days in resort and ski for 6 days. For the rest of the time we walk and potter. We come to Chatel because good friends of ours let us have their apartment (many thanks to E&A) and it is the closest decent resort to Calais. Truth be told, if Austria were closer we’d probably prefer to go there. It’s slightly cheaper, they do look after their slopes better and the resorts are much more chocolate boxy. But we’re v fortunate to be able to ski as we do.
And today? Well, we always have a pause when we arrive in resort and this time round was no exception. Friday and Saturday we walked (lovely weather yesterday); and today, even though it was overcast and a bit blustery, we skied. It was close to being a disaster. The wind gusted to 50 mph on the top and the conditions weren’t great. But, at £65 a day for both of us to ski for 5 hours, we thankfully didn’t give up. We skied across the mountain, had coffee at the top of Super Chatel and ate our packed lunch at La Linga. We then skied in the far bowl where the skiing is brill – now with Mrs Sun poking her head out. It was fabulous. We gave up at 3.00pm and were back at the apartment in time for tea and medals half an hour later.
Back onto the Marmite question. Skiing is expensive, getting to the resort is not without effort and you have to practice if you don’t want to end up in hospital. And you never seem to just hurt yourself – you break and twist things that shouldn’t be broken or twisted. It’s tiring, your joints ache and you always end up looking like a panda, often with worse sunburn than you’d get after a week at Sharm El Sheikh. It’s often bitterly cold and if you don’t like heights, you’d struggle on the lifts. You fall over and even if that doesn’t hospitalise you, you’re going to have more bruises on your bum than if you’d spent an hour with Miss Whiplash. All-in-all it’s a lot to stomach.
But, and it’s a big but, the views are to die for, the exhilaration of the white world zooming past you like you’re in a soft top sportscar is better than sex, and you finish the day with that all over glow that is only rivalled by having played a decent game of hockey, beating your old university rivals to boot.
It’s a balance, for sure. But we know which side of the equation we sit on. And as long as all our bits work, we shall keep at it.