Walky talkys don't really help when you're stuck on a ski slope...
I couldn't believe that I was actually going to ski again! In April and out of the van which was always the idea of course.
The drive up to the SuperBesse resort at the top of a mountain range in the Auvergne - in the central massif was spectacular as you might imagine; the gradients up and down were challenging but Lenny tackled it all manfully. (It's all about changing gear super fast!) Some of the roads were a bit skinny but I just stopped when something big came towards me and it always worked out OK.
The top of the valley where the slopes began were a bit futuristic and moon landscapey - probably due to the huge lake and wide open spaces around it.
The aire was right up against the slopes which was a great thrill.
Not too many vans. Children were cycling around and there was a holiday atmosphere.
It was still warm and spring like so it didn't feel real that I'd be muffled up in ski togs tomorrow skiing. I watched some skiers through our binoculars and got excited.
The next day dawned sunny and I was really pumped to get going
We liaised walky talkys (every hour on the hour) and off I trotted. I was chuffed to get a cheap ex rental pair for 100euros so no more queuing for fittings. Self contained now
I got in the gondola with all the hordes of kids and got taken right to the very top. Generally it was very quiet though, just enough people for me to follow them down without them noticing. The skis felt great and soon the crowds left me behind as I kept taking pics. I had the place to myself.
The views were stunning
I had a real blast on a nice little run called Capuchin and a few others and felt very pleased with myself.
I walkied (talkied?) over to Martin to meet me in on a bar terrace for a beer and we spent the rest of the afternoon sunbathing. We tried for some night life but it was dead at 7pm so we called it a day and went to watch the House of Cards on our laptop.
The next day was a slightly different story. It had frozen over night without there being any snow falling. So no new snow to be pisted by the ski stomper. I should have known that. I also could have noticed that there were no kids in the gondola on the way to the top. As soon as I set ski on the snow I realised what I was in for - beautiful glistening sheet ice. Well not really sheet ice - my ski forum have assured me - but it felt like it to me which meant side sliding a lot of the way down as it's a lot harder to do your turns and stop. What made it worse was that people were whizzing past very fast and soon there was no one left to follow and the fog was rolling in.
I had a quick chat with Martin on the walky who told me what he was planning for dinner which felt like real life was so near and yet so far. Finally on one rather steep section I lost my nerve and just stomped down side step by side step which is the most demoralising experience there is because not only is it really tiring but once you begin to do that it is almost unthinkable to stop and face forward and ski again. I talked to my skies all the way and we bonded nicely and they didn't let me down. It was only a small section which levelled out so I wasn't in any danger. I was just furious with myself and made a resolution to have ski lessons from now on when I arrive at new places and learn to handle steep ice. So it was rather a humbling end to my brilliant solo ski trip. The annoying thing was that as soon as the ice stopped as I got further down the slope - the spring slush started - what happened to the crunchy stuff?
Anyway I learned some valuable lessons - and we proved that we can indeed go skiing out of a van.
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