The umpteenth annual SHSC ski trip took place yet again in the French Alps and the picturesque village of La Tania, Courchevel. With the usual organising committee not available to join us, or sort it out, we were left to search the lower ranks to find a suitable sucker volunteer to get things moving. I got the short straw passed via Nigel Fern, who did sort last years out, then couldn’t go thanks to COVID, and Terry Forbes who claims he couldn’t see it !
Firstly we assembled a mix of old, very old and ancient mariners, (average age 106) whose disposable income still allowed them to visit the former Russian Millionaires winter playground. This year we went posh!! We had our very own Alpine Chalet right next to the piste , so a classic ski in ski out location. It was even downhill to the pub !! Ensuite rooms, a log burner ( handy when it went down to -20 degs) and a hot tub. What more could we ask for. Our hosts reminded me to let everyone know its ‘slippers’ only indoors and I assured them, given the average age of our group that would be the first thing packed!!
Charles (tom tom) Saunders expertly navigated us over every hill in the whole of France and still managed to get us back to the chalet for the obligatory afternoon tea and cakes whilst trusty ‘tree surgeon’ James sorted out the log burner expertly, where others tried and failed. It may have been ¬20 degs outside but it was about 35 degs inside. We were very snug to say the least and sat in just shorts and T shirts ! We must have had the only chalet in the whole Alps with a clear roof !! Four foot of snow everywhere apart from our chalet……. Clean as a whistle.
Meanwhile Terry and myself carefully tested the hot tub out whilst trying desperately not to get our hair wet for fear of it freezing and breaking off !! Nigel mainly slept given the days exertion, whilst others recounted ‘tails of bravery’ in mastering the black runs and mogul fields whilst being chased by Bears. A clear indication that the drugs most were taking (said to be ibuprofen) had reacted with the French lager and they had become delusional and living a life of ‘Facebook videos’. Meanwhile Mark was slowly but surely, draining the village of its Lager supplies, whilst the ‘ladies’ hit the French Wine and confirmed even the crap house stuff was better than the best German plonk.
Mark and I had the luxury of the ‘best room’ with nice views (apparently) as not so obviously at night in the pitch black, as all we did was sleep in the room! Being ‘conveniently located just off the lounge’ we were always ‘last to bed’ and ‘first up’ with no need for an alarm clock as the bakery delivery did that for you at 6am every day, followed 20mins later by the expert caterers. The shower was so low that you showered on your knees in what can only be described as a ‘praying position’ Please don’t fill you owns words in here!!
I did remember showering once on my knees facing the wall thinking if Mark walks in now he’ll think I’m looking for Mecca !
The food was just excellent with half a dozen retired English folk providing the most exquisite banquet every day. I’d go back just for the food, and a clever mix of English and French cuisine.
Terry and James had the ‘Penthouse’ suite ( or loft as we call it) so achieved much better elevation gains on Strava then any of us ( cheats) all week. Despite the low ceilings neither bumped their heads ( enough said)
Paul and Lynne kept counting the Euro’s to see if the ‘designer heated gloves’ for sale in Courchevel that Lynne wanted came under budget or not, and Paul, being a careful ‘banker’, never quite got the figures to work!!! What a surprise. He did however nearly leave his Ski’s and did kindly ‘tip’ the hosts with their ski poles !!! so gloves out the window now as ‘new poles required’ !! doh !
Whilst the ladies of Hilary, Lindsey and Lynne provided elegance and finesse to the slopes showing that slow and steady wins the race, most of us blokes ‘just fell with style’ whilst James came along with some sort of ‘tea tray’ which he then just stood on !! the lad has no idea!
First few days we had snow and lots of it !! plus poor visibility. However, me being the considerate type, I switched on the ‘red follow me light’ on the back of the rucksack, then proceeded to set off down the slopes at break neck speed not wishing to ‘turn’ for fear of falling and disappearing into the mist desperately dodging Jonny foreigner snowploughing.
This was not well received by the group as Nigel said he only saw the light for a few brief seconds before it was gone! Meanwhile Terry piped up “what light”.
The latter part of the week, whilst cold was blue skies all the way and some of the best skiing ever.
A great time was had by all, we skied, laughed, drank and slept lots and we will do it all over again next Jan 24 (back for more in 24)
Grahame (one turn) Newton