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Published: February 26th 2008
Seven months ago, during the midst of our travels, we were writing about the amazing conditions we had whilst snowboarding in Valle Nevado, Chile. It was such a fabulous change from the holiday we'd taken to Flaine in Jan 2007 where'd we experienced record high temperatures (sitting outside your chalet in t-shirts at 2000m in the Alps in Jan!) and record low snow cover. So, this year was a real gamble - we'd booked another holiday to the French Alps in January, most people thought we were crazy, but wow, did the gamble pay off.
We have just returned from the best snowboarding holiday we've ever had in the French Alps. The conditions in La Plagne were second only to our Chile trip. It snowed for two days before we arrived, so our first day on the slopes was perfect - the sun was shining, there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the snow was powder tastic! The rest of the week lived up to the fabulous start.
This is our fourth group holiday to the Alps, and our usually strong group of 10 had depleted to only 6. Too many of our friends are settling down, saving
money for weddings, or dropping sprogs. However, we'd still managed to find a catered chalet for six, thanks to Katherine's hard work, and it was gorgeous. Our chalet host unfortunately wasn't, and neither was she a competent cook, but I'll save my rant for the letter of complaint to Crystal (who were, from start to finish absolutely rubbish!)
So all in all we had a brilliant week. Judith, clearly a glutton for punishment, was returning to try to learn to snowboard again, despite dislocating her shoulder twice in the terrible conditions in Flaine last year. She had a much more rewarding week and by the end of it was bombing it down blues, looking the part, despite being totally out of control most of the time!
Angela introduced us all to the joys of vin chaud, never have we spent so much time supping during daylight hours and Kerry was nick named 'the nutter' by Paul, as no matter how crazy his plans ('lets cut off-piste across that ledge and pick up that black'), she was right behind him.
Katherine managed to have a great week despite a shaky start. On the first day she turned her
feet blue and on the second came down a red almost entirely on her arse! However, she did manage to refrained from crying (just!) until day 2 and showed astounding determination the rest of the week, right up until she hurt her ankle on the snow park on the last day!
Not that I have room to talk! I spent the majority of my first real off-piste boarding experience on my head or my arse.
When our guide asked if Paul and I fancied doing some off piste we both jumped at the chance, it's not everyday you get conditions that allow it. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into. I thought off-piste would be something along the lines of simply cutting between two runs. How wrong can you be! What it actually involved was hiking up the side of a mountain for 50 mins, carrying a snowboard, with an an avalance alarm strapped to your body and a rucksac containing a spade on your back. So to say I was sh%t scared would possibly be the understatment of the century. I made Paul go first, and he made it look easy! I fell so
many times, twice quite badly landing on my head, that by the time I got to the bottom I was totally exhausted - it's not easy getting up in half a meter of snow. For the 30 seconds I was upright it was amazing, but I'm not sure it justified the 50 minute hike.
Paul as always made it all look effortless, and achieved his goal of the week - to land a 180. Because the conditions were so good we didn't spent much time on the snow park, but despite his lack of practise he just went for it on the last day and pulled it off. Some people just make you sick!
So now it's back to reality, with the constant thought in our heads about what we were doing this time last year (getting so unbelievably excited about our round the world trip!). It's not all doom and gloom though, hopefully by the end of today we will have booked a sneaky weekend of boarding for March. Well, it is my birthday in March, and this year it's a big one - 30 (again!)
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