Sunday, January 22, 2012

Boarding on the Cheap

Well blow me down with some numbers. It is possible to have a cheap skiing weekend! OK, I admit this post may not be as exciting as say, canoeing down the Mekong or some darkly comic back-street Bogota shenanigans, but it still has interest in a more sedate, other types of cool stuff way.

In a nutshell, I have not been able to face the prospect of forking out megabucks for skiing over the last half dozen years – I mean for the price of a “normal” week’s skiing you can travel for a month in some of the most interesting places on earth - so I set out on a mission to work out a way of doing a sufficiently cheap weekend that would enable my annual snow participation going forward.
Luckily Mel and Laura decided to come on board, so the inevitable e-trawl was shared. That is all there is to it, loads and loads of time surfing plenty of sites. The easy less exciting way, package deals, came up short (or high depending on how you look at it) due to the tasty chunks the operators take, so it was a case of putting together all the component parts. Cheapest flights were after work Friday night Easyjet to Geneva (book early and you are looking at GBP 80), a great place to get to a plethora of resorts. Checking out said resorts, choosing one that is not too popular but does the whole pretty mountain town close to the slopes kind of thing (Saint Gervais de Bains in our case) and find the best value local hotel (EUR 35 a night for a cute little 2 star place). Do not forget to pre-book a ski-bus from the airport to the slopes (EUR 25 for OK’ish Alpybus), especially as a taxi or Geneva hotel packs quite a sting. As a last thing think about pre-booking skis/boards and ski-passes for a few more quid off and you’re off.
Great slopes, beautiful scenery, a few face plants and the odd vin chaud to sooth the aching bits. All those awesome skiing, or in my case snowboarding moments, but without totally destroying the bank. All in, just under £350 including everything, even a fair sprinkling of booze.

But in the end, who cares about the cash when you're hurtling down a sweeping tree-lined run. Floating across a swathe of fresh powder. Loosing momentum and slowly sinking in... being laughed at as you commando roll your way back to the piste. Finally landing a jump. Having the slopes all to yourselves, catching the front hedge, falling arse over tit, but not caring as there is so much fresh snow. Stopping with a skid at the edge of a lip and just staring out at the mountains that open up before you. Drawing a crisp breath and breaking out in a contented smile. 
One tip. If you are on skis and take a tumble on the penultimate run of the trip, don’t hold on to the poles too tight. Mel texted me back in Blighty to say that the resulting swollen thumb was in fact a broken hand. Skier’s Thumb apparently.
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