Well what a contrast, I know I keep saying it but it couldn’t be more different to our previous expereince and what’s more, we do appear to be appreciated. On Dress Up Friday we were invited to join the Ferguson clan plus John, their barrister friend, to meet up and ski with them once we were ready. The only hitch was the costume. Tradition has been established that on Fridays one has to adopt the attire of an animal. There are no excuses as there is a bag full of costumes in various sizes, so I became a bumble bee whilst Roger mutated into a zebra.
We were slightly self-conscious negotiating the lifts to join the others as it felt that we should be part of a rowdy group, not isolated. This was exacerbated when an exuberant group got into our cabin from the base station. Fortunately they were all a little delicate after the previous night’s excesses and so merely subjected us to some relaxing music, contemporary Justin Beiber!! We were mightily relieved to spot a cow (Sara) disappearing into the toilet as our 3rd lift, onto the glacier, docked, the others couldn’t be far away. Outside the lift station we spotted the huge rabbit and little pink pig, Tim and Cat. John also emerged from the toilets in the shape of a huge yellow cock, his adamantly-claimed familiar.
We skied one short run, took the chairlift back to the top and then set off down Sarenne. There was certainly comfort in numbers as at this point as we seemed to be the only ones adopting the Friday disguise. I was having a slight wardrobe malfunction resulting in my costume acting like a billowing sail as all the front buttons undid themselves which obviously slowed me down. Cat set off at a break-neck pace with a cow and cockerel in hot pursuit. I tried to keep up and could blame my sluggishness on my unique resistance, I had not been tempted to parapent last year (hang-gliding from skis) and still didn’t really fancy it. I can’t really blame the outfit as I face planted into the snow, my first proper fall this season. Heading off the side of a black run is probably never a good idea but I did managed to stop before the precipitous edge. My hand was a little sore and I struggled to get back onto my feet but nothing too serious.
Once I had regained vertical and joined Roger waiting for me just downhill, we caught up with a large white rabbit on a snowboard who had kindly waited for us; there were no signs of the rest if the menagerie. I had to stop again soon after as my bee had divided again. There is a long, almost horizontal, 4km section at the bottom running beside the river in the depth of the valley, where one has to maintain some speed to prevent having to use poles and tire upper limbs instead of lower. I didn’t want anything causing me to break here so took off the top part and tied the arms around my waist. As the costumes went on top of other clothing I had opted to wear an additional base layer and abandon my jacket as I had the extra layer which I was now divesting, just as we entered the shade and non-strenuous part of the run/resort where the snow hadn’t melted in 3 weeks, perhaps not the most suitable attire but heyho.
Tim raced off to catch up with the others in case they were concerned about our tardiness. We glided, as gracefully as possible in the circumstances, along the schuss, one Frenchman commenting on my twin spinnakers as he slid past me, and that was just the leg sections! We finally caught up with the others at the bottom of the lift where I struggled back into my upper costume with great difficulty as my right hand didn’t seem to be working all that well.
We enjoyed a snack lunch, courtesy on John where, in my haste to be politely grateful, I missed the jambon and frites and order a chicken salad! We set off together in the afternoon but soon took different routes as Roger and I wanted to head over the back as that lift, our favourite last year, was open for the first time, even if not completely to the bottom at Oz en Oisans. We took the gondola back up to the Dome de Rousses at 2800m and enjoyed second run before heading back.
On our final trip to the top we squeezed into an already full gondola much to the amusement of a family in the entrance. The boy said that he’d seen a skiing banana previously and I explained that we were all animals at which point ‘mum’ admitted to having spotted a huge yellow cockerel earlier, could only have been John, the only one whose head-hood stayed on and gave him an additional 5-6 inches! We reached the summit again and heard the French operator mutter something under his breath. We stood waiting for the platform to engage, and waited and waited, nothing.
After about 15 minutes of dangling a few hundred feet over a ravine great cheers were raised as the platform descended and the doors opened. We had been a little concerned as there had been mention of going back down and having to ski a very long route away from the resort before coming back along an adjoining valley, a trip we knew to be quite slow and tortuous from our panicy expereince last year when we thought we wouldn’t return in time to finish preparing the evening meal. The only consolation was that the mother and daughter guests were also stuck at the other side of the gondola so would be late for dinner as well. When we were finally released we set off on a thousand metre descent without a break until we ran out of snow at the village level of 1860m.
For what is hopefully the final time as the bus routes increase this week, we walked back to the flat from the bottom of the yoghurt pots with great difficulty as I didn’t seem to be able to hold my skis or poles in my right hand. By the time I’d managed to disrobe the assorted clothing I had been sporting and sat for a while to recover, my thumb knuckle had swollen and seized up completely. This was not a good sign, it was the first changeover the following day, every bed to strip and remake as well as all the bathrooms to clean with a hand that can’t grip. Fortunately we’d had time to do most of the chopping for the evening meal whilst waiting for the bus that morning.
Anyway, all’s well that ends well and the ‘soft’ option of bedding rather than cleaning seems to have acted as good physiotherapy. The only hitch is that I may have screwed the top-loading washing machine by not clipping the drum together properly due to lack of power and dexterity and leaving it open slightly before starting, oops. I’ll blame the Fergusons for skiing too fast!