We have skied on three consecutive days, not quite a record but very unusual for us, not being inclined to over-exert ourselves and opting for clear weather and visibility. A free lesson with Oxygene, one of the local schools, was on offer so after consulting the forecast, we requested Tuesday afternoon. The sun shone, our Italian teacher (she was Italian, she didn’t teach us any of her language) was patient and our classmates were an interesting bunch including a delightful young girl, Meg, and two others in the ‘mature’ bracket, Jonathan and Jane (not together.) Marta dissected our technique politely, telling us that we were doing almost everything fundamentally wrong. Heyho, but the sun shone and skiing in the fading 4 o’clock light was a novel experience for us to be out that late in the afternoon.
We had noticed that there was an event on that pre-day-off evening in Bubble Bar, possibly our new regular haunt, but not a patch on Undies. There would be a raffle for a set of skis which, if the ticket was obtained between 6-8pm would provide free entry. This necessitated visiting the Boot Lab where we could enjoy a glass of fizz and canapes so we applied ourselves to trying to discover the location of this other venue. Wandering down the main street, peering into every shop window, we discovered it on the other side to our usual commute; a small ski shop crowded with people and a guy playing guitar just inside the door.
We were welcomed by Sarah, partner of the guy who owned it. She had been a chalet host several years before and had lodged in Mollard when it was staff accommodation! She had worked for Le Ski, a Huddersfield based company, and we discovered some mutual acquaintances and friends of friends from home. It’s a small world, but became smaller. She introduced us to another mature couple, Jane and Paul, who had been out for a few years and had come across our fellow self-catered house-keeping staff, more PE teachers, who had trained within a couple years of each other.
Courtney kept our glasses topped up whilst Roger devoured the sushi and I dipped into wasabi peas, then we were introduced to Millie. She organises the ski lessons for New Generation whose MD we happened to share a chair lift on our first excursion onto the hill. “We’re running free lessons for seasonnaires tomorrow and there are some spaces left, come along,” she said. Well it would have been rude to refuse so we enjoyed another lesson from the competition on our day off. We had been reluctant to go out as the forecast hadn’t been good but the enticement of a free lesson was too much and we set off in sunshine. Four of us followed Mitja including Immy, a newly qualified physio and Lottie. He wasn’t quite as polite as Marta had been and accused Roger of skiing like his mother (they are probably of an age) but it is hardly our fault that we demonstrate the technique that was taught 30-40 years ago. But he was a nice guy.
Unfortunately we were at the most far-flung part of the resort when the weather closed in. All attempts to practice the new technique disappeared with the visibility as survival became paramount in the ensuing white-out. We had wanted to locate the route back to our accom building which was reputed to be ski in/out but were unable to locate anything beyond the person in front. Much like driving in fog on someone’s rear lights. We picked-up a disturbed waif who obviously didn’t read the weather forecast and was caught on his own on unfamiliar pistes at a relatively inexperienced standard. He was extremely anxious and Mitja told him to follow our class. ‘Follow’ seemed to take a different translation (despite him being English) as he penetrated the middle of our neat snake and separated Roger and I from the others as we attempted to follow our teacher’s tracks and maintain a close distance to observe the undulations being traversed by those in front. But we all made our way safely back to the bottom of the lifts and walked to Mollard to sort out the washing and enjoy the Christmas tree we’d decorated in anticipation of incoming guests on Sunday.
Thursday dawned bright and sunny so we couldn’t resist the call of the hill after completing our morning’s work. We headed to the bus stop with the intention of skiing back to the door, now that we could see where we were going. A quick dip into Meribel, which is sunnier, preceded our mission to find the piste back ‘home’.
Even being able to see didn’t enable us to discover the Cepes piste which should have taken us to the back of our building so we had to go up in the lift again, this time peering out to see if we could locate the correct route, but still to no avail. We knew we were in the right area but found a toboggan park in the way, and off-limits to skiers. With no toboggans in sight we started down the slope, keeping an eye on our building, only to discover that Cepes doesn’t seem to exist and this tob-run could be a major obstacle to our access. We’ll see. With achy legs we hobbled back to our room, so grateful for the fully functioning lift.