We headed to the hill again late morning to explore our ski range a bit further afield. We hadn’t been across the right hand side of the piste map at all; south-ish I think. The initial part of the journey involved a chair lift across the town which was a bit strange but an interesting view point. We ‘flew’ over a skid pad where an Audi Quattro was being put through its paces on the ice. We identified the sports pitch which we had been unable to clearly define from the cafe on the far hill to find that mounds of snow had been erected on the pitch to be used as part of the fitness training circuit amongst a variety of tackle bags which were being utilised in various forms. We over-passed an army base with a car park full of skiddoos, obviously a serious business. On our approach to the ‘terminal’ we observed a coach in the main car park extolling the virtues of Scottish rugby but saw no evidence of the players.
Our next chairlift took us under the end of the aerodrome runway, fortunately nothing landing or taking off at that time which was unusual but could have been quite disconcerting. Then we started a steep descent into a gully which appeared unnerving as we are only really used to going up in chairlifts and not at that gradient. We could even feel the drop in temperature, not just we lost the sun but as we descended into the depths before rising again up the otherside. The chairlift was conspicuously empty in our direction but almost full the other way. We soon realised that the midstation was the bottom of Sarenne, the 17km black run, the longest in Europe. Also the run we had decided not to attempt on this occasion as my back was still giving me some problems from my 2 previous falls and Roger’s knee was playing up. We decided to keep it for a day when we felt up to the task (and there had been some fresh snow).
We disembarked in an almost deserted ski area and after completing a couple of warmup runs took another chairlift to what we thought would be the top. After a decent ascent the lift then took us over the brow of the hill and down the other side to the village of Auris. This turned out to be lovely area but we cannot expect to go where we think we are going when neither of us reads a piste map once we’re out, mainly because we can’t see them without glasses! However this was a little gem. The runs weren’t very challenging but absolutely deserted with lovely freshly pisted snow. After a while we spotted a free picnic bench and had a bite to eat basking in the sunshine with just the rhythmical clonking of the top of the chairlift in the background. We could see another ski resort along the valley but due to our lack of orientation are unsure which one, could be Deux Alps, Morzine or Sur Chevalier or not.
We had planned to meet up with our colleagues back in the main resort in the afternoon so decided to make our way back stopping en route to do the run from the top which we had missed by getting on the wrong chairlift (not that we minded as we’ll definatly visit Auris again). As we ascended we could see that the red run looked very bare in places so at the top we started our descent to the blue run; as pathfinder I could see quite a bare patch at the start of this run. I was looking intently for the best route through this section when too late, I saw the rope strung across the piste about 6 inches from my stomach. It was fortunate that I wasn’t going any faster but had enough momentum to be catapulted back up the hill, skis flying up in the air and landed squarely and heavily on my bottom, AGAIN! My head also cracked back against the ground in a whiplash action and I was so relived that for the first time we had decided to obtain helmets.
Roger was quite close behind me and had only observed the rope a split second before my impact. I was able to shout to him that I wasn’t seriously injured – I could move and feel everything, including the excruciating pain in my lower back. He helped me untangle my skis and poles and as he assisted me onto my feet (eventually) We both observed the distinct post sized hole in the ground underneath me where, presumably, there had once been a sign saying the this piste was closed!!
As we had started our descent we were out of sight of the top station so with Roger carrying both sets of skis and me using the ski poles for support we started the laborious climb back up to the top of the chairlift, there was no way I could ski down, not even a green at this time, never mind a red run. As we reappeared over the crest the staff seemed to be aware of our misfortune but waited for us to arrive at their cabin. The chairlift was one way i.e. up, but they agreed to stop it to let me on with ‘rescue’ carrying my skis. In our pigeon French and English I had gained the impression that I would be taken down in the blood wagon and did not relish the thought of lying on my back being bumped down the piste so was relived to go on the chairlift, not realising that I could barely sit either until it was too late. Roger, meanwhile had to ski down the crabby red run, not sure why he couldn’t have come on the 6 seater lift as well.
We met up at the bottom of this lift and after another climb up to the start of the next chairlift – fortunately 2 way – we began our traverse of the gorge. I was almost lying across the seats when I realised that people expected to get on at the midstation. Fortunately no-one made an attempt to join us, can’t think why not. We disembarked at the main resort and despite a strong desire just to get back to the flat and lie down the big signs for the medical centre beckoned.
It seemed to be in a very apt location, at the bottom of a busy confluence of runs but by the time we had made our through a shopping mall, down a full flight of steps and along the front of several bars and cafes I revised this opinion. Dam stupid to put it on a different floor considering the nature of the problems of over 90% of the users. I was taken into a cubicle almost immediately which turned out to be the X ray room by the nurse/receptionist/radiographer (!?). There was only the X ray table and a small examination stool which I couldn’t have sat on if I’d tried. That left the table, much as I wanted to lie down the solid surface wasn’t too enticing, however the lack of alternatives meant that I did succumb but not for long.
We waited and waited with me getting more and more beside myself as I couldn’t get comfortable in any position for more than about 20 seconds. Roger perfected the art of assisting my legs on and off this table which was just a few inches too high as I swapped from lying on my front to standing and leaning on him or on the wooden cabinet on the wall, back onto the table on my side, front, other side (once I’d emptied my pockets). All this unrest and pacing reminded me vividly of the hours in labour over 21 years ago! X rays were taken at some point where I had to lie on my back on this solid surface haha, no wonder they weren’t very clear. We were abandoned again but Roger found some co-codamol in our backpack (and some paracetamol for himself as he was developing a headache) which hadn’t had time to take effect before the doctor came in to tell me that I’d reactivated an old injury from years ago?? and that damaged coccyx could be very painful. I had to reiterate that it wasn’t my coccyx, which were painfree but my sacrum; either way there was no active treatment required. I told him that the co-codamol hadn’t helped so he gave me Tramadol for the pain and Prednisolone as an anti-inflammatory. We were then moved rapidly into the adjacent cubicle which I’d been eyeing up as it had a padded plinth and told that we could wait whilst the medication took effect. We rapidly decided to leave although hadn’t entirely worked out how to get back, a taxi looking most likely apart from the fact that i couldn’t sit and we didn’t know our address. By the time I’d collected my prescription from the chemist I was aware that I could move slightly more easily so we opted for a return journey via the chairlifts appealing to the good-nature of the lift operators to stop the lifts to let us on and off backwards. We managed this once they understood our predicament, reinforced by the x-ray packet I brandished as evidence of my infirmity, not just being a wimp. Our only concern was whether we would make it to the last lift, the ubiquitous yogurtpots, before they closed as we would then be very much below our apartment level and walking uphill, whether by steps or slopes was extremely difficult. The pots officially stop running at 5.15pm and we were very relived that at 5.10 they hadn’t decided to close early due to lack of custom. Our final leg was at least flat or downhill but with my pace getting slower and slower we were mightily relived to make it back to the apartment where we just collapsed onto the bed exhausted again. This is a common feature of this life so far but at least we are still here.
I’m off work for a few days now. The doctor said to see how I feel after 3 days but I think I’ll have to return then as Roger is being ably assisted by the ever-versatile Fergus (who is being called ‘Gill’ by our guests) but come Sunday we will be a man down in the team and it’ll be our change over day so I’ll have to be fit by then. In the meantime I’m holed up in the flat and Roger is taking this in to upload when he has a minute (!!) as I have no Internet here so apologies for the lack of response to emails, what’s apps, messenger etc and yes I hope I’ll get skype again when I’m back in action and also be able to upload some more photos.