This winter we decided to stop riding waves and start riding mountains instead. Gathering a group of 22 from Wild West Wales, including the Totally Minged and Big Lush crews, we flew to Chambrey, France.
From there it was a two hour transfer up into the Alps at Les Arcs.
In Les Arcs the villages are named after their altitude in meters, Les Arcs 1600 and Les Arcs 1800 for example. We had to go to the top, didn’t we? We got a fantastic Chalet in Les Arcs 2000.
Living at that altitude was surprisingly challenging. Climbing a flight of steps will take your breath away even before you start skiing. The air was also very dry, and with unusually sunny weather when we were there, the Chalet was boiling hot.
Exploring the mountain was great and Sharon and I really enjoyed the mountain villages.
Though we had days of glorious sunshine these were interspersed with massive blizzards and snow dumps. We weren’t short of fresh snow. Folksey here taking a breather from riding powder.
We skied everyday, even in the snow storms. Though sometimes we did have to retreat from the whiteout…
…or just face it head on.
Snowboarding and skiing is really grueling but massively rewarding. You really appreciate the rest you get on the chairlifts, and Les Arcs is full of great chairlifts.
Not content with living at 2000m, we tried to ski as high as we could. The Totally Minged guys made it to 2700m, but bad weather stopped skiers going any further.
Before snowboarding down Ben found probably the highest altitude toilet in Europe.
They did allow Donna, Sharon and I up to Aiguille Rouge at 3200m on foot which put us at the top of the alps. Donna’s phone even welcomed her to Italy! Sharon insisted on getting a photo at the top with her Onboard Surf & Coffee Shop T-shirt, as we had started our holiday week with a bacon and cream cheese bagel there back in Swansea, days ago.
There is something very calming about being at the top of the Alps.
The views were fantastic, almost as breathtaking as the altitude. We skied the whole mountain from 2700m all the way down to 1800m. It was great to be in a big group of fun characters, from the flying dragons…
…to the relentless energy teenagers Ben and Ellie.
And it is good to be with your mates when you have to do that hard climb out of a wrong turn.
We should have read the sign.
I took a wrong turn off piste that left me a long way from the path,chest deep in a snow drift that took 15 breathless minutes to climb out of. Oh well, bad decisions make good stories and Folksey is still laughing.
It was not the only time that I was reminded that you have to respect the mountain and respect the weather, and that if you look after your kit it will look after you. My snow goggles saw some serious use (and less serious photo use).
They saw action from sunrise…
The need to respect the mountain and weather was emphasized daily as the helicopters dropped bombs and triggered controlled avalanches, like this one above our resort.
I think you can see that solemn respect* in these guys as they are about to hop on to a red run in a blizzard. *cough.
We all survived, grinning ear to ear, but we were far to soon back on the plane and heading home. Great days and nights with great people. All that was left to do was leave the snow sunsets back in Les Arcs.
I admit, I am hooked, lets do this every winter, DimExcuses.