Skiing in April… was that a smart move? After slushy slopes in March I was a bit worried. Again I took a plane to Geneva, waited at the airport, got on a bus and stared out the window, watching the scenery change. At Moûtiers we took the road uphill towards Val Thorens. There was still not much snow to be seen and actually, it was raining lightly. As we ascended the rain drops became thicker and turned into wet snow. We passed through St. Martin. No snow. Even in Les Menuires the majority of the snow had already disappeared. But then we turned the corner at Val Thorens and it was completely white.
I walked into the UCPA and noticed nobody was wearing a mask. What a change from January! That evening I already met a French girl whom I joined skiing the next day. That morning the grey skies had cleared. The snow was so perfect and sun made it very pleasant. We went over to Orelle and found an amazing, very quiet slope which we repeated a few times. Then the Bouchet lift opened and very quickly a line started to form. They could only let 2 people on, every 3 chairs, for some unknown reason. When we finally hit the front of the line we saw a sign that said “very good skiers only”. We looked at each other and got on the lift. The top was interesting. There was a small path dug into the snow which led to a slope. Only, the slope was not groomed. Other skiers shot off into all directions, happy to make fresh tracks in the untouched powder. We decided to stick to the markers and slowly made our way down, powder to our knees!
For the second day I met my ski group. I was a bit worried as the majority of the group was labeled ‘expert’ and me and some others as ‘confirmed’, the level below. In the end it turned out nobody was really an expert and we all got by fine. I ended up in a group with a dancing queen from Sweden, 2 French guys that we lost a couple of times, my roommates from Denmark and France and 2 more relaxed guys from France. Our instructor Sevan realised quite quickly what a motley crew he had.
“Where is François?” became the running gag of the week. But he wasn’t the only one who got lost. We regularly stood waiting at the top of a chairlift or the bottom of a slope, wondering where part of the group was. Every day we left with the question “Who will get lost today?”. But it wouldn’t spoil the fun. The sun kept shining for the full week and the forecasted thunderstorms never showed. I met a lot of great people at the UCPA center and always had good people to ski with.
In our lesson we started out with short turns, testing our strength and endurance. Another day we focused on carving and kept practicing short turns, with or without bumps. It was about 18 degrees on the slopes, so you could almost see the snow melt. Most of the times we found good slopes, but at times we had to plow our way through thick layers of slush, which was a killer for the legs. Our instructor would find fun stuff to do regardless, like skiing backwards, 360s on the snow, a run through the border cross or a visit to the family snow park.
The worst was probably the day we ate down at St. Martin. We sat at a great restaurant, almost at the bottom of the slope. It was so pleasant to sit in the sun with a good meal! But for the way back we had to traverse on a small path where the snow was just terrible. It felt like velcro, holding back my skis. Since there wasn’t much of a slope, it was exhausting to make it back to Val Thorens. It really felt like we got all the snow conditions in one day; ice, slush and perfectly grippy.
On the last day we had some fun trying to synchronize our skiing. In the morning we’d had a good run with our instructor setting the pace, but somehow we couldn’t find that rhythm again. We tried a few more times after lunch and nailed it the last time, when there were only four of us left. Well… I think we look pretty good 😉 Either way, it was so much fun. I was tired, but when the end of the week came, I was super sad to stop. The season’s over. A long wait till next year starts. In the bus back I was already going over the options for the winter of ’22/’23.