By Jeremy Waterhouse
The club's return to the famous les 3 vallees began with a smooth morning flight where the only disappointment was that all drinks were chargeable with the meal.
A comfortable coach transfer was followed by total confusion during hotel check-in where room pairings had been mixed up and some members were not allocated rooms at all. This was sorted out by the time the arrival meal was served which unfortunately started with a cold soup, a trend which continued all week. The 5 course meals were of varying quality during our stay and sometimes took close on 3 hours to be served. Tactics to accommodate this included arriving an hour late for the meal and even disappearing between courses to kill time. Breakfast offered a different challenge as the food, drinks, cutlery and crockery seemed to be set out in a quite illogical way on tables which were well apart. The result of this was club skiers , who were not fully awake, scrambling around backwards and forwards to make the most of what was actually quite an adequate breakfast once you had found everything you wanted. Fortunately the staff were pleasant and helpful and the rooms were very nice and clean.
(Except for the bottle and sock under my bed which was there on arrival and stayed with me the whole week! - Editor.)
As for the skiing the first 2 days were cold conditions with fresh snowfalls and poor visibility requiring good technique and careful route following for those going high and into adjacent valleys. After a day on the slopes a lot of members compromised the après ski with a dip in the hotels heated pool and saunas which went down very well after a cold day and created a nice social atmosphere without a gluhwein in sight.
The rest of the week provided superb snow with lots of sunshine and great conditions for a full days skiing so long as you could keep everything warm. Members were able to explore the whole area including trips beyond Val Thorens to Orelle in the 4th valley of La Maurienne which has now been extended making this vast skiing area even bigger. Caution was required with off-piste however as the avalanche risk was 3 & 4 all week. Despite this off-piste classes were organised for the more experienced members which proved to be safe and successful. One skier, not associated with the club , was actually killed in an avalanche in Courchevel.
La Tania whilst offering very limited nightlife still created a very sociable location for the club with a few bars within easy walking distance of the hotel where skiers could discuss how they just managed catch the last gondola out of such and such a valley to avoid being stranded and facing a hefty taxi charge to get back to the hotel. One member who stole a lot of attention was 3.5 year old Lucas Milton on his first ski holiday who after a week in ski nursery was taken down the green run to the hotel on the last day. What a good age to start the sport!
The sad transfer back went smoothly with a lunchtime arrival at Manchester Airport leaving the rest of the weekend to reflect on another great Ski Club holiday.
Click on an image below for a larger picture.