Reporter: Tony Keates
4.15am on Sunday, January 24th, saw 51 members gathering at Manchester airport to check in for the annual early season ski holiday, this time to Souze D'Oulx in Italy. Check-in went reasonably smoothly, as did the flight, although there was a problem with baggage reclaim at Turin airport, with one pair of skis not arriving. However they did turn up later in the week.
The transfer from Turin airport was enjoyably short at around one hour - a pleasant change from the tedious three to four hour transfers from Geneva to many of the French Resorts. On arrival at our hotel, the four-star Grand Hotel La Torre, an Art-Deco classic, we were faced with the usual long walk along slippery paths with our luggage, as the bus was not allowed any nearer. Check-in at the hotel was a bit of a scrum but eventually all was sorted satisfactorily.
The main part of the hotel was an 8-storey circular tower, which had no stairs, instead it had a continuous spiral ramp up the inside, with the rooms going off this, which meant that all rooms had an outside view of the town and surrounding mountains. The rooms were reasonably spacious with plenty of storage space and en-suite facilities.
Unfortunately when we went to the restaurant for dinner on the first night we met with a clash of attitudes. The Maitre D could not cope with us all wanting to be able to sit with whoever we liked on different evenings, he wanted the same people on the same tables every night. After much heated discussion, our Chairman sorted it out, and all went smoothly on subsequent evenings and at breakfast.
The quality of the food was excellent and typically Italian, with a vast selection of antipasta, three pasta courses, three main courses and a wide selection of desserts. Breakfast was a combination of a continental buffet and cooked food plus plenty of excellent Italian coffee - all in all no complaints there.
Throughout the week the skiing was excellent, as were the snow conditions, although apart from the Olympic downhill runs at Sestriere and San Sicario, there were few black runs to challenge our fast teams. However there seemed to be plenty of scope for off-piste fun in the several wide bowls in the area. The majority of the runs were long, wide, easy reds through the trees, a nice contrast to the open, sometimes bleak areas higher up. Some of these runs dropped over 1000 metres, which meant that you could easily ski well over 10000 vertical feet in the day.
The weather was mostly sunny and cold, although we did have one afternoon of fog and snow, and strong winds on a couple of days. We also had one superb sunny day with around 12 inches of fresh soft snow, which was a delight to ski in.
On the Friday we went on an organised bus trip to Montgenevre in France, with several members deciding to ski over and meet us there. Although we all enjoyed the trip, the feeling was that at € 20 it was rather expensive, especially as on the local service bus it would have cost € 2.5 each way! It also meant that we had to replace our breakfast with a packed breakfast eaten on the bus, which was not ideal.
Departure day was the usual early morning start, which meant another packed breakfast on the bus, but all went well until we had a four-hour flight delay due to heavy snow at Manchester airport, which rather took the shine off the week. However overall I really enjoyed the week and it was great to see several new younger members of the club for the first time, and to see how well they fitted in and dealt with us oldies! I look forward to next year.
Our very talented Steve Crossley drew this amusing cartoon of an incident that took place on our trip to Montgenevre. Ann took it in good spirit!