Club Holiday To Flaine - A New Member's View of Our First Ski Club Holiday

Reporter: Carolyn Campbell

Our association with the Ski Club started as Colin and I were comprehensively dumped by our children and their spouses this year and our friends insisted on returning, yet again, to Levi in Finland.

Now, while Finland has much to offer as a resort, we have been there 5 or 6 times and there are lots of other places out there that we haven't visited. (It's also just a wee bit cool; -20ºC to -30ºC is common!). Skiing seems better as a group activity to us; (basically, I didn't want to be stuck with Colin!) so we decided to take up Tom Russell's suggestion and join the Ski Club of Manchester with a view to finding company for ski holidays. Well, Tom has known us for over 30 years so he can't plead ignorance! Insanity maybe! Anyway, you can blame him! We then persuaded our Tasmanian friend, Alan Scott, to join too and come to Flaine as he has skied with us for the past 3 years. He must be the furthest afield club member ... well, you can't get much further afield really!

During the autumn we joined in some club activities to get to know other members and found everyone very welcoming and friendly. The tuition at the Chill Factore was especially helpful.

Then the Flaine holiday arrived, ... and did not get off to a good start! Having arrived at the airport at 4:45am we queued for a total of 23⁄4 hours to check in our baggage and had to suffer the ignominy of having our names called over the Tannoy! Things could only get better, ... and they did.

The Hotel le Flaine was basic but fine, with spacious rooms (at least ours was) and an excellent variety and quality of buffet meals. The holiday included buffet lunch at the Hotel (or a packed lunch so large you almost needed a Sherpa to carry it!) and, although we'd never returned to a hotel at lunchtime before, we found it well worth doing, especially if, like us, a bit of a rest was pleasant for the ageing body.

We were very lucky with the vast quantity of snow this year and, in spite of some spells of poor visibility (which resulted in 2 of our lady members embarking on a bit of unscheduled off-piste skiing), we had pretty reasonable weather generally, with one fabulous day.

The main thing for us on our first holiday with the club has been the friendliness of everyone and the consideration and care that club members take of each other on the slopes, ... except we managed to lose Brenda twice in one day and got negative brownie points for that. Colin also got lost due to his propensity for going off at a tangent to the rest of the group! He also seemed to contribute to the confusion as to the whereabouts of Brenda by providing false information. Next day we noticed he had changed his hi-viz jacket to a very sedate and common blue colour in the hope that we might not notice him if he went off down the wrong piste again! In the past we have tried just ignoring him, but he always turns up again like a bad penny.

On the first day our group was in the capable hands of Ernie Metcalfe and I felt quite secure and well cared for - I'm used to a husband who, upon seeing me crash, will probably check I'm not dead and haven't broken anything and then will disappear, leaving me to sort myself out. Now I was surrounded by helpers fetching my skis and levering me back to my feet. I like this!

Fairly early on in the holiday there was an outbreak of split Salopettes! Better not enquire too closely into the causes, but it all seemed to end satisfactorily.

On day 2 we had some lovely runs, and then embarked on the 14km Cascades piste. Big mistake! It took us at least 11⁄2 hours, mostly poling through soft snow, with a few nice downhills, then more nasty cross country poling ending in a long, narrow downhill run. However, some of us were just too hot, sweaty and exhausted to enjoy this bit! I reckon I had worked up the equivalent of several chocolate éclairs by then. I did have passing thoughts as to the possibility of someone precipitating themselves off the edge somewhere, but on this occasion all was well! Apparently this run was pisted and lovely the next day, but afterwards became icy and involved some snow ploughing.

I have to confess to having caused the stoppage of one of the chair lifts! I was trying to avoid getting a wet bottom and was so busy dusting off the frost from the seat that I fell off and got caught up in the chair. Very embarrassing and another first! Well, we all make mistakes. One lady in our group, who shall remain nameless, burst in on Colin who was lying on the bed. Claimed she thought he was Brenda! Poor Brenda.

Day 5, I think it was, had perfect weather, snow and visibility all day. Fabulous day with amazing skiing (not mine!), and especially good fun was the long, green 'Marvel' run. Ace! That one day's skiing alone made the holiday worthwhile for me.

The visibility on our last day wasn't great and by the afternoon Colin and I gave up and went and did a bit of ice skating - no threat to Torville and Dean, but very atmospheric in the thickly falling snow.

All in all, a very pleasant holiday with a nice bunch of people. We're now looking forward to the next holiday in Alpe d'Huez and maybe next year in St. Christoph?

We'll certainly be around the Chill Factore and other social events when possible, so hope to see you all again soon.

A BIG Thank you to John and David for all your hard work organizing the holiday!!