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Review of the 2015 Ski Season

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Holiday Reviews 2015

Location Date Review
Courchevel, France 4 to 11 January View
La Plagne, France 25th January - 1st February View
Baqueria, Spain 8th - 15th February View
Megeve, France 22nd February - 1st March View
Cervinia, Italy 8th - 15th March View

Courchevel, France

Twenty-nine members, including 8 on their first trip with the Club, went on the club holiday to Chalet Cascades in Courchevel 1650. The chalet was full and shared with about 30 other guests in smaller groups.

We arrived the weekend following the large dump that caused travel chaos in the French Alps, which greatly benefited snow conditions in the Three Valleys – it’s an ill wind! – such that good conditions could be found high up although snow depth at resort level was always a bit thin.

On the first 4 days we were additionally blessed with glorious blue skies enabling nearly all members, including the predominantly blue-run skiers, to ski to Val Thorens at least once with the stronger skiers of our party making it to the 4th valley at Orelle. Grey skies replaced blue skies on the 5th day bringing much warmer temperatures resulting in low cloud and drizzle on the morning of the final day. Sunshine returned in the afternoon although even at 2700m snow conditions had by then become heavy and spring like.

Courchevel, especially 1850, lived up to its swanky reputation with many Russians in evidence, it being the time of the Russian Christmas, which was celebrated with a grand firework display visible from Courchevel 1650.

Courchevel 1850 also lived up to its pricey reputation. The mainly blue-run group entered a mountain restaurant selling soup at 18 euros, but soon left for the nearby snack bar and picnic room! More reasonably priced fare could be found in Val Thorens and Meribel, the Inghams’ Merribar at the Chaudanne in Meribel being a very economical option.

As expected, the range of skiing in the Three Valleys well suited all skiing abilities within the group and fortunately there were no serious skiing injuries – but the holiday was marred for a number of us by brief illnesses causing some of us to miss the odd day of skiing.

The chalet was fairly good and well situated with the premium rooms overlooking the valley being generously sized. The noise level in the dining room with its hard flooring and low ceiling made dinner conversation difficult although as the evening wore on and the wine consumption increased, we seemed able to converse more easily.

The chalet staff were all very helpful and obliging, but it was fairly obvious that they were only a few weeks into their chalet running experience. However, in part due to our prompting, things improved over the week.

On the final evening for our cabaret we commandeered the dining area to be our auditorium and invited the rest of the chalet guests to join the fun. It was a humorous and musical programme, which was crowned by a new member’s commanding renditions.

Overall it was an enjoyable week with nearly all members thinking the Three Valleys should continue to feature in the Club’s destinations, perhaps to a more central valley.

Charles Woodcock .

La Plagne, France

This year there was such a good response to this holiday that there were 36 of us and we filled the chalet/hotel Graciosa.

With such a large party, including new members and others who had not skied together before, it was at first difficult to sort out who would ski with whom. However, as the week advanced, people began to find groups that suited them. It is worth saying that it was not so much the level of ability that was important (although it was a factor), rather who had knowledge of the resort and its runs. This highlights how useful ski hosting by the tour operator was before the French interfered by raising their legal challenge to ski guiding by others.

To start with the snow was a little thin with icy patches, but the weather was mainly clear. The noticeable thing was that it was much more crowded than expected. Then on Thursday it snowed and it kept on snowing through until Saturday morning. Some people skied a bit on the Thursday and Friday, and in fact on both days the pistes were surprisingly busy.

On Saturday the morning was clear and the pistes freshly groomed. About a metre of snow had fallen. Although some of the lifts didn’t open or were late to open, most people were able to find somewhere to make fresh tracks on some pristine corduroy.

Holly (the manager) and Cha and the rest of the staff (not to mention Genepi the dog) were as welcoming, cheerful and helpful as before. Becks (who had performed in last year’s entertainment) was there too, although had started the week off ill. Fortunately she had recovered by Friday! Matt and the kitchen team produced tasty food and special diets were well catered for. On the staff night off we spread our numbers between two restaurants, and everyone enjoyed themselves.

On Friday we had an evening of entertainment. There were some excellent contributions and the whole thing was rounded off by Becks who sang two songs beautifully.

This was another successful ARPski holiday enabling members to have an enjoyable and companionable ski holiday, even if they had no partner to go with, which is why the Club exists.

Peter Taylor.

Baqueira, Spanish Pyrenees

There were 22 members of our party travelling from Gatwick, Bristol, Birmingham and Munich, and after a few flight delays we finally settled into The Eira, with several new members amongst our group.

The snow had fallen in abundance prior to our arrival and our first day saw blue skies and sunshine, enabling us to maximise our enjoyment of skiing in powder conditions, and for our newest members to discover the delights Baqueira has to offer. As yet Baqueira is still unspoiled despite both The Telegraph and The Times describing it as ‘The Hidden Gem of the Pyrenees’ and ‘The Best Ski Resort in the World’!!

Returning members were greeted like old friends by the caring and welcoming chaps in the ski and boot hire shop, and in the special little café at the bottom of the first lift, situated just yards from The Eira. They were delighted to see us back again. This year we were fortunate to have dedicated gui

The Arpski bonding was quickly established; our newest members being drawn into the friendship and camaraderie, which seemed to evolve naturally as our holiday progressed, with everyone finding their own level and enjoying the companionship both on and off the slopes.

ding from Annette, Gareth and Jessica, dividing into three groups according to ability or comfort level, with the option to switch on a daily basis as confidence grew. Some members decided to take lessons from which they all gained some very useful tips. Our 90-year-old lady skied with grit and determination and a speed to match, was an example to us all.

The traditional last evening’s entertainment provided much mirth and unearthed many a hidden talent. Our 90-year-old’s wish for a Nubian Slave – a regular request over the many years we have shared her friendship was finally being granted, and not one, but three such Slaves were vying for her favours.

We had been truly blessed with good weather for the duration of our stay; the skies only clouding over on our last afternoon with a further heavy snowfall as we left the resort on the last morning, giving a good top-up of the already deep snow levels for those following in the next week. There were a few tumbles during the week including one which our star ‘blade Runner’ skilfully averted, thus being given the ‘Hero Award’, but thankfully no injuries.

Our group was fantastic, during a week full of laughter and friendship. A time full of so many shared happy memories.

Beryl and Alison,

Megeve, France

We welcomed 2 new members to our party of 15 who arrived from all corners of the UK, and from five different airports in all. There was no shortage of snow and the Chalet les Clochettes was a short stroll from the ski hire, so everyone was soon kitted out with equipment and lift passes.

On our first morning we were enrolled as members of the Unthank Ski Club, and set off to meet our guides on the ‘Alpette’ side of the resort. Most people had a good morning’s skiing, and the snow that was falling by lunchtime did not deter us.

Tuesday saw intermittent cloud with the odd hint of sunshine as we headed to Mont d’Arbois and everyone found friends to ski with.

Wednesday was everything we dream of all year; superb snow, beautiful sunshine and stunning scenery, as we again skied in the Mont d’Arbois area. The excellent conditions continued on Thursday, as most of us skied in the Jaillet area, through trees and past frozen waterfalls. One member was stretchered off the mountain by an attractive young French lady. He was catapulted off the chairlift, which was stopped suddenly due to someone else having fallen when getting off. Fortunately there were no bones broken, and no hospital run was required. Thursday saw a quiz evening with every expense spared on prizes. The ‘Mr Men’ picture quiz was not meant to be taken seriously, but the group proved to be quite competitive with Toblerones at stake.

On Friday there was heavy snow, but the brave few ventured out for the morning. Other relaxed, explored or strolled. Photo opportunities were missed for lack of a camera as three experienced skiers who should have known better, all fell on green runs.

On Friday night we ate out in small groups at assorted restaurants around Megeve; these can be pricey but fun.

Saturday tuned into a good day for our last days skiing, with low cloud disappearing quickly from the mountaintops. In the evening 10 members contributed to the entertainment. Items on offer were varied, poignant, funny and interesting.

I went to Megeve as understudy to the party leader, and could not have had a better trip. Everyone was very helpful, I had a lot of support from friends and committee members, and it went so well that I look forward to hosting groups in future years.

Anne Horne.

Cervinia, Italy

The final ski trip of the 2015 season was to Breuil-Cervinia, Italy and 22 members arrived safely at the Hotel Edelweiss on Sunday 8th March. We also welcomed 2 new members.

We were welcomed by Palmira Neyroz and her family and were well looked after by Salvador in the restaurant, Massimo in the bar and Ovidio the driver. Our rooms were comfortable and we enjoyed the log fire in the lounge, the free steam room and sauna, and the Jacuzzi and massage facilities. Food was plentiful, with a buffet breakfast and a 4 course evening meal (5 if you included the salad bar). Those members with dietary needs were extremely well catered for.

We were taken to the slopes in the morning, just a few minutes away, and had only to phone the hotel at the end of the day to be picked up by the hotel’s mini bus.

The holiday was blessed with 5 days of beautiful blue skies and sunshine. Generally the snow was good, although it became a bit soft at the end of the day.

On Monday ski groups evolved, with a faster group and one for those who preferred a slower pace. There were plenty of gentle blue and red runs on the Plan Maison side of the mountain, and with the more challenging red and black runs on the Cretez side, all skiing abilities were satisfied. The red runs were mostly wide and generously labelled!

On Tuesday two groups made their way up to the Plateau Rosa, then over into Switzerland and the slopes above Zermatt. Here the views of the Matterhorn (or Monte Cevinio as the Italian locals know it) were quite stunning, and the snow on the glacier was lovely. The “must do” trip is up to the top of the Klein Matterhorn by cable car. You then walk through the mountain tunnel to the viewing station and the highest piste in Europe. The views, as far as Mont Blanc and down the Aosta Valley made up for the inevitable queuing and “sardine” experiences of being packed into the cable car. Unfortunately some folk experienced altitude problems and came back down by cable car instead of skiing from the top. This latter meant using two long T-bar tow lifts to get back to the Plateau Rosa. However the time on the T-bars did give you the opportunity to appreciate the amazing views and the east wall of the mountain, known as the Whymper Crest, named after the English climber who was the first to reach the peak in July 1865. One group skied from the very top of the Klein Matterhorn, but were then thwarted in their plans to explore the Zermatt slopes as they got on the wrong gondola and went down the mountain instead of up from Schwarzee! Two other groups stayed on the Italian side and skied the Salette Valley and the Valtournenche area. A gondola and Taxi ride home suited some whilst others took the long button tow back over the Cime Biance Col to get back into the Cervinia area. Today was marred by the host sustaining an injury to her knee whilst skiing a steep black run at speed – sorry, whilst stumbling out of the mini bus and up the steps of the hotel! However she soldiered on and presented a quiz and “dingbat” competition in the evening.

Wednesday was another blue day but very windy, with the strange lenticular cloud over the Plateau Rose being the talking point. Today the faster group skied the red run from the Plateau Rosa down to the village of Valtournenche, at 13 kms, one of the longest runs in the world. The hotel provided canapés and aperitifs this evening, and a “waterfall” of ham was the centrepiece of their special buffet.

The chalet “away day” took place on Thursday and two members travelled by coach to Pila further along the Aosta Valley, to ski the slopes below the tree line.

Friday dawned bright and blue. Some members attacked the black runs off the new Pancheron lift, whilst others went as far as Riffelberg and Cornergrat above Zermatt.

Unfortunately Friday 13th lived up to it’s name and one member had a spectacular fall on the last run home. Medical assistance was needed and she was taken off the slope in the “blood wagon”, and then by ambulance to the Medical Centre. She had broken the top of her humerus bone in her arm. She was impressed by the efficiency of her rescue and by the medical attention, but unfortunately had to endure the rest of the holiday in a straight jacket of strapping. We wish her a speedy and straightforward recovery. v Saturday brought a smattering of snow and low cloud, which made visibility difficult. Having had 5 glorious days most were happy to finish skiing at midday, and enjoyed long lunches at various nice restaurants in the village.

Entertainment on our final evening was provided by many members. All in all we had a great week skiing beneath the majestic Monte Cervino. Our stay was enhanced by the friendliness of the hotel staff, the willingness of members to lead skiing and, not least, the camaraderie of the ARPski group.

Sheila Walker