It dawned on us that Motorhome ski life is probably very different from regular Motorhome life, so we thought it might be interesting for anyone considering a Motorhome ski adventure to see what life on the snowy-highway is really like.
We have three main types of days although I don't think any two days have been the same in the last 107!
They fall into these categories:
1) Travel days
2) Ski days
3) Work days
In part one, we'll concentrate on travel days, so you can see how life looks like through the eyes of a Motorhome skier.
For the most part, traveling around the Alps really isn't going to rack up that many miles. In total, including a jolly across Italy and to and from Austria the long way around, we've clocked about 3400 miles in nearly four months and that includes the 500 mile round trip to collect the van from Elddis in the first place.
Motorhome Ski Travel Days
These days usually begin with breakfast and a sort out - James does the outside jobs, I do the inside ones and we come together for the final exercise of casting off.
Emptying water containers not waste tanks
Almost everyone Winter Motorhoming will disconnect their waste tank and have it flowing directly out of the Motorhome into a container - this prevents any strain on the plumbing and is one less thing to concern yourself about in terms of freezing up. So that needs emptying in a grey water drain before you leave.
Clearing the roof
You've got to get rid of the snow from your roof where it has built up or one of two things is likely to happen - you'll get stopped by the Gendarme who frown upon this daft behaviour or, you'll frighten yourself half to death when it slides off at either end.
If it comes off the front you can find yourself completely blinded by an avalanche or backwards and the noise will be enough to make you think the bathroom's fallen off the back of your motorhome and you'll need to stop for a change of underwear!
Extracting frozen stuff
Ramps, power cables, rubber mats - all have to be coaxed out of their icy lairs, dried off and stowed in the van.
James' favourite job - because it involves shovels and expending a bit of energy. If you're leaving after a night of heavy snow, you're better taking the time to shovel yourself a really good path rather than reach for the chains as a first port of call.
We travel with an empty cassette - despite the fact that the Thetford toilets are brilliant - sealed and secure in their cubby, you're advised not to travel with them more than 2/3rds full and we stick to that religiously - people make rules like this for a reason and we're not about to find out why!
Loading - somehow, more stuff ends up outside than you'd imagine.
Rubber mat outside - we don't have or need a step, so a rubber mat is vital equipment to make sure you don't go belly up leaving the van onto sheet ice!
Generator - if that's outside then there's the process of shutting that down, drying it off and stowing it securely - preferably empty of fuel which just takes a bit of planning.
Once we're unhooked, all boots and software (Van Comfort Thermal Screen) goes into the shower with mats down for protection. The usual Motorhome lock-and-load occurs with toiletries secured etc. And then comes 'ski-gate'.
Three snowboards, two sets of skis, 5 poles (yes 5 - that's another story entirely) and a grain shovel all live lengthways on the floor during transit. There's an unthinkable value of planks of wood and carbon and spikey poles in our van, not to mention the fact that they all have very sharp edges. Lying them down is by far the best policy and it also spreads the weight throughout the van for those twisty switch backs!
And on to admin
Pre-journey checks include:
A quick whip around to say adios to our newly acquired aire-chums and we're off!
NB: Every week we also do a full system check covering tyre pressures, fluids and clean all the windows inside and out so we're on top of general vehicle maintenance. This is vital as mountains aren't great places for these issues to bite you in the bum!
We generally travel over lunchtime when the roads are quietest and we're less likely to hold people up on our trundle up and down the hills - rarely travelling more than 3 hours a leg, most of which is a detour for LPG.
You'd be forgiven for thinking we reverse the pack down process but actually it's a little more strategic.
With military planning, we roll up and survey where we'll park. Nothing unusual there. However, in winter you have a few additional things to contend with - ice; snow; access to hook up where it's available; is there water supply and is it free flowing?
And then there are the general conditions - will your base melt and leave you skewwhiff? Is this actually a parking spot or an icy ledge that might melt in the night and chuck you over a cliff? And the slightly more dramatic, looking around for avalanche warning signs!
Once a general position has been established and you've taken heed of the warnings from your new aire-mates "don't park there for XXX reason", it's all hands-on deck - ramps, windscreen cover, gas on, cupboard missile check and trip hazard removal.
Once all that is complete, it's a quick Wi-Fi check (critical for us to have the internet everywhere by some means or another) and then usually a dander to the flickering lights of wherever we are!
So - as you can see - travel days are much the same as most motorhome transit days, a little more admin and certainly more important to get it right first time, but otherwise pretty straight forward once you're in a routine.
Tips for Motorhome skiers:
1) If you're moving regularly, perfect your routine and divvy up the jobs. Some of the important things (like removing snow from the roof) are seriously important so we had a checklist for the first few moves until we had it licked.
2) If you're staying put in one place during snow, clear your area of snow little and often. Snow is heavy and gets packed very quickly so moving it when it's fluffy is far preferable!
3) Check and double check your route - it's all very well being footloose and fancy free until you're trying to turn a 7.5m motorhome around in the middle of the night on a narrow mountain pass because you didn't pay attention to the road signs, radio messages and Google maps! We have been fortunate enough not to get caught out but we have been close and it doesn't sound like fun.
Next up: Ski Days