Ski days are the best. We've been strategically skiing throughout our trip when we've got the best weather but now the season is drawing to a close, we're just skiing whenever we can.
After your Motorhome, ski passes are by far the biggest expense of any Motorhome ski trip - whether you're going for a week or a season. If you're staying in one area you can benefit from season passes which cut your costs considerably but they're still going to set you back on average 30-50 Euros a day (depending on the size and the perceived kudos of the ski area).
Many Motorhome skiers take advantage of the growing number of part-day passes that you can get at many resorts - they range from 4 hours and half days to 'Happy Ski' passes for just a few euros - pitched at the 'after-work' crowd which includes some independent seasonal workers who don't get their passes as part of their remuneration package.
What our ski day timetable looks like:
Wake up - Well I do anyway - James is a night owl and I'm an early bird so 7am is a compromise that we can both live with.
Heating ramped up, coffee on and ablutions. We don't have a fixed double in our Autoquest 185 motorhome so we're packing the bed away each morning - far easier than you'd imagine and nowhere near as much hassle, even after 4 months.
Equipment shenanigans - you honestly wouldn't believe how much time this all takes - getting dressed for the conditions is a pretty straight forward process, managing the debacle of getting all our ski equipment outside is also straight forward, and now a well-oiled machine. Making sure everything we need is in our bags and various pockets - totally different matter.
Sometimes we take a packed lunch; sometimes a few snacks; sometimes we return to the van for lunch; and very occasionally we eat at a mountain restaurant. If you're holidaying for a week or so, mountain eating isn't such a big deal and you can work it into a decent budget but if you're touring long-term like we are, a €25 per person per lunch bill for what is rarely more than a snack, is a little extravagant - plus James makes THE best baguettes so that's always the favoured option!
Camera batteries charged, and all the necessary accessories packed (we could do a whole separate blog on that!), we head out after rush hour. The first hour of the day tends to be manic with people who can only ski for a week, rushing for the first lifts up the mountain. As we have our own very nice kit, we prefer not to be victims of their over exuberance and the somewhat uncivilised battle in the queue!
And we're off - always opting for a few blues (beginner/intermediate ski trails) to get our legs warmed up - one thing we're very conscious of throughout is our need to stay fit and healthy. With one fairly serious illness, which took James completely out of action for 7 days and limited for a few weeks after, we are hugely aware of how motorhome life can be even tougher in winter conditions if you're a man down. Don't get me wrong, plenty manage solo but unprepared and on an aire with limited services in very cold conditions, it wasn't much fun lugging water and waste 100m up and down ice packed paths for a week!
So, to sum up - we try not to injure ourselves! We've been totally useless at all the stretching and yoga I'd convinced myself was going to be part of our daily lives, so we work up through the difficulty level - particularly in areas we're not familiar with.
One thing that has struck us is the number of older people learning to ski - and when I say older, no insult meant, but we're talking 70 plus - it's inspiring to see people continually challenging themselves.
After an hour and a half, we're ready for a coffee - something we do indulge in on the mountain because we've yet to find a way of keeping proper coffee palatable in a thermos! There's nothing like a caffeine hit at altitude! Heart pounding, we set off for a longer stint - usually mountain hopping if we're in larger ski areas.
James's skiing (and snowboarding) has now pretty much surpassed mine in terms of capability so we're fairly unrestricted. As we only ski each area for a couple of days, we try to do a few box ticking exercises which includes skiing famous or notorious runs and checking out the highlights. There are so many resorts we'd like to revisit to cover more ground but that's part of the charm of motorhome skiing - you don't feel like you're leaving never to return.
Lunch is usually a chance to rest up our legs - by this stage of our trip we really have put some miles on our pins and it's starting to tell. We've got stronger legs than we came away with but we're also suffering from a bit of fatigue. We didn't get time to focus on ski training before we left and that's shown. Next time, we are going to put significantly more emphasis on pre-season training.
The way you can tell when you're really tired, as with most things, is you start to make mistakes. We have a policy of quitting whilst we're ahead - it doesn't matter who calls it, we head back. We also never declare a 'last run' - primarily because that's when everything usually goes belly up - literally!
As a motorhome skier, I've skied shorter days than ever before - and I like it. Rather than being compelled by the 'value for time and money' ski 9-5, I'm enjoying working on technique and feeling part of the mountain life more. It's not about clocking kilometres (this is a great British mountain sport), it's more a chance to just be in places that for the rest of the year remain untouched.
We're usually back home by 4.30 ish, weather and snow condition dependent. Part of the reason for mid-afternoon finishes is work related - more on that in the next blog! It also means that we can usually get stripped off and all our wet kit dried off and inside before the sun goes down and over this winter, that's been pretty important! With night time temperatures regularly plummeting below -10 degrees, inside and dry by dusk is a critcal task!
We rarely have sopping kit - why? Because we try not to ski on hideous days. All risks are higher from injury to avalanche and whilst we're not ones to avoid a challenge, we're also here for fun and not to a) take unnecessary risks or b) make ourselves miserable! If bad weather = amazing snow conditions, we'd be out there but that is very infrequent in Europe, so we stick to the days that aren't going to leave us shivering violently and wishing we had access to a bath
So - 'lounge wear' on, laptops out, dinner on the hob and a few hours of desk jobs before we eat. This involves removing footage from various cameras and devices, backing up digital stuff and for me, catching up on my 'day job'.
Ski days usually end with binging on YouTube and an early night...
Can you think of a better way to ski? We sure cant.