Travel Stories

Confessions of A Chalet Boy – Part 5

Oh damn! In this latest installment of his regular blog our tame Chalet Boy, Nick J, tells the tale of pretty much the best thing that can ever happen to you as a seasonaire…

Well, after a bit of a reshuffle Josh, AKA ‘The Small Boy’, swapped places with me at work. I jumped ship at The Jolly Roger and moved to a smaller chalet where i am back to being just a normal host. My new chef is Simon. He is a bit of a geek techno-head skier, or to use the correct term, a ‘Skeek’. But he’s actually a pretty sound lad. I often go up the hill with him for a slide and he’s a good bloke to work with – so long as he doesn’t start his political ranting to the guests or try to stop me from drinking when I’m working!

Things are starting to settle down into a bit of a pattern as they always do. The frenetic drinking is becoming slightly more selective. My buddy Mark had his 40th on our day off last week. Little did he know we had lined him up a parapente flight down to the village from 1850. We all went up top to watch him take off then jumped on the bubble to meet him at the bottom. He was totally stoked. We then topped it off by riding over to The Bubble Bar in 1650 for some après. Multiple shooters, beers and jaeger bombs later, and after listening to our own Rock God, Patch, singing on the ‘open mike’ session, we all bundled out to catch the bus home. The best après i can remember in years. Perhaps the only time we will all get together this season.

A near miracle happened today. It had snowed yesterday and today was our day off! The prospect of a powder day on day off was too good an opportunity to blow by getting wasted the night before. Sadly only me and Skeek saw it that way, so there we were just after nine making our way to the top of Courchevel 1650 with a route in mind: ‘The Canyon’, a classic off piste route into Les Avals and a longish walk back out to civilisation. We got to the top and realised we were first there. Not a single track into the entire valley. Happy days! Simon dropped in to a pristine face and I followed soon after, drawing some sweet lines with my new cambered pow board. We nailed it! Throwing rooster tails of powder as we carved up and down the walls. One of the best backcountry runs I’ve ever done and to be first into Les Avals after fresh snow is a one off for a couple of scumbag seasonaires like us.

After sweating my balls off walking out, we decided ‘Fuck It!’, let’s do it again. Straight back up. This time there was a large guided group stopped just at the approach to the canyon. No way were they getting in there before us, so we blasted past laying new tracks as we dropped straight into the entrance. I never stopped. Riding it like i wish i could surf back home on The Gower. Gouging turns and straight-lining the narrow sections . Getting to the bottom in less than five minutes and collapsing on the flat valley floor at the end. High Fives all-round and laughing like naughty children. A moment of pure joy with not a chair lift in sight. It just doesn’t get better than that.

Only one thing marred this perfection – and it really pissed me off. The group we saw were guided by a company I will only refer to as “The Boys in Green”. One lone skier, clearly a little out of his depth and perhaps a bit reckless had seen tracks and followed them down. When he asked the guides for directions they refused, telling him he should not be there on his own and that their clients had paid for their expertise. Both true statements of course, but do you leave a man to potentially kill himself in the backcountry because he was stupid enough to be there in the first place and because he hasn’t paid you? No you fucking don’t. One of the most shameful things I’ve ever heard of in the mountains. Fortunately Skeek told him to follow us down and we all walked out together through the beautiful valley and back to safety. We suggested he didn’t do that again in a hurry, and waved him off at the lift.

What goes around comes around, here and anywhere else for that matter. We all lived to fight another day, and that has to be the best news of all, right? Stay Classy Le Praz! Ciao for now.

You can read the previous installments of Nick J’s blog here.

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