Travel Stories

Confessions of a Chalet Boy – Part 7 & 8

We’ve got a double whammy from our mole in the Alps this week. Why? Er… basically cos we’ve been away riding for a bit and didn’t get the first one up in time. Anyhoo, here is Nick J’s take on the crap snowfall in the Alps this year and the piss-up to end all piss-ups…

Part 7 – Spring comes early

What the fuck has happened to the weather over here? I had a feeling that this was going to be a strange one after the insane weather in the UK before I drove over. I have never seen so little snow at this time of the year in any resort I have been to in the last twenty plus years. It’s got to be a one off right??? I do not envy any of you peeps who have booked a holiday to the Three Valleys this year. Hope you like getting a sun tan and that après is your thing… The girls working up the road were all out on the veranda in bikinis today. The plus side of global warming I guess! It seemed bizarre walking past them in all my riding kit with no snow and sweating like a bastard.

It was my first time out in about a week today due to injury. It was so empty up there and surprisingly grippy, but it feels like mid April, NOT Mid Feb. If you get into the mindset that you’re just cruising then it is pretty cool. Like taking out my longboard back home on a waist high summer swell. Watching Jeremy Jones in ‘Deeper’ didn’t help though. It made me yearn for some steep empty powder runs and fresh tracks. It’s times like this I wish I was a jibber, but I have smashed enough of my body over the years to start getting into any more punishment.

Just as the ‘cabin fever’ was setting in we got a repreive. Me, Carly and Steph got a lift down to Annecy with Jim and Nikki. I love that place so much, it really is stunning and clearly it’s got its own vibrant scene going on with the skating and music etc… The kebab shop radar was working overtime and I managed to take Jim straight to the place I used to go with my ex a couple of seasons back. As good as it ever was, only it’s the son running the place now. Tidy. After that it was a wander down the lake before blowing some money in the shops. The perfect antidote to being stuck in a tiny ski village for a couple of months.

I managed to surprise all the girls I know last night by rocking up in La Tania on the last bus for a bit of a mosh in the Ski Lodge, or ‘S’lodge’ as we used to call it. From what I’ve heard it’s called the ‘STD Lodge’ now… Awesome place though. Everybody thinks I’m too ancient to actually go out past twelve on a ‘school night’. We had a laugh, throwing some shapes and having a few cheeky beers. I worked in La Tania couple of years back and loved the laid back atmosphere. So much more happening than Le Praz, which is blatantly a more middle aged and affluent sort of vibe . Walked home down the road a couple of kilometres with Georgia and Vicky, all of us pretty steaming but glad we went. I will be back for more without a doubt. Viva La Tania.

We are hitting ‘Half Term’ week and the mid point of the season soon enough. The time flies. It’s a cliché but it’s true. It just keeps bringing me back to those salient words of the seminal Dog Town skate genius, Jay Adams: “I’ve been on summer vacation for twenty years.” Injury and old age are creeping up on me, but I’m not done yet my friends, oh no… Keep reading.

Ciao for Now…

Part 8 – Viking Madness

I can honestly say I have had one of the best piss ups of my entire fucking life this week. It was Faith’s birthday bash, the girl I used to work with a month or so back you may remember. The best chalet girl I ever worked with, and I am pleased to say, she’s also getting on very very well with Patch the chef too I understand. Awww… I love a happy ending. Her and the other guys had decided on a ‘Viking’ theme to the proceedings, including the making of twenty matching ‘chain mail’ tunics out of brown paper bags and egg cartons. Seasonaires are nothing if not resourceful when it comes to making fancy dress and the chance to get completely mullered wearing it. So there we were: an array of homemade battle axes and assorted weapons, and a banner for the birthday girl. Let battle commence.

The main raiding party hit Courchevel 1850 around 1.30 pm and promptly staged a mass battle outside Bar Le Jump. My sources tell me that this drunken display of chaos and mayhem barely caused a ripple in the poshest ski village in the whole of the Alps. Perhaps all the Russian mafia bosses and gas and oil billionaires assumed it was the re-enactment of some historical battle?? I doubt it. Bearing in mind the French’s legendary lack of stomach for anything resembling a spot of bother with a foreign adversary, they probably realised it was some pissed up Brits making pricks of themselves as usual. Me, Carly and The Skeek sensibly decided to get up early and actually go for a slide on the mountain first and hook up with the others in 1650 at five-ish. Face paint on and the ‘chain mail’ donned and we were in Rocky’s bar in 1650 before you could say Jaeger Bomb.

The main bulk of the action commenced in The Bubble in 1650, definitely my favourite bar in Courchevel by a mile. Three pints in twenty minutes ensured I was fully on a catch up mission with the early starters. Patch played a couple of tunes, and the assembled war party really got into the sprit of things. Despite being pretty rammed, there was no hassle and the drink was never ending. I was steaming by seven, but that was just the warm up. Down the mountain we would go…

The carnage that ensued will live with me forever. All good natured I’ve got to say, and no punters were harmed as the Viking war party slowly descended back towards Le Praz. I can vaguely remember running at full tilt down the main road in 1550 with our banner held high and twenty screaming nutters running behind me wielding cardboard axes, frying pans covered in tin foil and even a fully functional bow and arrow made from a fucking twig (nice one Rob). I can also remember crazy assed shit like literally taping the chalet manager, Clair, back into her viking outfit. Not the easiest task in the world when you’re wankered and trying to avoid her woman bits. Sorry Mart (her husband), I did my best I promise you. Much alcohol and a small amount of semi nakedness, plenty of shouting/singing and dancing, and one of those drunken ski bus rides where everyone sings Wonderwall till their ribs hurt.

Only one partial casualty. Chris the handyman was so fucked waiting for the bus back up to 1650 that somebody called an ambulance for him. He is still alive, but apparently he has a lump on his arm the size of a hard boiled egg and can’t remember a thing. I seriously doubt I will ever be involved in a bender of this proportion again in my lifetime, and that’s probably a good thing. But what I will say is this: anybody still wondering why we do this kind of work for a few hundred quid a month? That night out would just about do it. I love this life. That’s why I’m still in it, and why they will have to shoot me before I stop. Like the t-shirt says, “This is my proper job.” It is. It’s the only life I feel comfortable with.

Hey, and guess what? We actually got some snow! Not a lot, but at least enough to go hit some tree runs. I took some of the guys out there today and showed them some lines I first hit in 97! Such a blast. Skiers, boarders… seriously now, who gives a fuck? It’s the people that count, not what we slide on.

Ciao for now boys and girls.

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