Travel Stories

Confessions of a Chalet Boy – Part 9

The latest missive from our ‘man on the inside’ has arrived, bringing us up to date with what went on last month, but also with some tragic news.

A strange end to Feb and start of March, not for particularly good reasons either. A genuine tragedy has struck the village. A young nineteen year old lad out here as a gap year student called Ed was fatally injured in a fall a few days back. It wasn’t a ski or snowboard related accident. He was seemingly involved in a ‘parcour’ style game jumping from roof to roof at night. A Yorkshireman like myself I understand, and though I did not know him, others have told me he was a top young man hoping to do voluntary work before going to university. Having lost my brother Ray in a fall at work a year last Christmas I can appreciate what his family and friends must be feeling right now. We have lost one of our own, a fellow seasonaire, and my sincere condolences go out to his family back home.

After something of that magnitude it is hard to tell you about the usual shit, but that’s what I’m here to do, so here goes…
It is also a time of injuries. Carly has broken here wrist on her first try at snowboarding, and Faith broke her coccyx learning to snowboard a couple of days back too. Typical eh?? Me and Skeek splash out on some boots for her birthday and now she can’t even snowboard for three weeks. Ungrateful bitch!!! Seriously though, get better soon girls. Especially Carly because i live with her and I need her to make me cups of tea the lazy cow.

The Skeek and moi had an epic day in our favourite powder stash round the back of 1650. We dropped into ‘The Canyon’ for first tracks again with some of the best snow I have ever ridden in my life. The top pitch in particular was perfect steep thigh deep pow. I remember throwing a hard heel side turn and looking up to see a huge ‘rooster tail’ of pow cover me completely. Happy days. It was so good we decided to hike/skin back back up to the head of the valley and take another line down once we reached the refuge. Two hard hours of breaking trail later we get to the top. We both took different lines down the completely untouched powder field and made our way back towards the trail.

Worryingly, we just got back to where we had been half an hour earlier to find the trail we made completely covered by avalanche debris, and a face close by we had considered climbing had slid too. If we had been on the trail it would have swept us into the river gully below with possibly fatal consequences. A sobering thought and a valuable lesson learned. We were moving quickly and efficiently upwards but too close together. Next time we will not be so complacent.

To add to the seriousness of the day i chatted to a couple of superb skiers i saw descending a gully on the other side of the valley. The bloke pointed up to a face the size of a football pitch that they had triggered remotely on their descent. A face they were not even skiing but adjacent to them. Fortunately both were safe and they even gave me a cup of tea while we chatted. Will and Erika from St Bon, glad you made it and thanks for the cuppa! Hope to see you again some time.

Bad news is all that board carrying and exertion has fucked my neck up again. It’s touch and go if i will make it the last few weeks of the season. I am hammering the drugs from the doc like smarties. No riding for at least a week, possibly longer… I want to make it to the end on principle, but the pain is severe and may see me missing the final run in. Either way, I shall try to return. I am pretty sure of that. If i do, i seriously think I am getting myself and ABS avalanche rucksack regardless of the cost after what i saw the other day. Stay safe brothers and sisters, and spare a thought for those like Ed who sadly don’t make it home from their season. We all come out here for fun, but the consequences of what we do are always there: just below the surface.

Ciao for Now


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