Despite snow holding a magical place in my heart, I’ve only ever been skiing once in my life – to Kitzbuhel, Austria in February of 2005.
Looking back on the holiday now I can see so much to laugh about, things that at the time were not so enjoyable. One memory that’s impossible to erase is that of the ski instructors, who mistaking our three dry-ski lessons for 3 years of skiing experience, took my brother and I straight off up the mountain only to realise that we could barely stand upright on real snow (which is a lot slipperier than the wet carpet on a dry ski slope!). My mum was having a similarly unpleasant experience in her group who actually abandoned her with no money or phone signal in the middle of nowhere and went on without her. My brother and I were taken down the mountain in shame and relegated to the kids club with toddlers taking turns to go up a little conveyor belt and back down a non-existent ramp.
It’s safe to say that after our first day of skiing we were all about ready to head home with the only person seemingly enjoying himself being my dad who’d incidentally been the only one not skiing and instead had spent the day in an Austrian tavern.
Not all experiences are going to be good experiences, but bad experiences do allow you to reflect on your mistakes, grow and learn from them and then impart your new found wisdom on others so that they can avoid making the same mistakes.
Apart from that first day the rest of the holiday was actually very enjoyable, we found our feet (quite literally) and by the end of the week were skiing down the same routes we’d previously had to be rescued from.
But if we went skiing again there are the few things we’d do differently:
Invest in some proper gear
There’s a fine line between being that guy with all the gear and no idea and the other guy who’s freezing cold and soaked because it turns out his £9.99 jacket from eBay is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. You want to find that comfortable spot in the middle. When we went skiing we had no idea what to expect and as a result, I felt we were a little unprepared. It’s the little things that can make or break your trip like having warm, thick ski-socks and gloves that allow you to actually pick things up. Next time I most definitely will be investing in some quality base-layers to wick away the sweat and keep me warm and dry. It’s surprising how hot and sweaty you get when skiing, even when the air temperature is so cold, having clothing that breathes to keep you dry is a must. Another thing I’d invest in would be some gloves with fingers so that I actually have use of my hands. Thanks to the internet ski wear is now widely accessible online and you can find it at retailers such as Simply Hike, who stock everything from salopettes to socks from all the leading brands.
Start from the bottom
As mentioned at the beginning of this post it turns out that being able to go down ‘the big slope’ on a dry ski run does not make you any good at real skiing. To say snow is slippery makes me sound like an idiot but it really is compared to dry-ski surfaces. If it’s your first time skiing I would make this very apparent, maybe even book in a couple of hours of one-to-one lessons before trying to join a group and definitely, most definitely, don’t say you’ve skied 3 times before and fail to mention it was on a wet carpet in England for about half an hour.
Try other sports
I only tried skiing on our last trip to the snow and wish I’d made the most of the experience and tried a few other snow sports. If it’s your first time on the snow and you haven’t found your calling yet then try out as many activities as possible, you may find the one you love isn’t the one you expected. When I go back I definitely want to try snowboarding though the thought of having both my feet strapped to one rigid board does terrify me a little… and I also want to go snowmobiling and maybe even ice-skating! Lifes about trying as many different experiences as possible, so get out there and just do it.
Despite these images being taken 13 years ago, the scenery is still absolutely stunning to look back on today and I’ve definitely been googling a few snow-breaks as a result of writing this post. For now though, I’ll leave you with a picture of me aged 10 thinking I looked cooler than a cucumber.