Posted by: sunshack | June 2, 2018

Pause

Sometime last year, I hit a wall. Not literally, but I found I could no longer write this Blog. I took a break, in the hope that I would feel refreshed. My break took a little longer than expected, and I’m now playing catch up with my Blogging.

I kicked off my Winter with a trip to Zermatt. Snow seems to be pretty reliable here each year, and it was possible to ski right into the village. I travelled unpackaged, after experiencing less than ideal performance and subsequent stress, caused by a mainstream UK Tour Operator early last winter. This year, I found that I was sharing my Hotel with the Ski Club of Great Britain, who were running their “Reps” training. It seemed to be a bit like Boot Camp, though I didn’t actually see anyone doing press ups.  Fortunately Zermatt is a big resort and delivered some fresh and fluffy early season Powder for me to play in.

January saw me take on my first Ski Trip to Canada. I flew Air Canada, and the seats are more cramped than Easyjet. I sat next to a guy who was unable to fit his knees down, he was simply too tall. I almost failed to make the flight, as my Visa number was wrong., even though it was the right number. Customer Services seemed to have an efficient system for fixing it. When I enquired, I was told they do the same about “100 times a day”.  I had chosen my Hotel in Whistler from a Brochure, and as it was my first visit, travelled with a mainstream Tour Operator. I arrived in Whistler at the start of Whistler Pride, and my hotel was the Headquarters with lots of late night events.  Whistler Resort is owned by Vail Resorts and seems to have problems with numbers of people using the lifts. I have not been used to big queues, in Whistler they seem hard to avoid. Queues for the lifts, toilets, food, restaurants in the town. I asked a Vancouver local, on a chairlift, if it was a Holiday, his response was, that the crowds were normal.  There are also lots of Trees, and it’s likely that you will, at some stage, find yourself wrapped around one, as I did. Aim for the spaces, it mostly works.

Still, the snow was plentiful, but on many days the Lift operators, seemed to be slow in opening up the hill. What was I expecting for CAD 150 per day? It’s true, it does rain lots in the village, bring Goretex. Whistler has a lot of terrain to offer, though I failed to access and experience some areas, as the queues were soul sapping in length. Off the hill,  the resort village is a bit scruffy in places. Never in 30 years of skiing, have I seen public toilets in a privately owned ski village so dirty.

Heading back to Vancouver city, I swear I have never seen that many tower blocks. Everywhere is high rise. The airport is well thought out and a pleasant space to wait. Probably the most calming airport I’ve ever visited.

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March saw me head off to Baqueira Beret in the Spanish Pyrenees. Another resort on my Bucket List, and I was rewarded with fresh powder, again.  The resort has a huge choice of lift served off piste, though the Avalanche Risk was high, and care and planning is needed to choose a safe slope. The main village uplift is either a Gondola, or a strange “skis off” chairlift. and my skis were too wide to fit in the pots! My low point came in satellite resort Bonaigua, when someone stole my Hestra Gloves. The Lift Office lent me a pair of gloves, from a box of abandoned gloves, to get me back to Baqueira, which was great.

April, saw me head to Chamonix. I nailed a good deal in a smart 4* hotel. Great Hotel but the behaviour of the staff was a little unusual. I was sitting on my bed and a Hotel workman marched into my room using a Keycard. No knocking or requesting permission. Apparently he wanted to repair something on the Balcony. I was somewhat surprised, and I think I was too stunned to kick him out. Room service was a bit random too. On the upside, there was a Spa with an Ice Room and free Popcorn!

The snow was surprisingly good for late season, and I managed to get some decent in bounds offpiste up at Argentiere, above Lognan.

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