Off-piste or piste off?

Yesterday, I was travelling through the snow in beautiful Switzerland once more, returning from the ski resort of Verbier to Geneva airport. The snow was so heavy that some regional trains weren’t working for once, but the pragmatic Swiss laid on extra buses so tourists could make connections with the Intercity trains.

Travelling through Switzerland in the snow

It’s a tale of two holidays. I spent the weekend 13-16th in the lovely Swiss town of Martigny with the Frankfurt International Ski Club. We were bussed into Verbier for skiing every day, but as ever it was the social aspect of the club that stood out (see previous post below). It’s hard to beat staying in a posh hotel with thirty friends from Germany, Britain, the US and other countries, with multiple languages over dinner & drinks every evening. Best of all, the hotel bar happened to be the town hotspot, so we  got to meet plenty of the local Swiss French …

Tooling up before the downhill

The rest of the club returned to Frankfurt on Monday, while yours truly decamped to Verbier village (this week is the midterm holiday for teachers). What a contrast! Verbier is picture postcard pretty but almost entirely anglicised. A huge number of British tourists, and nothing but English spoken in the bars and restaurants. Quite a disappointing village socially, full of young Brits on the piss…

Choclate box -pretty Verbier village

On the other hand, the skiing was fabulous. The Ski Club of Great Britain have a ski rep in Verbier, a service that is very useful for dedicated skiers. Essentially, members are guided around the mountain by an advanced skier who knows the resort well, both in terms of challenging runs and where best to have lunch! It’s also a great way of meeting other skiers of the same level. All week, we got a superb tour of the mountain – plenty of difficult skiing, mostly slightly off-piste, but never too far from the main lifts and pistes…

The only snag was the day we took a tour with a mountain guide. As so often, the guide justified the expense by doing a bit more than we really needed (I sometimes think these guys are so incredibly fit they can’t relate to the rest of us). I’ll ski most things, but I get fed up trudging up steep ridges at high altitude with skis, transciever, probe and shovel on my back, gasping for oxygen at 3000m – all for a few minutes of deep powder. I just don’t have the fitness any more. Basically, I end up more piste off than off-piste!

All in all, it was a great trip in one of my favourite countries. Now it’s back to rainy, monolingual Ireland and endless meetings about cutbacks in college. Sigh. Maybe I should look for a job in CERN…


Filed under Skiing

5 responses to “Off-piste or piste off?

  1. Martin

    Am off to Chamonix on Thursday hoping to have some good conditions like the above :D

    Glad to see you had a good time except for your brief piste off moments ;)

  2. cormac

    Next week will be perfect- the snow is really good, and the crowds will be gone!

  3. dvd

    mein gott cormac how long have you been ‘speaking in tongues’?..does one lie upon one’s back to perform such an act of abasement perhaps a charismatic lolling of the tongue and some reassuring gurgling?..mayhap you should seek succour within the confines of this isle of saints and scholars where we have long since mastered the art of speaking from both sides of the mean feat!.beshrew me cormac you may find it more tasking than quaffing a bottle of finest red in the heartland of soon to be out of business swiss banks..anonymity
    can no longer be guaranteed.!.obama et al in hot pursuit of even hotter piste indeed!

  4. cormac

    Yes, I wonder what will happen to dear little Switzerland if the banking sector continues to implode…it’s a fairly major part of their economy.

  5. geneva switzerland