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My failed winter.

I failed on the slopes again

Yep that’s right I failed again. But I fail in the same way every year and each year I promise to learn from my mistakes.

Each year I book my ski holiday or holidays if I am lucky and each time I promise myself that it is time to improve. This is the year I will get better at skiing. For too many years my ability to ski has remained the same and probably if I plotted it on a graph from year to to year we would have seen it plateau for a while. The reason lies in that ski life mirrored real life as once I was old enough to leave ski school I did and I have never been back.

This means that I have never improved and have a technique so full of flaws that I now fear a ski lesson as much as a trip to the dentist.  Which is why I have failed again this year.

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Despite promising that I would have some lessons. I didn’t. I also made other “ski resolutions” which I failed to keep.  I said to myself that this year I would hire a guide and hit the backcountry for a day. I did come close to achieving this if you count looking at the Méribel Guides website before I went on holiday.

I failed in my attempt to try the park out and see what I was missing out on. When I was younger I loved to hit the snow park. Now I stop at the the top of the park remember the thrill of “getting air” and the think about the pain it might result in. Then after those thoughts leave me, I start to pressure myself into proving that I still can do it. Psyched up I ski off towards the green kicker, I panic, swerve and ski off out of the park making out that I intended to do that all along.

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I also failed in my promise to avoid aprés ski, chalet wine and general excursions to the pub. My failure to do this probably contributed heavily to my failure all round.

But do you know what. I had a good time it was probably one of the best ski holidays I have had.

There is always next years ski holiday.


5 Essential Items You Should Take Skiing

Your ski jacket and snowboard pants have lots of pockets for a reason and it isn’t to help you warm up as you pat everyone of them looking for your lift pass in the morning. The pockets are there to keep stuff in and in many cases they are designed for specific things like your iPod, lift pass or even your keys, it also means that you can carry the essential and you won’t have to ski or board with a cumbersome bag. But what should you take with you? Here is our list of five essential things that you should pack in your pockets.

1. Water

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Many of us seem to think that we are immune to dehydration and that if we do get thirsty we can just suck on an icicle. These things simply aren’t true, eating snow can increase dehydration due to the amount of heat your body will generate to melt it. That is why we recommend carrying a bottle of water to help you stay hydrated. You can always fill it with snow and ice when it is empty and by keeping it in you pocket your body heat will naturally melt it.

2. A tool

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You can get really small tool kits for your hardware theses days, so it is worth making sure at least one person in the group has tool in their pocket (ahem). We suggest this as there is nothing worse than a loose binding half way down a slope that could have be fixed there and then. If your lucky there maybe a tool point at the next lift, but don’t count on it.

3. Sun cream

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Every 1000ft above sea level you go there is a 4% increase in the levels of UV that you are exposed to. This means that the chances of sunburn in the mountains is much greater than at the beach in Devon, also the exposed parts of your body will be in the sun for most of the day. That is why you should carry sun cream on you at all times. One thing that is even more important than having it in your pocket is applying it!

4. Fresh Socks

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This might seem a bit of a luxury item but your feet will be grateful if you get them wet and cold during the day. There is also some other practical applications for socks such as: An emergency Ice pack (just fill with snow); Gloves (your feet might not have got cold but your hands could have); Dusting (sometimes the ski lift just isn’t clean enough).

5. First Aid Kit

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You can get an small one that will fit in your pocket. You never know when someone might need first aid and if you have the kit then you get to play the hero, they might even buy you a beer in exchange for that plaster!

What do you carry in your pocket? Let us now by posting on our Facebook page.

 

 


Music to ski to

mixtapeI was looking through my wifes old CD’s and I came across this mixtape (CD) that her Ex had made. Reassuringly it must be fairly old as it is on a CD, and we all know that a portable CD player was possibly the worse thing to listen to music on when doing anything active. Misgivings about the Discman aside I decided that this Muisc To Ski To compilation deserved a chance. So I have created a Spotify playlist, imagined myself skiing in the 3 Valleys and reviewed each tracks suitability to ski to. Let me know what you think of the Album below.

Track 1: Jacksnoville by Sufjan Stevens

This tracks mellow sound and gentle beat is probably suited for an early morning stroll to get first lifts followed by a slow warm up run on a sunny day.

Track 2: No Cars Go – Arcade Fire

I can definitely imagine sweeping down a big wide piste making massive turns that really work the legs with this track playing in my head.

Track 3: Jesus etc by Wilco

This isn’t a song that really fits any style of skiing. I would probably wouldn’t ski to this one unless I was trying to get a nap in on a chair.

Track 4: Sunday Smile by Beirut

Possibly one for the transfer coach home when you have the going home blues a bit to melancholy for a fun day on the hill.

Track 5: Old Dan Tucker by Bruce Springsteen

A nice little uplifting song that could help get you going after one of those long lunch stop that makes you feel like maybe you should skip the afternoon and go straight to Apres.

Track 6: I Heard It Through The Grapevine by Marvin Gay

A classic song that doesn’t really feel like it should be on a skiing playlist, maybe listen to it in a long cat track with some internal singing!

Track 7: Chicago by Sufjan Stevens

It may be about a big city but the big sound of this track makes you feel like you could be stood on the top of a mountain with an awesome view. I also like the thought having a big stack in some fresh powder and lying there while listening to the lyrics “I’ve made a lot of mistakes”.

Track 8: Une Année Sanse Lumiere by Arcade Fire

A rough translation of this song is A year with no light which is apt as listening to this song is a bit like what it feels like to ski in flat light. It starts out a feeling a bit faster that it actually feels, then at the end speeds right up as you come down the hill into some better light.

Track 9: Lately by David Gray

You would have to really hate skiing to put this on a music to ski to mixtape (CD).

Track 10: Frontin by Jamie Cullun

Purely from a skiing point of view, this track doesn’t work! I just can’t imagine skiing to with this in my ears. It would be even worse if it was on Disckman and skipping all the way through.

Track 10: In Repair by John Mayer

A wind down song that could ease you thorough the last run of the day back to your chalet and into the hot tub.

Track 11: Nantes by Beirut

Another one for the transfer bus home.

Track 12: Young Folks by Peter Bjorn and John Bjórn

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This is a great tune to ride to. I can imagine listening to this while hooning down a freshly groomed piste and taking off on a few natural rollers while bobbing my head in-time to the music on the way!

Track 13: Let’s Get It on by Marvin Gaye

A great song. But the only time I ever envisage listening in relation to skiing is in my head during an imagined comedic scene where I get seduced by an instructor in a empty ski lift. Although I do also Imagine this to be on Graham Bell’s Music To Ski To album.

Track 14: Better Together by Jack Johnson

This is a tune for an spring ski day where it is hot, the snow is a bit slushy and all the bars are firing up the BBQs.

Track 15: Those Sweet Words by Nora Jones

Sadly, in my option, another one for the transfer bus home. This song isn’t really a song for skiing to, unless you have just broken up with you partner on your ski trip.

Track 16: Firesuite by Doves

I suppose I could ski down down a hill listening to this song but I don’t think I want to.

One line review

There really isn’t enough songs that encapsulate the feeling of skiing on this mixtape (CD) with to many down beat tracks that would work against the mood created when out in the mountains.

What are your thoughts? Could you make a better mixtape (CD)? Tell us below or leave a comment on our Facebook page.


How to tell if you are a ski geek

unnamedHow to tell if you are a ski geek.*

*nb: In this article ski can be substituted for snowboard in most instances and as the ski v’s snowboard things is getting old we are just using the word ski because a). there are more skiers, and b). ski is a shorter word than snowboard. Any real ski geek may want to dispute this, please do so in the comments below.

 

Can you remember every ski holiday you have ever been on?

A true ski geek can remember more than if they just had a good time. They should be able to remember the exact dates, who went on holiday with them, which ski resort they went to, the flight times, the exchange rate at the time and the chalets hosts name.

Do you own your own skis?

Most experienced skiers will at the very least have their own boots, which is sensible and comfortable. But the true ski nerd will have their own pair of skis, preferably two, a set for normal conditions and a wide pair for powder days. They must also own a pair of ski poles.

Can you pack everything into your ski bag?

A proud ski geek should be able to proudly inform you that they can pack all they need for a ski holiday into their ski bag, thus making a saving on excess luggage. For extra kudos they should have a story about being told off by an airline for this, with the story concluding “anyway they let me on and they said don’t do it next time”.

Do you have a second “budget” ski holiday every year?

The best ski geeks will take a second ski holiday every year. However, this trip must be so cheap that it doesn’t sound any fun. The holiday must include some of the following; a coach trip from the UK with three or more stops: hostel style accommodation; two hour commute to the slopes each day; no free wine; other ski geeks; no eating out; hitch-hiking; homemade fondu; booking every aspect online separately.

Can you name every run in resort?

For most people a simple “I will meet you at the bottom of that run yesterday next to the bar we like” is all we need to arrange to meet up. For the ski nerd you must you use the piste name as well as give a recommended route and call each lift by name.

Have you ever been on a ski holiday on your own?

If you love skiing so much that you are prepared to leave your loved ones at home so that you can ski all day where you want and apres as late as you want, not get first lifts if you don’t want, drink as much at lunch as you want, then…. errm…. why don’t we all ski alone?

Do you have a collection of lift passes?

Most ski geeks will have at least one electronic lift pass in their wallet at all times. They will also have a collection of passes from all past ski trips. Attached to their ski trousers must be at least one day ticket from a snow dome or obscure ski resort. The older skier must also be able to produce a photo id ski pass from the good old days.

Is your facebook/twitter profile a picture of you skiing?

All true ski nerds live ski all year round on their social media pages. That is until they get married, then they will change their profile to a photo of them getting married, this will last a week then it will be back to a picture of them in hat and goggles, or of them getting some air, or a snow covered mountain range.

Have you ever had an argument about which is the best ski resort?

This is similar to an argument about which football team is better, the only difference here is that they will be using examples of black runs as opposed to formation strategy.

 

Why not unleash your inner ski geek and give us a call to discuss your next ski holiday 01273 466 535 or take a look at our chalets in Meribel and La Tania.


10 reasons why Snowblading is better than Skiing and Snowboarding

10 reasons why Snowblading is better than Skiing and Snowboarding

If there was any sport that should have been recognised as an Olympic sport it is this one.  We all know that little skis are by far the superior mode of transport when on snow and it is hard to ignore the huge number of people converting to blading each year. Just take a look at  the slopes in the Three Valleys it is full of Big Feet and Mini Maxs popping 360s. Here are 10 reasons why Snowblading is better than Skiing and Snowboarding.

1. They fit in your suitcase saving you paying ski carriage fees

2. They fit in your suitcase saving you paying ski carriage fees

3. They fit in your suitcase saving you paying ski carriage fees

4. They fit in your suitcase saving you paying ski carriage fees

5. They fit in your suitcase saving you paying ski carriage fees

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6. They fit in your suitcase saving you paying ski carriage fees

7. They fit in your suitcase saving you paying ski carriage fees

8. They fit in your suitcase saving you paying ski carriage fees

9. They fit in your suitcase saving you paying ski carriage fees

10They fit in your suitcase saving you paying ski carriage fees

People who read this also read 10 reasons why skiing is better than snowboarding, probably.

By Jim Duncombe

Click here to look at all our snowblader  friendly holidays.  

 

 


10 reasons why skiing is better that snowboarding

10 reasons why skiing is better that snowboarding

Skiing V’s Snowboarding is a more divisive topic than Scotland remaining as part of the UK. The difference is that very soon one will have a resolution on the 18th of September and one will continue to be debated forever. So in the spirit of fuelling the argument here are our top 10 reasons why skiing is better than snowboarding.

1. Feeling Superior

We all know that Skiing is much harder to master than snowboarding. Our gear is more technical. Our Technique is more refined and when done correctly looks amazing. And the history and development of skiing is deeper, to the point that it has been part of several war efforts. Other than in James Bond you won’t see an armed snowboarder.

2. Lifts are designed for skis

How many times has a skier taken you out getting off a chairlift? How many times have you watched a snowboarder struggle with a button lift or T-bar? The reason is that lifts are designed for skiers.

3. Everything is named after us

Ski Holiday, Ski Resort, Après Ski, Ski Sunday, Ski School and the list goes on. With the exception of Board Park which has slowly been renamed Snow Park to make sure us skiers don’t feel alienated and our feelings are not hurt.

Meribel ski holiday

4. Most snowboarders can ski

Most people get their first taste of the mountains on skis. Vary rarely will you find someone that hasn’t skied before getting on a snowboard. Although the ones that deny this are probably lying.

5. Flat sections are easier

Oh no a flat section on a mountain, shall I get off my planks and walk? No need, I can just effortlessly glide to the next downhill.

6. No cold bums

I am always glad that I never have to get off a lift and sit down to strap my board to my boots and then have to do the something again half way down the run. It always seem like an endless battle between the boarder and the ability to remain attached to the board.

7. Off Piste

Sure snowboarders look effortlessly cool with their big gliding turns and huge spray and “cheeky” grabs when freeriding in the backcountry. The truth is that skiers can do that too, but that is too easy. What is much more satisfying is the challenge of looking technically proficient when tackling as steep powder filled incline. More turns are better. What is more is that accessing the inaccessible slopes is much easier, that is why you can now buy a snowboard that turns into skis.

8. Moguls

This isn’t an argument about who creates them, however I will say that moguls were around long before snowboarding.  My point is that they exist and can often be a barrier to a great run deal with them, oh you’re on a snowboard you can’t!

9. Faster

It isn’t all about speed. But sometimes it is. I have done a small experiment and the evidence suggest that when out with a group of skiers and boarders, the skiers spend a small amount of time waiting around for the snowboarders. The boarders often defend this slowness by claiming that they are gibing about or riding switch.

10. Better hire equipment

Your own boots are always a good idea no matter what you ride however I have never heard a snowboarder who is happy with the hire gear they have. Skis are always updated in hire shops and if you pay that little bit extra you will get some really good kit.

Are you a snowboarder? Then read our 10 reasons why snowboarding is better than skiing.

By Jim Duncombe

Click here to look at all our skier and snowboarder friendly holidays.  


10 reasons why snowboarding is better than skiing

10 reasons why snowboarding is better than skiing

Ever since the first man or woman, we haven’t researched this, strapped on a snowboard there has been a debate about which is better, skiing or snowboarding. We at Alpine Action love both sports however, that doesn’t make good reading. Here are our 10 reasons that snowboarding is better than skiing.

1. The boots

Many people think that snowboard boots are really comfy. Compared to many mid 90’s ski boot they are. However they can be just as uncomfortable as a ski boot at times.  Where they really come into their own is when you are walking around resort. Have you ever seen a snowboarder struggling to negotiate a set of stairs?

READ OUR GUIDE ON WHERE TO SNOWBOARD IN THE 3 VALLEYS

2. People think we are cool

This depends on your definition of cool. We assume that baggy clothes, bright colours and wearing a bobble hat no matter what time of the year it is means cool. If this is true then snowboarders are cool.

3. Jenny Jones

Britain’s first Olympic medal on the snow was won by a snowboarder and she achieved it in a year when the competition was tougher than ever before. Jenny Jones is a true role model for many youngsters.

4. Sitting down

It’s not because we actually need to we just like the rest.  If us snowboarders wanted to we could easily strap in quickly and get on our way. The truth is that we quite like the social chat while we eye up a jump or route.

5. Off piste is easy

Well not that easy. But in principle tackling some fresh powered is a lot less challenging than on a pair of skis. This means that even people new to the sport can get a taste of the pure enjoyment that is floating on fresh, deep snow.

READ OUR GUIDE TO OFF PISTE RIDING IN THE VALLEYS

6. No poles

Sure there are times when a set of poles would really help, such as long flat sections. But that is why we have skier mates to pull us along.  The up side is that we never loose our poles of a chair lift. It also frees up our hands for useful reasons such as eating on a lift and throwing snowballs.

7. Innovation of skiing

Without the fast development of snowboarding in the late 90’s skiing may have not been as quick to develop the technology used today. Imagine all you skiers could still be using 10ft long straight skis with rear entry boots.

8. It is a lot easier to get a bubble for just your group

It may seem that it is a big hassle to get a snowboard in the slot or even squeeze it into the lift. This is actually a tactic to ensure that the lift is taken up by just our mates.

 READ MORE : THE BEST SKI AND SNOWBOARD MOVIES TO STREAM

9. We have better computer games

Have you ever played a good skiing game? Thought not.

10. Lots of transferable skills

Once you have mastered skiing you can only use that skill for one other sport, water skiing and everyone knows that isn’t much fun. Once you have mastered snowboarding there area endless board sports to enjoy.

Are you a skier? Then read our 10 reasons why skiing is better than snowboarding.

Click here to look at all our skier and snowboarder friendly holidays.  

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Thanks for my love of skiing mum

dry slope skiing alpine action

Thanks Mum

As a family we never went on a ski holiday. My first experience of skiing was with the Scouts when we went to Plymouth dry ski slope, when I was 12, for a day. A few years later, when I was 16, I persuade my Mum to save up her hard earned money, combined with donation from grandparents, to send me on a the annual school ski trip to Bulgaria. It was so much fun, I loved all aspects of the mountains. I think I may have even snuck of with some pals to experience my first après ski!

More years passed then a friend suggested we do a ski season. My mum supported me and drove me to the interview. She even refused to help me bake the all-important interview cake. I got the job on my own merits, lesson learned. She did help me packed my bags. She didn’t wave the coach off as I departed for 6 months away from home. I wonder if she knew that I was on my way to Meribel for the first of many winters in the Alps?

Borovets skiing school trip

I don’t think I would have said yes about the ski season if my Mother hadn’t sent me on a ski trip when I was young. I have since spent 15 happy years working in the ski industry, some people even call it a career. So thanks mum for the opportunity you gave me when I was growing up to experience something that I loved and has become part of my life.

Thanks Mum.


Alpine Action Winter Olympics Live Feed

The Alpine Action Winter Olympics Live Feed


Riding the Mountains

Riding the Mountains

One thing fascinates me more than any other thing in the mountains. No it’s not how do they get the lifts up there in the first place. No, it’s not how do lifties find it comfortable to wear ski boots all day long. No, it’s not who actually buys a whistling marmot, (please leave a short description of yourself if you have). And no, it’s not how many people do buy a bar/chalet in the Alps to run after an apres ski session discussing how they could run a bar/chalet in the Alps.

Seriously, the thing that fascinates me above all the wonders that the mountains has to offer is the humble piste basher and the people that drive them tirelessly through the night creating perfect corduroy and amazing snow parks. The wonder is made stronger by their mystical appearances at night. I can not be alone in finding myself perplexed at the lowness of a star in the night sky and the speed it is moving, only to then slowly work out that it is infact Pisten Bully plowing the white fields.

snow plough

If you have pondered the existence of the Piste Basher driver as extensively as me then you may have questions such as; “do they get scared grooming back runs?”; “do they get lost?”; “do they ever get to ski on the carpet they create or are they tucked up in bed?”; “who has the better job the day drivers on the night driver?”; “what is it like in the cab, is it cold?”.

One time, in Meribel I had the opportunity to find the answer to these and many more questions. It was at a time when I was working for a company called Natives.co.uk. We had organised a Ski/Board – X event in Meribel. It started early and we had to be at the course, with our equipment, before the lifts opened. The wonderful Meribel Tourist Office helped us organise a lift.

At 6.30am at the bottom of the mountain in Meribel Mottaret we were met by a Piste Basher, we loaded up the bucket on the front with our kit and then to my delight I was invited to ride upfront in the cab. As I climbed into my seat I was grinning as if I had just spent the day riding fresh powder.

The cab is plush, warm and very comfortable. It was so warm that I sweated all the way up, in an my layers that ai had put on in preparation  for standing in the cold all day, while performing the unglamourous task of recording times. It was so warm in the cab that the driver just wore a t-shirt. The windows are massive and you get amazing views from most angles. The cab is also packed with an excessive amount of levers, buttons and technology, you have to be on top of your game to drive one of these. I have been to Diggerland and I would say that qualifies me to say that driving a Piste Basher is harder than driving a JCB.

The journey up was magical. The towns disappeared into the background and we were chugging up the empty pistes. We went up and down and at no point did I feel in danger, if anything I felt a bit more appreciation for the mountains that I frequently use for recreation. As the sun came up more of the landscape was revealed. The driver displayed his skills, as every contour change meant that he had to reposition the front scoop that normally shifts snow, but on this occasion was the carrying our boards and skis.

As this was probably never going to happen to me again I took the opportunity to ask the driver some questions that my GCES French could cope. I started by asking some easy question, where did he live? How many sisters has he got? Where is the nearest library? I then asked if this was the best job in the world? It must have been my translation but he didn’t get the question. Either that or he thought I was mocking him. He told me that it was a dangerous job but they kept the risk low. And I also found out that they don’t get lonely as they chat to one another on the CB radio, just like the old days.

If you ever get the chance to ride shotgun in a Piste Basher at dawn then I suggest you grab the chance. On that day I only did one run and that was to all the way down to Jacks Bar in Meribel center. But I have to say the lift up was the best I have ever taken.

If this has made you jealous then there are often opportunities to ride in a Piste Basher in resort either through the tourist office or local adventure companies. Ask your rep in resort to find out more.

 


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