What can replace the ski holiday?
For the sake of this blog I am going to declare that there are two types of skiers. This may prove controversial and I look forward to your comments that prove me wrong and make me feel silly. The two varieties that I am about to identify are based in the UK and have a regular job and home life. Type One is the casual skier and Type Two is the extreme skier.
Type One goes on a wonderful ski holiday, enjoys the mountains, takes pleasure in the company of the people they are holidaying with and indulge in food and drink. Most importantly they don’t consider skiing as an extreme sport. They may ski some challenging runs, occasionally venture off piste but not much and while they enjoy the thrill of a speedy decent they have little desire to be airborne, unless it is on the in or out bound journey.
Type Two will catch first lifts and ride until the lifts close. They will have plans to hike, build, race, jump, drop and even fly. They will probably like to party as well. They see a ski holiday as a way to get an adrenalin injection and will always look to push themselves hard. You will probably not find them having a long lunch or discussing ski fashion over a Chocolat Chaud.
But what do these skiers get up to when they holiday that doesn’t involve catered chalets, snow and mountains. Well, Type One will probably be happy with lovely holidays to hot destinations, you know, like the sort of holiday that people who haven’t been on a ski holiday go on. Type Two will demand a lot more from their holiday. I doubt very much they would be happy sitting on a beach with the latest Jilly Cooper novel.
When I was young I was a Type Two snowboarder, so when not on a ski holiday or indeed working in the Alps, I was always looking for a better or equal rush. Surfing was a great alternative, in fact it was surfing that lead me to snowboarding. I preferred snowboarding and my surfing got put to one side. Why not do both, they are opposite ends of the seasons so are perfect bedfellows. Well many people do. And the rush of catching a perfect wave easily compares to carving down that fresh powder field and nailing that trick in the park has the same feeling of satisfaction as perfecting a move on your surfboard. I may as well clump skateboarding into this paragraph, and just say I don’t get it, I have tried, but me and concrete just don’t get on.
So what other holiday options are there for me? I could go on a golfing holiday. Golf is not an extreme sport. But there is an interesting parallel and while it may not compare to the adrenaline rush of bouncing through a meter of powder, it is a sport that attracts the extreme sport enthusiast. The link is chasing perfection. Like in skiing, snowboarding and surfing you are always looking for that perfect run, that perfect day, the perfect wave. Even when you find it you think that was great but there will be a better one. This is the same with golf. While it is a competition there is a solo spirit to it, always looking to improve yourself, looking for the perfect shot or round. And when it comes, you always just want one more hole-in-one.
Climbing is another sport and holiday activity that I have become partial too. This sport has all the same as above and one thing golf doesn’t have. Jeopardy, part of an extremes sports appeal is danger. So unless you are partial to playing golf during lightening storms you won’t get that feeling. Climbing, is controlled safety and you can push your limits endlessly, from the tough route at the indoor centre to some exciting outdoor climbs. One of my favourite type of climbing holiday is the costal one. North Devon high steep cliffs are great for this and I try to go on a climbing week at least every two years, and like skiing the scenery adds to the enjoyment of the activity.
There are there options that I have dabbled with. I have been on sailing holidays, motorbike weekends, kite surfing holidays, potholing trips and mountain biking vacations, but none seem to fulfil me the way a holiday in the wintery Alps does. I still have a lot to try, I could look at some sort of flying week, or I could try scuba diving, then there is also a wakeboarding residential that I quite fancy. So many extreme sports out there, but will I ever replace the annual winter trip? I doubt it.