Europe | Skiing

I have been skiing since I have 5 years old and have been to a lot of different resorts, mainly in the French Alps. Every year for as long as I can remember my family and close family friends, the Grants, would go to a chosen destination for a week at a time, once a year. One skiing holiday can very easily look like any other skiing holiday to be honest, but over the more recent years I have taken some friends with me and captured more photos which makes it easier to remember. 

 

From 2003 until 2013 my family co-owned a chalet in a small town in the French Alps called Les Gets. The chalet (“Tintin”) would act as our primary ski holiday location for most of these years until unfortunately we had to sell. Over the early I took lessons and soon became pretty confident. As we visited Les Gets annually our families soon gave us freedom to go off in groups and explore. I knew the area pretty well and was actually just planning a New Years party in the chalet around the time we sold it.

 

So from 2013 we have ventured, with the Grants, into unknown territory for our annual ski holiday. Our two families together makes 10 people, therefore the places we were renting often had spare beds as they were quite large. So, in the years of 2014, 2015 & 2016 I was able to take a friend for some more independent adventures. 

 

As I can’t remember exactly what happened on each holiday here’s a list of the locations I have been, the years visited and any memorable information about that holiday in order of appearance:

 

Alpe D’Huez

1999

Clearly I cannot remember this as I was 5, but this is when I learned to ski for the first time.

2011

I returned to Alpe D’Huez as part of a school trip for a week. Myself and the more experienced skiers got off-piste lessons which were actually very beneficial as this is what I love to do the most now. There was a night of absolute carnage when a teacher had to go to hospital so we all went to the bar and got carried away. Most of us were 14-16 so yeah, school weren’t happy. 

 

Valmorel

2002 – I remember nothing.

 

Les Gets

2003 – 2013

This is where I learned almost everything I know about skiing and hope to one day return, even if it would be extremely strange not to stay in Tintin. I don’t think i’ll ever forget my way around the wee town.

From Les Gets you can access slopes in all of the Portes Du Soleil and each year we usually spent atleast one or two days going far away via cable cars/long chair lifts to places like Avoriaz. The skiing in this area was amazing, even in March which is usually when we went, because Avoriaz is a lot higher up than Les Gets. Skiing in Les Gets in the later weeks of March could result in frustration. 

 

From Avoriaz you have the opportunity to test yourself on “one of the hardest ski runs in the world” – The Swiss Wall or “La Chavanette”. They call it a “black diamond” run which I’m not sure is an official term but it just means it’s a lot harder than a standard black. It’s a really good challenge, starting from the top in France and ending up in Switzerland 200m later at the bottom. It is a short but dangerous slope and actually says “Experts Only” at the top which is a bit milked.

From the start, all you can see are three 7ft moguls and you have to choose one of the 2 alleyways that they create. From here it is imperative not to stop because, as I found out when I first did The Wall, if you hesitate then you will probably stop and panic. Once you make your first turn it’s just like a very steep black run but the idea of it is daunting and there are some big ass moguls! 

 

I have skied The Wall many times as it is a good physical challenge if you get bored of normal blacks. If you want to go that direction but don’t want to face The Wall then they allow people to take the chairlift down. 

 

Tignes

New Year 2007/08

Even though we still had Tintin at this point, we decided to go somewhere a little different for New Year, this time with an even larger group! All I can really remember from this trip is that it was EXTREMELY busy on and off the slopes. We also had a ski-in/ski-out chalet so none of that tedious walking with your skis when you were done for the day! 

 

Verbier, Switzerland

In 2013 I went on a skiing holiday and this time it was just us Lilley’s, not Grants. Verbier is a small village in Switzerland and we stayed here for a week as a result of not having Tintin anymore. Our chalet was nice however we had strange group dinners each night in the dining room. All the people would share 10 man tables and talk so every night I was asked the same questions about my life and what classes I was taking in school. It became so irritating about 3 days in. 

My brother got a throat infection on this holiday and we met up with the Ward’s for a day of skiing together. 

 

I remember whilst in the chairlift with mum I saw something I’d never seen before; an upside down, sparkling rainbow. It was very strange and I only have one photo of it but I don’t know where it is! 

 

Here we located another “Black diamond” run called “Tortin”.

 

Les Menuires (Les Trois Valleeys)

 

In 2015, Adam came as my plus one. We went to Les Menuires which is part of Les 3 valleys. Our chalet had an insane view from the living room window, looking past the hot tub over to beautiful white mountains. We had chalet hosts this time, which meant the usual cooks (mum/Susan) could relax and drink gin. It was a bit weird to be honest because the young couple would just be there most of the time that we were. They would be cooking or cleaning up but you always got the sense that they were listening to our conversations, it was just a bit weird really. But the food was nice and so were they. 

 

One day Adam and I stayed at a bar on the slopes for a cheeky apres-ski. When we finished it was dark and we had to ski down at nighttime which was a first but pretty funny. We passed piste-bashers on the way down and that’s when you know that it’s pretty late to be skiing! 

 

Andrew dislocated his shoulder whilst sledging so he didn’t have a great time. 

 

 

La Tania (Les Trois Valleeys)

 

In 2015, Chris came along with us. Our chalet was awesome this time, featuring about 7 bedrooms and a hot tub. Julie Morrison’s friend had a nasty fall and broke her leg.

 

From La Tania you have access to all of resorts in The 3 Valleys including Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens.

 

Flaine

In 2016 we went to Flaine and this time I took Jenny with me. She had a lot of experience skiing which was a perk. In total I think there was about 16 of us as this year everyone seemed to have a plus one this year. Iona had Nathan, I had Jenny and Lauren Morrison had Ian.. 

 

We all stayed in 2-3 bedroom apartments a few doors down from one another. 

We played spoons which got very violent, went out for drinks with Iona and Nathan and one night me and Jenny went to a club/bar that had a sick DJ playing. I discovered a heap of new tunes from him. VERY expensive drinks though. 

 

On the skiing side of things I can’t really remember too much to be honest. We could ski in and out of the hotel and it was a nice slow slope down to the main lifts. The snow was really good here and the sun was always shining. One time there was a bit of confusion as I skies ahead of Jenny and then waited for about 20 minutes for her to turn up. She never did and I got worried so I phones my mum who was where we were heading and she told me Jenny was sitting there with some hot wine with everyone else. Meanwhile I was standing in the middle of an empty slope wondering if she had fallen or something. This was probably the only time I can remember that I have actually been really angry at her. It’s funny now, but man was I annoyed. 

Galtur, Austria

Read about my adventures in Galtur here

© James Lilley 2018