Once upon a time, a small band of hardened nutcases drove (usually) or ski-trained (once, I think), or even, latterly, flew, once a year, to the winter playgrounds of the Alps. Everything was organised to accommodate maximum time on the pistes – 8 days skiing minimum; first lift in the morning; last lift in the evening to the highest possible station. Après ski wasn’t part of the deal. The aim was an Everest’s worth of descent every day. Single-minded stuff: ski, ski, ski.
Now, for me at least, priorities changed several years ago. You might be able to guess why! The last time I went skiing, A was a toddler, B was on the way and S was just the proverbial glint. This is all fine, but when the rest of the boys come back from their annual trip, you could maybe forgive me a slight pang of jealousy. (Well, okay, a period of deep green, unbridled envy). Not so this year – we’ve been skiing!
It was a bit different from Mottaret: we did almost all of our skiing at Ghöch. Mottaret, part of the Three Valleys has hundreds of kilometres of pistes, Ghöch, similarly has hundreds of metres of piste. Well, with one lift and one run shut, as it was that week due to a shortage of snow, leaving…one lift and one run…, maybe a hundred metres, but probably not.
But, as it transpired, this was the perfect place for the kids to learn. The people operating the lift couldn’t have been more friendly and accommodating, although they were a bit non-plussed to have tourists visiting. (“So, why did you come here?”). The sun frequently shone (and when it didn’t, the local swimming-pools were almost equally entertaining), we enjoyed our piste-side meals (picnics), and we managed to squeeze in a little sledging, snowman building, snow-angel making etc. The slope was gentle and wide, the other skiers more children learning and their parents and the queues for the lift were always short. (And if you were little, you were often rewarded with a sweet whilst queuing.)
All this was possible due to the hospitality of my brother and his family, who live in nearby Wetzikon. That’s him doing the ‘I’m a little teapot’ pose in the photo above. As well as putting us up, he was principal chef, and our ski instructor for the week.
When the kids were all feeling more confident, we did branch out for a day trip to Arvenbüel. The weather wasn’t great, but there was a longer lift (a T bar – which did cause some difficulties) with a run down either side.
Incidentally, the photos here were all taken by TBH, which is why she doesn’t feature in any of them, except this one….
…if you look closely. She won a prize for this one – in the Village Show. Fifty pence I think. She’s probably saving it to put it towards our next ski trip.
With the option of Arvenbüel or Ghöch for our last day, our kids unanimously chose Ghöch. S was put-off by the T-bar at Arvenbüel (it was never his fault he fell off it apparently, his companion always pushed him off, whoever that was – I went on it with him, longest 5 minutes of my life, he skied every which way but the way we were going, sometimes two directions at once, one with each ski). A wanted to go back to brave the wee jump which the boys had been enjoying most of the week….
After the vagaries of the T-bar, the boys were affecting a very nonchalant approach to the simple drag at Ghöch.
A final view of the mountains…..
It wasn’t just our kids who learned to ski that week; their aunt, my sister-in-law, having lived in Switzerland for 7 years without being tempted to try downhill skiing, joined us on the nursery slopes, stuck to it with admirable determination , and was skiing confidently by the end of the week.
The kids, needless to say, are hooked. I just need to get them to work on their mum when we plan next years’ holidays. Hmmmm, how many organs will I need to sell to finance a week in Mottaret?