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World Trip 2011

French Alps, January 2012

FRANCE | Wednesday, 1 February 2012 | Views [727]

After an action packed last post we feel that nothing that interesting has happened in the last month. For us the work load has softened a little (down from 70 to 50 hours a week), so we have been able to get up on the mountain a lot more, which is why we are here after all. On the work front, Danielle continues to dominate the kitchen with creative dishes for the vegetarians, dairy free, gluten free, allergy prone, and just plain fussy eaters that we continually get. I feel that I am getting better in the kitchen and feeling more comfortable. There has still been so much driving and with the continual snow fall the conditions are testing every time I get behind the wheel. Our road up to the chalet runs along a cliff and has been like an ice skating rink so it has been sketchy at times. I was exiting the car park and the back end of my 4x4 slid into the side of a parked car and scratched the paintwork. Nothing I could do, but now the Frenchy that owns it reckons that I smashed in the other side of his car as well! He wanted a couple of thousand in cash to fix the scratch. What a tripper! He’s blatantly trying to get the insurance money. I should have just drove off but my conscience got the better of me. Check the photos of the scratch on the blog.

January proved to be financially beneficial in the way of tips which were definitely well received. I even managed to save up enough to get myself a new board. It’s a Ride Berzerker for all those who are interested. We celebrated Australia day by going up the valley to Val Thorens where we found a few little powder stashes that no one had hit, before heading to the bar and downing some beers with friends. The sun was shining, the beers were flowing and it was a great day to be an Ozzie! We also managed to rent some skis for the season. We have only been out on them once but it was good fun and we will be out on the again soon on the next icy day.

We get asked all the time in the chalet about which area is better for snowboarding, Canada or The Alps. Canada definitely gets more snow but this season in the Alps has been the best for snow fall for the last ten years. On a purely snowboarding angle it’s a tough one because there are so many crazy lines around the 3 Valleys that I am amazed every time I go up the mountain. There is a lot of terrain that is above the tree line so there are ample bowls, chutes and cliffs of all heights, but that’s not to say that there isn’t scary stuff in Canada as well. The one huge advantage that Canada has is the amount of trees. White out days here in the Alps are basically wasted days because there are not many tree areas to orientate yourself, making it impossible to ride and really dangerous. I actually had a good friend that died a few years ago after he accidentally went over a cliff in white out conditions here in France. Just the other day I had to help a few tourists that were lost and couldn’t get down the mountain. Additionally, the level of safety that is maintained in the 3 Valleys resort is much lower than in Canada. There is too much terrain out here for the ski patrol to maintain so consequently a lot is really unsafe and prone to avalanches. You really have to be careful out here and never stop thinking. Danielle and I had one scary moment where we nearly went off a 15 meter cliff. The mountain started funneling us down towards the cliff edge but we managed to stop in time. I had to do a controlled fall down it, (it wasn’t that controlled) and Danielle had to unclip and hike back out. It was a sketchy situation.

From a system analysis perspective, the North American resorts have thought of everything and have a plan, and this makes for a much more efficiently run mountain. The French seem a little half assed and blasé about providing tourists with the best experience that they can get. I would also say that there are more fair weather skiers here in Europe. There are restaurants  all over the mountains, from Michelin star to modest establishments complete with sun soaked decks and exorbitant prices. I'm sure that by the afternoon half the tourists are skiing down the mountain half cut on French Vino. Canadian resorts are more about the skiing and attacking the mountain and less about cruising the pistes. So at the moment Canada is in front but it’s not even half way through the season yet so we will see at the end.

Make sure to check out our snowboarding video!

Tags: 3 valleys, france, snowboarding

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