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World Trip 2011

French Alps, April 2012

FRANCE | Wednesday, 2 May 2012 | Views [674]

So our season in the Alps was finally coming to an end.  There were times that we thought it was never going to, and then all of a sudden there were only a few weeks to go.  We tried hard to get out of the 3 Valleys area and managed a few day trips to keep things interesting. We spent a foggy day in Chamonix/Mont Blanc, and a beautiful powder day in Val D’Isere with Karen and Joeri. With only one day at each mountain, you can only get a taste. Chamonix is very Whistler-esque, with an extreme sport feel to it. It is in the valley below Mont Blanc which is the highest peak in Europe at 4810 meters. The gondolas extend into the heavens from the valley floor at extremes angles, disappearing into the clouds. We were used to seeing big mountains by now but Chamonix still had the ‘wow’ factor of a huge mountain. Val D’Isere has a beautiful and purpose built village, which is situated at the meeting point of multiple valleys. We had fresh snow so the terrain up in the higher altitudes was about 30cm deep and the glacier region provided a few fresh tracks. We would go back again one day if we can. Upon returning to our chalet after our day trip to Val D’Isere, we had a closing party of our own and took advantage of the hot tub for the first time this season, with no guests around.  Joeri, Karen, and Luna joined us and we spent hours in the tub just talking, laughing, drinking and eating.  Fabulous! We then headed to the neighbours for their closing of season shindig and toasted a great season with some beers. 

In our final week at the chalet during our endless list of cleaning responsibilities, we did manage to go out!!!! I know, that was a huge feat but we had a fun night at the Piano Bar where some awards were presented to the saisonnieres.  We celebrated a birthday in La Rochette, that ended with fighting in the street (those darn French people), and enjoyed our chalet, our workplace and home for the first time all season without any guests to bother us.  It was well worth the wait although I can honestly say I don’t think we will ever be back at Chalet Chardon Bleu. Happily, on our last day riding we had fresh powder and the fog parted so we could enjoy some clean lines in one of our favourite areas at Val Thorens.  Awesome!  With so few tourists remaining, it was an epic way to end the season.

To summarize the season, the 3 Valleys is an absolutely epic area to snowboard in. The terrain is vast and varied with something for everyone. We had one of the best seasons for snow fall in recorded history, and we definitely took advantage of all the powder days. We had a combined total of over 500 000 vertical meters descended, 1000 lifts and 100 days on the mountain. So there is no doubt that when we were on the mountain, we were happy. But, the work sucked. It was relentless. 6 days a week, living and working at the chalet and being located away from the main town meant that socializing on our terms was difficult. One major gripe was the lack of money. We really struggled for tips and we were denied an end of season bonus. I emailed the owner to inquire why, seeing that we continually got 5 star reviews and saw twice the amount of guests than any other chalet in our area. He didn’t even email a reply, nothing. That's the reality. We were disposable workers, so I realized half way through the season that you just have to get what you can out of it and ride hard when you’re on the mountain. We definitely needed each other to lean on throughout the season. I don’t know if I would do it again, but snowboarding is just so damn good, who knows...

Now, off to Italy!

Tags: 3 valleys, chalet work sucks, chamonix, mont blonc, val d isere

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