Inspiration from the Alps – Off The Beaten Track

And I thought of sharing some pictures we took during our ski trip in this series of captioned photographs.

I would think the best way to express the beauty of the Alps, the skiing and snowboarding is through a poetry. But I am too much of an amateur, both in writing and in this sport to do so, thus this series.

I learned that it was not easy to lug a camera up the mountain for an amateur skier or boarder, even harder, for an amateur photographer like myself. But I was glad we managed to do it, without any serious damage.

Some of these pictures were taken using our compact Olympus Stylus 1010, others by our bulkier Canon PowerShot S5 IS. These pictures will be presented as they are, with little or no colour processing, except resizing and adding of captions.

So sit back, relax and be inspired. Hopefully.

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We discovered off pistes skiing which typically refers to any skiing a few metres away from or between controlled trails and slopes. Skiing on ungroomed and unmarked slopes.

We further learned about the many different types of skiing.

Triumph

I chickened out from the intermediate class this time for I can’t imagine calling myself an intermediate boarder when I can’t do my regular turns smoothly. Looking at all the young punks in my intermediate class did intimidate me. A LOT. I remembered how my last lesson had proven that Agility is inversely related to Age. The 10 year old in my last class was the one who needed the LEAST help and could maneuver the BEST!

I ended up with the beginner group, yet another group of young punks. In my opinion, the instructor was expecting more than beginner basics from the group. The pace was fast and as what I suspected, most of them had tried snowboarding before. And because the class was going at such a fast pace. the real beginners eventually suffered. By Day 3, 3 of the older guys in the class were out, reason for, they were too much of a beginner.

So there I was, fully decked out in my gear. Helmet, goggle, wrist guard, not because I wanted to look pro but more so to protect myself from an accidental fall. I would have seriously injured my head if not for a helmet I wore during my last trip. Icy slope plus an amateurish back edge descent was really not a good combination. In fact I looked more like a kid who would religiously wear a helmet because Daddy and Mummy said so.

I still fall but not so much on my butt. I had learned to conserve enough energy to last me through the 6 Days. My muscles still ache all over but by Day 4, I was actually feeling less exhausted. Perhaps the 9 hours drive from Paris to Flaine did drain me out, or perhaps my body had grown accustomed to the mountain air, or maybe my muscles may had gotten used to the strenuous workout. There were just too many reasons why an aging body is not at its best.

I fumbled with the t-bar lift, I gasped at the top of every daunting slope, I balked at every narrow turn, going through the steps in my head, hoping that I could make it without falling off the mountain into some deep abyss. To lean, to shift and to slow myself down. Because Flaine was situated at a higher altitude the snow was kept powdery soft despite continuous sunshine. Powdery snowy slopes were  definitely more forgiving for skiers and boarders than icy slopes.

By Day 6, I was the only girl left in the group.There could have been another 17 year old British girl if not because of a fall just a few hours before the last lesson while trying to avoid a block of snow. She hurt her back and bumped her head and decided to call it quit. I could understand her disappointment.

I heaved a huge sigh of relief when I finally reached the foot of the mountain on my last lesson. I squealed with delight and told the instructor with a straight face that I deserve a cert or some kind of medal to commemorate my achievement.

It turned out that our 1 week holiday was more of a terrifying experience than a relaxing one for me. Each time up the mountain,  I realized that I was pretty much alone, on my own even though we may be up the slope as a group. It dawned on me that I may have never gained the independence and confidence to excel in this sport. It is this, coupled with the demanding skills required that make this sport such a challenge.

I wish I could be more proficient, I wish I could worry less about falling, I wish I could snake down the slope like the girl in that hot pink ski pants, I wish I could glide and jump over humps and bumps like the little boy who went down on black with dad. My wishes may seem unrealistic but I hope it won’t be too far away.

For now, I am content to have completed the 6 day course, making down the slopes without major injuries. For this, by itself, is a triumph for me.

French Alps at Flaine

For 6 days, we skied and snowboarded
We woke up each morning at 6 plus to catch the first glimpse of sunshine creeping his
way up from behind the Alps
Engulfing the morning moon while spreading his rays and warming the snowy slopes.

Our apartment, perched at the edge of a hill, overlooking a pine forest, was a little cozy nest, for us to rest our tired body after a day of downhill charge. Simple home cooked food was our best treats at the end of the day and to refuel ourselves for another day of daring thrill.

The French Alps at Flaine was an awe inspiring view.
And to think that I had seen the best during our last ski trip in Wengen.
I was wrong.