Thanks to Harry Wilson (Year 9) for his account of his experiences on this year’s ski trip to Alpe d’Huez in the French Alps:
“Dark clouds loomed over Settle as we set off on our journey to Alpe D’Huez, 10 enduring hours slowly passed by until we boarded the ferry to Calais. Once in France, another 13 hours of sleep, films and boredom elapsed as we finally reached our destination.
High in the French Alps, we adjusted to the climate and set off skiing. Hotel Vallée Blanche being 100 yards from the nearest lift meant we were very lucky. The staff at the hotel were very nice and were helpful in assisting us to find the right ski equipment. The hotel accommodation was satisfactory to a degree of minor faults, but which could be expected from a club hotel.
A typical day consisted of breakfast at 7:45, setting off up the mountain at 9ish, then free skiing until 10:45. Lessons started at 11am (and we were split into four groups according to ability) and went through to 1pm, then back to the hotel for lunch, continuing with lessons from 3 until 5pm. After a tiresome day skiing, everyone was shattered, and needed a good rest. Some of us had a quick trip around the village and then back for tea at around 7. A typical evening included either a film, ice skating, doing a quiz, or an hour at the sports hall, even if some of us were begging to go to bed rather than watch a film until 11pm!
As a whole, I found the food to be delicious, but I’m sure some may disagree with me there! A standard breakfast was on offer of croissants, eggs, yogurts, cheese and bread accompanied with a delicious glass of orange juice. Lunch would usually consist of a healthy, nutritious meal such as pasta, or pea soup. Finally, our tea involved a filling warm meal, such as stew or sausages, and a scrumptious sweet pudding like raspberry tart and crème caramel. Service at the Vallée Blanche was superb in that we weren’t waiting long for our food to be served.
The views from the mountain were spectacular, each piste offered its own unique scenery, especially from Pic Blanc, the top of the mountain, home to the famous enduring Sarenne. The skiing at Alpe D’Huez was fantastic, we had loads of pistes to choose from but from a skier’s perspective it could have done with a few more trees for a sense of adventure and not knowing what’s just around the corner! I believe those in the lower groups made a huge improvement in their techniques such as snowplough, parallel and their stance. The slopes were generally either very icy, or very powdery, therefore the pistes weren’t beginner quality meaning the lower groups were skiing impressively well in those conditions, as opposed to a resort where they wouldn’t be as challenged.
Meanwhile in the advanced group, Xavier our instructor was taking us down long, steep blacks and dragging our teachers down with us! With no hesitation, we followed him down all sorts of on piste and off piste runs. The most challenging being the Sarenne; twice in one day we battled the longest black in Europe, following with a 400m cross country ski along a flat, melting ‘slope’. Even so, it was a great to say that we’d skied it!
Harry collected these comments from other students:
Amelia F.: ‘It was a really good experience which made me more resilient.’
James H.: ‘It was a good fun and a really good experience; I learned how to ski and the activities were fun.’
Paddy C.: ‘I achieved my ambition and can now do a parallel stop.’
Dan B.: ‘Brilliant trip. The journey dragged on but we finally got there and when we did it was worth it – brilliant snow and awesome skiing.’
Victoria C.: ‘The skiing was great and the instructors were really nice. I had a great experience and wish I could go again next year!’
Rosa B.: ‘I will miss waking up to the beautiful view.’
Ben B.: ‘Skiing was really fun and I learnt a lot. The holiday staff were really fun and I can now say I cannot ice-skate!’
Francesca R.: ‘I enjoyed skiing a lot. The reps and the teachers made it enjoyable and I would definitely go again.’
Jake L.: ‘The skiing was absolutely fantastic, I would go again next week!’