After my one-woman tribute to the 80s on the ski slopes last winter, I swore that this year I would get new gear. If only to keep up with my husband who is fully outfitted in the latest high-tech layers, skis and boots, including a set of seal skins for going uphill. I didn’t make it to new skis but did manage to get a new pair of boots, the most challenging part of the whole operation.
Let’s just say I have a rather substantial calf. A pair of gams that call up images not of limbs so much as tree trunks, or, as one (obviously former) suitor once said: “Your leg looks like something that should be put on a spit and rotated.”
Getting a ski boot I can actually do up without cutting off all the circulation in my lower extremities is a challenge. After terrorizing two salespeople and trying on at least six different models, I finally thought we had a good fit in a Salomon. Last weekend it was time to put them to the test.
Now that the spring is upon us, the Alps offer my kind of fair-weather skiing. We decided to make a weekend of it on the Swiss side, more picturesque and less crowded than France. On Friday night we headed for Grimentz, a cute little village in the Valais region of Switzerland where I’d been once before for a work event.
The trouble began the next morning when I tried to do up the boots. Either my calves had expanded in the weeks since we left the store or the altitude was playing tricks with my brain. We somehow managed to do them up but I was feeling pins and needles by the time we got to the télécabine.
My husband instructed me to wait while he got the ski passes. He has this habit of taking charge whenever we get near a mountain. He then directed me to the gondola lift and up, up, up we went – a full twenty-minute ride to the top. What the–? I tried to catch my breath as we got off the lift but the air was a little thin. This was not what I’d had in mind. I studied the map of ski runs. Where were all the blues? And the restaurant? Hubby looked at the map and pointed out that we were on the other side of the resort, its highest point. Seemed there had been two possible ways up and we had taken the wrong one. A few choice words were exchanged but I’ll spare you having to pardon my French. I admired the view while he did a few red and black runs. We took the next cable car down.
By the time we got down to the nice blue slopes it was almost lunch time. We got in a few runs before heading for a sunny spot on a terrace where, a sausage and a large beer later, I began to enjoy myself.
The boots were still a bit tight but at least I could feel my feet. We skied several runs and enjoyed the afternoon.
The best part of the weekend was being in Grimentz. It is a picturesque mountain village built almost entirely out of wood.
Which probably explains why there’s a fire hydrant on every corner.
Unlike the French, who so often let their ski resorts turn into concrete monstrosities, this place is nothing but old wood and cobbled streets. Lots of good places to eat, too, and the Valaisans make great wine and cheese.
Stay tuned for more adventures next winter!
I’m glad you managed to get a few runs in despite the mishaps of heading for the wrong slopes. Grimentz does look very quaint. Is it purely a ski resort or is it a residential area too?
I hope after tomorrow when it’s officially Spring we start getting some real sunshine.and Winter is banned for 9 months.
xxx Huge Hugs xxx
Cheers, David. There are lots of chalets built into the mountains, accessible by small steep roads, and making it a popular place for people with second homes. It would imagine it’s lovely in summer as well. I enjoy winter and snow in small doses but like you, am ready for spring. Wishing you lots of sunshine! Bises xx
Skiing looks far to dangerous to me. I love the little village and I am sure I would prefer to stay in the village and drink hot chocolate or wine
Heartily approve of your strategy, my friend. Just need to watch the wine consumption so as to avoid falling off any ledges!
@”Unlike the French, who so often let their ski resorts turn into concrete monstrosities…” – sooo true, we did notice it in Val Thorens last summer… 😀
Oh dear, yes. Les Ménuires at 3 Vallées was my first experience of French ski resorts and one of the worst architectural examples. A lot of crumbling concrete 😦
What an adorable wee village. Hope you can still use your legs! (I only tried ski-ing once and it was cross-country…enough to put me off thus far. I thought I was going to die. No, really.) The après scene interests me far more!! I have been pondering trying downhill with our young lads in winter…mmmm…maybe I will stay tuned for more of your adventures and see what I think.
My dear Cheergerm, don’t count on me for encouragement! It’s probably worth a try if you enjoy snow and have mountains nearby but get yourself a good instructor. I actually like cross-country skiing as it’s so much lighter and easier to get around. But at least with alpine you get lifts to tow you uphill. 😉
I am a girl of larger than average calves … I was once an Olympic rower and I am happy for you to adopt that as your excuse! And my husband also takes charge at a certain altitude which frankly just makes me punchy and disagreable … well done you for enjoying what you did! xx
An Olympic rower! Wow, Osyth, I am impressed… And I’d love to blame the calves on sport but I’m afraid it’s down to the solid peasant stock of English forebears. As for enjoying the bit of skiing, I’ve learned to squeeze every bit of pleasure I can from anything involving mountains, despite the ‘punchy and disagreable’ sensation of being led!
Maybe you can get Peg out again
Good luck with that! Try enticing her with good food and wine.
Oh what a sweet fire hydrant !
I loved these, too. What a shame they stuck numbers on all the faces!
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I’m glad you mentionned ski boots. When people describe the fun they had on ski trips they always fail to mention the equipment-lugging and the fact that you are forced to walk with your shins leaning precariously forward in those boots.
And that’s always assuming the boots even fit! But you’re right – even on the best of days I find downhill skiing a lot of work. I actually prefer cross country even though it’s harder exercise. At least the equipment is lighter.