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Hello from Val Thorens

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hello from Val Thorens.

Arrived safe and sound in Val Thorens yesterday, so thought I’d make my first report of the season. I’m composing this at 6am local time, I must be suffering from jet lag I think (not possible after a drive I hear you say, you’ve not had a lift from Topsmoke I reply!). Can’t believe I’m awake to be honest; Wednesday night I only got about 4½ hours sleep, waking at 7am on Thursday morning too excited to go back to sleep, and I didn’t go to bed at all Thursday, just dozed very occasionally on the drive down. I thought I’d be unconsciously after 4 pints last night, but woke up at 5.30am!

Anyway, I digress, I should backtrack a little and fill in a few blanks. Just in case there is anyone who doesn’t know, I decided to do a season at the tender young age of 41, having only skied two weeks! I got the bug on my first trip 2 seasons ago when, along with 7 friends, I went to Courchevel for a week. Little did I, or they for that matter, know what I was letting myself in for. By the end of the week I was completely hooked, despite a less than brilliant start, but that’s another story. So, following a trip to Alpe d’Huez in January and some more months in a job I wasn’t enjoying, a season seemed the logical conclusion when I finally handed my notice in.

Having made the decision to do the season, and to postpone getting back on the employment treadmill till May, I then had to work out where I wanted to end up. I had ruled out the idea of working for a TO, mainly because I wasn’t sure I would fit in well sharing a room with 2 or 3 eighteen year olds in my dotage, so thought I would travel independently, and maybe, if it didn’t encroach on my time on the hill too much, get a job when I got here. Which brings us to “here”; after much soul searching and advice from fellow snowHeads, I chose Val Thorens, largely due to the fantastic range of skiing available within Les Trois Vallees. Seasonal accommodation wasn’t that easy to arrange, but I finally got something sorted; a one bed apartment, sleeping 5 at a push, with a south facing balcony looking out over the , ski in ski out, with a ski shop and more importantly a supermarket in the same building for getting croissants in my socks! I was sold.

The last few days have been a bit hectic, trying to get all my clothes washed and dried, doing last minute shopping, and then finally packing. Having decided I wanted to be reasonably comfortable down here, I couldn’t face the hassle or excess baggage charges of Easyjet, so I kept my eyes peeled in the car sharing threads on Natives. One appeared a few weeks ago to travel down on the 7th December, at the same time as a thread here did for someone looking for a place to stay In Val Thorens from 7th December. Sherlock Holmes here deduced they were from the same guy (the fact that he had the same forum name on both sites helped a little!) and so I made contact, suggesting I could help him out on both counts.

So, knowing I had a fair bit of space available, I wasn’t being too organised in my attempts to pack, but I did more or less have everything sorted until a mate decided to drive all the way across Bristol and back to get the speakers (Logitech X-230, as recommended here!) that I had previously not managed to find in stock on my earlier shopping expeditions (what a star!). This led to a hasty attempted repacking on my return from the pub and yet more farewell beers, and resulted in a holdall that refused to zip shut and threatened to spew forth its contents every time I tried to move it.

Cue the chauffeur! At this point, about 00.45, Topsmoke arrived. Deciding I only had to get the offending piece of luggage to the car and then to the apartment, I risked leaving it unzipped and must have made a great first impression on Mark, inelegantly wielding an enormous flapping piece of luggage as I thrust my hand out to shake his. What he didn’t know was that earlier in the pub a couple of friends had expressed amazement that I was accepting a lift, and sharing my apartment, with a total stranger I had only “met” though the internet. Having already been to the PSB, I wasn’t worried in the slightest (thinking about that, surely I should have been even more worried!!!), but my friends had constantly referred to my travelling companion as “the mad axe murderer”, so I was smiling as much from relief as from embarrassment about my lack of packing skills as I shook his hand.

I managed to almost fill the entire back seat with my inaccurately named “holdall“, my suitcase, boot bag, laptop and rucksack, and the Sainsburys carrier bag that I hastily threw a few extra bits into as I scrabbled round checking I hadn’t forgotten anything. And we were off. We made great time, despite a diversion because the M25 was shut for a bit, and arrived in Dover at just after 4am, for the ferry at 4.45 (note to George 1, the first time should be earlier than the second!), only to discover that the ferry had been put back to 5.15 due to the inclement weather. Unfortunately the ferry hadn’t even appeared by 5.15, and it was about 6.20 before we rolled out of port. A quick tour of the main deck enabled Mark to locate prime kipping position on a long seat in the bar area, what he hadn’t anticipated was the unsecured door to the main deck just behind him that slammed rhythmically open and shut as we were tossed about by the elements once we left the safety of the port.

It was not a crossing for the faint hearted, or the weak stomached for that matter, but we arrived safe and sound in Calais and were off the boat and on our way by about 8.15.

And that’s all for now; if you’ve read this far, I hope I haven’t bored you too much, and if you haven’t, then I obviously must have. Will try to post more in due course, but time to get up and get things sorted now, especially as it was snowing hard last night and I can’t wait to look out the window!


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Sat 8-12-07 21:11; edited 1 time in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
johnnyboy, good story so far, looking forward to the next installment! Will you still be out there for the EoSb?
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
johnnyboy, I hope you have a great season. As you know, I did my first there at the tender age of 45, and had a great time. Which building are you staying in?
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RachelQ, they are currently in the bar........................next instalment maybe a while snowHead
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
johnnyboy nice report, hope to meet for a beer and/or ski over the next few weeks - please leave some fresh powder for us to enjoy next weekend Very Happy
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You'll need to Register first of course.
You're a trooper. Funny, my friends think I might be spending some time with an axe murderer soon too. Wink I'm not worried though.
Great first installment. Good luck settling in.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
RachelQ, yes, should be out here till the start of May

Alastair, Temple du Soleil (one of the P & V) properties in the bottom of the resort. Technically on reception level roadside, but am on the 8th floor overlooking the piste. Anyone would think it had been built on a mountain. Laughing Laughing Laughing

Smokin Joe, next instalment proper in a day or so; Topsmoke has nicked the mains supply so I'm battery only.

Roger C, More is forecast! Catch you when you're here.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Sorry Roger iv'e been a bit greedy today and tracked a lot of it wink


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Sat 8-12-07 22:13; edited 1 time in total
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
johnnyboy, Keep posting. Very interesting. snowHead
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johnnyboy, best of luck out there - can't wait to hear your story as the season gets going. Have to admire you at your age doing this - 41 must be the new 18. I presume that you don't have any UK based commitments (wife, children, house, mortgage?). Do you think it will be easy to come back (I know you've just got there!!) and pick up your life once the season is done?
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Excellent, another snowHead installed into a ski resort for the season - and this one's got space for 3 more at a push wink
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
johnnyboy,

Excellent. Look forward to following this thread.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Quote:

Have to admire you at your age doing this
Oh, come off it, he's in the prime of life. Enjoying the story johnnyboy, stick with it. snowHead We want to hear the downs and the ups.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
johnnyboy, a great first instalment snowHead Looking forward to the next!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
johnnyboy, great to hear that you're safely installed and lokking forward to reading more (and seeing you at the EOSB).
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
johnnyboy, Well done to follow ones dreams are fantastic. Looking forward to next installment, have fun!!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Excellent read, keep 'em coming. Make sure we know what you end up doing for work, I'll be out there in Jan (also at Temps de Soleil) so need to know where to go to get free beer/piza/ski hire... wink
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
johnnyboy, glad to hear you had a good trip, and I guess we just ended up hoping that the ferry was going to be delayed.
unfortunately not in our case.
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johnnyboy, i hope you will keep a note of the actual cost of your season as this would be of interest to others who are thinking of a season.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
johnnyboy, Glad you got there safely - have fun - I know you will! Very Happy
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Nice one johnnyboy, I warn you that you may get bitten by the lifestyle and your first season might not be the last. Toofy Grin Toofy Grin
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
hels_t wrote:
Nice one johnnyboy, I warn you that you may get bitten by the lifestyle and your first season might not be the last. Toofy Grin Toofy Grin


Toofy Grin Toofy Grin Toofy Grin but it could also turn you to the darkside Shocked
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
johnnyh wrote:
johnnyboy Have to admire you at your age doing this - 41 must be the new 18.


Really nice to read your story so far! Looking forward to hearing more details.

(I have been thinking of doing a season too--maybe in 2008--and I could be your mum--agewise!)
Very Happy
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
I hope you manage to avoid the antics of the Varsity ski trip in Val Tho at the moment!
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johnnyboy, Keep the news coming! Think you've got lots of snow and more coming. I'm in VT in 6 weeks so may see you then. Very Happy
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
So, onto the marvellous French road network, with only in the region of 800km to go! In England such a trip would be filled with worry about hitting various blackspots and roadworks and the like, but it was nowhere near such a daunting prospect once we had crossed the channel. Mark has driven down to the 3 valleys a number of times, preferring the freedom that provides to the baggage restrictions and transfer hassles that flying can entail. Fortunately it is a pretty straight forward route, not requiring any navigational duties from me as, I must admit, I did doze off a couple of times. Mark had done the sensible thing and got a few hours sleep before setting off, just as well really as the consequences of a nap from him would have been rather more severe! I was also getting regular texts from friends to check on my progress, my responses to which always ended with “still alive” to allay their “mad axe murderer" fears.

We made really good time, only stopping a couple of times to stretch our legs and grab a quick bite from the provisions Mrs Topsmoke had generously seen fit to provide. Soon, Reims, Troyes and Dijon lay behind us and once we skirted to the east of Lyon we were heading east towards Chambery, the mountains and the white gold. Chambery came and went, the skies grew darker and the mountains whiter as we made for Albertville and the valley up to Moutiers. On a holiday of any other sort the sight of such dark clouds all around us would have been cause for gloom and despondency, but Mark and I just kept grinning like Cheshire cats at the thought of what would be falling from them at our destination.

We reached Moutiers by just after 4pm, and stopped for provisions; well, by provisions I mean beer. They would have the less important stuff in the resort, surely, but you just can’t take chances with the essentials. Perhaps it’s just as well we limited our shopping as Mark’s car had developed a reluctance to open any door other than the driver’s, which had meant I had already clambered across to the passenger seat after an earlier stop. I think perhaps the car had taken an instant dislike to me from the very moment my unsecured holdall had been plonked on its rear seat; the prospect of my boxers being thrown about its interior should Mark make an injudicious manoeuvre was probably too much for its sensibilities and it was doing its utmost to keep me from getting back in. We somehow managed to cram 3 cases of beer into the car, I clambered back across and off we set.

We pulled into a petrol station, and the car now really was unhappy; I had defeated it again with inelegant entry through the driver’s door, but it had a trump to play. It refused to open the flap for the fuel tank, which was on the same switch as the unopenable doors. Advantage car! Ten minutes of fiddling with the key and the button in the car yielded nothing except an irate driver behind us waiting to use the pump. As we had enough to get up the hill, Mark decided to concede defeat in this battle as long as the war could be won, so we set off for Val Thorens. However, the car must have been warming to me, because a couple of gentle caresses of the button in the car resulted in an unlocking of the doors and the fuel flap, so it was a quick u-turn and back to the same petrol station, much to the bemusement of the poor lady working there. Bloody English. Déjà vu all over again, we headed back up the road to Val Thorens, with the temperature dropping and the roadside snow, and our excitement, increasing.

Our first port of call was in Les Menuires. Mark has an instructor friend there, and so we stopped for a chat so they could work out a plan of action for their skiing this week. Paul was enthusiastic about the snow that had already fallen this season, and said that more was forecast that very night. Then we were back on the road with only the final 10km to reach our destination and the apartment that would be my home for the next 5 months or so.

Now, I have already told you of my friends fears of the “mad axe murderer”, well, my mum had another fear; that of the internet fraudster. The guy I am renting the apartment from was a contact of a contact of a snowHead, but I had never met him and all our contact had been through emails. I had every faith in him; as I explained to my mum the apartment was being advertised on Seasonnaires and had been shown as booked as soon as I had paid the deposit, but she was convinced that I would turn up in the resort and have nowhere to stay. Whatever I said failed to put her mind at rest. Bless her. I texted the key holder from Moutiers, and he rang just as we pulled into Val Thorens to check on our progress. We pulled up outside the apartments, and 2 minutes later he duly arrived and showed me to my new abode. Mark and I made a couple of trips to unload the now pacified car, and then a quick call to mum meant she would probably sleep for the first time in a month!

Right, that will have to do you all for instalment 2, as I really don’t want to start with the boring stuff about 40cm falling on each of the 2 night we’ve been here. I’m sure the rest of the season will be of no interest to anyone here, just stuff about snow and skiing and the like, but I will try to keep posting on a regular basis.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
johnnyboy, great report. Don't forget to keep us updated
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
johnnyboy, Excellent do keep it up through the season no matter how mundane it may seem to you, it will be interesting for us Very Happy
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Toofy Grin I do like these updates, makes me almost feel as if I'm out there living it up too.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
johnnyboy,

Excellent report. Now tell us about the snow!!!!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
johnnyboy, brilliant snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
johnnyboy, love it. Have a great season, keep the laptop warm Very Happy Very Happy
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Top stuff Johnnyboy! Can't wait to hear about the actual skiing; and other weather factors - wind, visability, temperature. I've only skiied there during balmy April (like many other snowHeads, no doubt). What's it like there at this time of year?
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johnnyboy,I second what riverman, said about taking notes. You do realise you are the advanced party for middle aged snowheads who want to break free from real life, (Mid life crisis), rolling eyes I mean discerning professional people with sporting aspiration. Toofy Grin Keep the reports up, will stand you a beer at the Eosb, you can't call yourself a ski bum until people have bought you beer just to hear your manly stories, unless of course you are a woman. Shocked Laughing
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Great reports johnnyboy, I expect you will have started to feel home-sick by now rolling eyes
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Brilliant, I'm onto reading this everyday now. You'd better have some interesting stuff to talk about. What are you doing for work?
. . . this is better than TV.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
johnnyboy, brilliant --love reading your adventures so far! Hope your mum isn't worried anymore, is she a skier? If so, she's lucky to have you out there---! wink
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Thought I'd post a few picks (or try to at least!)

Not sure how to post more than one at a time, so individaul post for each I think!

View from my window
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Scanning round
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
And again; as you can see, I'm right on the piste.
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