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What to do - skiing on your own with children?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi,

I'm pondering what to do. My son and I were going to go skiing with my parents, but it now looks like my dad (who's still skiing at 81) needs a hip replacement, so they're going to have to cancel.

My wife is a non-skier and isn't keen on flying, so she wasn't going to come with us, but with my parents there as an extra pair of eyes I thought I could just about cope with taking a 7-year old skiing. Now it looks like I'll have to take him on my own if we still want to go.

Has anyone been skiing on their own with young, beginner children before? Have you got any tips for how to make it work and when or where to go if we did re-book?

At present, we'd planned to go in the first week of February. My parents were insistent on not going during half term, and to be honest I was quite keen to avoid the school holidays if I could. Last time we specifically found an English-run ski school in the neighbouring village to where we were staying, but my son was still the only English-speaking kid in the class with an instructor whose English was pretty basic. That was three years ago, he was only four at the time and we've not been skiing since, so I think he'd be back to square one. I wonder if half term and/or a resort that's more popular with British skiers might be a better bet from his point of view. Whether we could afford half term, and whether the slopes would be rammed is, of course, a different matter.

As an outside option I was also wondering about Scotland (yes, I know how unreliable the weather is...) as that might mean we could turn it into a full family trip.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@ChrisP71, I would recommend going with Esprit. If just you and 7yr old
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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?
Yes, Esprit would be a very good bet, if you can afford it!! Not easy on your own - bit lonely just the two of you in an apartment. The French winter holidays start 4 February, so if your week ends on 4 February I'd stick to that if possible, as everything will be cheaper and quieter. The alternative might be to make it a family holiday, drive down if your wife doesn't like flying, and do other things together - walks, dog sleigh rides, snowshoes, etc and perhaps a little bit of skiing.....

Or you might find another lone parent and child to team up with here on Snowheads - you could edit the title of your thread. But most will be avoiding taking kids out of school.
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I've been on my own with one of my children - twice - but in easier circumstances ie. They were 10 at the time and were able to get about the mountain.....so we just spent the day skiing.

In your case, there is much more to think about:

- The ski school is absolutely vital - as if they hate it, everything becomes very difficult.
- How much ski school? Half Day? Full Day? Lunch?
- What do you do when they are at ski school...possibly lessons?
- How much time will you be skiing with them?
- They should have a phone with crucial numbers on it and have the name/address/phone number of your accommodation.
- Specialists like Ski Esprit (mentioned above) should make life easier.
- If they enjoy the holiday, so will you.....so need to be kept warm, comfortable and entertained.
- If they are generally athletic and sporty - it makes life easier.


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Sat 5-11-22 14:13; edited 1 time in total
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@ChrisP71, if you are happy to be flexible on exact week, just being 2 of you, youcan take the chance of last minute woth Esprit. There could be am odd room left they have jn the past done some bargains for 1 adult 1 child last room left in accommodation
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When I was pregnant my husband took our older two with an esprit like outfit and they had a great time (in fact he was quite ill the first 3 days with the flu but the kids were able to carry on).

The other option is to find another dad & lad combo (does your son have any friends with dads who ski?) which would be fun. If you are tentative about half term but want to be sure of other Brits in ski school why not switch to the first week of your son’s Easter holiday? It’s really busy with Brits and may be an easier drive (if you are tempted by that).
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
My wife isn't a skier either, so I've taken my son on his own since he was about 5 years-old. It's a total delight and I don't think you should worry at all.

We did a bit of ski school in the early days too, but if it's just the two of you perhaps consider just playing in the snow. My son learned a huge amount by just goofing around on skis, cruising around trees or hitting tiny little jumps on the side of the pistes. Lots of laughing, lots of hot chocolate. For lunch we carry sandwiches and water and chocolate bars in our pockets and eat out on the hill with a great view (we make chairs out of our skis and poles). Dinners are usually ready made pasta from the grocery story, which we eat while watching Netflix in our pajamas.

Oh, one practical tip. A friend put me on to these Bowtie ski carriers, I'm not sure they're still being sold but there are many similar solutions. Using those I could carry lots of skis and poles over my shoulders while keeping my hands free, and they also meant that my son was able to carry his own equipment pretty quickly.

I think ski trips alone with my son have been huge, huge amounts of fun. Good luck!
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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!
I went skiing once on my own with my daughter but she was a teenager and we went with friends.

If your wife doesn’t like flying have you thought of going by other means? Lots of resorts can be reached easily by train changing in Paris or you could drive all the way.

Would your wife enjoy other mountain activities like snow shoeing? You could book a luxury self catering apartment in a complex with pool and spa etc.

I would book your son into ski school in the morning and ski with him for a bit in the afternoon. Then you could do family friendly apres ski such as pool or mountain coaster etc.

If you went in the Easter holidays to a resort popular with British families there would be other english speaking kids in ski school. The same would be true at half term but you would be paying a premium and not necessarily getting a better ski experience
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Yes, I think the Easter suggestion is a good one - the French have largely given up skiing by then, and it's much less busy than half term. Longer days and warmer. And kids don't seem to mind a bit of slush.

@diaphon, your holidays with your son sound terrific. He's probably remember them for ever.
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We had two parents and three kids. We never did separate ski holidays, but other things "one on one" and it can be great. When my daughter left junior school and was going up to "big school" I rented a rather tatty boat on a canal for a weekend and we sort of camped out - was fun, though the weather was crap! As noted above, the ski school experience will be crucial. Small groups good - maybe one of the British-run schools, like BASS. And you could have a lesson at the same time. If he doesn't take immediately to skiing there are other things to do in the afternoon. Or watch Netflix in your pyjamas!
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Definitely look into Esprit single parent rooms. They're generally the smaller/not as nice rooms, but certain weeks (not school holidays) you can take your child completely free. At least you used to be able to! I did it to Val d'Isere and La Rosiere with a similar aged child who loved it. I actually got to ski, and then enjoy a 'grown up' dinner while the nannies looked after the children Very Happy
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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.
And your 7 year old will have way more fun if there's other children around...
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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
Canuck wrote:
And your 7 year old will have way more fun if there's other children around...

That IME is absolutely the case.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Canuck wrote:
Definitely look into Esprit single parent rooms. They're generally the smaller/not as nice rooms, but certain weeks (not school holidays) you can take your child completely free. At least you used to be able to! I did it to Val d'Isere and La Rosiere with a similar aged child who loved it. I actually got to ski, and then enjoy a 'grown up' dinner while the nannies looked after the children Very Happy


This, me and my daughter did 6 hols with Esprit, at the time early Jan dates she went for free. Not sure if they still do this. Once she went to high school we had to do half terms Sad
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@stevew, the key question though is whether at those dates (not school holidays) there were other kids of similar age. As @Canuck, the fun comes from being in a peer group.

But for the OP, I agree with others that if you can afford it something like Esprit is fantastic. You drop off your child in the mornng, they manage the ski school drop-off and pick-up (and they have ensured the class has similar age/stage English speaking kids), provide lunch, and if it is a half-day ski class run group activities for the other half. Child has a ball, you ski. (In practice, at age 7 we headed back around the time afternoon ski school finished so we skiied with our daughter for half an hour before all retreating back to the chalet together for a cake and cup of tea/squash). And then the children in the chalet get an early evening meal (they will want it!) and the adults eat together later.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I went to Andorra for my and my 9-year-old daughter's first ski trip last February half-term 2022

was very nervous about the trip as first holiday going with just the 2 of us, also taking nto account covid restrictions getting the And bus as I normally get a private transfer for Sun holidays

both booked into ski school for 3 hours each day, turned out great she had a ball making friends as i did i. The big bonus was her new friends Dad was also in my lesson and staying at the same hotel Smile

I had an adult conversation (drinking partner) and she had playmates

could ski with her for an hour or so before and after the lesson
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@ChrisP71:

I hope you’ve found the thread good for suggestions so far - if you’ve already said where you’re based, then I’ve missed that. Could I suggest that if you’re based anywhere near a snowdome, you could try getting your 7yo some experience that way before you go to the mountains? It’s not cheap, I know, nor is it quite the thrills one wants, but usually, it’s better than nowt!
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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?
Try Soldeu with Nielson at feb half term, yes it is busy but not ridiculous, the benefit is many other English kids in the resort & ski school.
I've had two dad n daughter trips with my daughter at 11 yrs and this year when she was 14. The first was the family bash at Easter which was a huge success, Ruth was a bit quiet at first but clicked with the other kids on the bash and ski school and we got on well.
This year I took her at half term & just rented a one bed apt with me in the lounge I think she enjoyed being in ski school but as far as her time with me was concerned, we have barely spoken to each other since she lives with her mum)
So, reinforcing what others have said, having other kids around is a big plus, don't dismiss half term, maybe in a chalet with other families.
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I've taken each of my daughters at that age, and a bit older. Whilst they were not complete beginners they needed support, and as others have said best starting place is family friendly companies such as Ski Famille, Esprit, Neilson etc. so you can each have time with those of your age! As they got more experienced chalets worked well in school hols.

What we each did was lessons with the same ski school for the morning, then lunch and more skiing or what they wanted - one afternoon it was a film, swimming, or playing in the snow - I took one of those bum board things which was great. A bit frustrating but the afternoons were what they wanted to do, as it is their holiday too!

I have great memories of those weeks, it was a special time and I am so glad I took the plunge. One final point is take a minimum 2 preferably 3 pairs of glove for them - one on, one drying and the other as back-up.

Have a great trip.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
As a single dad I went 2 years running with my 2 children. 7 and 5 years old and it was a breeze.

Ski Familie or Esprit. You pay for it but they take ALL the stress out of the job.

They also mix it up with non-skiing activities like sledging, ice skating, hot chocolate

They are now 17 and 15 and I'm still taking them. We off to Canada this Feb
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Thanks for all the great suggestions. We are on a relatively tight budget, but we don't do overseas holidays during the summer or anything like that, so it sounds like Esprit might be worth the extra outlay.

I'm happy to get a few hours skiing in while he's with the ski school and then build snowmen for the rest of the day if I have to. I returned to skiing just before lockdown, after a gap of 10 years, and it was so amazing to be back. I remember getting to the top of the first lift and thinking even if I only got a few runs in it was worth it. Obviously, if I can do more than that it'd be ideal.

Fat George wrote:
@ChrisP71:

I hope you’ve found the thread good for suggestions so far - if you’ve already said where you’re based, then I’ve missed that. Could I suggest that if you’re based anywhere near a snowdome, you could try getting your 7yo some experience that way before you go to the mountains? It’s not cheap, I know, nor is it quite the thrills one wants, but usually, it’s better than nowt!


I'm in South Somerset. Unfortunately, it's an hour's drive to a dry slope (admittedly, quite a good one, at Churchill) or about three hours' to a snowdome. I did wonder about lessons, but my worry is that a few falls on the plastic bristles on a wet Sunday in Bristol might do more harm than good for a kid who's not that confident. That said, if it's juts going to be me it might be worth pushing the dry slope lessons a bit more than we would otherwise.
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I'm browsing Esprit. Am I right in thinking you just get accommodation and travel in the basic price, the same as any other tour operator - all the family-focused stuff is bought as extras?
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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!
Quote:

my worry is that a few falls on the plastic bristles on a wet Sunday in Bristol might do more harm than good for a kid who's not that confident.

I do agree with that. My grandson is learning snowboarding at Churchill, but he's a lot older, and already a good skier. He's quite tough, he's doing it with a mater and, above all, it's his idea - not his Dad's. His Dad actually did some snowboard lessons on plastic as a teenager and hated every minute of it - it was so desperately uncool. Laughing Driving a long way to a fridge is an expensive option if you're on a budget, and he won't enjoy the journey!
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pam w wrote:
Quote:

my worry is that a few falls on the plastic bristles on a wet Sunday in Bristol might do more harm than good for a kid who's not that confident.

I do agree with that. My grandson is learning snowboarding at Churchill, but he's a lot older, and already a good skier. He's quite tough, he's doing it with a mater and, above all, it's his idea - not his Dad's. His Dad actually did some snowboard lessons on plastic as a teenager and hated every minute of it - it was so desperately uncool. Laughing Driving a long way to a fridge is an expensive option if you're on a budget, and he won't enjoy the journey!


Yeah, I really like how Alpine it feels at Churchill. I went a couple of times last year and it was really cold and frosty, so the dry slope winding its way down through the trees to a hot chocolate at the bottom actually felt like a more authentic experience than going to a snowdome in some respects. My son has been there once for a group lesson and actually quite enjoyed it, but I feel like it's a risk. He's not the most gung ho kid, so one nasty fall on dendix might put him off.
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ChrisP71 wrote:
I'm browsing Esprit. Am I right in thinking you just get accommodation and travel in the basic price, the same as any other tour operator - all the family-focused stuff is bought as extras?

Sounds about right - if you haven't got children you don't need the extra child care stuff.
Another one to look at is Mark Warner.

Also consider a ski specialist travel agent, such as Alpine Answers or Iglu. They'll know which TOs have child care.
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Yes you add the different bits. Their ski lessons prices when we were doing it, were well priced tbh, especially as the group sizes are limited to smaller numbers, and you get thw snow ranger going and helping out with the beginners. Also seem to recall adding the kids club got lunch included.

We used to book ski hire independently as found we could do better deals via AlpinResorts or Snowbrainer.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Oh we also did Mark warner one year one difference between 2 is Esprit only take bookigs if you have a child in party. Whereas people without kids book Mark warner. This caused consternation from fellow holiday makers at all the kids playing together at early evening. Also Esprit did baby listening service meaning our kids could sleep in own bed while we had evening meal. Mark warner had "snuggle club" you took them to with cartoons on for older kids
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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
NickyJ wrote:
Oh we also did Mark warner one year one difference between 2 is Esprit only take bookigs if you have a child in party. Whereas people without kids book Mark warner. This caused consternation from fellow holiday makers at all the kids playing together at early evening. Also Esprit did baby listening service meaning our kids could sleep in own bed while we had evening meal. Mark warner had "snuggle club" you took them to with cartoons on for older kids


Ah... I see. Yeah, that would be handy.

A chalet full of other people's children would ordinarily be my own personal idea of hell, but it'd absolutely be worth it if he felt more at home.

Another plus for Esprit is that they offer flights from Bristol, which is a plus for us tucked down here in the Westcountry. By the time you add in travel and an overnight stay at one of the London airports it's probably covered the price difference to someone like Crystal or Inghams.

A quick glance suggests Esprit only has one place that's within our budget for half board (I'm not single-handedly child-wrangling and cooking...) but it does look very good. That's in La Rosiere. Anyone skied there?
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I have skied with my son what he was 6. I don't really understand why you are so worried - sign him up for a morning school, either ski on your own till lunch or joing a group lesson. Then have lunch together and ski green/blue depending on how confident they are. Or just do tobogganing, go to soft play, ice skating, swimming pool - whatever is available in the resort.

Language isn't going to be problem, most french instructions have basic English, enough to explain what to do. Most of the time, esp in big resorts, there will be other non-french kids.

We did it DIY on a train with transfer in Paris during the half term and had a fantastic time.

Or if you have a car, just drive down with your wife. It's an experience of its own and there plenty of things to do in the mountains other than skiing.


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Sun 6-11-22 17:45; edited 2 times in total
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@ChrisP71, I think it was when our daughter was 7 that we went to La Rosiere with Esprit. She had a ball, and her skiing really advanced. And there's a fair amount of skiing for an adult, with the link over to La Thuile in Italy. It's a nice resort.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Another vote for Esprit, and if you can, go for a medium/large chalet so that there are plenty of other kids and adults for you and your son to hang about with in the evenings.

I’m about to go skiing just me and my son for the first time this season, but he’s 14 and we’re both fairly accomplished skiers. My main problem will be trying to keep up with the little bu99er.
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Crystal Ski do the Beanie Bear club for children aged 3-8 years in Alpe d'Huez, Flaine and La Plagne (Aime 2000) and 4-8 years in Passo Tonale and La Thuile in Italy. 8.30 - 5.00 or 8.30 - 2.00. You drop the kids to the club's location in the morning before ski lessons, the staff bring them to lessons, back for lunch and afternoon play. In Flaine last year, we booked our 8 year old in for the mornings to include lunch and collected her at 2.00. They weren't fully booked that week, so we paid for two afternoons' care on the spot and had longer days skiing for ourselves. There are self-catering and half board accommodation options in these resorts.
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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?
Another single Dad, here - my two were 6 and 4 when I started taking them on their own. Packing, getting them organised, and travelling was always a challenge, but once there - forgetting gloves, losing hats etc aside - it was good fun, and I really enjoyed just cruising round easy blues with them all day.

One of the hardest things was choosing whether to go in front, or behind them, as there have been pros and cons to both, esp as they have got older and better.

Some 12 yrs later, and we still go. There has been the odd mishap - eg losing them at various points, lift mishaps, some nasty crashes, tears and tantrums etc, but generally it's been great fun - helped a lot, if nothing else, by the fact that they both now have and can use mobile phones!

Could prob write a book on the subject - wish I'd kept a diary and taken more photos - but good luck and have fun!
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Ricky B wrote:

One of the hardest things was choosing whether to go in front, or behind them, as there have been pros and cons to both, esp as they have got older and better.

I can remember exactly that conundrum. Toofy Grin
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Oleski wrote:
Language isn't going to be problem, most french instructions have basic English, enough to explain what to do. Most of the time, esp in big resorts, there will be other non-french kids.


Last time we went he was the only English-speaking kid in the class and he struggled to understand the instructor who spoke heavily accented English.

As you say, that's not the end of the world. But I'd rather go somewhere that he could chat to other kids and establish a bit more of a connection with the instructor this time.
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@ChrisP71, what resort are you going to? There may be schools that are not just "english speaking", but are actually oriented to non-french speakers . Some resorts even have British schools with British instructors, they are more expensive though. For example see

https://www.skinewgen.com/serre-chevalier-ski-school/childrens-ski-lessons/
https://www.britishskischool.com/
https://www.oxygene.ski/oxygene-homepage/childrens-group-ski-lessons/

there are others. Tell us where you are going, someone might recommend one
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One benefit of Esprit is that (at least when we used them) they arranged with a local ski school for their own exclusive classes - obviously all English speaking kids. And there seemed to be some level of quality assurance as well, I think it was on our holiday to La Rosiere when we returned to base as our daughter's ski class was finishing and spotted the group... being tracked by an Esprit person with a clipboard making notes on the teaching.
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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!
My son and I did a similar trip when he was 9. We had a great time. I think you will, too.
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I second all of the encouraging noises. Morning ski school, the two of you then mess around in the afternoon. We did esprit in half term when the kids were little and the whole set up was great. Not only is it entirely doable, it is a terrific investment in his and your skiing career (and dare I say it, your relationship with your son) for the rest of your life. Word of warning, though, he will get much better than you very very quickly. My 14 and 16 YOs now invariably have to wait for me at the bottom. Embarassed
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@ChrisP71, my first ski trip with the kids in tow was to La Rosiere with Esprit.

They did really make everything so easy. Starting with a massive cooked breakfast in the morning, the esprit staff would then take the kids to their lessons, and bring them back to the chalet when the lesson ends. If you do go out in the afternoon, there’s freshly baked cake ans hot drinks when you get back about 4, then the kids all eat together at about 5/6pm and after you’ve put them to bed, the staff offer a listening service while you tuck in to a 4 course meal with as much wine as you can fit down your throat.
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