I’m sitting in our ski apartment, hiding from the last dregs of a storm. So far its been quite a week. It started out with lovely weather – sunny but cold. It then dumped some snow overnight, avoriaz.jpgthen kindly cleared up for the day, which is exactly what weather should do ;-). I teamed up with one of the other ski-geek “guests”, Fredericke, who is a ski beginner like me, and we had some “fun” exploring the slopes together. Seems here in the Alps they must be more worried about lawsuits than back home, because they ONLY call a slope green if you can ski down it the first time they strap waxed sticks to your feet. So we took off for an area of the mountain clearly marked all blue, starting with some slopes so flat you have to pole yourself along them cross country style. Marvelous views tho, so quite nice.mountains.jpg We decide we’re a bit bored, so try something a bit steeper… it gets STEEPER than that half way down and we decide to cheat and take a cross country trail home. We somehow talk ourselves into trying this same slope the next day with Fredericka’s travel buddy, Johannes (who can ski circles around us) and basically get to slide down the slope sideways. Yeah, This is where I decide if I’m going to enjoy skiing (and catch up with my husband the Swede) I need lessons!

So I sign on for lessons, and the next afternoon am happily racing down that same slope (well, not racing, but I was actually skiing back and forth not sliding sideways down it) That’s when we hit our REAL adventure. Peter’s ski mate, Jes (our host and closest in skill level to Peter) calls off an afternoon to shop for skis that actually work, so Peter and I decide to try out some blue slopes on the swiss side of the mountain, having been happily ensured by the day’s instructor that I can handle anything blue. We ride up the mountain, the day after another night storm and a really cruddy/snowy morning, and the sun is glistening on the pristine snow below, and we see this boring little “I can’t believe tis not green” slope below us. Then we start going UP, and enter this cloud. Little did we know this was the last sun we’d see for a day or 2… We hit the top and its snowing again, rather thickly. We both decide its probably not the best day to get too far from the resort, so head off down the boring blue slope. Except for one problem. Its snowing so hard you can’t SEE the slope. The snow is white, the sky is white, we’re hundreds of feet above the tree line and pretty much the whole world looks like a child’s drawing of a polar bear in a snowstorm.snowstorm.jpg Happily Avoriaz has trail marker signs. Standing right next to one, you can JUST make out the next, about a football field or less away. Happily, I’ve learned how to ski looking downhill just that morning, and I more or less get down the mountain by spotting on one sign after another, counting them down from 60 (most of the slopes start at 24…. LONG hill). I had to make it down. There was a chocolate/walnut/banana crepe at the bottom with my name on it. Peter, the fool ordered ice cream with his. As if we hadn’t just seen more frozen white stuff than I ever wanted to in one lifetime. I jokingly stabbed his ice cream to death for him and exchanged snow storm war stories with our waitress, who has also been caught up that mountain in a white-out.

Today’s weather was even crappier. The morning’s instructor pretty much rejects half the mountain (Peter apparently got to try it and and the snow was blowing so bad you couldn’t even SEE the signs…) and finds the one side sheltered from the wind. I’m having a miserable day of it, pretty much stressed by the weather and forgetting everything I’m supposed to do, falling in the snow and soaked to the skin… and then the instructor surprises the crud out of me, by stopping on the middle of a perfectly nice blue run… and pointing down a hill. I can immediately see a problem. The signs here are the wrong color. Red? In this weather? (for American skiers, red is a level we don’t have between blue and black) My instructor of the day is NOT a talker, so he just grins and points and pretty much makes it clear that I am indeed to go down the steep slope, despite a sincere wish for windshield wipers for my goggles. I must say its amazing how fast everything you’ve learned comes back to you when your choices are do it right or break your legs… 😉 I make it down the slope in one piece, without even falling once or stopping all that often, and even manage to go a little smoother and faster than some of the other poor sods out in the snow. In fact the instructor’s only comment was that I looked good – I was taking my time and looked comfortable. I thought it wasn’t so bad actually… until we took the lift back over it. I went down THAT????? I didn’t DIE? 😛

When I got back to the meeting point, Peter was there and got to hear I managed a red slope, and then we went in and HID. 🙂 Changed into dry clothes, watched the weather get worse over lunch, made fun of a friend who had insisted this morning he was the smart one for booking an afternoon class… As I type now the storm appears to be blowing out (I can tell because I can see something other than white out the window) and as far as I can tell, even the greenest of green slopes (the one this resort actually labels green) have the lifts closed. The place is shut down (well, all except the coffee and beer and eternal crêperies) and I’m wondering if David actually DID ever get his lesson. Weather looks like it should be good for tomorrow, and hopefully today’s precipitation was more snow than rain… I’ve got one last lesson then I hope to take off with Peter down some long runs over the border into Switzerland. 😛 He wants to ski into a nation where they should technically check his passport… then its a few days around Geneva and back home!

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