I thought using my final week’s leave from work as a chance to spend some quality time with friends I won’t see for a year would be a nice idea. In retrospect, choosing to spend it skiing was perhaps not the wisest idea I’ve ever had: I’ve spent the past few months frantically worrying that my love for adrenaline (which translates as skiing rather faster than is wise, considering my rather sloppy technique) would inevitably lead to a broken leg two weeks before my trip – which would not be the ideal start.
Luckily, the weather came to my rescue: our first two and a half days were one solid blizzard, meaning that every slope was covered in huge piles of fluffy, nearly waist-deep snow. Every fall was like landing in a pile of pillows (so much so that it was almost fun to do), and therefore a hell of a lot less painful than the icy conditions on my last two trips. The extra cushioning even gave me the confidence to tackle my first three black runs, which were some of the most fun I’ve ever had, despite the regular falls (and the difficulty of first retrieving a ski that’s flipped off several metres back up the mountain, and then trying to put it back on again on a forty-five degree slope with no flat surfaces).
After it finally stopped snowing, we were then treated to glorious blue skies and warm sunshine for the rest of the week – I really couldn’t have asked for better weather.
As always, the mountains were the other star of the holiday, they are just breathtakingly beautiful. Which makes me very excited about all the mountains I’ll be seeing over the next year (Sierra Madre in Mexico, volcanoes in Guatemala, three months in the Andes of Colombia, Peru, Bolivia & Chile, Tongariro in New Zealand, more volcanoes in Indonesia, and the lush green mountains and limestone peaks of Laos).
Best of all was the chance to spend the week with good friends I won’t see for a while. As I’ve said before, solo travel is the only way I’d want to spend a year away; despite that, it’ll be my friends I miss the most when I’m gone.