Tuesday, 7 January 2014

the path.

I remember feeling all Endless summer as i walked along this path through French dunes, crossed the horizon and saw empty small warm beach break in front of me. Not quite Cape St Francis but not a bad substitute for a couple of hours!

I'm actually off to the snowy vistas of Norway again in a week or so, looking forward to some nice mellow snowboarding and hopefully some sneaky fresh pow turns.

Norway is not really high on most peoples bucket lists for snow trips. Most people’s preconceptions are that the mountains are small and it’s really cold, and expensive.

That’s kinda right. It’s certainly a different experience to visiting the alps. There are no towering crags and precipitous roads as you approach, no winding hairpins and heart in the mouth moments as French locals overtake you on blind bends.

It’s more of a snowy wonderland. The last tarmac you see is the runway at Gatwick. The plane lands on snow and all the roads are white. The hills are rolling and pine covered and white as far as the eye can see and you’re just as likely to see locals zoom past you on cross country ski’s as pass on foot.

The resorts themselves are pretty small with a limited vertical drop and it’s not that steep. It’s not a place for motorway skiing or ticking off several places in one day. You’re not sold so far I know.

But…… the snow quality is excellent, pretty much guaranteed. The cold temperatures prevent any kind of freeze thaw freeze cycle like you often get in France so it stays as packed powder that holds a beautiful edge on-piste for ever after a snowfall. I reckon Tahoe is the only other place with such consistency I’ve been. When there are freshies to be had there’s amazing, safe tree runs to be had, which don’t get tracked that quickly because the resorts are pretty quiet out of weekends.

It’s not that cold either really as long as you have a decent set of gloves (mitts are good) and a good jacket. I’m a sucker for a nice down jacket and I’ve been loving my volcom one the last couple of trips. I digress but check out theclymb.com if you are in the US reading this, they have big discounts on ski equipment and other outdoors gear at discounts up to 70% off retail!

The parks are ace too, really well maintained with kickers from tiny up to scary giant size. Quite often they are dotted around at the sides of main runs so easy to hit if you are spending the day with non freestyling family!

And that’s where the real strength of the place comes. It’s a great place for getting your kids stoked on skiing. The instruction is great, their English is better than some Englishmen I’ve met and the resorts are perfect for building confidence in children or that non skiing girlfriend / wife you have coerced into joining you!

It’s not even that expensive, with the euro so strong and the “off the radar” nature of the place it’s a similar cost to going anywhere else.

It’s also a really great, different experience to the classic brits abroad/ party vibe that you get in the big alpine resorts and sometimes doing something different to the taking a low budget flight to Geneva and beyond can be good!

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