14/12/10 – SCGB leaders’ course: heading downhill fast

Men's World Cup GS at La Daille

Nine days into our Ski Club leader training, most of us are getting the hang of it and the end is in sight. For some, our day off on Saturday provided a breather from a pretty relentless programme. Some slunk back to bed; some had fillet steak and champagne at La Folie Douce; some discovered the water-slides at Le Lagon. For me, it turned into a brilliant ski day after I teamed up with a couple of others who weren’t suffering too severe a hangover.

Our blast around the mountain took in forgiving, well-skiied crust, freshly formed moguls and powdery pistes as well as the men’s World Cup giant slalom at La Daille, where we warmed up with tasty 1 Euro vins chauds. On a remarkably uncrowded Solaise we found untracked powder before knackering ourselves hurrying back to catch the last Tommeuses chair.

Back in training on Sunday, armed with shovels, probes and transceivers of varying sophistication, Patagonia group played hunt the treasure, first in a playground, then up the mountain. Never has our six-some behaved so harmoniously as when seeking and digging up “bodies” in a mock avalanche scenario and we were rewarded with a huge smile from British-born, Chamonix-based mountain guide Kathy Murphy as her stopwatch clocked seven minutes, the best time yet this week. Kathy proved a superb teacher whose patience in the face of masculine banter revolving around probe lengths and penetration was awe-inspiring.

Finally for today, is it my imagination or are some of the party animals slowing down? I’m convinced I spotted a hitherto carefree individual or two anxiously cradling our “bible”, the Ski Club leader manual, and slinking roomwards at going-out time. The sauna, too, was strangely quiet on Monday. I suspect the swotting has begun in earnest for Wednesday’s written exam…

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