I made a deal with my boyfriend. He would learn to scuba dive, and I'd learn to ski. I've been an open water diver for 16 years and love it. Aaron has skied since childhood, and it's turned into a weekly occurrence in the winter since he moved to Geneva. So far, so simple.
Aaron fulfilled his end of the deal a few months ago in an old quarry in Lancashire. In fact he went one step further and qualified in a dry suit (did I mention he went into this quarry in November?). He never does things by halves! He is now planning diving on our Spanish summer holiday and is even trying to convince me to do some winter diving in Scotland with his UK diving club.
Very, very slow and steady at ski school
It then became my turn to fulfil my side of the bargain. I booked a full day ski lesson in Manchester over Christmas. A full day for a beginner is a lot of work, but the intense day meant I was able to really enjoy the easy runs. I regretted it the next day, of course, when muscles I didn't even know I had started to ache. I felt like I had a good grounding though. Little did I realise how much contact I was about to have with the ground!
Aaron and me part way through the day - before the chaos began!
Aaron and I went skiing in the Alps this weekend. It reminds me how lucky I am to live here. Skiing is on my doorstep, as is hiking, a city, the French countryside. I can even scuba dive in Lake Geneva down the road. We went to Flaine in the French Alps which has some gentle slopes to start off with, and it's close by. After getting comfortable on the nursery slope, we met up with some friends for lunch. I agreed to ski down my first blue slope to a nearby restaurant.
In hindsight, this was a terrible, terrible idea. While the next step up would be a blue, it turns out that there is a wide variety within the blue classification. This one was incredibly steep. The jump from green to this blue was absolutely terrifying. The group I was with was too advanced for this slope, which was a blessing and a curse. They had some tips for me, but I felt like I was holding them back. Holding them back from enjoying themselves, and, more importantly, holding them back from lunch.
No one could say the view from the restaurant wasn't absolutely stunning. Flaine, French Alps
In the end, I only managed to get to the restaurant with a combination of tantrums, panic attacks and walking. I wan't in control and felt trapped up the mountain with no way of getting down. I realised the tantrums were down to previous trauma when I was trapped and not in control. My therapist would be proud of me, I'm sure. I won't go into the details of what happened in the past, but needless to say my reaction had nothing to do with the mountain itself. A few hours later, I got myself together, started to enjoy the skiing and then ended the day with a minor concussion. Anything that could go wrong that day did go wrong. Given it started with a coffee explosion at 7am, I should have known it was only going to go downhill!
What did reassure me though is that lots of people seem to go through this same process (perhaps without the panic attacks). This is my first season on the slopes. For others in my group, it was their 10th. Some people had been skiing for 30 years. Having skied for the grand total of two weeks, perhaps I shouldn't be worrying so much. One friend said it isn't a ski day without a tantrum!
I have learnt that I need to ease in gently though. I loved the skiing that was a bit challenging, but not overly so. Push me too far, and I panic. I think this is something that applies to most things in life though. Take your time, challenge yourself, but know your limits.
After a few days of rest, I'm looking forward to skiing again, but I'm going to ease in gently. Especially if I can't walk for two days after each session. It's great exercise, the views are amazing and it's a fun activity to do with friends. Bit of a win-win. So yes, it's terrifying sometimes, but it's something I'm going to stick with.
Quick lunch break at Flaine, French Alps