Pictures: the Matterhorn after the Snow; Hennu Stall; Zermatt in White; Looking down into Cervina.
So, I’ve just spent 2 weeks boarding in Zermatt. What an amazing experience. Especially the last day of boarding in Powder the entire day. 🙂
The runs in Zermatt are great, with a wide variety available to all levels. I myself am a beginner, or at least was when I arrived, even having to be escorted off the mountain by the Snow Patrol on my first day on the slopes.
We arrived in Zermatt late on Saturday evening, the 13th March. After watching the Grand Prix on the Sunday we decided to hit the slopes. I had gotten all my rental kit that morning: board, boots and helmet, as I had the rest of the gear already apart from a pair if salopets, which I bought there.
Having only ever boarded once before, 6 years prior in Andorra for a week, and stacking it (wiping out) big time on the second last day – a bruised kidney and blood in my urine for 3 weeks being the result of that epic fall – we decided to chose an Easy BLUE run. The closest we could find was the half-run at Schwarzee Paradise. Great. A short trip up in the lifts and we were good to go.
There are usually at least 3 levels of runs in Europe: Blue (Easy – wide, flat slopes for beginners); Red ( Medium – faster, longer runs for medium to advanced folk); Black (Advanced/Difficult/Insane – Very Steep and usually very narrow. Typically not very long. Usually the fastest and shortest way off the mountain).
Now, for the uninformed, a snowboard is large and flat, almost like 2 skis strapped together. It is curved on both ends (front and back) and the sides are called rails. Think skateboard – only bigger – without the wheels. You ride it longways – like a skateboard – but with your feet typically strapped onto the board. Standing on the board and facing forward is your toe-edge, with your back side of the board being your heel-edge. You ride it with your “strongest” foot at the back. Right-handed people will “typically” look over their left shoulder to go forward, with left-handed people facing right.
There are a couple of basics to successful snowboarding. Things like Falling-Leaf (going side-to-side on your heel edge to slow yourself down, or stop); Turning (heel-to-toe or vice-versa); Carving (riding from rail to rail, turning left to right going down a run); Going Straight; Ollies (jumping the board); Switch/Goofy (riding backwards, the opposite to how you ride by default); 180’s; 360’s; etc, etc, etc. The list goes on.
Now that you all know how to board, back to the Blue run. Pity I couldn’t remember any of that stuff at the time. 🙁 After strapping myself in and struggling to get up, I was finally moving.
Shit, this did NOT feel good! What the hell was I thinking???
Steve was up and away in a flash. I made it about 60m down the run doing falling-leaf the whole way before stopping. It was rather flat there, so no surprise. Luckily a skier came past and offerred me a pull on his poles. I got a free lift about 20m, and then let go very quickly. I was now going way to fast (think a fast walk) and coming to a decline. Once again I leafed it down this decline and was just beginning to slow down when I saw a guy closing off the Blue run ahead of us on the right. The run we were in was a dual-run. The start was Blue which split to the right and continued a little further on a flattish bit to a ski lift. The left split took you down the mountain on a Red.
I shouted at the Guy if I could go down – I wasn’t planning on stopping as I was still leafing it. He replied that there was one more lift, and then I was gone, past him onto the Blue without even stopping. I must have looked Desperate and probably Terrified all at the same time.
I was still going sideways, Falling-Leaf, and really needed to try going straight so I could turn onto my toe-edge. In other words I needed to do what a snowboard was designed to do. So, I gave it a go. It ended badly, with me on my ass! Ouch! I struggled up and thought: “F*ck it, I’m getting lessons!” A little while later I stopped on the flat. The next thing I know the guy who was closing the run arrives next to me and offers me a pull. Great, I get pulled again until I am embarrassed enough to try this on my own. Once again I don’t get very far before coming to a stop. Next thing I know I feel these hands on my hips and this guy says: “It’s okay, I have you.” He lands up skiing all the way down to the lift, with me “between his legs” on my board! Super embarrassing! And NOT cool. 🙁 Luckily the run was closed so no one was there to see it. I then find out he is part of the Snow Patrol. First day on the slopes and I’ve already been escorted off by the Snow Patrol. Hopefully that’ll be the last time too.
Next day I got a 2 hour lesson and OMG, what a difference it made! A few days later I was back on form, even getting a bit of Switch going too. 🙂
The rest of the 2 weeks flew by. We got across to Italy for a day, which was awesome. Long, long runs from the top of the mountain down to Cervina, and really good skilifts too. I boarded 11 out of the 14 days whilst in Zermatt, and even managed a BLACK run without stacking it, until right at end on the flat when a skier crossed paths with me. Silly Bitch! 🙁 On the last day of boarding it dumped it down with snow, and we spent most of the time in Fresh Powder. Totally Awesome! 😉
We boarded awesomely during the day, spent way too much time navigating the slopes down from Apres Ski Bar Hennu Stall drunk in the dark, partied hard through the nights, drank too much, made good friends and spent more money than I had banked on for my entire 4 week holiday abroad. Zermatt is EXPENSIVE! Very, very expensive. Make no mistake. It is probably as expensive as Luanda in Angola. If not more so. But, the scenery IS truly amazing, the village of Zermatt is straight out of a James Bond film, the slopes good and at the end of the day, I’ve had an AMAZING time. It’s a playground and I don’t regret it one bit. 😉
Thanks to Jeff and “Party Animal” Brett from On The Piste (OTP) for making it such an awesome experience for us. They extended hospitality and offered assistance and way too many rounds to be believed! 🙂
And so it is I find myself off to Barcelona for a week.
One Adventure Ends;
Another Adventure Begins!
Easy Going Guy 😉
Loving Living Life
Post composed on my Mobile Phone from 1st Class on the train, whilst enroute to Geneva Airport.