Those in resort, preparing for the European ski season, at least have the comfort of knowing the white stuff will arrive, but what the hell is it like in the Alps before winter has really arrived. Keen ski trippers will be getting nervous, especially the first week chancers who are playing a game of chicken with the weather this year. A snowless ski holiday is, well, game over.
Swanning around an empty ski resort before the lifts are open for the season has a ghostly silence. But the challenge of keeping boredom at bay becomes ever larger with every second that ticks by the on the clock of your empty chalet. Sure, no snow means no customers. So less work right? Aka more time to sit and check the weather forecast, discuss hushed rumours of freeze levels and when the lifts are going to open.
Beer goes a long way but can only do so much to fill the empty snow flake, ski season shaped hole in a seasonaires heart. Days off will usually contain various activities all done in a leisurely fashion.
Browsing the shops for those goggles you’ll pick up with the first paycheck, or flirting with the local barmaids (free drinks or a free bed upgrade not guaranteed) of course this will be followed by a demi beer as is standard operating procedure after doing literally anything.
Bars are turned into internet cafes with worn down stickered up laptops. Each sticker a badge of honour as to just how many ski seasons this particular bearded, beanie wearing snow freak has successfully completed. All of whom are competing in a bandwidth war to download a movie for their evenings entertainment.
Frequent gasps fill the room as Whitelines post another bails edit, spreading through the room like Chinese whispers. Avoiding another purchase, closely monitored coffee remains half drunk.
Planning goes out of the window. Shops tend to open and close on a whim with no sense of logic or reason. So when the Spar is open you better well stock up with food so you don’t become one of the lost souls aimlessly wandering the streets in search of anything that might be open to provide nourishment.
Fresh faced ski season first timers roam the streets in packs all desperately trying not to become detached from the group in fear of being left in the cold. Some splash the student loan on nights out, but they’re all still just waiting.
Late arrivers are left in a position of frustration as they get dealt the last corner in the accommodation cave. Keen to impress, they claim it’s ‘all good bro’ but everyone, deep down is glad that it’s not them on the top bunk and its a brave facade on show.
But underlying the boredom is the feeling of great excitement, the snow report is looking positive and the season will be coming soon. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, but as soon as the snow falls you know they’ll be building kickers on the bunny hills. Hiking up the reds just to get some ride time and nagging the lifties about when that chair will be open.
The brave risk their bones applying a fresh layer of wax to every ledge and hand rail around town, even the roads are ridden just so people can feel that glide.
Grooming begins and the lifts start to open once the first snow finally arrives. The queue for first chair on the first day stretches the length of the town, but the grins on everyone in line shows it’s all good.
The atmosphere up on the hill is intense, this is first day and everyone is your friend, sharing the joy of the snow. Every piste is like a party and each chair back up you connect with all those bearded ski bums you’ve been sharing bandwidth with. At the end of the day, the Apres is unreal, everyone so happy to riding, together, with like-minded people. Welcome to your ski season.
That’s why we ride; for the love of the snow