Snowboarding: “All the gear and no idea”
22nd January 2011
“All the gear and no idea”, that was me. I must have looked lost and out of place that first day. While I waited for the bus outside the hotel, in the wrong place, and on the wrong side of the road, a friendly younger couple shouted to me and asked if I needed help… I trudged over and they gave me directions to the proper bus stop, said I could meet them and another couple in the Buddha Bar later, which I did, and they also gave me their piste map… I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone but I’ll confess it now – I didn’t even know what that was!!
I’d always wanted to snowboard. I like the snow, and wakeboarding, and I’ve tried and failed to kiteboard, so after arriving in from a Boxing Night party at 4am, I set too on the internet to book it! Not one of my better idea’s it has to be said, as it involved quite a lot of work the next day to repair the mess I’d made of it. I couldn’t convince anyone to join me, and as amazing as my previous holiday to the Dominican had been, I didn’t want to make the same mistake of going alone with someone I didn’t know properly, so it left me with no other option!
I was going snowboarding, so it would just have to be solo!
Where I stayed…
The Ridge Hotel, Morzine.
I got a deal, and it was cheap, very cheap. There was a nice sociable bar with friendly and helpful staff, and although my room was no bigger than a shoe box it was all I really needed. The food was excellent, although a few of us did come down with suspected food poisoning one day, but you can’t have everything! It was about 20mins walk to the centre, and there was a bus stop outside.
Where should you stay…
If you want to stay in a ‘resort’ and step out onto the piste, head for Avoriaz.
In Morzine, the lifts aren’t far away, but if you don’t mind a walk, maybe a bus, and would prefer to stay in an actual town with a bit more night-life, its the place.
Personally, I’d stay in Morzine again, but nearer the centre, the lifts would be closer, and it’s well connected with free buses to other parts as well. There are some excellent catered chalets which are more sociable, and when I go back I’d probably stay with Cold Fusion.
Morzine-Avoriaz is part of the Portes du Soleli, a series of 12 linked resorts. It seems to be a popular hang-out for snowboarders. It’s an excellent place to learn, and really has something for everyone, and Morzine has some excellent bars for apres-ski, and I’d say a fairly young crowd in general.
How did I get on?
From Edinburgh I had very cheap flights to Geneva, and a shared transfer by Skiidy Gonzales, to The Ridge Hotel, Morzine. I wasn’t there long when Door Step Skis texted me to say they were on their way over to fit my board, bindings and boots! Awesome.
I was all set – it was going like clockwork! Or so I thought until the first day.
Sadly there wasn’t much snow… I’d assumed there was always snow!! But there wasn’t much snow anywhere in Europe, except maybe Scotland! So I spent nearly all my time higher up in Avoriaz (after getting help that first day), I’d walk into Morzine centre and get the regular free bus up to the gondola.
I’d booked lessons with Mint Snowboarding School, they looked like a smaller outfit but catered specifically for snowboarders and had excellent reviews – which I’d be happy to add to.
The mistake I made was booking private lessons. I booked them thinking that the sooner I learnt to snowboard the more fun I’d have… makes sense right? But I missed a key thing in the group lessons, the social aspect of it. With hindsight, I’d happily have taken twice as long to learn and at the end had people at the same level to snowboard with.
Anyway, David at Mint had me snowboarding fairly quickly, unlike my kiteboarding fiasco in the Dominican! But I’d not been prepared for how tough it was going to be on my legs… when I got back to the hotel after the first couple of days I could hardly walk! And I also invested in impact shorts as I seemed to spend a lot of time falling or sitting on my ass.
It was all worth it though, I loved it, and although I’ll admit it was lonely at times, I did meet some excellent people. And I didn’t know it at the time but I’d be snowboarding again in just a few short months…
Links & Resources
Mint Snowboarding School!
Skiidy Gonzales – for shared transfers from Geneva
Door Step Skis – kit hire! They do actually deliver to the door!
The Ridge Hotel
Cold Fusion Chalets – they cater for singles…