This blog post may do no more than confirm to the few who already suspected it that I am completely crazy.
My favourite days to go skiing are storm days, when everyone else is having a later start or waiting for it to clear I am up and out faster than ever with my fingers crossed that the wind is not so strong the lifts are closed.
Unlike normal powder days there is no queue at the bottom of the lift you arrive and jump straight on. Only the lucky few who know the secrets of storm days have braved the weather. Being based in Val D’Isere means we are very high and get the full force of any storm that comes through the area. As the lifts comes out of the trees and the wind rips across your face even I start to question the decision to get up and come out.
Once the lift reaches the top station it is all systems go, boots are tightened, transceivers checked and airbags primed. Then the dash to the treeline begins, skiing down to the treeline in Val D’isere maybe what puts people off skiing on storm days at all there is very little definition and more often than not it is pretty hard just to see the edge of the piste. Once you get to the trees though it all changes. The trees protect you from the wind; they provide you with some contrast to the white snow that is all around and give you the definition you need to ski at full speed in amazing deep and untouched snow.
On the best days you honestly struggle to breathe as you float through a bottomless white gold. This is super hero snow, no drop is too big or pitch too steep you just float from one pillow to the next. It is almost how I imagine walking on clouds would be.
If it is snowing hard enough on each lap it is just like pressing the reset button time and time again, all your tracks are filled in there is no evidence you have even been there.
Back at the bottom there is still no queue for the lifts, an enthusiastic few may have made it to the coffee shops and bars to be closer to the lifts if it does clear but for the most part the mountain belongs to the few who know the secrets of the trees.
You can make life easier for yourself on these days though. Wear goggles not glasses I am still amazed when I see people in glasses on a storm day. Certain goggle lens’ will be considerably better in low light, orange or yellow lens increase contrast and allow you a bit more definition of the terrain in front of you.
Next time you are in ski resort and it is stormy outside don’t just write off the day and go to the pool, the people there for the whole ski season, doing ski instructor courses or working in bars certainly won’t. Go out and find the trees. If you have ski lessons booked or were hoping to go off piste with your guide do not worry you are the really lucky few who will be shown the best runs in resort on the best days of the year.
Don’t tell anyone else though as I fear I may have just told too many people already.
All photos taken by Blair Aitken