Today’s post is written by Andy. But not Andy Hayes – Andy Geoghegan. He’s sharing his passion about tall things covered in snow. How cool is that?
Many travelogues you see are written by people who have decided to take a year or so out, have had enough of the rat race and gone for it or those who are using their blogging powers to make a living. Many of these blogs centre around SE Asia, Australia or the United States. I’m yet to find (or at least stumble across) a blog dedicated to travelling through the mountains, and mine is no different! I had been travelling on and off, as often as my job would allow but as of November 2007 I’ve spent more time away from the UK than in it and have enjoyed blogging my journey – initially for no other reason than to document my journey for myself. Since then I became gradually more interested/obsessed with making it accessible to a wider audience.
I have recently spent 5 months in the French ski resort of Tignes, inspired by a couple of friends that spent a winter in Whistler, Canada. Armed with Karen (my wonderful wife), my brother, his girlfriend and, most importantly, my snowboard we left on 1 December to have what we knew would be a wonderful experience.
So, what’s so good about the Mountains? In the UK we moan about every type of weather; it’s either too hot, too cold and it’s probably going to rain so you would therefore expect living in the cold, windy snow to be a miserable affair. Don’t get me wrong, when the wind is blowing a gale so strong that the snow is actually going UP you do not want to leave the apartment but what the storm leaves in its wake is gorgeous, fresh powder. I had to be up early every morning for my job working on the local radio station and one
morning I took one of my favourite pictures of an example of deep snow, this snow fell over around 12 hours…
Hitting the fresh powder is one of the highlights of the mountains. The feeling of surfing on the snow is something you can only get if the fresh snow is knee deep or higher but even if there’s been no snow for a week or so there are always great runs maintained by the resort or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike off-piste and make some fresh tracks.
Snow is all well and good but, frankly, 5 months doing only snowboarding would drive you crackers. Thankfully, we have Après Ski – the art of relaxing in the Alps. Having a cold beer after a good day on the hill is as rewarding as the first pint on a Friday night after work – you really get the feeling you have earned it! Après Ski is well marketed in ski resorts with many bars having happy hours to coincide with the lifts closing and live bands. Many bands base themselves across the Alps and will travel playing a different resort every day.
The single greatest thing about the mountains is the people you come across. To put it into perspective, the people you will bump into have the same relaxed feel about them as the folk strolling up and down Khao San Road in Bangkok. If you’re on your own you can easily stroll into a bar, sit down and readily strike up a conversation with some other locals ending, inevitably, in toffee vodka and Jagerbombs!
Finally, there’s the landscape – without doubt some of the most beautiful you can find anywhere. I have never really been able to capture what being stood on top of the world is like and I don’t think it’s possible to describe the crispness of the air, the feel of the snow and the beauty of the view – I am always disappointed with my landscape pictures and have since invested in a far better camera but I’m sure you will agree this picture of a snowy valley isn’t the worst view to wake up to every day!
If you have never experienced the mountains then I guarantee you are missing out, even if snowsports do not interest you one bit there is still plenty to do and experience.
Thanks for indulging my attempt to describe what life in the Alps is like. There are, of course, many mountain ranges that offer first-rate experiences all over the world. Travelling the world is what it’s all about; in my travels so far I’ve been all over the place and would rate Byron Bay, Whistler & Las Vegas as among my favourite places. Come along and share my experiences on my blog, Gone Further, or follow me on Twitter – @andygeog!
Andy (Hayes)’s note:
Thanks, Andy for sharing your snow-capped stories. I must say the few times in my life I have gone skiing – mostly when staying with friends near Boulder, Colorado (which incidentally is how I know Boulder is Weird) and it is a tremendous experience. So much fun, especially the drinks in the lodge!
I hope everyone’s got their thinking caps on for a winter adventure – and if you need further information, don’t miss our friends Dave & Deb’s round-up of things to do in Canada – one for every province!