Walney School Ski Course
Sat 12th to Sat 19th Dec 15
Following weeks of preparation and anticipation the day we had been waiting for had finally arrived!
Students had visited the Kendal Dry Ski slopes in order to familiarise themselves with walking in knee high boots and being clipped into a meter and a half long strips made up of a wooden core reinforced with plastic (a ski)!
All students had made really encouraging progress throughout their time on the dry slope and were all now eager to hone their newly acquired skills and techniques on the real thing snow!
The most difficult part of our 24 hour journey (by luxury coach) was actually getting to the M6. The rain poured constantly, and on the back of the recent flooding parts of the A590 were unpassable by car and it was only the size of our coach that enabled us to pass through to the motorway. Once on the motorway the journey to Dover passed uneventfully and we boarded our ferry for the 9.30pm crossing.
Upon arriving in France we all settled down for a "good” nights sleep. Thankfully it was not too long before we pulled up at a service station to sample hot croissant and coffee for breakfast. The temperature by now had become increasingly colder and the journey to the Mont Blanc tunnel passing through such classic resorts as Chamonix brought some of the best views in the Alps.
Through the tunnel into Courmayer and onto the town of Aosta were our first port of call was a typical quaint restaurant where we were treated to pasta bolognaises Italian style. From there it was to the ski depository to be fitted for our boots and skis. Once sorted we then boarded our coach and made the short transfer to our home for the week, Hotel Dujany.
The rest of the afternoon was spent checking into rooms, unpacking, collecting jackets, salopettes and helmets, distributing lift passes and sorting out health cards, following evening meal an early night for all in readiness for our first day on the slopes.
6.30am start, up, shower, dress, breakfast, check, gloves goggles, lift passes, health cards, lunch vouchers and ensure enough layers!
On the coach for the 10 minuet transfer to the ski depository, boots on, collect skis and then over to the Gondola for the 15 minute ride up to the resort of Pila to meet our instructors for the first time.
Four of our party had already skied before and were all of a good standard and they were quickly honing their skills under the watchful eye of their instructor. Introduced to instructors and allocated groups the remainder of the students were soon off and taking their first hesitant steps on the nursery slopes.
Trepidation (in many cases) was soon replaced by whoops of delight, laughter and enjoyment with everyone making great progress in such a short space of time. Lunchtime brought tired but happy children to the restaurant, pizza, chips, coke and tales of the morning were the order of the day and all could not wait to get started again in the afternoon.
Following an excellent first day we took the Gondola down to Aosta, returned our skis and boots and went to an Ice cream parlour to sample another of Italy’s culinary delights.
Then it was back to the hotel, shower and change for evening meal and discussion about a great first day on the snow! Some of the boys even enjoyed an hour splashing around in the hotel pool!
Tuesday followed a similar pattern with all first time skiers continuing to make excellent progress and really begin to enjoy their time in the Alps, after Evening meal the apres ski consisted of a trip to the Bowling Alley and Arcade.
Wednesday saw all first time skiers take the cable car up the mountain to the higher slopes where we were able to see first-hand the superb views and landmarks such at Mont Blanc (France), Monte Rossa (Italy) and the iconic Matterhorn (Switzerland). It was amazing to see our students skiing down the slopes with increased confidence due to their mastering of both the snow plough and swing turns. The "top four” were indeed making outstanding progress and were to be seen covering the slopes like natives carving their turns as well as the locals.
We did not dine in the hotel on Wednesday instead we took the short coach journey into Aosta town where we were able to wander around the pedestrianised cobbled streets taking in the sights before feasting on Pizza chips and even more ice cream.
Thursday morning brought a little concern to some of the party as they were to be assessed and graded on their performance and progress on the slopes to date but they need not have worried with all the students making really excellent progress and gaining a very pleasing level of performance. The progression of our experienced skiers was something to behold with all gaining a minimum of 4 star awards when certificates and badges were awarded in a presentation ceremony run by the instructors.
It was however a shame that the standard of singing at the night time Karaoke did not match that of the skiing however a great night was had by all.
A visit to the Christmas market gave us all the opportunity to witness an amazing sight, set within the Roman ruins of old Aosta town various stalls and eateries displaying local craftwork, paintings, ceramics to name but a few.
As they say all good things must come to an end and the same can be said of our experience on the slopes after another really enjoyable day on the slopes reality struck as we handed back our skis, boots and helmets for the last time and headed for the hotel for the last time, showers, changed evening meal and embark the coach for our journey home.
Surprisingly, the return journey to Calais (and then Walney) was a little quieter with many making good use of the time to catch up on some sleep and prepare themselves for the Christmas festivities that awaited upon their return.
All that remains to be said is that on behalf of the staff who had the privilege to accompany the trip a really massive "Thank You” to the students for their great company, humour, behaviour and enthusiasm in all that the week threw at them and from me a special thanks to parents and carers for their support with the course and Mrs Lever, Mrs Stockdale and Mr Barton for their time, efforts and company throughout the week,