samedi, mars 06, 2010

Skiing at Le Polle - Take 2

View from the bottom of the black salom run - after I've just skied it (but didn't attempt the salom, of course)

It snowed yesterday. Hub came home and we looked at each other and agreed that we should give Le Polle another chance. If it snowed here, it would have snowed even more up there. Plus the weather forecast said that it would be clear and sunny on Saturday. This is a sign from heaven.

One snow-covered village along the way (at 600m?) about 30 minutes from our house

Where we are in Modena, it's flatter than flat. But 10 minutes down the very same road, and you arrive at the foot of a chain of mountains and valleys, leading from Serramazzoni all the way up to Monte Cimone. It's beautiful there. And Le Polle is just an hour by car from our house - once you've figured out how to get there without following your GPS.

Road leading to the village of Riolunato (at 705m) near Le Polle

We've figured out that Le Polle is the best ski station for us in the Monte Cimone ski domain. As a lesser known and quieter station, there will be less competition for parking, ski rental and ski passes. We also have the added advantage of not needing any ski lessons for the children. There are only red and black slopes at Le Polle and no baby park. And to ski to the rest of Monte Cimone from there, you'll need to be quite good.

Top of the world - we walked all the way up here last Spring!

We've had a wonderful day skiing.
There was lots of fresh snow on the slopes, there were not many skiers around and the sky was clear and sunny. The guy at the ski rental shop declared that today was the most beautiful day for skiing in the whole season!

Our skis

We rented our skis from the shop just next to the ski pass counter. It is worth paying more for better skis (the shop we went to a fortnight ago only had lousy ones), we had Salomon and Atomic skis this time and they were top. In fact my skis turned so easily on the runs it made me very nervous at the beginning.

See the distance we had to cover to reach the other side - long way yet

We skied all over Monte Cimone today : Le Polle, Passo del Lupo, Cimoncino, Lago della Ninfa, from 1280m to 1976m in altitude. And I can confirm that my children all ski much better than me, and the rest of the family will soon prefer to ski without me - because I hold everyone back all the time.

I would get stuck in the snow up ahead on the left of this picture

The Teenager is now almost ski tout-terrain and has finally understood how to do his godille with speed and style. Baby Boy goes down red and black runs easily and with no fear. Baby Girl however is more hesitant (it's actually only psychological on her part as she skies well and has alot of stamina) and God forbids that she falls as there would be drama and at least 15 minutes lost trying to get her going again. I am pathetic. This time, I :
  • Flew off a bump and fell on my bum in front of a group of people queuing up for the ski lift;
  • Was knocked down by a (stupid) snowboarder as I was queuing up for the ski lift;
  • Lost my balance and fell as I was trying to avoid (another stupid) snowboarder;
  • Unwittingly skied hors-piste and found myself stuck in thigh-high snow. Had to crawl my way out and nearly broke my leg no thanks to the weird position of my skis.
The black salom run

Otherwise, Hub led us everywhere to even black runs and I went down (albeit slowly) everyone of them. The 3 men decided at some point to try out the salom course and we therefore found ourselves in front of this run marked "pista difficile". We couldn't possibly separate at this point so Baby Girl and I had no choice but to go on it.

Pista Difficle - we've been warned

When we were taking the ski lift, we admired skiers on this run and saw quite a number of people falling, even grown-up men finishing the run on snow-plough. I was tetanised. Hub shouted at me to follow his trail, but I couldn't move. Then, as always, once I've resigned myself to my fate, once I'm on a run and know that I couldn't turn back, I'll just do it. And I'm incapable of following anybody's trail. I'll find a way to do it my way.

The family getting ready to attack the steep and bumpy run

I actually enjoyed this run. The snow was beautiful, the run was steep and there were lots of bumps, making it important to apply technique when skiing. I had to concentrate and try to remember all that I've learnt in the past few years. I did it without a hitch and was ready to do it again - but Baby Girl had a fall that got a few other skiers involved (Hub and one of them tried to help her and everyone rolled down the run on their bums losing their skis in the process) and you can imagine that she wasn't hot about it.

Actually we could understand why most of Monte Cimone's runs are classed red or black. Besides the fact that they are usually very bumpy, most of the runs were not prepared properly. A snowy mess. After years skiing in the French Alps, we are not prepared for this lack of consideration for clients who pay alot to ski in this domain. They must have been trying to save on man and machine labour for preparing the slopes. Hub had to admit at times that it wasn't easy skiing on such runs. And up there at the top, it was in addition very windy. I looked at the patterns made by the flying snow and thought that I was in a snowy dessert. It was quite scary.

Going from station to station from the top

Otherwise, it was beautiful skiing from one mountain to another passing through (sometimes narrow and very bumpy) trails that linked the range of mountains at the top - almost at the summits. And once again, we were the last to leave the runs. At 4:30pm, we were still at Passo del Lupo and had just missed the last ski lift that would bring us up to the snow park that has a trail that would allow us to make our way back to Le Polle. We were lucky that just a few metres away there was another ski lift that would close 10 minutes later. This meant having to cut across the mountains on a long and narrow red trail which while wasn't difficult, required much concentration (on my part). At one point, there was only a narrow and straight path to cross and Hub said, "Just go straight, do not be afraid!" You can't turn right or left, you really have to go straight and you cannot try to control your speed. I almost freaked out, but once I launched myself on the trail, it was actually easier than it had looked and as usual it was a question of mastering the fear and getting started. Skiing is all in the mind. Though being more fit and having better technique would definitely help.

Lago della Ninfa ski station with Baby Park on the right

We lunched at Lago della Ninfa in a restaurant recommended by one of Hub's colleagues. It was quite good.

Ristorante Baita della Ninfa where we lunched in

We were saying that it was a pity that we didn't try to ski at Cimone in the last 2 years. But then the Babies were not skiing like they are now and like I've said before, this ski domain is best enjoyed when you are at least an initiated skier. It is amazing how we could just bring them anywhere and they would just ski.

Baby Boy resting on the snow

I have maximum another 2 or 3 weekends of skiing, if weather permits, to endure. God be gracious, please, and let me survive yet another ski season in one piece.

3 commentaires:

Pris a dit…

WELL DONE you! :) Wow! Red and black slopes! You´re one brave Mummy!!!!

Anonyme a dit…

That was one beautiful photo of your trip up the mountains in the car where you snapped the snow covered trees along the narrow road! And here I am in Spore sweating away in relentless desert heat which has turned lots of green grass brown around Spore.

How come you always rent skis and not buy them? Is it becos different ski slopes need different type of tractions attached to the bottom and makes it not a worthwhile investment?

Beau Lotus a dit…

Hub has bought his own ski boots 2 years ago because he has flat feet and needs a pair to fit only his feet.

Otherwise we rent our skis even though it's more expensive this way because the children are still growing and we do not ski often enough to justify the purchase. More importantly, good ski shops usually rent out the latest and best skis which you wouldn't have if you buy your own. We think it's worth paying extra for that.

You ski with the same skis on whatever slope you go on. But depending on your level, you would choose skis that turn easily or not. When they are very light and turn easily, it can be very scary if you are not good at controlling your speed.