The sun rose sparkling off the mountains after a night of snowfall, but everyone in Chalet Annapurna was stiff, tired and bruised after two days of ski boots. It was very tough getting us all out of the door and up the hill to the ski bus by 9.27am.
The morning session involved some parallel practice on the nursery slopes but unfortunately one of our pupils was towed away on a stretcher. Luckily it wasn’t more than a sprained tendon (still painful though) and we were so impressed with their composure and manners when talking to the medical centre and paramedics. Everyone else carried on, happy once we knew they were not badly hurt.
Today we made packed lunches and took the cable car up to the top of the mountain: it was minus 21 degrees! Unlike yesterday it was sunny and clear and we were actually above the clouds. We had an amazing view of Mont Blanc, and then swiftly got back in the car to get down again. When we get back to school two pupils will be able to talk about what the early stage of altitude sickness feels like. It was a good thing we had Alejandro the paramedic (and ex-deputy head) with us who was able to supervise the sipping of water and recovery on the way back down. Never let it be said that the BA does things by half! Pod leader Maz and other students were very kind and supportive and we all helped each other get down in good spirits: Team work. Family.
For the afternoon session the group took the chair lift up to Diable and skied down most of the mountain practising their new skills. Two days ago they couldn’t stand up - it was so exciting! We tried to post videos but hands and phones freeze really quickly in the snow so they aren’t very good quality. Everyone was buzzing when we got to the bottom. Students all agreed “We never want to leave. This place is amazing”.
After we got back to the chalet our ski instructors from Ecole du Ski Francais, Fabrice, David (the third, Julien, couldn’t make it but sent his wishes) came to give out the certificates for all new skiers. They said that they work with schools from the UK often but it is very rare to have such a good experience for these reasons:
1. BA students are fit and strong
2. BA students are so polite, always saying thank you, and so appreciative
3. BA students are a bit crazy and do funny things!!
We gave them a thank you card and presents. We hope we can come back here and see them again; what supportive, kind and expert coaches they were, it made the trip for us.
The staff decided to reward our wonderful students with a special treat: we booked a local restaurant for dinner. To our surprise, Kevin and Ali our two alumni got up to make a speech on behalf of the students to express their gratitude for the trip and explain how much it meant to them. Not a dry eye in the house!
We are tired, our shins hurt, our suitcases are full of grubby clothes and we need a bath and 12 hours sleep, but we have never been happier. This was the toughest and most rewarding thing we have ever attempted. Oscar Wilde said ‘we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars’. Well this week we could touch them.