The sun is shining and spring has clearly sprung, so I thought that I would regress back to the depths of winter and regale you all with a tale of one of my days on the slopes.
It was the fourth day of my first ski holiday, and I’d had a pretty good morning in Ski School. The weather had finally cleared up a bit, so we had a day of blissful sunshine and blue skies. At lunchtime, I decided to drop out of the afternoon’s lessons and join up with my boyfriend for lunch. He wanted to take me to a restaurant part-way down the blue run of 7a (the name of which still completely eludes me, but it may be this place), so we skied down blue 20 and got the lift up Horberg.
I was happy as Larry at first. Blue 20 was nice and familiar, although I wasn’t particularly fond of the last section, which opens in to a steep, wide slope. However, while on the lift up the mountain, a little bit of anxiety set in.
“That bit looks steep,” I muttered, eye-balling what to me looked like a near-vertical slope. “That bit looks narrow as well…” Suddenly, spending the afternoon with the Ski School seemed far more appealing.
Anyway, I made it down the first little bit of the run to the restaurant. I had a very nice meal there, although it was spoiled somewhat by my apprehension of the ski back down the mountain. The awkward thing about dining part-way down a run is that once you are there, you can’t chicken out and get the lift back…
We set off. Straight away I knew I was not in a good place. I get a bit tired in the afternoon after skiing all morning (so much for the gym work), and I find that when I’m tired I lose confidence because I don’t trust my legs to do what they’re told.
We had only gone a little way down, when part of the slope dropped off to the right. I’d had a bad experience that week on a red run that had had an incline in two directions, so seeing the slope drop off in two directions just completely threw me. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I panicked.
After an age, I managed to edge down and moved on to my next challenge – a narrow section. This section was literally only wide enough to do a snow plough in a straight line. My wobbly legs just about made it.
The next section was just as narrow, and a bit icy, so my boyfriend decided to manoeuvre me so that I ended up on a section of the red run, which was in better condition. This meant that I had to move across on to the red slope and slowly head down its steep bank. Time for a second panic attack.
To my boyfriend’s credit, he stayed amazingly calm in the face of my complete meltdown. It wasn’t my finest moment I can tell you. Somehow he coaxed me down that section of the slope, using some moguls to help me control my speed.
Once I had defeated that slope, I needed a breather. While I was huffing and puffing, my boyfriend was checking his watch. He then delivered some delightful news – we had about 40 minutes to get down the rest of the slope in order to catch the last lift down the mountain. Otherwise, we were screwed.
At that particular point in time, I felt I could barely move, let alone carry on skiing. Typically, 7a was to be the longest run I had ever done, and I was completely unprepared for skiing for that length of time. However, I now had no choice. Time to get a move on!
I think I can safely say that I then skied for my life. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I think I’m entitled.
Mercifully, the rest of the slope was far more doable. As the day was drawing to a close, we also ended up with the slope to ourselves, which actually made skiing on it really enjoyable.
With time ticking, I pushed any doubts out of my head and just ‘went for it’ as much as possible. I even began to relax, and it was great watching the sun gradually dip lower in the skies, although this also signalled the fact that we needed to hurry up and get to the bottom.
Around half-way down, we encountered a man pulling a gate across the slope to close it. He paused for us to zoom by, and closed it behind us. We were really cutting this fine.
The next obstacle we encountered was a fleet of piste bashers preparing the slope for the next day. Skiing past them was a bit surreal to say the least. On the plus side, it meant that the rest of our ski down was on perfectly-prepared slopes. Yay for us!
Finally, we came out at the bottom of blue 8 and it was plain sailing for the last little bit. I got to the bottom of the slope and nearly toppled over. I have never, ever been so tired before. I struggled to stand on the moving carpets that took us to the cable car. When we got there, I had to have my boyfriend take my skis off for me, and then he carried them over to the car.
But I felt GOOD. I had been scared out of my mind, but I’d done it! My best reward was the smile on my boyfriend’s face. “I’m so proud of you!” Maybe it was worth it after all.
You can check out the route of 7a, and the other runs in Mayrhofen, on this map .