28 December 2016 A Day On The Slopes With A Ski Club Leader
The Leaders service has kicked off for the season with the first Leaders already in Zermatt. Chris Madoc-Jones from the Ski Club's content team was on hand to experience day two of the 2016/17 Leaders season:
Having explored some of Zermatt already when experienced the Leaders Course, the Ski Club’s content team were very keen to experience a day exploring the mountain with current Leaders. Both Jonny Cass, the Ski Club’s videographer, and I had never skied (or in Jonny’s case boarded) with a Leader before so were excited to experience it through our own eyes and document a day on and off the slopes.
So at 8.55am sharp we met John Haddon and Neil Morris at the base of the Matterhorn Express for an advanced/expert day. We were the last to arrive as the nine others were already there, geared up and waiting. A quick brief and introductions followed, before we set off up the gondola at 9am – it appears to be that meet times are well-adhered to! The ride up gave everyone the perfect opportunity to get to know each other, swap skiing stories and chat about the day ahead.
A full day on the slopes
Once at the top of the Klein Matterhorn at 3883m, the group split into two – Jonny and I chose the faster group to explore as much of the Cervinia ski area as possible with John. We were joined by five other members from a real mix of backgrounds, but as one of our group Mike Robertson put it, all had three things in common – “a similar skiing ability, a love for skiing and a desire to ski with like-minded people”.
The group worked really well as John led us down run after run, with everyone making their own turns but skiing down at a similar speed, occasionally we dipped off the side to score some turns off piste. On the lift rides back up, skiing tips were shared and new bits of kit were discussed – something that another of the group, Aileen Hynes, said has really helped to improve her skiing and overall knowledge of the sport.
But a coffee stop and lunch are also very important!
After skiing the pistes for a couple of hours a coffee stop was much needed! John led us to a real locals spot – think beautiful old stone building and an amazing view, but add in coffees for €1 and a friendly Italian manning the bar. For Aileen, this local knowledge was one of the biggest draws to the Leaders service – she initially “skied with a leader because she didn’t know a resort”, but having skied with one in Zermatt for several years has made the resort feel like home and she knew many of the best locals haunts.
Lunch came at around 1pm and was the perfect opportunity to rest, grab some hearty Italian food and chat about the morning’s skiing. For me, this was the perfect time to discuss with everyone the new resort Facebook groups and with Mike about his latest purchase – a pair of Dynastar skis chosen off the back of the Ski Club’s 2017 Ski Tests and bought using the club’s 15% discount with Snow+Rock. It was great to hear members so actively engaging with the Ski Club and giving such positive feedback.
A well-earned drink
At the end of a hard day’s skiing there is nothing better than an après drink – and this is where the Ski Club’s social hour comes in. After a shower and a rest (or in our case some work), the group tucked themselves into a cosy corner of the Hotel Pollux bar, complete with log fire and leather sofas. The atmosphere was great as around 20 Ski Clubbers caught up over a glühwein or a cold local beer.
For a solo skier like Mike, this element was so important. It allowed for him to “spend most of my time with the club and other members – I only eat breakfast, some dinners and sleep alone”. And for Aileen and her husband Jim it added a completely new dimension to their ski holiday, allowing them to socialise for an hour before heading off for dinner. Getting on and meeting like-minded people was easy Aileen said – “everyone has one big thing in common, skiing”, and from our perspective this certainly seemed to be true.
Will we ski with Leaders again?
Absolutely. Jonny and I both agreed that the ski day was fantastic, we’d seen a huge amount of terrain and by the end of the day our legs certainly felt it! But also we thoroughly enjoyed the company and sharing our passion for snowsports with the group, both on and off the slopes – we will both be back for more, especially if visiting a new resort.
For more information about the Ski Club Leaders service and to find out when Leaders will be in our 18 host resorts this winter head to the Leaders section of the website. If you’re skiing in France this winter then look out for the 11 resorts that will have Instructor Led Guiding in place throughout the season.
Also, be sure to head to the new resort Facebook pages to link up with other members and see the very latest happenings from all the major resorts.