Slope smart

Monday 28th January 2013 | Kate

You know the drill. A ski trip cheaper than you could find anywhere else, one that just happens to be with your university and therefore your best friends. And while some people have skied more than you could even imagine, you’re a novice, slightly apprehensive about the carnage about to ensue 2000m above sea level. It’s a position many of us have been in and one in which we felt equally apprehensive, so without further ado, and hopefully without taking all the fun out of what will undoubtedly be one of the best weeks of your life, here is my guide to staying safe on the slopes this winter.

1. The most important thing to remember is the altitude. Picture those nights when you go out on an empty stomach, remember nothing and wake up the next day surrounded by chips and still in the same clothes you were in the evening before. Altitude has that same effect on you so beware. Each drink will hit you twice as fast so it’s important to take your time with a bevvie and, if you feel yourself becoming a bit woozy, hit the water. No one else will realize; they’ll be far too busy sinking 5 jagerbombs at a time in the hope that they’ll get drunk quicker (and trust me, they will!).

2. Hyperthermia is also a biggie. As we all know, when drunk the cold is not easily felt, hence the phrases ‘beer jacket’ or ‘vodka blanket’. Every year a university student will suffer as a result of hyperthermia on a ski trip. Even if you’re someone who ‘never feels the cold’ and begrudges paying €2 each time you have to leave your coat somewhere, it would be advised to take the hit and wear some layers. You’ll appreciate it in the long run, trust me.

3. As you may have deduced by now, the author of this article is no stranger to a vin chaud or 8 but it is vitally important to remember that, if you have said vin chauds up the mountain, you still need to find a way down, something which could end in disastrous consequences if done when completely blotto. Alcohol and skiing don’t go together in the same harmonious way that tea goes with biscuits and quite frankly it is obvious why. If your skiing or boarding skills leave much to be desired when sober, then it is no surprise that when drunk you don’t suddenly turn into Hermann Maier, however much your drunken mind thinks your slalom skills may resemble his.

4. Peer pressure; that very thing you think you conquered when you were 14 will come back to haunt you when you are skiing. It is much harder to say no to the extraordinarily hard black run when going down the easier alternative means you will be separated from your friends. Bearing this in mind, try and think wisely before setting off for a day of skiing. Yes, you may be sharing a room with your best friend but when she learnt to ski before she could walk, it may not be a great idea to try and keep up with her. Instead, I would go for the slightly slower neighbour who is more likely to wait for you when you fall on your arse, mainly because they’ll be right behind you, also on the floor. You can always just meet your best friend in the bar later!

And there you have it. Whilst this advice may not be that pragmatic in actively asking you to avoid alcohol and silliness, hopefully it has at least raised awareness to some of the potential dangers that may await you and you may even think twice about having that third vin chaud on an empty stomach.
Kate Nicholas