Frankly, I’m ashamed to admit this outing marked only my third of the season. Perhaps if I was a student, or clever enough to forge one of these elusive student-status-corroborating matrículas like several of my friends, then I’d have gone up six or seven times by now. But I am neither of those things. So when I do go up I invariably end up having to shell out somewhere within the region of €60. And that’s without ski-hire. It ain’t cheap. But when snow and sun are in such abundance, as is the current case, skiing conditions are superlative in the most positive of senses.
Presently, The Sierra Nevada is enjoying its best spell in years, and last weekend, my trusty clan of skiadores and self set out to make the most of it. We took the early morning bus, aboard which there was none of the usual dosing and dim lighting – just people grinning from ear to ear and buzzing with uncontainable excitement.
The pistes couldn’t have looked any more inviting when we finally arrived. They were caked in the white stuff, gleaming under the cloudless sky. Curls of snow swept along the ridge of each mountain like silver linings, occasioning us to lick our lips in eager anticipation of what lay in wait.
Anxious to get into the thick of it, we immediately headed leftward toward where we hoped would be a glut of vast, untracked powder fields. A second foray later in the day would prove that there were, but before we could reach the end of the annoyingly flat traverse that would take us there, our vehement spirits got the better of us. We ducked in and glided down a marginally mottled section of off-piste. Tracked or untracked, it was still a slice of hoary heaven.
More of the same ensued. It wasn’t long though, before we decided it was time for a spot of hiking. The fifteen-minute ascent aboard La Telecabina I not only serves as a means of transport but also as the perfect vantage point. Watching skiers and snowboarders alike hurl themselves down the off-piste sections to the right of the gondola, reachable only by foot, had wet, sorry, dowsed our appetites. We navigated a path and got to it. Twenty minutes and coughing fits later we had at last reached our zenith. We stood breathlessly on the same ridge that we had climbed on our last visit, staring into the pristine powder-bowl in the offing. I skulked across to steepest looking part, glancing over the edge every so often, and waited for friend, who had already plunged forth, to give his signal. He had been instructed to film me attempting to conquer a large boulder which had on the previous occasion defeated me. The signal came, and in I dropped, making a beeline for the rock. Don’t hold your breath. I’d love to be able to tell you that I span a perfect 540 with a flawless landing but, alas, I did not. Instead I landed awkwardly and performed another one of my textbook cartwheels. Defeated again.
After lunch, I lost my friends, and, as I was to discover, my phone too, owing to one unzipped jacket pocket. There goes every contact ever made since moving to Spain. Oh well.
‘What better way to cheer myself up than going to the snow park for a couple of hours?’ I thought. ‘Perhaps there I’ll be able to make amends for the tumble taken off-piste earlier that morning’.
How erroneous of me. Not ten minutes after the commencement of my first run did I take a royally painful nosedive. I attempted to do something that I had no chance in hell of doing, basically. It involved a ‘box’ in the shape of a ‘c’, on a sideward incline, and I had soared towards it exhibiting all that sort of zest and pluckiness you’re supposed to when attempting something so dangerous, and leaped without hesitation…
Thwack! I was doomed from the moment I left the ground. Not even remotely close. I’d landed on the front edge of my board, leaning into the box – viz, I was done for. My board had slipped from under me, causing me to fly forward and smash my ribs onto the aluminum pipe that lined the box’s edge. I performed yet another textbook cartwheel, twice, and landed unceremoniously in a crumpled heap.“¿Estás bien tio?” a nearby voice called out. Winded and visibly wounded, all I could muster back was a croaky “Si. Gracias”. Clearly I wasn’t fine, but for the sake of avoiding further embarrassment, I quickly got to my feet, pretended to laugh and fled the scene. Seconds later, when out of sight, I sank to the ground and swore like a trooper.
I left the park after that, feeling rather crestfallen and as though I should probably seek out a paramedic. I didn’t. Instead I soldiered on and ignored the pain. Stupid, I know, but these conditions were simply too good to pass up. I stuck to the easier-going pistes for the rest of the afternoon, while trying in vain to find my phone. Soon though, it was home time, but not before what has now become a après-ski ritual visit to 100 Montaditos. On Sundays, everything costs a euro, including beer. Suddenly my rib wasn’t hurting anymore, nor was I particularly bothered about my absent phone. It had been yet another epic day at the Sierra Nevada.
Day four hurry up already.
Who else has been up to cash in on the perfect conditions we are currently having?