It’s amazing how much covert energy suddenly manifests itself in the face of doing something that you love for an entire day. I’d barely slept a wink all night, yet at the first shrill beeping sound of my alarm had leaped out of bed and pretty much landed in my snowboarding boots in about 10 seconds flat. The day I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about had finally come, and being tired was simply not allowed. My brain full on rejected it.
It had rained the previous day (there I go about weather again…), though on this occasion I had been grateful, as normally rain in Granada = snow in Sierra Nevada, AND it was all supposed to have cleared up by Saturday, leaving nothing but bright blue skies. In other words, this would make for perfect conditions. Yes, you could say I was ever so slightly excited for this one.
We set off late, unsurprisingly, and for this we paid the price. Of course we’d expected it to be busy; it was Puente weekend, and this all but guaranteed that there would be crowds, but none of us had quite anticipated throngs of this magnitude. Finding a parking space took what seemed like an eternity and queuing to buy our passes, and subsequently board the gondola/chairlift added another maddening forty-five minutes to our waiting time. In fact, it wasn’t until 10.50am- two hours after we had left Granada- that we actually found ourselves looking down the mountain, as opposed to up the damn thing.
It also hadn’t gone unnoticed that conditions weren’t perfect. Actually, they were pretty far from it. Apparently, it hadn’t snowed the day before- it had rained! This meant only one thing: ice. Our hopes dashed, we pushed off down the slope for our first run, determined not be deterred and to make up for lost time.
Minutes later, it was over, and we were right back where we started- the tail end of the now even longer queue. Though to our pleasant surprise, the snow wasn’t all that bad, thanks to the whirring snowmakers on either side of the groomed pistes. Any off-piste exploits, however, were well out of the question- the immediate juddering brought on by the scores of frozen snowballs littering the off-piste track were a sure indication of that.
Eventually, the swarms scattered and the slopes opened up a bit, allowing us to really brush the cobwebs away. Predictably, I let myself become a little overzealous, and in an attempt to cut across a slope in order to reach the start of a run yet to be explored, I collided with a skier. A very, very, pissed off skier, might I add. Speed had been key, or else I risked slipping too far down the slope and overshooting my exit. I didn’t stick around to explain myself, preferring instead to hold up both my hands and yell ‘lo siento!’ at the top of my lungs, as I trundled away (he had ended up skis akimbo on the ground). I couldn’t quite hear his response, but as I watched his lips move I highly doubted that they were imparting words of forgiveness. Oops.
The best snow of the day was found along el zorro and el rebeco, beneath the stadium chairlift (click here for piste map), owing to a greater concentration of snowmakers sporadically showering the runs in artificial powder throughout the day. The loma dilar on the far right ridge, which leads to the resort’s presently substandard super park (1 jump and 4 boxes), also offered up some rare carving opportunities. Elsewhere, it was pretty underwhelming, but at this stage of the season you can’t expect the whole enchilada I suppose. Several chairlifts and the whole Laguna de las Yeguas section remain unopened, so there is plenty more to look forward to.
By 4.30 the tiredness had definitely caught up with us; our group had shrunk from seven to two, and we were no longer in the least bit bothered about sticking together. I managed to catch the last lift of the day, and I mean THE LAST lift- not a single person was left in the queue behind me (which left me feeling rather smug), meaning that I could mosey down the mountain at my own pace, without any clumsy skiiers getting in the way…
Back in the much-welcomed warmth of the car, we gorged ourselves on mandarins and mini-donuts before committing the cardinal sin of falling asleep, leaving the equally as deadbeat driver to battle it out against his eyelids for the drive, or rather queue, home. Ordinarily I wouldn’t commit such atrocities but keeping my eyes open was futile. My body had countered, and my brain simply gave up. The countdown to day two has begun.
Anyone else been up to the Sierra Nevada yet? What did you think? Or are you planning to go? I’d gladly answer any questions…