Ratcliffe College Ski Trip to St Gervais
This blog was written by Charlotte Hull, Year 10, Ratcliffe College about her Ski Adaptable school ski trip to St Gervais, France in February 2014.
We left school on the evening of February 14th and headed straight to Dover with our dedicated drivers, Dave and Mike. After a few short stops (and a sighting of Russell Howard at the services!) we arrived at the ferry port. Due to some severe weather we were delayed, although this was prime opportunity for us, the teachers, and the drivers to catch up on some well needed sleep!
After a bumpy ferry journey across the Chanel, we soon arrived in France. The journey to St Gervais flew by and we were soon winding up the mountain roads to the resort! We were greeted at the Belle Etoile hotel with flurries of snow and a warm smile from our hosts, Thierry & Lisa. We then turned into our rooms for the night to get some sleep ready for the week of skiing ahead.
We got up at 7am, had a delicious breakfast and headed just down the road where we collected our ski equipment. Shortly after 9am we were on the slopes waiting for our Ski school instructors! The weather that day was slightly cloudy but didn’t dampen our spirits and everyone had a great morning skiing, especially as it had snowed more than foot overnight! After two hours skiing we met back at the hotel, had a warm lunch and then ventured back to the slopes for another couple of hours in the afternoon. We had two instructors, one for the morning and one for the afternoon and great relationships were formed with both!
In the evening, we all sat down for our first meal at Belle Etoile, which after a long day we were all ready for! As it was the first night, we all sat and chilled on the sofa area and chairs until most of us retreated to our rooms to get some rest for the following days skiing!
On Monday, we woke up to bluebird skies! The weather was clearer and we could all take in the amazing scenery surrounding us. Even when we were sitting down for breakfast the view of Mont Blanc was amazing! During the day, all groups progressed well and started to go down more and more challenging slopes. That afternoon, after skiing, some of us went down to the local shop near the bottom of the resort and stocked up on food, (mostly chocolate and sweets!). Then after supper we got onto the coach and went ice skating in St Gervais! We had the whole rink to ourselves and luckily we came back with no serious injuries - only a few bumps and bruises.
Skiing on Tuesday was particularly exciting as some groups were allowed to go into the jump park and land on an air bag! It was such an experience and almost everyone in our group had a go! The rest of the day the weather was lovely and sunny and skiing was fab! For our evening entertainment we headed out again, first to a local hypermarket and then to the bowling alley! The evening was packed with laughter and competitive bowling, with Dave the bus driver getting the highest score of the night.
Starting our fourth day skiing, I must admit that my muscles were starting to ache but that didn’t stop me from attempting all the challenging slopes! Luc and Freddie (the instructors) both took us in some fresh, untracked snow, just off the main piste. This was a great experience, especially as many people in my group had never skied in these types of conditions before! Lots of tips and pointers were given and soon we had all got the hang of it. For lunch that afternoon, instead of returning to the Belle Etoile to have lunch, we all met at the top of the slopes to buy lunch at ‘le Freddie’. The weather was sunny again and dining out was a nice change.
That evening our entertainment was night skiing by torch lit descent! At around 6pm we got on the chair lift to the top of the mountain and sat in ‘le Freddie’ waiting for night fall. Excitement and apprehension was high! After a drink and everyone had been issued their glow sticks, the whole of the group waited at the top of the slope. The over 18’s and teachers were given fire torches which made the experience a lot more exciting. Not long after we set off in the pitch black and made our way down the gentle green and blue slopes to the bottom! Skiers of all abilities did it and it was great to ski with people outside your instructor groups! When we reached the bottom, the atmosphere was electric and I felt very proud of myself.
Feeling fresh again, we set off in the morning on our penultimate day of skiing but no one really thought of it like that as we didn’t want the trip to come to an end! The instructors were pushing us on and taking us down much trickier slopes. The laughs continued and the ‘Dumbo of the day’ hat never failed to find a victim. That evening, we sat and ate our last dinner in the Belle Etoile and it was delicious. The teachers hosted a quiz, in which the Year 7 team won, putting all of the older years to shame. We finished with our school tradition of giving out awards to the best, slowest and most dedicated skiers, after which, Thierry & Lisa very kindly held a mini disco which everyone enjoyed!
Being our last day, everyone went out a little tired but ready to enjoy the last skiing. That day it was snowing really heavily, which meant there was lots of fresh powdery snow to take advantage of. It took a while for my group to adapt back to this type of snow, but after a few falls we all managed to master the technique! After both a morning and afternoon of skiing we said our final goodbyes and thank you’s to the ski school instructors and Thierry and Lisa for their fantastic accommodation and hospitality! We then returned our rented ski gear, ate our last meal, and got back on the bus for a journey back! We made good time on the way back and managed to get on an earlier ferry resulting in us arriving back at school two hours earlier! We left the bus full of memories and I can’t wait to go back next year!