ski lesson: 3

This week's ski lesson was at Le Gets, also in the French Alps. We had several inches of snowfall overnight, gracing the slopes with beautiful fresh powder. The trip up to the lifts was rather wet and foggy so we were afraid we would be skiing in white out conditions, but as has usually been our luck, the sun comes out while we are riding the lifts up. In three lessons I feel like I have progressed from 1. I need find away out of ever having to do this again, to 2. okay, I don't hate it, to 3. skinig is my favorite, when can we go again. I wonder what next Saturday will bring.

Lesson 3a: Fresh powder is the best. 

Lesson 3b: Be a spring.

Lesson 3c: Once you stop being afraid, skiing can be really fun. I even went off a few small jumps and won some of our group races.

Lesson 3d: Beware of the button lift- it took me out on my first attempt. The next time it flung me 4 feet in the air, but I rode it.

Lesson 3e: A totally parallel wipe out (nose nearly hitting ski tips) means that I'm improving. 

There have been some interesting get-ups on the slopes...the penguins are an obvious winner for best dressed. Thanks, Derek, for taking some nice photos on our outings (I can't carry the camera or I would probably break it).

The bus ride home was somewhat magical. Everyone was completely exhausted- it takes a lot more strength and endurance to navigate the deep powder. We watched out the window - clusters of snow gathered on the bare tree branches like spring cherry blossoms - until blending into the silhouettes. Blinking in and out of sleep, we saw the last colors drain from the sky, lulled by Bon Iver. Home for hot cocoa and an turning in early.


ski lesson: 2

This week we went to  Les Contamines in the French Alps beside Mt. Blanc and just about at the Italian border. It was a beautiful day and warm enough to bask in the sunshine for a long lunch on the restaurant patio. It took me all week to work up the courage to ski again, but today was a ton of fun.  No bruises, very few falls, and more confidence. At the end of the day I even wanted to keep skiing. My group has been spending our days on red slopes, which are pretty comfortable. This area was less crowded than last week's destination- that played a big part in enjoyable conditions.

Lesson 2: Recreation is hard work. We get up at 5:30, out the door before 6 to catch the 6:11 bus from Thoiry to CERN. Walk about a mile to the pick-up point. 2 hour bus ride into the mountains. Ski from 9:30 until 17:00 (with a lunch break). Then reverse, bus, walk, bus, walk back home a little after 20:00. Hot cocoa and straight to bed.

Skiing backwards down a mountain is always a fun idea.


sugar cookies with peppermint icing

Tomorrow (today) did indeed bring a snow/rain mix. I've been staying in mostly today, catching up on two weeks worth of missing posts for my photo-a-day blog: seules le simages, and eating some vegan cookies that I made yesterday morning.

Icing: (I had made the icing a few days earlier and had it refrigerated)

- 8 peppermint candies
- 1/2 stick buttery type spread
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 2 TBS soymilk
- 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

1. Unwrap the peppermint candies and crush them in a bowl into powder using the bottom side of a sturdy glass jar.
2. Heat the "butter" and soymilk in a saucepan on low to melt the margarine.
3. Stir in the other ingredients.


- 1 cup sugar
- 2 TBS cornstarch
- 1/3 cup palm oil
- 1 tsp lemon
- 1/2 cup soy milk
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- dash vanilla sugar

1. Mix all ingredients.
2. Roll into balls and flatten in your palm.
3. Place on a baking-paper lined cookie sheet.
4. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes.

*Icing can be added after baking or before. If the cookie is baked with icing on it, the icing seeps into the cookie, giving it a chewier texture.


ski lesson: 1

Today was our first outing and ski lesson with the CERN Ski Club at St. Gervais in the French Alps with a nice view of Mt. Blanc. The next four Saturdays, we will be skiing at nearby locations in France and Switzerland. It wasn't a sunny day in the mountains, but it was warm. (photos, left to right: Daisy, Tim, Derek, me- We all have sweet retro boots and poles from a used sports shop in Geneva- actually my boots are pretty current- Derek's are yellow).

We took a guess as to which level to sign up for, settling on 1.5 which we thought might be okay for both Derek and I.  It was pretty clear I wasn't going to be able to keep up after I fell within a minute of putting my skis on. I got to move down to level 1.0 after lunch. (There is also 0 and .5 and ranges up to level 3.5). The last time either of us skied was in Taos, 2001, almost a decade ago! For Derek, it was like riding a bike, for me, it was more like riding a unicycle with a flat tire off the side of a mountain. But this is why we have lessons, right?

Lesson 1a: Get back up. Sure I fall, a lot, but I always get back up and keep going. Falling is the best way I know to slow myself down...it's either throw the body on the ground or aim for a snowbank. Getting up is only difficult when your legs are tangled in directions that legs should not get tangled.

Lesson 1b: Accept the speed. Not my favorite thing to go straight down as fast as you can. (Do we have to practice this?) Needless to say, each person in my group totally wiped out at the bottom. I think the real lesson was that even when you wipe-out hard, it doesn't hurt too badly (if you are already low to the ground like I am).

Lesson 1c: Watch out for trees. This is what happens when you volunteer to go first...you end up stuck in a tree.

Lesson 1d: Even a five year-old skis better. No matter how many little kids pass me, sitting on their skis and doing flips off of ramps, I am not going to try it. I am a product of the American Midwest: it is FLAT.

All in all, a good day, no major injuries, a bump down into an English speaking group, and great views. The toughest part was lugging our skis, in the rain, more than a mile to the bus stop to get back home. Luckily the Y bus was late (as usual), otherwise we would have been standing in the rain for an hour waiting on the next one. Hot cocoa and sleeping for 12 hours- mandatory recoup. 


snowsuit up!

Derek, Tyler and I have returned from our week long Alpine adventure. We had a blast playing near the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau.


stroms en suisse alpine tour, part 4


Our last day in the Alps, we rented sleds and took the train up to Kleine Scheidegg (2061 m) overlooking the resort town, Wengen. 

After we made our way down to the town, we had enough time to hike back up to Wengernalp and sled down again. During our two hour hike up, we saw a family of three golden eagles.


stroms en suisse alpine tour, part 3

Today's excursion took us up to Schiltgrat (2145 m) to begin our snowshoe descent all the way back to Lauterbrunnen.

Hot cocoa break.

We took an extra descent into the small mountain town of Gimmelwald and continued on to the car-free town of Murren for a warm dinner.

It started snowing big fluffy flakes and after dinner, we finished our long day with a two hour snowshoe across the ridge and back down to the valley.