This year twelve COPSE members plus one associate member headed to Risoul in the French Alps for the annual ski trip. Risoul forms part of the La Foret Blanche ski and offers 180km of skiing.

It was decided to go with Rocketski again this year as they offer good value for money.  There were some moans and groans from members as we were once again booked  on the late Saturday afternoon BA departure to Turin  which meant arriving at Risoul about 10:30 pm.  When we arrived at the hotel after the two and a half hour bus journey the outside temperature was -12 C. After disembarking from the bus we had dinner at 10:45 pm and then went to bed. The Hotel Le Morgan was British run and supplied breakfast and dinner. Rooms were shared by two, three or four people. In the morning, after breakfast, we collected our skiing gear and set out on our first forays on the slopes. The weather was fine and sunny and not so cold as it had been overnight. The group split into the more experienced skiers who wanted to do a more ambitious trip and others who wanted to start off more gently.  The various pistes were shown on the rather small maps we got from the hotel. The chairlifts were situated almost directly opposite the hotel so it was only necessary to walk a short distance to begin the day’s skiing. There were about half a dozen lifts in a fairly small area going to different points on the mountain. They varied in size from an 8-seater which went quite a long way up the mountain to a 2-seater which covered a shorter distance. There was also a draglift and one with gondolas which took skiers up to the beginners’ slopes.

While some of the others had gone off to one of the chairlifts, I was studying the map to find an easy route to start off on. These are marked in green and I decided to go up on the 8-seater lift and come back down a green run that came all the way down into the resort. The green runs turned out to be very easy as they were like tracks without any steep sections on them but there were some sharp bends here and there where you needed to slow down. This was my third ski trip and these easy runs soon seemed a bit boring so it was time to have a go on the blue runs which are supposed to be ‘moderate’. At lunch time we had the option of returning to the hotel where food was available at the bar or going to one of the cafes which were close to the chairlifts. I met some of the others at the ‘Snowboard Cafe’. The cafes didn’t seem too expensive by the usual standards of ski resorts.
In the afternoon, I tried part of a blue run which was quite a lot steeper than the greens but very wide so you could do proper turns on it. I really wanted to practice turning some more before getting on to any more difficult slopes. Around 4 pm I felt I had done enough for the day and returned to the hotel where tea or coffee and cake was being served at no extra charge. At 7 pm we all met for dinner in the hotel. Apart from the COPSE group the only other occupants of the hotel were two school parties. They were quite well behaved and mostly not too noisy. The food was generally very good. On Wednesday evening the hotel didn’t provide dinner so we all went to a nearby restaurant to sample the local cuisine.
The weather continued to be fine until Thursday morning when there were a few snow flurries and the upper reaches of the mountain were enveloped in mist. It started snowing more heavily in the afternoon and continued overnight leaving a fresh layer of snow on Friday morning.
On Friday morning, the plan was to take the  ‘Homme de Pierre’ chairlift that takes skiers to the peak called L’Homme de Pierre at 2361 meters and then return via a blue run. On the way up, we noticed that there was a large number of ski school groups on the red run and there were bodies strewn across the piste. It was only once we got to the top did we find that all the green and blue pistes were closed leaving the red as the only way down. The red runs are rated as ‘difficult’ and I hadn’t done one before. However the snow was quite thick and not icy or too slippery so it was easier to go slower on it. I had to stop for a rest every few minutes as it was quite tiring but got down ok without any problems so I was quite pleased to have done a red. On Friday evening we handed our ski equipment back ready for departure on Saturday morning. Thanks to Rocketski’s flight schedule we had to get up about 4 am ready to depart from the hotel at 4:30 am. As the roads had more snow on them than when we came out they were allowing more time for the trip to the airport but we arrived there at 7:30 am in plenty of time for our 10:15 flight to Gatwick. So ended another COPSE ski trip.

Bob