Let’s get reflective: The best of winter 2014/15

We asked four Fall-Line staffers to reveal their season highs (and lows), gear must-haves and favourite ski resorts

Richard Fincher, Publisher

Richard examines next year's skis in Kühtai, near Innsbruck |Photo Callum Jelley

Richard examines next year’s skis in Kühtai, near Innsbruck |Photo Callum Jelley

My best day of the season was…

An on-piste day! End of season, in Kronplatz, Italy on the family trip, and it was a day of two parts. The morning was spent doing an uber-nerdy boot shoot comparing  hike-and-ride v freeride touring boots on varying snow conditions, and yes, there IS a difference! More to come in next season’s mags. Anyhow, the conditions were getting softer so there was time to grab some quality slush surfing lower down the hill. Treat it like dense powder, really smear those tails and wonder why everyone else is footling around!

Pick up the children from their ski lesson and grab a very decent, cheap pizza, then get pulled, reluctantly, down the 5km black for what I suspected was going to be an extremely tedious fear-fest just so the girls could say ‘I’ve skied a black’.  I tend to wait for the instructors to sign them off so my misplaced enthusiasm doesn’t regress all those expensive lessons, but they assured me they’d run it earlier.

I thought I’d crack the straight-line bit off, turn and watch them coming down but no…Hot on my tail, crouched down and chasing Daddy! OK, the small but psychologically damaging sheet-ice pitch saw a coupe of wobbles, and the steeper pitches were carefully done, but suddenly I’ve got myself a gang of small ski buddies! How good is that?

My favourite ski resort was…

Innsbruck, as a base for day touring. Brilliant city, super-close to loads of skiing. I know why digital editor Mary moved there now…

Richard (behind) and Mary skiing in Kühtai, near Innsbruck

Richard (behind) and Mary skiing in Kühtai, near Innsbruck | Photo Callum Jelley

My favourite bit of kit for the season was…

Helly Hansen Odin 3/4 baselayer leggings. I think you can still get them, but they’ve been replaced by the HH Warm 3/4 Pant – perfect under shell pants and no clagging the ankle cuffs in your boots. Mine are four seasons’ old, and yes, they have been washed.

The one thing I regret about this winter is…

Not fiddling with rental binding positioning on a couple of pairs of skis when riding mixed conditions, which I wrote off as ‘lacking nose bite (aka useless)’. I then adjusted the bindings on another pair of skis on a later trip and they perked up no end.

The best issue of Fall-Line was…

Oooh, tricky. I think the Gear Guide. It takes me ages to read through, despite having written a fairly large chunk of the ski section, and it still makes my money-glands sweat…

The Fall-Line gear guide. Order a back issue here: https://subscribeme.to/falllineskiing/back-issues/2015#

The Fall-Line gear guide. Order a back issue here

Will Robson, writer and photographer at large

My best day of the season was…

Heading up the ageing La Grave téléphérique to ski this legendary destination for the first time. OK, conditions weren’t great but the sun came out; we got some great shots crevasse-jumping; we had a fine lunch and skied some of the legendary terrain led by irrepressible mountain guide Joe Vallone.

Will eyes up La Grave|Photo Kene Ejezi-Okoye

Will eyes up the Pyrenees | Photo Rosie Fuller

My favourite bit of kit for the season was…

Nike Command Transitions goggles. The lens changes with the light conditions – very cool and very expensive; the closest I’ve come to solving the age-old visibility problem.

The one thing I regret about this winter is…

Apart from missing the good snow on every trip? It has to be not skiing the Pyrenees until now. It was epic, both touring where the bears are (sleeping); and riding down from the Pic Du Midi observatory.

My favourite ski resort was…

Endless untracked powder in Les Sybelles, France

Endless untracked powder in Les Sybelles, France

Surprisingly perhaps, Les Sybelles in France. Not the prettiest resort and very few Brits go there, but it’s a massive connected area with huge freeride and touring opportunities. It’s cheap and has easy pistes for beginners and intermediates – which means you have untracked terrain to yourself – an ideal solution for the FL rider with family or non-freeriding mates in tow perhaps?

The best issue of Fall-Line was…

Issue 131 – the La Grave and Serre Chevalier trip with Kene’s blinding crevasse shot of Joe Vallone in flight. And it has my interview with Ian McIntosh where he really opened up about the dangers and challenges of pro-riding.

Issue 131 of Fall-Line, featuring la grave and Ian McIntosh. Order a back issue here

Issue 131 of Fall-Line, featuring la grave and Ian McIntosh. Order a back issue here

Jonny Richards, editor at large

My best day of the season was…

Late Jan. Japan. On my own. Three weeks into a long trip, and something like my 20th day of consecutive skiing. For once, I felt happy with my level! No pushing, no anger, no improvement required. Powder, jump lines, trees, quarter pipe – everything flowed perfectly in one mega top-to-bottom turn out the lights 4pm run. Felt a bit like a dream, only better.

My favourite bit of kit for the season was…

Jonny models the Lithic

Jonny models the Lithic

Arcteryx Lithic Comp touring specific jacket – so light, so breathable, so good for hiking, great cut, and they make it in a small that’s actually small and therefore fits me. Somehow it’s also warm enough for happy use on even the longest, windiest of lifts too. First jacket I’ve ever had where people ask me about it in lifts 🙂 And say yes, I am going to buy one!

The one thing I’d change about this winter is…

Some bloody snow in Europe. (Well, not ‘bloody’ snow but you probably get my meaning.) Two weeks spent there over three trips and not a hint of pow. Sob.

My favourite ski resort was…

Always Niseko. Boring I know, but I loved it. And have done so ever since I went there for the first time three or four seasons ago. Much of my time time is spent worrying about the yen vv pound exchange rate these days, as it’s great at the moment. Make the most of it while you can. Here’s to Abenomics and quantitive easing.

The best issue of Fall-Line was…

The Powder issue of course! Is there any other reason for skiing? Maybe I’m spoilt 🙂

Jonny loves the pow!

Jonny’s favourite issue is also the people’s choice – we’re all sold out of the Powder issue

Mary Creighton, digital editor

My best day of the season was…

Mary enjoys the trees at her local resort Axamer Lizum

Mary enjoys the trees at her local resort Axamer Lizum

Late January at my local resort, Axamer Lizum, near Innsbruck. After an intense two-day snow storm we woke up to blue skies and half a foot of powder, so got the first lifts up at 8.30. The piste was soft and forgiving, but the powder off-piste was some of the best I’ve skied – light and deep. Sadly it was mostly tracked out by 12pm, but we found a few secret stashes that kept us smiling until the late afternoon. 

My favourite bit of kit for the season was…

Teko Merino ski socks. Not the sexiest item in my ski bag, but the most trusted. I’ve tried several different pairs of socks this season, and none work as well for me as these. The merino wool gives them natural temperature regulation and  odour-resistance. Other merino socks are good too, but Teko’s fit my feet the best.

The one thing I regret about this winter is…

Not starting touring until April! I talked about it all season, but it took a while for me to actually work up to it, so I only got three days in. But I loved it, and I’ll be touring from December next winter (maybe!).

My favourite ski resort was…

So hard to pick just one, but a special mention has to go to Glungezer, a five-lift resort about 20 minutes from Innsbruck. I decided I liked it at the bottom of the first two-man chair, when we were offered ponchos and blankets for our journey. I decided I loved it after a long T-bar ride brought us out to a very snowy, very empty and very fun face on the far side of the mountain. Seriously worth a visit if you’re in the Innsbruck area and like being the only native English speaker on the mountain.

The best issue of Fall-Line was…

Explore Europe's best spots in issue 130 of Fall-Line, which you can order here

Explore Europe’s best spots in issue 130 of Fall-Line, which you can order here

Issue 130 – Maybe all this referendum talk is making me sentimental but I’m a Europe girl through and through, and this issue celebrates the best of it, from Aviemore right through to Zermatt.

Fall-Line Skiing |
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