When you’re in the Alps for four months or more, hitting rough weather is inevitable. With the right approach, though, skiing in a blizzard can be just as memorable as those blue-sky days. A former seasonnaire with Crystal gives his tips.
Words by James, formerly a seasonnaire out in France, now the Strategic Partnerships Manager for Crystal Ski Holidays
Can you answer a question with another question? In this instance, and for this question, the answer is yes, because it’s not a question that can be answered with a single response – it depends!
So my question is – what kind of bad-weather day is it, and when is it?
The ‘when’ holds huge consequence. If it’s a regular work day, then you’re only looking to fill in about 2 or 3 hours of down-time in the middle of the day. But if it’s your day off… well, that’s a whole different matter.
For the purpose of this answer, I’m going to make the assumption that it’s your day off and the weather is ‘bad’. The type of ‘bad’ weather will define your choices, as I’ve tried to outline below.
Is it a whiteout?
If the answer is “it’s a whiteout”, that usually means it’s snowing; masses of huge white flakes. For a seasonnaire, the most sought-after commodity is fresh snow. A whiteout means fewer people on the mountain so less dodging or waiting about. It means you get to target the runs you know work well in low light; the tree runs and the runs bordered by rock-walls. And it means you get all that lovely fresh snow. OK, so it doesn’t compare with the next day when it clears up and the coveted ‘blue sky powder day’ appears, but it’s still fun.
Is it mizzly?
If the answer is “it’s mizzly” (colloquial term meaning a bit rubbish with lots of cloud and no real snow fall – or really fine snow) then the desire to head up the mountain fades and that’s when everyone begins to get creative with ideas on how to inspire us up the mountain.
In some instances, we simply didn’t go up that day and instead hosted parties in someone’s staff accommodation or we put on a film and hung out, but on the days when we wanted to be on the mountain, creativity is where inspiration lives.
- Fancy dress ski day. Swapping equipment (if you ski, you’re a snowboarder today and vice versa).
- Race round the mountain – first team to get all members certain landmarks in the ski area.
- We even tried one-piece licking where if you saw a skier in a one-piece suit, you had to subtly lick them and call out the flavour…
Ultimately, it’s about the people who you are sharing your season with. You form a bond with these one-time strangers that’s built on a love of winter sports (and drinking) and you find yourself making the most unlikely group of friends, so entertainment is rarely something lacking during a ski season.