snow rash and altitude hangovers!

El Tarter Travel Blog

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"your ridding down the side of a mountain on a few millimetres of board man, its an extreme sport, you can't forget that" explained my snowboard instructor at our end of week knees-up. A bearded 37 year old who spent the winter teaching people how to board and the summer kayaking around the lake as a lifeguard. He advocated the care free lifestyle whenever possible.

As for me "Rusty" wouldn't do justice to what had happened to my boarding skills since Canada, two years previous. Mud encrusted joints which had been corroded in salt water and were slowly disintegrating as time passed by - a more accurate description. After the first day of lessons I was left downhearted and bruised but determined to carry on. Determined to remain locked in an epic battle with gravity.

It was't long before my corroded skills began to regain some of their shinny features. The painful falls were increasing at the same rate as my confidence, the greater velocity in which I traveled the more brutal were my landings. eventually the two factors over took each other, my confidence grew and the falls decreased.

Our group consisted of 12 boarders, all with varying degrees of skill. The instructor informed us on the 3rd day of 'school' that we were about to move on to level 4 boarding skills. "crikey" I thought to myself, having previously been led to believe that we were no higher than level 2!

The abrupt hike in levels turned out to work well, the instructors encouraged us (sometimes with a less than gentle push) down steeper slopes. At the end of the week the whole group confidently glided down black runs, aptly managed heelside to toeside half pipe turns, seamlessly achieved air from random moguls and mastered a number of land based tricks. none of us were looking perfect on the slopes but we had all improved dramatically during the week of lessons. eating snow had become less of a certainty and more like a possibility.

Of course, some people took this new found confidence a bit too far and decided to head for a black run… wearing only shorts and a vest, which actually didn't go as bad as could have been expected.

My shorter than average travel buddy spent the week in a spanish snowboarding school "was he spanish I hear you ask?", no, he just liked the look of the instructor! It had taken us a matter of minutes on arrival to learn the important spanish phrases. "two beers please my friend" had quickly been added to our vocabulary (although my vertically challenged buddy seemed to only master "one beer please" a phenomenon I am as yet unable to explain…).

As I sit here on the bus to Toulouse, the first part of the journey home, I recall some of the lessons learnt on this short, yet eventful trip.

- Never challenge the town drinking champion to a bungee competition…and win.

- forgetting the name of a girl your trying to chat up will not help the cause.

- shorts and vest are not slope attire.

- and lastly, drawing a map back to your hotel is essential before a night on the town.

remember these tips my friends and you'll avoid making 10% of the hilariously absurd and comically cringeworthy mistakes that we stumbled upon.

until next time, adios amigos!
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