Bungee jumping on skis? And other icy larks with my friends

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Edging my way down steps cut out of ice, holding a rope in one hand and skis in the other, could have been pretty disconcerting. But with a group of friends around me, I felt reassured as I made the journey from the Aiguille du Midi to the Vallée Blanche in France’s Chamonix ski area in 2010. We took care, and watched out for each other as we traversed the valley. And in doing so, we discovered one of the most beautiful routes in the world.

Skiing with a trusted group can offer an important sense of security, which is valuable even for experienced skiers. We trust each other’s decisions, know each person’s abilities and limits, and are there to help keep each other mountain-safe.

For most people, the first sign of snow means wrapping up in winter woollies and hibernating, but me and my friends are united in our anticipation of winter’s arrival. Our annual escapades mean getting off the sofa and eagerly digging out the ski gear as we look forward to fun-filled days shooting down the mountainside, generally laughing all the way.

Quote: 'Skiing in jaw-dropping mountains evokes a myriad of emotions, who better to share it with than close pals?'
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Skiing for our group means rising with the sun; when the exhilarating crisp mountain air hits your face, it’s a wake-up call like no other. Then comes the immense sense of freedom as your skis cut through freshly fallen powder. We happily zigzag down the slopes whooping and laughing and joking as we go, then sit on a tranquil ski lift opening our hearts and trying to put the world to rights against the stunning backdrop of alpine views. Or, we’ll be excitedly plotting our next ski adventure and making après ski plans – what some might say is the most important aspect of the trip. Even if parties aren’t on the cards, a quiet drink after a day skiing gives us the chance to debrief, bond and prepare for tomorrow.

Our skiing tradition began in 2007 with three skiers, who then encouraged other friends to join. We ski mostly together, but occasionally the advanced skiers will take a challenging route down the mountain and we then meet at the bottom of the slope. Sharing the same love and an appreciation for snow creates the perfect foundation for a spectacularly memorable holiday on the slopes. Skiing through jaw-dropping mountains evokes a myriad of emotions, which are at a natural high at altitude – who better to share it all with than close friends?

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Knowing you have a group looking out for you allows you to be even more adventurous. On my own, I might not have been brave enough to try the world’s first gondola sauna, where you can ride in your birthday suit without the worry of getting into trouble with the fun police, as we did in Arctic Finland back in 2008. Would I have tried bungee jumping on skis in France, in 2011, without my trusted crew? Perhaps not. I may have still gone for ski joëring – like water skiing, except you’re pulled along on skis by horsepower of the four-legged kind, often huskies – but it certainly wouldn’t have been so much fun on my own.

And when unexpected things happen, my skiing crew are there to turn challenges into adventures. In the Canadian Rockies, in 2013, after skiing among snow ghosts (beautiful, unusually-shaped frozen trees), we missed the last chair lift connecting us to the other side of the mountain and our resort. We were stuck, with no lifts open to get home, and in dwindling light. It’s not something I’d recommend. The only groomed trail on the map that crossed the mountain was a piste basher trail (used by vehicles), so we followed it uphill, giving each other the mental strength to complete the gravity-defying trudge.

Travel with confidence

Later, we encouraged each other down seriously challenging double diamond runs, and searched for each other’s skis when they inevitably ended up flying off into the powder. Eventually, we hitchhiked our way back to the resort on the back of a sauna maintenance truck. Being with friends meant we could take it all somewhat in our stride – by the time we were being driven home we were giddy with laughter at the unexpected escapade.

Over the past year, of course, we’ve been feverishly imagining everything we will do when we finally make our return to the snow. If you are a keen skier, you’ve been, too. Try encouraging your friends to join you; it could be the most fantastic trip of a lifetime and the start of a new tradition. You will come back fitter, happier, closer to each other, and with a stack of snowy memories.

This winter’s got your name on it
Book your space on the slopes at crystalski.co.uk