It rarely snows in South Africa, and never in Pretoria where we live. If we’re having a particularly cold winter, the Drakensberg mountains might get a light coating of the muddy-white stuff, but not enough to ski in. I was 21 years old, on holiday in Europe, when I first stood in ankle-deep snow, marvelling at the tiny white flakes falling from the sky.
In 2005 Gareth and I went skiing with a group of friends. We stayed in a village called Corvara in Italy’s Alta Badia region at the foot of the Italian Alps. As absolute novices, we never made it off the bunny slope! Don’t let the picture below fool you – we might look quite proficient in it, but we were terrible skiers! We watched in awe, and embarrassment, as tiny children shot past us like lightning down a mountain while we haphazardly crab-walked sideways down the smallest incline.
As the week progressed we got a little braver. We eventually managed to stay mostly upright, although you would still frequently see a line of items scattered down the slight slope, starting with a hat, then a glove, one ski, a scarf maybe, and then me, flat on my back, fuming at my inability to master what the little kids seem to do so effortlessly.
But when I did manage to stay upright – sheer exhilaration! Few things can beat the joy, and the panic, of moving so fast, unprotected, unhindered, unstoppable; the wind whipping your hair and the snow-covered trees surging past. Then, a slight ascent, and your feet are in the air! You land, you keep your balance, you exult!
It’s been more than a decade since that skiing trip. With the sun shining brightly outside, I can’t help but recall this wonderful memory. I remember throwing snowballs, sliding down a hill in a makeshift sled, Gareth trying his hand at snowboarding, warm roaring fires, cups of melted chocolate and layers of warm clothing.
I think it might be time to give skiing a go again. And who knows, maybe this time we’ll even venture up ski-lift!
Do you see snow often? Have you ever gone skiing? Where would you recommend novices like us go next?