The last thing that Noel the Ski Instructor wanted to hear from his not-so-prize pupil as she teetered on the edge of a steep ice-sheet that was pretending to be a piste was: “I’m not going down there.” But that’s what he heard.
Seriously, it was a like a frozen waterfall, I’d visions of flying without wings or brakes and landing in a heap at the bottom, all skis, poles and broken bones. No, I was not going down there. No way.
In hindsight, the clue should have been in the name, Le Mur, French for wall. But we were on a high after gnarling down other icy slopes. So what to do? Stubborn as a mule, I flatly refused to go any further. I couldn’t make out Noel’s expression, hidden by helmet and goggles, but I put money on his teeth being gritted. No matter, I just wasn’t doing it and that was that.
There were no real alternatives piste-wise, so we set off in tracks of others who I assumed had had the same reaction to Le Mur. And if someone else had done it, then that made it all right. Ever the professional, Noel led the way, I think he was singing, he was certainly making some sort of rhythmic sounds, the words all began with an ‘f’.
Then the tracks ran out, they had reached the slopeside airport where the Russian oligarchs land their helicopters en route to their exclusive chalets from there they can hit the pistes with their Swarovski-encrusted skis. This was no place for a coward who couldn’t face an icewall. So it was off with the skis and taking a hike to the nearest snow bank which, after we’d clambered over it, turned out to be a piste. Nice and flat, we were safe.
Today’s skiing was much less dramatic, the sun shone for the seventh day running, the snow was crisp and the conditions perfect and we managed to avoid any piste featuring the word ‘mur’. A great holiday, we’re already planning the next one!
The picture above if the off-piste from Les Menuires to Orelle, the Fourth Valley in the Three Valleys ski area. Next time, next time….