Saas Fee 10 Week Ski & Snowboard Instructor Course 2015: Glacier life at 3,500m
Peak Leaders Saas Fee 10 week instructor course (ski and snowboard) has got off to a fantastic start: fresh snow, sunny skies and 3 groups of trainees. One trainee, Richard Egan (Rich), swaps skis for keys and writes the Week 1 blog … read on to find out what’s been going down, up at 3,500 meters!
Fresh snow, sunny skies and perfect pistes: Saas Fee – ski & snb course nirvana!
Form, storm, norm and (hopefully?) perform
Over a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Saas Fee a disparate group of individuals arrived at the Park Hotel.
Not strictly true, as we’d had facebook contact between the various groups flying into Geneva.
Which meant after a coffee in the airport, and under Brett’s direction, we made our way up together to Saas Fee enjoying the views by train and bus.
Who takes a 10 week instructor course?
Skiing in September doesn’t get better than this …
Or easier to ask: “Who are we?”
A relevant (or not) question considering we have a philosophy teacher among us, others just completed A levels or degrees, career breakers, someone needing a change, and some just wanting to understand and improve their skiing – plus a couple retiring from the military.
We were all met by Emma “I’m only covering for Steve” (yes, that is Steve of Bariloche, Argentina, course leader fame!) Cairns, who quite rightly gave us the only information needed on the first night – “Don’t get on the wrong side of Patrick, the hotel owner, be quiet when coming in late!”
There was definitely a first night hush during that dinner, a level of serenity that will never be matched.
To the hills (ie, very high glacier)
Sunday saw many make it to the glacier to try out the ski/board legs, a novelty in September.
Gibbo’s snowboard crew are going to have to be fit to keep up – best sit down and rest then!
Saas Fee offers all the terrain needed for us to understand and develop our skiing/boarding skills.
The afternoon saw a village orientation and full briefing with Emma “I’m only covering for Steve” Cairns.
Getting to know the way around Saas Fee village’s many paths and trails
We also had an introduction to all the trainers: Emma and Jake from Element Ski School and Gibbo from ES-ride.
Our wonderful hosts Patrick and Jutta provided us with a welcome drink and the “do’s and don’ts” of the hotel – primarily don’t make a noise coming in late (it’s becoming a theme?!).
The first week has been full on.
Up the mountain we have discovered that no matter what we thought, we cannot ski or board and we have to start again – to the frustration of some!
It is all about the feeling – or being more or less “gorilla” to keep it simple.
“You REALLY want me to ski like this?”
First aid or fitness
Off the glacier, it was either first aid or fitness.
Unsurprisingly most of us discovered how unfit we are – especially at 2,500m even in the village!
The girls started a running club, with the boys lagging behind.
It’s all about the fitness in Week 1 … but will it last?
Even further behind is Guy, who has decided to start running next week – as it would be wrong to start something mid week?
The first group managed to all pass their first aid course, congratulations.
And the mountain shut for a day, as we received a big dump of fresh snow.
New snow mid week made for amazing conditions on the glacier
“Gruppenfurhers” – volunteers step forward
Very quickly, Emma “I’m only covering for Steve” Cairns decided that the group need to be responsible for the morning brief.
As she asked for volunteers there was that moment as everyone stared at the floor.
Until Ella the teacher, and Rich the soldier volunteered.
Apart from not being able to count between them they have got through the week with nobody getting lost.
Snowboarders throwing down some Saas Fee “steeze”!!!
Thursday saw the arrival of the much promised Steve, to Emma’s “I’m only covering for Steve” Cairns relief (thanks Emma for getting us all settled in).
Steve started well – a little bribery: help with job hunting and half price drinks with nachos.
Later on we all made it to Popcorn (Saas Fee’s number one nightspot!) to celebrate a successful first week and “Pot Noodle” Tom’s birthday!!
(Oh, and thanks go out to Brett for introducing us to “Bruce Tuckerman’s: Theory of groups”?!)
Weekend and relax
Everyone had a relaxing weekend and really embraced the mountain lifestyle.
Some of us visited the glacier at the top of Saas Grund with incredible views back across the valley to Saas Fee.
Gibbo and Jake and a very autumnal Saas Fee village
A few of the others shook off Friday night’s residual fatigue with a game of mini golf, a few trips on the luge in the village, an incredible group dinner with local meats and an impromptu session on the trampolines!
Week 2 fast approaching
We have a big week of training ahead in Week 2 preparing for the BASI Level 1 exam the following week.
Fresh tracks always leave a smile
Off the glacier we will be creating our ski instructor CV’s: applying for jobs this winter season with Peak Leaders partners like Les Elfes International.
Be sure to check back for more next week … in the meantime we’re off skiing and snowboarding in September – the best way to spend your autumn!