THE GREAT ESCAPE
Have you ever looked out of your city office window and wanted to turn the skyscrapers into mountains, the concrete into snow?One day, our new Seasonaire correspondant. Neil, did and ditched his job and packed his snowboard so transforming from worker drone to Steezy Rider. Here he writes from his new office, the mountains in Courcheval.
London, sitting at my desk, gazing out of the window and struck by the flapping fabric of the flag proudly presented at the top of the opposite building. Flags, badges of honour, are made for people who follow their dreams and it is in this precise moment that I decide I shall follow mine. In six months time, I will be leaving this mock mahogany desk, this glass clad office to pursue a life long ambition to open my mind, regularly shred ridiculously deep powder and make some new, hopefully life long, friends along the way.
I'll be chasing powder
Gone will be the expectation and disappointment of a week or two boarding every year, as is, seemingly, the case with the annual holidays; the expectation of snow, the slow starts to the seasons, the slush puppies and hot weather. Nope, I'll be chasing powder; I'll get it all the freeking time!
Yep, this is me, in a few short months I'm going to leave this glorious town, tear off the noose which binds me to the corporation, undo the top button of my shirt and create my own flag. My only disappointment resides in the fact I feel like my brogues are finally close to being broken in, after nearly eight months (I know, eight months) of pain. In six months they should feel like a new pair of Nike Huarache..
We all feel it, right?
For now, I continue to work hard in a job I enjoy, in the city I love but, as every snowboarder will know, the allure of the mountains is a great one, whether you are a corduroy surfer or big mountain charger, park rat or Yuki Kadono, we all feel it,right? A solidarity which draws our soul to this spectacular place. For now, I am gazing up at the tops of the building which shield the sky and imagining them to be the mountains I intend to shred, ride, hike and call home..
Six months later
Then that moment of silence
The clicking of the ratchet straps, ankle, then toe, leading foot, then back, then that moment of silence, sitting at the top of the Fifth Couloir outside Courchevel, pure white luxurious powder resting precariously on the 70 degree slope, the sound of my heart beating out of my chest before I stand, weight my front foot, rushing wind past my ears, toe edge, then heel, the sloth of the top layer chasing me down the steep.
A glance back to see a wave of spray
Six turns and I'm nearly done; a glance back to see a wave of spray from my board only slightly clouding the towering rock faces which surround the greatest trip of the last month and into the sun, the blue sky and fresh powered lines I've just layered behind me. And, finally, the freedom I needed. Clean air, fresh pow, the steep and huge glorious skies filled with dreams coming true.
I've felt the light grind of a pure powder turn
Now here is the new me, the seasonaire. Well nearly, I need to pay homage to the hard work of chalet hosts, chefs, nannies and drivers across the three valleys; and, trust me, when i say that these people work hard. But, realistically, that isn't me. I'm here to ride and I have been doing it nearly every day. I've felt the light grind of a pure powder turn, the reason snowboards where created. Every day, I've been strapping in, looking down, and charging hard. That's what I'm here for, after all. That feeling of floating over a cloud as the pow builds beneath you; the light of flight as I launch myself from a pillowed rock; and that 360 landed (nearly) on a cushion of snow.
Learn the mountain and a world of heavenly powder awaits
Without doubt, the three valleys is the biggest ski and board area in the world. This place smashes off piste like nowhere else. Learn the mountain and a world of heavenly powder awaits. Even on those days, where tracked out lines and mashed up skier pistes is all you think is available, we've been able to find fresh lines with a short hike. Making this change from jacked out city life to 'uber outside' has been nothing short of the greatest experience of my life. so far.
In my experience, quitting stuff is great
Quoting Chris Booth 'much of our culture is built around the idea of not giving up. It's everywhere; winners never quit; it's not about how you fall, but how you get back up that counts. But in my experience quitting stuff is great. You get an instant relief from pressure and your eyes open to the joys of life. Giving up feels so good. I quit my job a few months ago and now I'm skiing mega pow.
So much of this is true. It's still important to have the tenacity to get up and keep trying new things; to keep that energy that makes you seek those experiences and not to give up when things get tough.
I am entering the Derby du Roc, an out of hours race from the top to the bottom of Courchevel. I'll let you know how it goes. Oh and the small matter of the best burger in the three valleys.