MY FIRST TIME SKI TOURING
“So, you have skis and you just stick these skins to the bottom of the skis, change some settings, and that allows you to go up the mountain? That is genius! It combines downhill skiing and cross country skiing together.”
I could not wait to get back to winter sports. In my teenage years in Czech Republic, I have done skiing, snowboarding and cross country skiing. Although that was only a few times a year and then stopped for 7 years whilst I lived in London. The thought of getting back to that and trying new things like ice climbing and winter walking really fired me up. Until I came here, I had no idea that something like ski touring exists.
“We are moving to Scotland to a small ski-town called Aviemore. That is all I knew about 8 months ago in June 2018. “
I had never been there before and I could barely understand any of the Scottish people I had come across. I have been in the West of Scotland only once few years ago but had no idea what Scottish life is like. Well, all you hear about Scotland is that it rains a lot and it is cold. It is funny how people settle for short descriptions like this. When I was moving to London years ago, I got a similar type of description. It rains all the time and it is busy. All I can tell you is that there is always more to a place than that. Every place in the world has some more and some less comfortable aspects of living. The great thing is that we can choose what we prefer.
MAKE THE MOST OUT OF YOUR LOCATION TO TRY NEW THINGS
Whether you are on holiday or moving somewhere new, embrace what the location has to offer. We grow up or choose to live in a place where certain activities are a part of everyday life. We do not necessarily realise that for other people, the activities that are normal to us might be a luxury. Just like ski touring in the Cairngorms in Scotland or water sports on the coast of Australia. Experiencing different lifestyle through your bucket list activities will not only get your adrenaline and excitement going, it will make you realise and appreciate what you have back home that others do not. You might not enjoy all of it, although doing something out of the ordinary will certainly give you stories to talk about.
I have written a post about how trying new things that can benefit your life in general and how to get into the habit to do so. If you have not read it yet, here is a link to it.
MY FIRST TIME SKI TOURING
First step was to get the skis, boots and poles. To me, the whole process did feel like lots of faff because there is a lot of aspects you need to know to change the settings and getting the right skis and boots. Although, it needs to be done to make your skiing experience more comfortable and safer.
My boyfriend Charlie and I packed our bags with lunch, extra layers of clothes, helmets and a few other emergency bits and headed to the Cairngorm mountain car-park. We made sure the skins were on, that the skis and boots were on the right settings and headed up the ski slopes.
“Don’t lift your skis, just drag them on the ground.” That was the main advice going on in my head.
It only took few hundred metres to start taking layers off, I normally get hot when I am walking and I have to say that this was even faster. As it was the beginning of the season that had started a lot later than everyone expected, everyone had been working hard to open the ski slopes as soon as possible. The snow machines were on so for brief moments, we felt like we were going through a mini snow storm even though the sky was blue and the sun was shining.
We were doing lots of short stops on the way because as you normally do, you get out of breath going up the mountains no matter if you are walking or ski touring. The terrain was not amazing because the works on the slopes were in progress. We were not sure what the snow was going to look like at the top so we were ready to adjust accordingly. It was pretty windy and there was not as much snow as there needed to be but once we got passed the top restaurant near the Cairngorm top, we decided to carry on around to see if it got any better. The wind was pretty strong at the top but we kept going.
It was about lunch time so we decided to take our skis off and walk to some nearby rocks to get shelter from the wind and to eat our sandwiches. When we got to the other side of the rocks, the views were gorgeous but there was no place sheltered from the wind. Eating lunch would certainly not be enjoyable because our hands were freezing when we took them out of our gloves to take a photo.
The wise decision was to take the skins off the skis and ski back down to the restaurant and find a place to eat our lunch there. By the way, the restaurant has not been in use at the moment because the funicular is not working. The goggles I own are very old and I got them second hand about 10 years ago. Plus, they are probably kid’s ones guessing by the size. On the way up, I put them on to get through the mini snow storms when passing the snow machines, but they steamed up and the condensation froze on the inside. This meant that I could not see anything. Skiing down from where we wanted to have lunch and where we had lunch in the end was very unpleasant. Freezing wind was blowing the snow into my face and all I could think about was how much I couldn’t wait to get down.
At the moment, I cannot afford to buy new goggles and just like many other times, it was time to suck it up and get going. I could be angry and annoyed at the experience but it would not help anything. Although, like a few times before, the Scottish weather reminded me of the importance of being prepared for the unexpected. Bringing extra layers and being aware of when you need to try your hardest to keep your body temperature up is important. The line between being uncomfortable and in trouble can be very fine and in remote places, your decisions are the only ones you can rely on.
Even though the views were gorgeous and I have never seen frozen crystals of snow on the rocks so shiny, every adventure brings challenges. Negative thoughts can quickly replace the gratitude when things get uncomfortable but it is part of the adventure. It teaches us to be more prepared for the harder days and appreciate the good ones.
After we ate our lunch we headed down. Of course the way down was way quicker than the way up even though the conditions of the snow were not ideal. The ability to ski and spend our day off like this overpowered everything.
As I expected, I fell in love with ski touring and since then we had a chance to go at night which was a whole different experience. Quiet, dark and rolling down the slopes with a head torch. I loved every single part of it.
I love trying new things and going on new adventures. It trains you to get confident in doing things for the first time and dealing with unexpected situations as you go.
Have you got any similar experience that brought challenges along with the excitement?
I would love to hear all about it. Comment below with your favourite one.