This article is lifted straight out of the text from my Forthcoming Book, which will be published soon…..
My second ski holiday was to Poina Brasov in Transylvania.
On the penultimate day of the trip I had an incident that was to prove to be my last ever day on skis. We had graduated to a Red run, Black in places. We had arrived by gondola, so no ski lift dramas thankfully and I was feeling pretty pleased with myself as I skied to the bottom without incident.
What I did not know was that there was no lower gondola meaning that the only option to get back up was a hideous drag-lift. Not only was it a steep incline needing immaculate balance to stay on, but half way up there was a wooden ramp and bridge that you had to ski over whilst holding onto the lift pole and your own ski poles.
This was mission impossible for me. As I approached the ramp my whole body froze with fear and part way up predictably my skis crossed and off I came, firstly falling five feet onto the snow and then sliding and rolling down from whence I had come, my head just inches away from the concrete and metal of the ramp’s struts as I tumbled spectacularly down the mountain, gaining in speed until I eventually came to a gasping standstill at the flat bottom.
It took me several minutes to come to my senses, before I slowly picked myself up and dusted off the powdery snow. Jürgen the German instructor came racing over, concern in his voice to shout out an inquiry as to my well-being.
To my (and his) relief I was physically OK, but mentally I was finished with skiing. Jürgen tried to urge me to continue, stating that I could do it, that I should get back on the bike, how he would help me. No F****** Way!!!!
This left me with no option but to walk up the mountain with my skis and poles (thoughtfully retrieved by Jürgen from various parts of the slope). Furthermore the middle gondola station was out of action meaning that my upward journey was two kilometres away!To my mind this was preferable to the bridge structure, as dizzying thoughts of concrete plinths and my near death experience came flashing before my eyes.
I waited until Jürgen was out of sight before I started my lonely, energy-sapping trudge up the mountain, stopping to look at the bridge and thinking what might have been when I saw the concrete and steel once more. I froze transfixed to the spot for several minutes and shuddered!
I swore profoundly and audibly as I passed the non-functioning gondola. I was positively apoplectic a few metres later when I went arse over tit and watched my skis slide back down the mountain.
Fortunately there was a small plateau about twenty-five metres down where my skis now rested a few feet apart. I begrudged every one of those extra fifty metres there and back. If they had slid the whole one kilometre back down I would have left the sodding things and wouldn’t have cared less about the fine!
Eventually I got to the top after about ninety minutes of effort. Quite honestly it was one of the most physically draining things I had ever done, right up there with school cross-country running.
I had stitch and felt sick, but thankfully held it all together as my ski group waved at me from their lunch table.
Despite my red face, I joined them. Jürgen said how worried he had been and had expected to be coming down the mountain with me in a rescue helicopter. That thought made me feel a whole lot better!
I waved the group farewell as they skied back down the mountain.
I bought a lunch of steak and chips and a glass of red – I thought that was the least I deserved in the circumstances. As I sat there waiting for my food to arrive, I realised for the first time the majesty of my surroundings.
I had been so pumped up and wound up before that I had been oblivious to it. Now the pressure was off – no more drag-lifts, no more Germanic ear bashing, no more anxiety and no more red face.
The sky was indigo blue with just a few wispy white clouds; the sun shone brightly and made the pristine snow sparkle; the rugged mountains thrust skywards, their snow capped peaks glinting invitingly; snow covered fir forests stood motionless bordering the ski slope filled with multi-coloured winter sports enthusiasts; bouts of laughter, chatter and the odd playful scream floated on the air; a hovering eagle cast its broad shadow as it stared out its potential prey; a family of Canada geese swept gracefully past with a coordinated honk to mark the occasion. If only I could paint, I thought to myself.
An air of tranquility came over me; the world was a wonderful place again. Even the leathery steak could not spoil my mood. If this was to be my last ever ski experience, it was fine by me I concluded.