The best moments of the winter

Actually these are from last winter (2008/09) but we are now asking our readers for this winter so we thought this mght refresh people’s memorires. Send your best or worst moments of 2009/10 to inbox@planetski.eu


We’ve just  heard from Alain Baxter, Ed Drake and one of the most famous extreme skiers in the world. Check out the other answers from PlanetSKI readers, writers and friends……….

“One of my best moments of the year was in Baqueira, Spain, when I was heli-boarding for a photo shoot. And there was this one moment when I was on the side of a ridge and saw this other face which I wanted to ride. So the heli came in and brrrrrrrrrrrr took me to the top of this line!!! Awesome!” Andre Sommer, Director of Altitude Ski and Snowboard School and competitor on the Freeride World Tour.

 We made a decision not to put photos with this story, but all rules are made to be broken.  Andre seems to be having fun.

















“My best moment was undoubtedly coming last in my final race in Meribel at the British Championships!  I’d announced my retirement from racing earlier in the week and did the race in a kilt, stopped half way down to have a wee dram of whiskey with the head coach of the British team and arrived at the finish gate way behind everyone else with all my friends cheering, clapping and crying. It was a very special moment and one I will always cherish.” Alain Baxter, ex-British racer.

“Skiing in Scotland on the best snow we have seen for 20 years. Pure magic.” Patrick Thorne, www.snow24.com

“Skiing in my very first Lauberhorn race in Wengen on what has to be one of the most famous courses of them all was pretty special. However, my favourite moment has to be the World  Championships in Val d’Isere where at one point I was 20th in the world. What a feeling. I messed up my second run, but hey, that’s racing.” Ed Drake, British racer.

“My ascent of the Felizenkugel in Austria on New Year’s Day.  It was a long climb on skins but the snow down was fantastic, the weather gorgeous and I was all on my own without a care in the world.” Peter Gillespie, head of the snowsports school at the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead.

“I’ve had a brilliant season and just wanted to say that I have become a very regular reader and loved the PlanetSKI site. The editorial has been great and so have the contributors, articles and features. The youngest ever contributor, I forget his name, who was 6 and various other bits and bobs from the different people! I thank you for brightening up my winter on those snowy days and giving me something to read and watch!” Duncan Emory, PlanetSKI reader.

“My best skiing moment this winter is from the middle of March when I went to Sicily, Italy with photographer Fredrik Schenholm. We took the lift up in the ski area on Mount Etna and hiked for 800 meters up to the top crater. At 3300 meters it’s the highest active volcano in Europe. It was pretty cool to stand on a snowy mountain with a view of the ocean in all directions. Smoke was coming out of the craters beside us as we were skiing down on soft spring snow. The day before we witnessed lava eruptions on the nearby island of Stromboli. The Sicily trip was an amazing experience.Fredrik Ericsson, Extreme skier and PlanetSKI reader. Fredrik is attempting to climb up and then ski down the 3 highest mountains in the world – we will be following his attempt and will bring you full details of it and a video interview with Fredrik later this month.

“My best ski moment was skiing powder in the trees in Verbier way back in the second week of December. I was skiing with the group of “Return from Injury” skiers who I had operated on. It was a very exhilarating and satisfying day’s skiing. I enjoyed the snow and watching my handywork enable skiers to get back to hitting the powder just 7 months after surgery.” Jonathan Bell, Consultant Surgeon and PlanetSKI contributor.

“Skiing Le Tunnel in Alpe d’Huez springs to mind. The apres ski in Verbier. Skiing with one of my best mates and our sons for half-term in Alpe d’Huez as that was his last ever ski trip – he is seriously ill.  Finding so many quiet pistes in Alpe d’Huez during the half term which had been described as the week from hell.” Peter Driscoll, PlanetSKI reader.

“I will be ski touring probably into June as the levels of snow up high are so good here in Val D’Isere and the surrounding area, so with a bit of luck the best is yet to come!” Giles Lewis, BASI Trainer and ski instructor with The Development Centre.

“Formigal in the Pyrenees, mountain top, 1 foot of powder, a semi-steep drop and me flying sans skis across it! Had to spend 30 minutes in a blizzard finding and rearranging everything!  Verbier, for sheer skiable area, before the spring sun saw the snow retreat.  Zermatt, pre-season for lots of snow, few people and cheaper pricing.”  Xavier Adam, PlanetSKI reader

“What a winter!  We could only get away for a week this year and stayed in Peisy Vallendry near Les Arcs. What first appeared to be a bit of a mistake – lugging skis to the lift, a bit of a ride up before any time on the snow and away from the action – turned out to be an absolute blast.  My wife and I shared a chalet with a group of unknowns, who all turned out to be great fun – a real family atmosphere developed from the first night.  The little village itself was delightful, and looked picture-postcard pretty covered in snow.  And boy, was it covered in snow! The best single day or time had to be our penultimate day.  It snowed all night and all day, without respite.  Each time we sat on the chairlift, my wife would complain about the cold and lack of visibility, sitting next to me huddled under multiple layers.  However, as we exited each lift, the powder changed her opinion as if by magic.  By the time we had reached the bottom of the mountain, she was dragging me back onto the lift!  So, in summary, I’d say a new group in a beautiful chalet makes for a great break – new laughs, new jokes, new friends.  And of course, fresh powder is a dream come true! Anything that can stop my wife from complaining about the cold is a huge incentive.” Chris Friend, PlanetSKI reader.

 “I hope my best moment is yet to come as next week I’m staying with a couple of mates in Tignes below the dam and taking all my ski touring and mountaineering kit. The bar in the village is still open so might even have a small shandy too.” Paulo, PlanetSKI reader.

“It was today… On my project La Haute Route des Pentes Raides from Chamonix to Zermatt. We rode the Aiguille de l’Amône, a super esthetic mountain, after 5 hours hike with fantastic snow conditions.”  Geraldine Fasnacht, winner of the Tignes and Verbier legs of the Freeride World Tour and PlanetSKI reader.

“Oh, my word there were so many.  I have never had so many good moments and I have seen many, many winters. This season was truly amazing.” Hubert Cretton, 72 year old Swiss mountain guide and good friend of PlanetSKI

“My best moment was when I was skiing through the trees to the left of a poma lift called TK 1, in Arcalis in Andorra.  It’s steep but as you have the reference of the trees it makes it easier to see.  Each run I did another 10cm to 15 cm had fallen. On these days I wish I could carry on for ever.”  Mark Crichton, Ski School Director of Arcalis.

“Watching my three year old get on skis for the first time, set off down the slope like Alberto Tomba, but then laugh so much he fell over.” Angus Crawford, PlanetSKI reader.

“Thursday 26th March. Skiing off-piste from the top of the Suisses chairlift in Courchevel – blue skies, sunshine, powder everywhere.   Exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure.” Jane Peel, PlanetSKI reporter. 

“Skiing with James Cove from PlanetSKI of course! What fun!” Lynsey Devon, PlanetSKI reader
“My best skiing moment this season has got to be arriving in the smallest ski resort in the world, well we thought it was, called Petzen in Austria for the British Alpine Ski Club Races over the New Year. 100 British Ski Racers stood at the bottom of the one gondola lift in the snow grumbling about the resort and weather, but once on the lift the true identity of the resort was revealed. After about 5 minutes we headed through the cloud, exposed to what in French is known as ‘Mer de nuage’. A sea of cloud. To add to the picture before our eyes freezing fog had stuck to the trees making it a winter wonderland. I then knew why I love the mountains. Heaven.” Ben Clatworthy, PlanetSKI reporter.

“The whole winter. It has been epic with so many powder days and so many new friends made. This resort is normally full of rocks but not this season.” Anon, PlanetSKI reader in Zermatt.

“New Year’s Day, Val D’Isere.   Slight headache from the night before, but on the slopes before 10am. Fresh snow overnight, and the black Face run was bathed in sunlight. I looked up, it was all being prepared for the World Championships, with the  press and viewing stands already built,  and thought to myself ” it’s now or never”. I did it – and it was fab – one of the best senses of achievement on skis for me.” Morwen Williams, PlanetSKI reader.
“The Delirium Dive run at Sunshine Village, near Banff, Canada, had been closed all winter.  Sometimes because there was not enough snow; other times because it was too dangerous.  One day I heard they might open this infamous freeride area, so we threw in the avi packs just in case and headed up. We weren’t expecting much, more than likely rock infested avalanche debris from top to bottom. But no, as I dropped into the steep and narrow left shoot of Delirium DIve it was a beautiful thing. Super soft, untouched and sluffing alongside me over the knee … yeh baby! Blue skies, good friends and lucky timing on the opening and we were set for one of the best days of the season.” Ed Cornfield, PlanetSKI reader.
“Maybe skiing with John Hadden when he actually found some steep powder at Wengen when I had no hope in the conditions.  That was with a Down Hill Only Club day party. Or maybe fooling around with a friend and his son around the Lauberhorn run and being impressed with the skiing of someone 2 generations younger than me. Or maybe being with an instructor and two of her pupils who had not skied red runs until two days earlier – and going down La Grave with them. I have hopes that my best skiing moment is yet to come – I’m at the SnowHeads end of  Season Bash at the moment in Val Thorens.” Nik Zotov, PlanetSKI reader and Snowhead.

“That’s an easy one. Hiking round to Highway to Heaven in Verbier with my 15 year old son, Alex, and 12 year old daughter, Natasha, and putting the first fresh tracks down. We did it again and then went up to Mont Gele and skied down the back face in thigh deep powder. It was their first real taste of routes like this and I was so, so proud of them. Life does not get any better.” James Cove, PlanetSKI content editor.
“Crossing the finish line at the Natives Workers Challenge in Meribel and seeing my name up there on the big screen – racing still gives me a massive buzz!’ Iain
Martin, www.natives.co.uk

“I usually answer this question with “my favourite ski run is the next one.” However, at the risk of sounding like the most horrendous name dropper, if I had to pick the best moment of a fantastic
winter packed with great moments of skiing in Kashmir, Japan and the Alps then it would have to be dropping into the silver birch trees on Furano Mountain Hokkaido, Japan, on the 2nd February 2009. 
It was my first taste of the lightest powder on the white planet.  Nick Parks, Mountain Guide. “PS I’m in Andermatt today – horrible Foehn, nil viz and very muggy…
rough with the smooth,eh!” 

“After 5 years as a lowly ‘ski apprentice’, 2OO9 was marked with a very special rite of passage– my first ever ‘proper’ guide-led ‘off pisting’ adventure. It could only have been done in my true spiritual ski home, the Arlberg, and at that, after a 66 cms powder dump, carrying avalanche risk 4, but with full sunshine as a signatorial witness to my novice assult of such inticingly named places–the Waldschneise, the Schongraben, and the Schimmeleck. Simply impossible to forget losing one’s ‘OP’ innocence in such glorious and sporting of circumstances. Haven’t been the same since. Grafting in steady unison to reach an unblemished incline, upon which to paint rhythmic white lines down face, gulley and forest alike, is the majestry of ‘real’ ski moments, few forget in a hurry, and most, understandably, crave to repeat infinitum. If I never were to ‘squiggle’ like that again, I could still die with that single etched experience, so fresh and perfect, of all the turns that did not in fact ‘get away’ that fine day, but instead delivered me home forever happier.” Helen M. Hatch, PlanetSKI reader.

“Finishing the Haute Route last Tuesday in Zermatt with the sound of melting snow in my ears, the unmistakable smell of Spring in the air and the sweet, oh so sweet taste, of beer in my mouth.”  Craig Burton, www.ifyouski.com

“Turning up at the bottom of the Medran lift on a powder day in Verbier at 9 O’Clock to ski with a friend. We bumped into 6 other mates and off we went. They knew Verbier like the back of their proverbial hands and I lost count of the number of fresh tracks we put in.  Never met them before and never seen them since.  I think they were from Basel, or it may have been Berne”. Heather, PlanetSKI reader.

“Watching my 9 year old son, James, ski for the first time. I saw a lifetime of mutual pleasure ahead of us.” Martin Wilson, PlanetSKI reader.

“Suddenly realising after years of trying to ski better that to ski well all you have to do is finish off your turns and ski up the hill. It was a revelation. Road to Damascus and all that.” Kisia, (wife of PlanetSKI content editor, James Cove!)

“New Year’s Day. Powder. No hangover.” Anon, PlanetSKI reader.

“Having a season of excellent snow, an increase of people doing BASI courses and finding out that British Snowsports Schools charging in pounds have increased business on last season despite the recession. What a winter!” Andrew Lockerbie, Chairman of BASI. 

“Watching both our daughters instructing seemingly legless toddlers learn to ski at Christmas in St Anton. Love of skiing passed on to the next generation!” Marion Telsnig, Crystalski

“Well it was actually having a pee! I was out snowshoeing and neatly plodding along on my green plastic snowshoes, proud of myself for walking up a steep slopes while skiers hurtled down the same bit of hill nearby. But I’d taken good advice and brought along water. What do you have to do after drinking a lot of water? You guessed it! But this was Switzerland, I’m female and don’t like doing it in the bushes on an open, white landscape (lack of privacy), so I was tickled when I came across one of the world’s most charming WCs. Managed to trudge over to it. Locked. For the season. Did it in the snow anyway. You can’t fight with nature and the view was wonderful.”  Ellen, editor of Geneva Lunch web site. (This best moment will stay at the bottom of the article – Ed)