Jan 19 2010

I was fortunate enough to be looking after the lovely students from Durham University, Van Mildert College in Argentiere! From 2/1/2010 returning on the 9/1/2010 at 2pm.
The first day entailed arriving on time at the UCPA centre (8am). We unloaded the bags from the coach and placed them in a storage room whilst we went upstairs to eat breakfast. After breakfast the UCPA staff gave us an introductory speech about the resort, food, accommodation, ski hire and tuition. This lasted for around 30mins and after which everyone collected their lift passes, room numbers, tuition details and kit passes.

The skiing lessons were split according to ability into five groups. These were interchangeable the following day as the groups liaised with one another on the Monday morning so that the instructors could judge everyone’s ability for themselves. After all the kit was sorted and people had found their rooms etc some people went out to the nearest slopes, whilst other unpacked and waited for the buffet lunch. Lunch was served at 12.30pm and was fantastic! So much food to choose from it was great. After we’d all eaten a lot of food most people hit the slopes and tried to remember how to ski or board! The first night was very chilled, most people were recovering from the coach journey and so it was an early night all round so everyone was refreshed for Mondays skiing.

On the Monday morning we all woke up early and went down to enjoy the buffet breakfast, you could also make yourself a take away lunch which almost everyone did. After breakfast we put on our boots, grabbed our skis/boards and headed outside to meet our instructors. The comedy French jokes started immediately which lets be fair is standard. We met our group and then hopped on a bus and went to Le Tour (LADS le tour it was nicknamed later on in the week). We did some easy blues and reds so the instructors could check our abilities. After a few changes in the groups everyone was sorted and happy.That day we took it easy as the previous night it had dumped half a metre of fresh powder, so on piste was off piste! And off piste was ridiculous it was incredible! The rest of the week everyone had lessons from 9am to 3pm with about 40mins off for lunch. After 3pm a lot of people went home to rest but a dedicated bunch carried on skiing on their own until the last lift.

Apres Ski!
Monday: After a long day on the slopes there was the first pub crawl! This was in Argentiere and although it’s a small resort it has some mint bars! We started at the bottom of the resort, just outside the UCPA! And moved up the main street where all the bars were, everyone got involved with the amazing drink deals Outgoing got them and we ended up in the Office, a bar known for its live music!

The Tuesday night the group had an excursion booked to go to Chamonix. Chamonix’s nightlife was immense and everyone got really involved with the 6 bar pub crawl, with us ending up in Munster. We caught the bus back from just around the corner at 1.30am, with a bit of comical Karaoke on the way back the journey was a classic, a dedicated few people went for a cheeky one at office bar when we returned and a couple of people ended up molesting a puppy, in the nicest way possible.

Wednesday was a fairly chilled night, with lots of UNO and other crazy board games being played, UCPA had a band on doing covers and the French surpassed themselves with some crazy dancing that everyone enjoyed! Thursday was another trip to Chamonix, we all caught the train down and had a short walk to the bowling alley! There were a few classic techniques going on but everyone enjoyed the bowling and their cheeky free drink! We then hit some of the bars we had been to before, ending up in Monkey Bar, the cheapest bar in the resort! Our last night was spent with our instructors, drinks were had after skiing in Savoy bar, where there was live music and one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever seen! Crowd surfing and mosh pits were had in a big way! For a small resort the nightlife really was immense!

The accommodation was great, the rooms were like dorms with communal showers etc, the rooms were simple but perfect for what we needed as we didn’t spend much time in them. Downstairs there was a bar serving light refreshments, coffee, beer and wine and the most amount of board games you have ever seen! There was also a pool table although it was expensive! My tutor was great, he taught us a whole load of new techniques for different conditions, and everyone had improved enormously by the end of the week. He pushed us all and made sure they improved, we also did a fair amount of off piste which everyone really enjoyed. He spoke perfect English and cracked out the jokes whenever possible, good times.

The food was one of the best aspects of the holiday as I normally go self catered. There was a lot of food to make your lunch with in the morning and the dinners were something else. There was a massive choice of main meals, salads, soup and a whole range of deserts, including fresh fruit and it was a buffet so you could fill yourself right up! There was also cake and tea served for when you got straight off the slope! The equipment provided was all in excellent condition, and you could change anything in the evening from 5pm to 7pm if you had any difficulties. The combination of everything UCPA offers you is truly amazing and such good value! The staff are friendly and always willing to help and there was a great atmosphere in the whole UCPA centre! I’m definitely going to go with them again, can’t wait!

By Stephen Tomsett – Rep on the Argentiere Trip


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