RTYC Ski Week at St Anton


At some ungodly hour on Sunday 8th February (was it really half past four?) a motley group of skiers made their way to Gatwick for one of those enjoyable charter flights.  Hardly surprising one of our number had a fracas (as Jeremy Clarkson might say) with the Monarch check-in staff.  Eyeing other passengers, both at check-in and on board, we began to wonder what companions we might be teaming up with on the ski slopes on the following week.  Only when we disembarked did we begin to spot the weary souls destined for our hotel and group.
This is where prospects brightened considerably and after a post-lunch snack at the hotel conversations began and a general air of contentment arose.  Sailors are a good lot and with a sustaining drink we all began to expect it might just be a great week! 
Those of us of the elite ski owning fraternity settled down to some serious drinking while lesser mortals drifted off to the hire shop. 
We were all too diplomatic to enquire whether our companions had done their preparatory ski exercises but a day or so on the slopes divulged the sorry truth.  Without a medic amongst us, it was decided that a prescription of liquid refreshment with an element of alcoholic content was the appropriate remedy.  Indeed, this proved a remarkably effective treatment albeit forced upon us for purely medical reasons.
Bodies fortified and spirits raised, on Monday morn we were off to the slopes despite the overcast skies.  Snow had fallen the week before and a multitude of “piste bashers” had beaten the pistes into a high standard although, just occasionally, a bare patch could be seen.  Despite not being able to see the terrain clearly because of the cloud, the day enabled us to limber up.
Break of day on Tuesday welcomed us with sun and cloudless sky and so it was to be for the whole of the week until our day of departure.
The VIP ski reps separated us into gold medallists and riff-raff, well, say lesser mortals, and off both groups went to Lech some fifteen minutes away by taxi where better snow and more interesting ski runs awaited us.
Our usual plan was to get up high as early as possible to enjoy the less crowded slopes where the snow was crisp and fast.
With the sun each day and cold blue skies at night there was a fear that the slopes would become hard and icy but, thankfully, it was not to be although the higher slopes were crisp and kept us alert to keep our edges biting.
Despite her efforts to conceal the event, Claire Locke had a birthday, which, once discovered, became a cause for much revelry celebrated at lunch at the Hospice Alm, in St Christophe and with a birthday cake made for the occasion in the evening.
The rest of our week was unending sunshine, we could see the slopes clearly which did wonders for self-confidence of the lesser mortals, at least. The snow was near perfect and we skied like demons.  As good as it gets!
Fortunately our ski-fuhrer, organiser and general magician, Ray Charmak knew the terrain and had planned our best routes (as well as organising the whole holiday). On several days we took a fifteen minute taxi ride to Lech where the snow and variety of challenges were better still.  On three days we were led by the ski maestros provided by our VIP hotel.
Unfortunately a few of us suffered injury and had to be taken to hospital where excellent treatment was received.  Those more fortunate enjoyed a splendid week, and reportedly the best week for ski conditions by far this season.
We stayed at the hotel Montjola in St Anton which was about eight minutes walk from the town centre although the hotel provided a very efficient free taxi service all day.
The hotel had 33 rooms and was leased by VIP travel from a local owner who lived on the top floor.  Rooms were spacious, and well appointed.  The dining room was attractive with views of the snowy valley to the south east and we dined as a group.  
The age range was from 28 to 75 and, as Ray said, the youngsters kept up well!  
All in all, it was a great success, always good humoured, and by general consensus, an event which will be repeated next year and become established in the RTYC calendar henceforth.
(Thames members interested in next year’s events  including a ski week and ski weekend should email: raycharmak@me.com)