Tag Archives: pfd

Les Arcs with Wasteland Ski – Part 1

I was very fortunate to spend two weeks in Les Arcs, first with Snowboard Club UK, and the second looking after Bath Uni.

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IMG_20150122_094003The resort area is actually split between about 5 smaller towns and villages that make up Les Arcs. Each town has it’s own character and clientele, appealing in different ways to the various stereotypes that populate the slopes. Arc 2000 and 1950 are for the richer folks, more family orientated and little more luxurious. It tends to be a little more French orientated as well. Arc 1600 is a bit cheaper, just a standard resort town but without a huge draw. Arc 1800 is where Bath Uni were based and has a larger English presence, especially in the bars. The larger hotels can cater for groups and budgets more suited to students. Vallandry and Peisey are both smaller and more family friendly, while offering a range of nicer hotels and catered chalets, this is where the SCUK crew were located. IMG_20150118_105819Over in Arc 1800 the nightlife was much better, with several bars happy to accommodate a huge amount of students. While the amount we had meant splitting them between bars on some nights, Red Hot Saloon did well to cater for as many as they did almost every night, although they did share the load with my favourite, Bar King Mad. The two clubs in town Club 73 and Le Carre (previously Apocalypse) hosted some of the best late parties of the season. The mostly English bars helped the students to spend, while the worst drink in existence was consumed in high volume thanks to the bar staff in Red Hot. A Glass Case (Cage?) consists of Gin and red wine served like a Jagerbomb, resulting in some very messy nights.
IMG_20150127_120900So the first week in Peisey continued with the lack of snow, a light dusting here and there didn’t do much to improve the riding, although pistes were mostly open and well covered. The snow also brought the temperature down, and for the first time during the season I felt the need to wrap up a little more. Clear skies later in week meant some great photo ops, and the old snow meant park laps were frequent and popular. Peisey is well placed for the Vanoise Express, a huge double-decker gondola that takes pass holders across to La Plagne. This opens up another resort of equal size, making the total skiable area massive.
IMG_20150122_125308Les Arcs ski area is easily split into three main sections; The glacier and the Arc 2000 bowl, Arc 1800 with the snowpark and the Vallandry side, with tree runs galore. The glacier and the 2000 bowl offer some great runs, the main bowl is mostly open blues, but for the more adventurous there’s plenty of ‘Natur’ un-pisted black and red runs to explore. There’s some long runs down into Villaroger, although the slow chairs back out make this a long detour. In good conditions the amount of off-piste available in this bowl is impressive, although finding some fresh lines will be very tricky as the accessibility of it all means the locals will be building moguls before you can even strap in.
IMG_20150121_101550Arc 1800 again offers plenty of blues but dotted with reds. There’s a couple blacks to hit, but it’s mostly on the easier side while the blues are mostly just access routes across the hill. This was the first park that felt finished, even though the pro-line was still under construction. Rather than conforming to the straight line set up of most parks this was more open, with jumps and rails offset against each other, allowing riders to change up their lines and hit a greater variety of features in a single run. Also offering some excellent mid difficulty hits that would not normally be found in the mid park a lot of fun to be had in this park. Arc 1800 is also home to the new ‘Mille 8‘ area, a short gondola ride up through the trees to a floodlit green run, with alongside boarder-cross and tobogan track.
IMG_20150127_160422Finally, the Vallandry side has straight reds between big patches of forest, with winding blues linking each run to the next. The forest areas are perfect for tree runs, with a bit of fresh powder these offer some excellent fun for those willing to risk their limbs (and base). The reds are basic motorway pistes, wide and fast, while the blues offer some peaceful, picturesque and easy runs for beginners, just be aware at junctions.
Continued here

Benjamin Duff
@versestravel

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Val D’Isere With Wasteland Ski

Val D’Isere has quite a reputation for being one of the nicest, and fanciest (by which I mean poshest) resorts in the alps. Which is why I was amazed to be heading there with 350 students from Oxford Brookes.

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IMG_20150111_132422At this point I had been transferred across from Alpe D’Huez in preparation for arrivals day. The usual brief explore around the town, followed by some lovely admin work got us ready for the masses to turn up. I was thankfully on Coach Driver duty, meaning I spent the day sat in a warm van ferrying drivers to their hotels. Certainly a step up from the freezing duty I had in VT, and really quite a pleasant day really. All of the students were in hotels within the same small area, along with the reps who were distributed between the various buildings.

IMG_20150112_121902The towns nightlife is quite impressive, much more suited to the amount of students we had than some resorts (but I’ll get to that in Les Arcs) Plenty of English staffed bars with plenty of space meant we had a nice choice of locations throughout the week and didn’t need to double up too often. Saloon, the sister of the VT bar was good fun, and really suited the group. Morris Pub was great for an afternoon of Apres with loads of space although the usual clientele seemed a little shocked to have their bar invaded by ski boot wearing teenagers. The clubs also offered just what we needed, The Bunker (under the famous Dicks Tea Bar) offered classic alpine club life, while Graal allowed us to take over the entire joint and have exclusive Brookes parties.

IMG_20150113_124251Snow conditions hadn’t improved much from ADH but there was fresh snow on the way in and some good spots if you were lucky enough to find them. Day one was incredibly windy, which put a lot of people off, but after rolling up to a little chair, to find it they were just about to open meant we were first in line to hit a fresh run. Only a green waited for us at the top, and a closed blue. We took the blue and found out why it was closed. The run was in desperate need of grooming, but we had a lot of fun with it, the moguls at the top had collected the fresh snow in the hollows making a sea of powder with deadly islands of ice poking up. Further down were wind-lips and as the piste flattened out the moguls disappeared. Near the bottom was a perfect rock drop that we ended up seshing a few times, even hiking up to finally ride it out.

IMG_20150115_190713The lower slopes of the resort were mostly an awful mix of ice and dirt but when there’s a run it’s hard to make the decision to take the gondola back down. Many complaints during the week about the icy conditions, but it was possible to avoid these runs if you stuck to one area in the mountain. The skiable area spreads over to Tignes, which opened up plenty more riding without any major icy patches. The Tignes side had a similar ridable area making the total size pretty massive, but it also offered a snow park that was actually built. Nicely shaped kickers and a few rails made the riding fun and with enough options to keep a park rat happy for a day or two. The pro-line wasn’t open, but for me that’s not a problem, the mid-line kickers are plenty big enough to give me a fright. With the small line being right next to an easy piste it was very easy for beginners to access and attempt, which is both good and bad. I’m not against new people trying to learn park, but when there are skiers hitting jumps while snow-plowing it’s clear they need to build up their ability on the pistes before causing problems going too slowly through the park.

IMG_20150114_144605One day later in the week was a complete white-out with high winds, so instead of risking our wrists on the ice we decided to build a little kicker on the slope around the back of our hotel. In hindsight we built it in the wrong place, with an awkward tree-hugging run up and a steep landing, but it was still great fun to sesh on a hang-over day. I managed to get my confidence with wild-cats, a trick similar to a backflip but over the tail end of the board.

The night of the week we hosted a slalom race and kicker jam for the uni. It was amazing to watch how quickly the piste-basher could build a kicker out of nowhere. The racing went well, with plenty of silly costumes and free wine and the competition was hotly contested. I can see this becoming a regular feature for a lot of unis.

The week was great fun, and Val is good resort (if a little expensive) I just hope we behaved well enough to get back next year.

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

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The Best Snow Apps – Weather, grabs, and more – Blog for Prefitdelivery.com

 

SNOW APPSWHAT DO YOU WANT, WHAT DO YOUThese days we never ride without our phones. With improved signal and cheaper rates we can now actually use our mobiles while abroad, there’s even Wi-Fi in some of the mountain bars so you can check it and upload those selfies, but more usefully, we can check out the action and news with a huge range of snow apps. But which ones are worth the download, we’re here to find out!

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OnTheSnow – For android and iPhone, this is a nice little app with all the info for nearly all the resorts (certainly most of the ones you’ll be off to!) They provide pictures, piste maps, and more data about your chosen mountain, along with weather forecasts and powder reports. It works well, and doesn’t eat up the data too quick, or nail the battery. The pictures and most relevant snow reports are user uploaded though, so some are a little low quality or irrelevant, but mostly you’ll be looking at the blue bird skies or 3ft visibility, depending on how many other people read the weather report.

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Trace Snow [iPhone – Android] – Linked up with the usual social media culprits, Trace Snow tracks your movements around the resort using GPS and at the end of the day gives you a little report of what you’ve been up to. Recording vertical drop, horizontal distance, speeds and stops, even counting your jumps and air time. It has a few leaderboards for all these stats, but without any friends (you’ll need to search them out yourself even though it links through Facebook) it only has global stats, which are rather tricky to beat.

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Trick Bag – As always, available on both platforms (we don’t count Windows Phones…) The principle here is that you’ve got a huge library of ‘how to’s at your fingertips, split into levels of difficulty with short instructional videos showing you how it’s supposed to be done. While the tutorial section isn’t exactly informative, a writen explaintion would be nice. But if you’re looking for inspiration of what to try next, or simply trying to build up your bag of tricks this can really help you out. Be aware that downloading the videos will rack up the data charges though.

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SnoCru – This is a social network style app designed to let you add your riding buddies and shred friends so you can always find some people to hang out with. Popular in the States, it hasn’t taken off so huge in Europe yet, but if you want to to know who’s in the same resort as you (especially if you’ve got a load of seasonairre pals) it can be a wonderful tool.

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Ski and Snow Report iPhone Android Not one we’re recommending, it’s telling us there’s no snow in the resort we’re in, while it’s snowing!

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Snowboard Trick List iPhone Android Pretty much the same as the Trick Bag app, but you have to pay for this one. It’ll probably have ironed out the odd creases that Trick Bag has, but whether it’s worth the money is up to you. For us, while it is nicer than the competition, we’d rather save the money for socks.

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

All the gear, no idea? – What you actually need, what you don’t – Blog for Prefitdelivery.com

ALL THE GEAR- NO IDEA-

So the world of Snowsports has thousands of different bits of kit and snow gear that someone will insist you can’t be without – here’s a little list of technical gear we think you actually need. (There’s a list of everything you’ll need for your uni trip here, for those who are going the first time)

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  • Skis/Snowboard – Yeah, you’ll need this one,pretty essential snow gear, we’ve got you covered here
  • Boots – Perfect fit, before you get to the resort, that’s why we’re here
  • Poles – Only for the skiers, and we’ll get you sorted as well
  • Socks – Your feet are where the action happens, and where the pressure is so you need good socks to protect your tootsies. Football and rugby socks really won’t cut it, and wearing two pairs is just going to be blister city. Get some decent ski socks and they’ll keep your feet toasty and free of blisters, and we have plenty for you to buy
  • Helmet – Long gone are the days of yore, when helmets were for Groms and Gapers, these days we all wear them, all the time and we don’t like people who don’t. We’re not wasting time making friends with suicidal people. Hire and helmet, save a life. 100% essential snow gear.
  • Jacket and Pants – We’ve got these for you as well, and it’ll do you fine. You don’t need a £200 jacket if you’ll just be hitting the greens and blues, but don’t go buying the cheapest jacket you can find, it probably won’t do so well. Please buy something though, your leather jacket might look cool on the streets, but on the slopes you’ll look rather special.
  • Gloves – Again snow specific gloves are essential, but the cheapest will tear within days. If you want the cheap option without the tears, hire them from us with the premium clothing rental package.
  • Goggles – there’s a lot of variation here, but if you’re only out for a week a year, you probably don’t need a pair of low lights, mid lights and blue bird goggles. Stick with something in the middle and you’ll be grand.

IMG_20141127_153829There’s a lot of cheap gear out there, and eBay can be very good at tempting you with stuff you don’t need. Be wary of deals that sound to good to be true, they often are.

Keep an eye out for keen salesmen as well, we’ve seen people wearing fluffy socks that the ‘guy in the shop’ swore were professional riding socks, and wooly gloves with the same recommendation.Full NinjaCheck the brand is something you’ve heard of before, or take a buddy who’s got some experience so you don’t get a bad deal. Decathlon don’t seem to have much clue about snowsports, while Snow + Rock will be pushing the expensive stuff in our experience.

But even easier than all that, just get the clothing rental packages from us and we’ll supply good quality gear for a budget price. If you like it enough, you can buy it from us and it’ll cost you less than the full RRP!

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

P.s. If you like the look of that onsie, get it online at mojosclothing.com

 

Save Money on your Holiday with Pre-Fit Delivery – Blog for Prefitdelivery.com

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There’s plenty of way that we can help save you money, and as only we know them right now, we thought it would be nice to share!

  • Avoid admin charges – Some tour operators will charge you to make changes to you bookings, including changes to your Pre-Fit Delivery time slot. This is due to the effort required to process this and send the information off to us – however if you get in touch with us directly we can usually make these changes for you
  • Upgrade your gear – We can hook you up with a rental upgrade, additional clothing and add a helmet on for the base price. No admin fee on those at all

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  • Discount retail – We have a supply of gear available to buy at each roadshow and fitting event. This might not be as extensive as the nearby Snow + Rock or Decathlon, but we do have all the essentials at very good prices including socks from £9 and goggles for £15 and loads more.
  • Ex-rental gear – We have a very limited supply of ex-rental bits n pieces from previous years which you can pick up at massive discount. This includes jackets and salopets from £20 and gloves and goggles from £10
  • Epic Swag – Ok, so buying extra stuff might not actually save you money, but we have some rad limited edition T-shirts and beanies from the guys at Mojo, Entirety and Park Clothing for sale, all for cheaper than it’s supposed to be.

So if there’s something you want to add to your booking, from a better pair of ski, through to switching to board hire, or you need that hard hat to protect your noggin we have it all – please get in touch with us and see what we can do to save you some dollar!

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Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

Update: Pre-Fit Delivery and Wasteland Ski

So you may know that I’m now working with both Pre-Fit Delivery and Wasteland Ski.

PFD is a company that works closely with Wasteland, fitting ski and board boots to the customers before they head out to resort, meaning that on arrival they’ll be able to pick up their boots in seconds rather than waiting ages in the cold and trying to find the right boots after a hellish long bus journey.

I started on Monday in Loughborough and since then have visited Sutton Bonington (near Nottingham) York and am now in Manchester to meet a colleague who will be driving us down to London for the Wasteland Head Rep training day. After that is the Wasteland 20th Anniversary party, which is on a boat on the Thames, followed by an afterparty up in Shoreditch. After a day off in London I’ll be heading all the way up to Glasgow to do the Scottish Unis for a week (Glasgow and Dundee at least) then to Edinburgh to catch up with some family before heading back down to London again for an interview with a promising company (I’m keeping that one a secret for now) And then another day off before I hit Bath for 5 days straight, so we’re expecting some parties and maybe even a bit of chilling there as well. As soon as I finish there, I’ll be flying out to France to work my first week for Wasteland Ski, in Val Thoren, one of my favourite resorts.

So, an exciting period of time for me ahead, and if the last few days are anything to judge by, it’ll be a lot of fun! I’m very happy to working with these people as well, a lot of friendly fun people and easy going too. I hope next year follows the same sort of pattern.

Benjamin Duff

@versestravel

PreFit Delivery and Bristol

So just the other day I went off to the glorious Swindon for training with the Pre-Fit Delivery Company.

Bristol GrafittiThese guys provide a genius service fitting ski and snowboard boots before the customers go on holiday, so when they arrive in resort all they need to do is pick up their gear. It saves loads of time messing around in resort trying to get the right boots (which is so important, especially for beginners, and skiers) and means the clients get the perfect size.

BanksyI met some of the team at the Wasteland training weekend, and they’re lovely folks. Seeing them again for this training session was good fun, and the day was well organised so we learnt loads in the short time. The team travels from group to group, mostly doing fitting session with unis but also families and other group travel organisations, doing the fitting sessions. Which means lots of traveling around the country for the team, and some good times partying while away. I only got a few shifts with them, as they had a good response of people wanting to work, but I’ll be off to Glasgow at the end of the month, and hopefully a little stop over in Edinburgh to see some family on the way home.

BristolI stopped in Bristol either side of the day in Swindon, first night I caught up with some family, and second with a friend of mine, which meant a night out in the city. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Bristol, and it didn’t dissappoint. Certainly strong with the uni vibe, and very creative as well. We stayed at the Full Moon Backpackers, which I don’t recommend at all, except for the location, ate at the Pieminister just up the road which I do recommend and ended up in The Big Chill, listening to the Music Unis’ Jazz Funk Soul Society live music night. Lots of good tunes along the jazzy funky theme and lots of hipster students. The atmosphere was very nice, as was the bar and people.

Bristol MuseumIn the morning I had a little time to explore, so we checked out some of the excellent graffiti, the charity shops and in the search of a snow shop found the city Art Gallery and Museum which I could have spent all day in. Unfortunately work was called from three hours away, so I had to head off, missing out on the HMS Britain, the Clifton Suspension Bridge and all of the many churches and cathedrals.

I can’t wait to head back, and I really think it’s worth a trip for anyone who wants to see a nice, but smaller city than London.

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Benjamin Duff

@versestravel