Gressoney Backcountry Ski Course with Snoworks – Day 4
We were so lucky today and got a perfect weather window for a second descent of the remote Bettolina Bassa. Our bus ride to the meeting point at Gressoney la Trinité had been in dense fog but as we rose from St Anna to the top of the Bettaforca lift, everything was sparkling in the sun.
We had soft powder glistening and flakes of blown snow hanging in the air like motes of dust, twinkling golden in a shaft of sunlight.
Today we were Team Nick – Snoworks’ chief instructor, whose enthusiasm and smile are always infectious. His grin was wider than ever when he saw the conditions at the top of the run!
Mark’s right ski today took the record for the longest solo descent! On the exit from Bettolina, we had to negotiate a 39 degree slope covered in bushes. A bush pulled off Mark’s ski, so he had to ski down one footed as Nick collected the other ski, which had raced even the nippy Nick down to the bottom!
Nick found us a slightly less daunting exit route on a lower path through the trees. There was more snow, so it was less icy than when we passed this way with Richard on Tuesday. It was enchanting; sliding through the snow-blanketed forest.
Nick was laughing with joy as he knocked snow off the branches with his ski poles. It fell onto the path like showers of sparks in the sunlight. It was magical. The cloud followed us down from the top. If we had been half an hour later, we could not have skied the route. That made it feel all the more special!
We headed over to Base Camp, the Tibetan hut at the top of the Mandria lift, for lunch. We went off piste to the left in what was now a complete pea souper from the top of Bettaforca. I did my BEST EVER face plant! I failed to see a dip in the terrible visibility and did a perfect starfish, straight out of the front of my skis.
Despite the powder skirt in my jacket, I have had snow up my jumper most days. Today I had it down my neck and in my goggles as well! Sadly, Nick didn’t witness my airbourne antics and no-one caught it on camera. However, the panel of those who beheld the grace and beauty of me launching like an eagle then landing face-first with limbs akimbo awarded me unanimously a perfect 10!
On the way home, we did some jump-turn drills. Jump turns are great for turning in a ski’s length in tight spaces, on steeps it helps to avoid picking up too much speed or it releases the edges of your skis to allow you to turn in deep or heavy snow. We have learnt so much – and I suspect that we shall be perfecting many of these skills and drills in the weeks to come!
As we skied down in the murk, Mark pointed out that my teensy tresses had frozen!
Join us tomorrow for the Indren Inversion, during which we ski down a waterfall. Our guide’s advice: “Don’t even THINK you will get an edge in THAT! You’ll be straight down…”
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