Riding Fresh Lines Down The Grand Couloir – Courchevel
In the winter of 2008/2009, I spent 5 months living in Courchevel in the French Alps. Working as a Commis Chef, I’d start each day with a breakfast shift, then a few hours skiing followed by another shift and then some hard partying in the evening. One Tuesday night we had a fresh dump of snow and, luckily, Wednesday was our day off. We woke in time for first lifts and headed up the mountain in search of some fresh pow. At the top of the Saulire lift in Courchevel 1850, there is a mapped black run on the right called the Grand Couloir that doesn’t get touched by piste maintenance so we headed straight there.
At that time in the morning you could almost smell the chill in the air and my fingers were already beginning to numb but with such a magnificent view in front of us, all senses were forgotten. The four of us were stunned into such unimaginable silence that would have made a whisper sound like a roar. I whipped my gloves off and pulled my camera out of my pocket. It was simply down to good timing that a hot air balloon was floating by at the time. We sat there for a while acknowledging how privileged we were to witness such perfect scenery. However, there was only so long you could keep four young seasonaires from skiing and with very little time before the slopes started to fill up with punters, we clipped ourselves into our skis and, one-by-one, began to take on the Couloir.
I was third to go down and, with this sort of skiing, it’s good etiquette to avoid the tracks that your friends have already made. In deep powder you have to throw the text book out of the window and go against everything you learnt growing up, so I sat back in my boots and just let the big white blanket carry me down the mountain, taking long S-shaped turns and running my fingers through the snow each time I leaned. With the wind chill blasting into my face and ripples of powder chasing me down the mountain, my body was tingling with excitement. Never before had I experienced such extreme ecstasy whilst being absolute petrified at the same time. It was fantastic.
The snow wasn’t so deep all the way down and I definitely felt a few rocks niggling away at the bottom of my skis which later turned out to be giant gouges rather than niggles. Nevertheless, I rode it pretty sweetly and it was definitely worth the €40 service charge I had to pay to fix my skis. When everyone had finished we looked back up and I can tell you there is no better feeling than looking back at your very own fresh tracks and saying…