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It was a pleasure for GOC to return the ski slopes after a two year absence as a result of Covid. For many of the party it was also their first time overseas since before the pandemic.

It is more now problematic to find a catered chalet in the Alps, the traditional GOC ski holiday accommodation. However, thanks to the knowledge of Les Bannerman, an excellent hotel with an option to self cater was found in the historic town of Samoens. This is part of the extensive Grand Massif ski area, close to the Swiss border.

Fifteen people including one non skier gathered in the resort having travelled from all parts of Britain, some a day or two before the main group. Les and partner Jim were enjoying a longer break.

GOC skiers are generally experienced and able to ski on their own, in pairs or as part of a larger group. The location of the hotel, a 5 minute free shuttle bus ride from the bottom lift, meant that people could also start and finish their skiing day at a variety of times to suit energy levels and the size of the previous night’s bar bill.

We were blessed with a week of sunshine. People in the UK who have not visited the Alps in winter find this hard to believe but plentiful sun screen needed to be applied and hats worn sitting outside at lunchtime, not to keep warm but to stop those of us more folically challenged burning.

Those who took hotel evening meals were treated to the highest standard of French cooking and I for one felt that this, combined with top quality wine, meant that falling asleep in the comfortable rooms with silence outside was serenely easy. We were also treated to a pre dinner cabaret by Joe who entertained the group and other hotels guest with songs accompanied by guitar and harmonica.

The Grand Massif ski area was surprisingly extensive with even the busiest skiers able to find new run seach day and two of the higher ability party members managed to find a black run which satisfied their demand for challenge on the final morning. For the non skier and those seek to rest their legs, Samoens offered a range of activities including winter snow shoeing and a weekly farmers market with the largest selection of cheese you could imagine.

Thanks to Les and Ian Horsburgh for arranging the trip and providing advice on both the travel as well as the skiing. GOC has returned to the slopes- watch out next year.

Peter Kingsbury

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