Ski Clinic Report – January 2014
Plough, plough and more plough…
The seeds for a ski clinic were sown during the previous year’s expedition to Hanuman Tibba and Kshitidhar. After a lot of planning and coordination between Prasanna and Zuzer, the ski clinic bore fruit. A 5-day clinic for learning the basics of alpine skiing.
A team of 15 members, ages ranging from 14 to 45, were ready to tackle the slopes of Solang with full gusto. The train journey to Delhi was full of singing and dumb charades and the group got to know each other really well on the train itself. At Delhi, we all decided to while away our time at Come Some restaurant while waiting for the Volvo and also another member was to join us at Delhi. Finally, by 5pm we found the Volvo starting spot and got our 1 million tons of luggage loaded into the bus. A few tablets of Avomin helped us get through the night, but the bus journey was so comfortable, that we all slept like a log; Avomin or not.
The moment we got off the bus the cold hit us and we had to get all our cold weather clothes out. We had two vehicles ready for us at Manali the next day at 6am. After loading the entire luggage, we squeezed into the cars and were on our way to Iceland hotel. Zuzer was there to welcome us and Shilu allocated us our rooms. We were all on the same floor except one room. But given how friendly and close we had got with each other already, we spent most of our times in other peoples’ rooms and used our respective rooms only to retire at night.
After a quick breakfast and a tiny nap, we were taken along for our acclimatisation walk to the Shiv Mandir; a small 5 km walk. After we were back we were handed over our respective ski shoes and told to walk around a bit to get used to the shoes. The first evening was spent in doing the basics. Use the skis to walk around on flat snow. It was the first time on skis for almost everyone, and it wasn’t uncommon to see someone on the ground ever so often.
The next day is when the actual skiing started. We were told to wear skis and ski over a very tiny slope. Try and get our balance right and also see if we could manage our skis correctly. We had two sessions every day. 9-12 and 3-6. During the afternoon session we were finally taken on a slightly larger slope. Here we were supposed to side step up the slope while wearing our skis and then ski down. It definitely wasn’t as easy as it looks on TV. In fact, it was quite a task, and after having fallen a gazillion times, we all trudged back to the hotel, tired and ready to retire.
The next day saw us greatly improving upon our first day’s performance. Many had begun to get the turns perfect and had graduated on to a higher slope. A few lagged behind and the instructors made sure they all got personal attention and were able to ski correctly. The sessions were exhausting, frustrating but fun. It was extremely frustrating to climb up the slope for 5 minutes, and then ski down only for 20 seconds. And in that if you completed all what was planned, good for you, but if you fall, you just dust the snow off, and climb back up, cursing yourself at how stupid you were. Plough, plough… pressure, pressure… These had become our mantras while skiing.
On the last day, we decided to have a bit of fun with the instructors and chased them around the slope and pushed them around and had a mini snow fight with them. They all took this in a great spirit and also enjoyed their time with us. And we were able to get some artificial psychological revenge over them. After the skiing had ended, on the last evening, Zuzer threw us a small party on having successfully completed the skiing and it also coincided with his café’s post winter reopening. The last morning some of us decided to do an additional ski session, a few decided to paraglide,
and some just made up for the lack of sleep.
After a day full of packing and repacking and some last minute shopping in Manali, we boarded our mini bus back to Delhi. I have conveniently omitted the change of flight problems we had due to fog at Chandigarh, but it was all anticipated and everyone adjusted and coordinated and made sure we all got the same flights from Delhi. On reaching Mumbai, we clicked a few more photos and bid our goodbyes. In spite of the wide age group, we had all become really good friends on this trip, and we all were bound by a single thought that would haunt each one of us all our lives. Plough, Plough and more Plough….
-By Akshay Bharadwaj