As you can see from this photo I snapped last week, winter has arrived and covered all my flowers in snow. This particular flower is now under about 60cm of fluffy snow. Because of the snow dump, the La Balme area of La Clusaz was open for skiing last weekend, and I was there for first lifts on Saturday morning.
The powder covering the hill was untracked, but after a few runs in snow that was falling sideways due to very strong (and cold) winds, my friend and I stopped for a hot chocolate to warm our chins and toes. I was lost in my hot chocolate when a guy came over and asked something in French which I paid no attention to, concentrating instead on the steam from the cup in my hand. My friend answered in French then poked me out of my relaxed state. My snowboard, the guy said, had fallen off the ski/snowboard rack in the strong wind, then taken itself further down the hill and off the piste entirely. Nobody could catch it and nobody could see it. He pointed to the track it had made under the telecabine, which disappeared within metres, and my friend and I started searching. We decided to stop because the snow was as deep as our legs. We took the telecabine down to see if we could see where it had landed. We didn’t. We found a piste security man named Gilles who said he’d look for it, but that it was probably buried under the light, fluffy snow and wouldn’t be found until spring, presuming it wasn’t stolen when it did reappear through the snow. The snowboard is old and worth little, but it’s been a great powder board that responds well, and the bindings are comfortable and cost a bomb when I bought them, so I didn’t want to lose this board. Going back up the telecabine, one guy said if he found it, he’d keep it. Another guy said he’d lost his skis, and whoever found them handed them in and he’d do the same too.
I pointed out the last track of the snowboard to Gilles and he surveyed the angle of the snow and picked his path. He said he’d meet us at the bottom. Back in the telecabine, my lovely friend offered to come back during the week and snowshoe to the top of the telecabine (a couple of hours at least) so that we could continue the search on foot if Gilles didn’t find it. We watched him from the telecabine on our way down as he climbed with his skis over rocks, damaging his bases. The longer he was gone, the less chance of seeing my snowboard again. Seconds felt like minutes and minutes felt like hours etc. I’m sure you know that numb feeling where time is standing still for you, while everyone else around you is oblivious to your crisis and you wonder how they can carry on. About ten minutes later, Gilles arrived – with my snowboard! He found it! I hugged him, I kissed his cheeks and I shook his hand. I told him in French that I loved him. He seemed used to this reaction but I didn’t care: I was grateful beyond his comprehension.
The snowboard had slid under the snow and travelled around 100 metres before it hit a tree and rested. The only sign of it was 1cm of orange binding that acted like a tiny beacon which he spotted after some time searching nearby. My resolves from the experience:
1. I’ll never rest my snowboard or skis on that particular rack again; and,
2. I owe Gilles gingerbread too (along with the guy from the post office who I mentioned recently).