ELVIS, loud, Ash had done it again!

ELVIS, loud, Ash had done it again!

On Monday we travelled around half an hour to a completely different set of slopes which were on a mountain and yet again Ash had smashed the mornings tunes out of the park as we were all bouncing away to the unmistakable sounds of ELVIS! I took many pictures with my phone on the way as the scenery was outstanding, the traditional Bavarian buildings surrounded by high mountains and hills against a backdrop of clear blue skies and lush green grass with the snow caps on the mountains. We arrived at the town which was also full of traditional architecture which is beautiful and after we had meandered through the few streets we needed to pass through, we arrived at the car park at the bottom of the mountain. This is where we would be boarding the Gondola or as I have always known it, the cable car. We unloaded from the “Happy bus” and made our way across the car park to the entrance of the cable car station. With help from Ash and Hannah, Ollie and I got up the slopes in to the building and we used the lifts to get to the areas where you board the Gondola. The staff were really good as were the other passengers who were patiently waiting for the Gondola to arrive as when we got to the waiting area they allowed us to board first. Now despite my tandem skydive and my wanting to abseil, I really don’t like heights and this cable car was going up, way up, and when it came to a stop at the top we got off and boarded a second one which would take us the same distance again. The view was breathtaking but I would be telling porkies if I was to say that I was enjoying the ride up the mountain as the cable car does swing after it has gone through the stanchions which hold the cables, not a great feeling but it had to be endured to be able to go up to ski and to take in the incredible views.

When we reached the end of this cable car ride Ash, Kev and Hannah helped me up the gradient in my chair to get to the ski. As normal they helped me to get from the chair in to the ski seat and with me strapped in we skied off to right which took us down and around to the next ski lift which was a seat. Now for me to get on to the seat Ash and Kev pull a release pin on the ski which then, assisted by a piston, tips me forward so I am effectively holding my weight on my “Riggers” but I am looking down at the snow. Kev and Ash then tip me back on to the seat when the chair comes round and with the three of us on the chair, the safety bar is pulled down and we sit back and take in the views to the top of this run. The snow was fast which gave us the perfect opportunity to practice some really tight turns on the steep slopes. At around half way down the slope we stopped as Ash had been bucketing me down the slope which means that he has control of the ski and I assist. He now put me on the tethers and I would be controlling the ski, Ash would slow the ski if required and would take over if I got in to trouble or for safety. I was so much more confident on the direction changes despite being on a slope that I had never seen before, this I would hopefully carry across to the slopes that we had been skiing on when we return to them the following day.

We skied the slopes for a good couple of hours and then Ash asked if I wanted to go to the mountain top cafe for lunch. Ok, I may never get to be here again and I want to see as much as I possibly can, taking as many opportunities that arise as possible and so I obviously said yes. To get to the cafe we had to get on to another cable car, the journey was not a long one and when I got out Ash showed me exactly why he had suggested it for a lunch venue. It is over 2200 meters above sea level and when you look around you can just see mountain tops, it is breathtaking. When I return to the UK which will be later on tonight, I will sort my pictures and videos and get as much as I can on to here for you to see, it is incredible. The day was amazing. I experienced more slopes with different snow coverings in various states. I had used a ski chair lift and also been on cable cars but the one thing I will never forget is the view from the cafe at the top of the mountain. When I get pictures up you will understand why.

On Tuesday we were back on the slopes we had been on for the Exercise, I was shocked at the amount of greenery that was visible due to the warm temperatures and the rainfall, all combined with the fact that there had been no freezing temperatures overnight it meant that I really had to concentrate and pick my routes early as although my ski stood a good chance of going over the grassy areas, the same would not be true for Ash who would be tethering behind me. We had a few runs which went well and I asked Kev if he was happy for me to try to get myself to the t-bar after Hannah had attached the tow rig to the ski, this was a goal I had set myself and Kev was more than happy to let me practice. He did have to save me a couple of times and assist due to the sticky snow and on one occasion I did not manage to keep my balance and I fell over but there was no problem to any others waiting to use the T-bars as I had fallen whilst out of the main loading area. I had cracked the balancing on the way up the slope and also I could now balance and pull the release to disconnect me from the T-bars. Getting the ski to then turn and slide away from the top of the slope was still a struggle but I was getting better each and every time I did it and Kev told me that he was simply along for the ride as he did not have to have input. I was glad he was there though as a couple of times that the lift stopped I got caught out and very nearly fell, this is exactly what would have happened had Kev not been there to give a helping hand.

Ash was not so lucky on my penultimate run however. I got in to a little bit of a speed wobble which Ash helped me with on the Tethers, as I have previously said; Ash and I had decided that if I was going to pile in that he would if needs be force the dump and ski away or if there was no danger to me or anyone else he would simply ski away to avoid both of us creaming in. I was happy with this because I genuinely found it hilariously funny when I did fall. So anyway, Ash and I are flying down the main slope and I am really doing well on the direction changes but then I had a wobble and I could not get it back. This is where Ash will dump the Tethers and ski away allowing me to pile in and then the team would come and help me back up. This would not be the case though on this occasion. So I am having a moment and Ash has already figured out that I am going in on this one so now he has decided that he has to assist in dumping the ski over as there were potential dangers of me heading in to trees and people what happened though was not in Ash’s plan. His ski got caught under my ski, as I piled in his ski snagged and as a result of the force it detached from his boot and stayed still some 10 meters behind my ski. Ash had then been launched over my ski and landed some 15 meters or so down the slope. I was obviously laughing my nuts off as usual as Hannah appeared to check I was OK. She then turned the ski so my ski’s were down the fall of the slope in preparation to get me up while Kev went over to where Ash was. This was when I saw Ash on the floor. He was seriously winded and could not catch breath to speak and on top of this he had landed with his fist and arm under his rib cage. To say that Ash was not in a good place would be slightly short of the truth, that being that he was in agony which I ws not happy about as I had been laughing my nuts off up to that point. It took around ten minutes before Ash could get up but Hannah and Kev got me up after around five minutes and I held myself up. Despite his fall and Kev offering to bucket me in, Ash reattached his ski, took control of my ski and took me down to the bottom to get hooked up on the T-bar again for our final run. The final run was a huge success where my control was great and Ash had not had to assist at all. The perfect way to end the day.  I had a good days skiing again though which would be the final chance to be taught and practice, tomorrow (Wednesday) would be the final day of the Exercise and we would simply be on the slope for the finale of the Exercise Snow Warrior (Adaptive) course…the slalom race!

We got back to the lodge and I cracked straight on with my admin, one of the biggest things would be to pack everything I would not need, in to my suitcase leaving only what I would need for the following days skiing and the flight home. This did not take too long to be fair. The suitcase was all but empty which made it easier to put on the bed for me to load it with my clothes something which I would be unable to do after the skiing on Wednesday . Having squared my stuff away, squared my personal admin away and had tea I went over to the main building again to join the rest of the lads for a drink. I have absolutely no idea what the drink was in the bottle that we were passing around but it was very syrupy and tasted of berries. That said though it wasn’t too bad in comparison to the small shot bottle that Josh handed me immediately afterwards. The labels were in German which I do not speak or understand but the picture on the label lead me to believe that it would be potentially a little hot. I had drawn this conclusion by the picture of a Devil with flames as a backdrop on the label. Anyway, as we all had a bottle of various spirits it was down the hatch…and very nearly right back up again. Christ on a bike was it hot. I had just as well have eaten chillies. With my throat now feeling as if it had suffered third degree burns I, as did a few of the other lads, decided to cool it down with a pint…or two…and that is where I stopped drinking after all, was the skiing competition in the morning. Going in to town with the instructors for a quiet drink would be unnecessary really and so a quick write of my Blog for the day and a sensibly timed bed time would be the best thing to do.

So it only took around 20 minutes to get to the nice little bar in town with the disabled access and it was actually a pleasant evening for a st-roll. We arrived at the bar to meet up with Ash and Kerry who had missed tea and so had gone to the bar for a bite to eat. Shortly after we arrived and ordered a drink Evvo and Mark arrived and so the conversations started and the drinks were sunk. It was a couple of hours before we were asked to leave as they were closing but the bar area would be staying open. Ash and Kerry headed back as they had some work to get done. Evvo also headed off while Mark, Hannah and I headed to the bar area. It was a proper funny night which was added to by the RSM who popped in for a drink also. I am unsure exactly what time it was that we left the bar for the st-roll back to the lodge but it could not have been late as the curfew is 23.59 and as we were not in trouble we therefore had to have got back to the lodge inside that time. This morning (Wednesday) was going to be interesting for me though, the slalom skiing competition was nearing and I was not exactly my best. I had clearly done a very good job when I got to my room because I was undressed and my bed bag was attached to my pipe work ready for the night’s sleep. I had clearly transferred from my chair to my bed but this is as far as I got as I woke at 07.30, well actually I was woken at 07.30 and I was clearly in the position I had fallen asleep in. My feet were on the floor and I was laying to the left. Essentially I had clearly been sitting on the bed with my feet on the floor ready to get my legs on to the bed but had fallen asleep and simply toppled to the left on to my pillow. Not the best if I am honest.

We got to the slopes after listening to good God only knows which music selection as I may have fallen asleep before we moved off and was woken just and just before we due to start the skiing. Thankfully, as I did not accomplish solo on the ski (which I am not disappointed about as I have no abs to help me turn and keep balance), Ash would be driving the ski with me assisting in the turns as we had done on the first day and as I said, I was glad that Ash would be with me on this race. We got up to the top of the slope via the T-bar and Ash took me over to the start gate of the course for our first trial run so that we would know where the cones were and I would settle in to helping to turn the ski with Ash. We completed our first run having missed one of the cones and so as we made our way down to the T-bar lift again, we spoke about how to do the course this time, which would be our first timed run. Les would not tell us the time but I was happy we finished the course and was ready for the second timed run. This would be the run that counts. We completed the T-bar up the slope and removed the tow rig from the ski before we headed to the start point. We were counted down and then Ash and I gave it our all, Ash even tucking in behind to try to get rid of any ounce of resistance we could. We hurtled down the slope cutting left and right and trying desperately not to drift as this would slow the speed of the ski, we cut left and right, the drifting was minimal and then we crossed the line, but would it be good enough?

With our final run done we got hooked back on to the T-bar lift and from the top our final ski was to the hotel where I was once again helped in to my wheelchair and back to the “Happy bus” where I squared my stuff away and then headed in to the hotel for a nice cup of tea and to wait for the rest of the group to finish their final ski routes and join us for Les to give a “closing brief” and to make a few presentations. As coaches and flights were booked and timings had to be adhered to we had all been told the timings that we had to be loaded on to the transport to get us back to the lodge for handing kit in. The remainder of the group came in to the area which we were in drinking our brews and with the group complete Les gave his closing address. Then came the all important timings for the slalom race. There were literally three seconds separating all of us and then it came down to the final three. Ash and I came third which we were massively chuffed with as we were unsure if we had done enough to get there but I was happy that we had finished without piling in. Then Ash took the floor and spoke of a cup that is presented to the person who the instructors feel have benefited from and given the most back to the course. The instructors give their suggestions and in the event of a tie, the Battle Back Warrant Officer casts the deciding vote. This year it was a tie but Ash said that as there was not a Battle Back Warrant Officer present as Jon was on course in the UK, and that Ash was not going to act as the Warrant Officer he instead said that this year he would change the rule for that year and allow two people to be the joint winners. Those two people were myself and “Evvo”. Our names go on to the cup but we get a lovely shield to keep and I am immensely proud to have been one of the people who the instructors feel was worthy of the award. It is also a pleasure to have jointly won the award with “Evvo” who is a brilliant bloke.

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We got back to the lodge and handed our kit back in, packed the remainder of our stuff away and after lunch simply waited for the transport to arrive. The coaches arrived first and so we said our farewells to those travelling on the coaches and we awaited our time to load up in to our buses. With our time to go we loaded up, said our farewells to the staff and headed to the airport. I had a really good chat with Ash on the journey to the airport about what we had achieved and future courses as well as the things I want to do to raise money for charity. The music was a mix of various songs that we had heard through the time on course but was only background noise whilst we talked. After an hour and a half or so we arrived at the airport in Munich and Ash unloaded our stuff and assisted us to the check in desk where en route we met up with Josh, Leigh and Matt and checked in together. With our bags checked in and our seats changed so that we were all together and to give room for the prosthetic legs of Matt and Leigh and the comfort for my self and “Ollie” who are spinally injured, we said farwell to Ash and made our way through the relevant checks to the departure lounge.

Now I am home after “Reedy” very kindly collected me from Heathrow at around 11 pm and with the couple of stay awake stops on the way back to the bungalow, we arrived at around 02.30. It is great to be back with the family, but I will miss not just my team who worked with me directly; Ash, Kev and Hannah, but the guys who I was on course with. I arrived having met “Ollie” at Tedworth but never got to know him while a few of the others knew each other from Headly Court. I arrived having met one, I leave with all of them being my friends and not just the guys on the course but the instructors too. If there are any injured service personnel reading this that have been offered opportunities with Battle Back, do it. If you are civilian then look to see what charities offer similar things, you will not regret it. Now as promised, a few pictures, not an exhaustive amount, but just enough for you to hopefully see what a great time I had.

TEAM GEORGE. ASH, KEV, HANNAH AND ME.

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ME.

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ASH, ME AND HANNH.

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ASH, ME AND KEV ON THE LIFT.

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EXERCISE SNOW WARRIOR 5 (ADAPTIVE).

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ASH AND KEV HELPING ME OFF OF THE LIFT.

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TEAM GEORGE AFTER SUCCESSFULLY DISMOUNTING THE LIFT.

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ASH DRIVING ME DOWN THE SLOPE.

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ASH `TETHERING` FOR SAFETY WHILE I TRY.

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LOVELY VIEW PETUNIA!

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DID I MENTION I DON’T LIKE HEIGHTS?

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KEV, HANNAH AND I AT THE BOTTOM BY THE T-BARS.

me hannah and kev

ATTACHING THE TOW RIG.

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HANNAH, ME AND ASH.

Me, Ash and Hannah.

TEAM GEORGE; ASH, HANNAH, KEV AND ME.

Team George

A massive Thank You to Battle Back for the opportunity. Please look up Battle Back on FaceBook to see what they do.

A massive Thank You to Ash for the incredible instruction and “SuperAsh” saves. To Kev for the brilliant instruction, chats, laughs and saves on the T -bars, chair lifts and all of the other times you stopped ,me from falling before I’d even set off and Hannah for the laughs, assistance, making sure my bedding was squared away after leading me astray and allowing me to get shitfaced and consequently be as much use as tits on a fish on Friday  morning and everything you helped me with. I am really going to miss each of you and hope we can stay in touch.

MISS YOU ALREADY!!!!!!

Thank you.

 

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