Friday the 27th and the snow was really coming down, this was good as there was much green showing on the slopes when we left on Thursday so the snow was good thing. The snow had clearly been falling well all through the night as the verges on the side of the road were very well covered, on arriving at the slopes and looking around at the surrounding mountains it was clear that the snow really had dumped overnight as there was no green showing anywhere. The scenery is breathtaking, so picturesque and with the mountains and trees covered in snow it is a scene from the front of a Christmas card. The snow was coming down at such a rate that Ash told me to go in to the café and get myself ready while they squared the ski and kit away to avoid my risk of getting cold. We had a cuppa and discussed the plan for the start of the day, we would try a tethered run down the “Goat track” to see how the snow was and with this first run completed we decided that I would try solo again. The snow was not fast or in any way compacted and so the ski would slide around. It was really difficult for me to keep the ski travelling in a straight line and when I tried to change direction I simply skidded and then toppled over. This was a really different type of snow and condition to be trying as last time I was here we had no snow. I tried a couple more times solo but it just was not working, rather than waste the time with me being picked up all the time we decided to go back on to the tethers and get me used to the new conditions.
We moved from the “Goat track” to the main and tried some tighter “S shapes” and “C shapes” which meant I could try to “feel” when the edge cut in and turned me and this was really good learning, I still had to be “saved” from creaming in by Ash more times than I can recall but that is not a failing and is why I am on the tethers again. After a break we came back out and did some more, this time with the “GoPro” filming which actually gave me more understanding of not only what the skis were doing but what Ash was doing with the tethers and how they helped me. It also showed me, although not so much now as we have worked together enough for Ash to know which way I am going, why I call left, right and straight when I am on the tethers. After another break we went back out but after going up to the top of my run on the T bar we headed over to the T bars on the opposite side of the slope and headed up to the top of another Blue slope. It was up over this T bar that my body went in to spasm to the point that I was unable to even pull the release. It was unfortunate that at the top of this slop my body simply wouldn’t play ball and I had to ask that we call it a day. I was gutted but there really was no point in continuing as I wouldn’t be accomplishing anything for one thing but also it was not only uncomfortable but really painful. On return to the lodge the problems didn’t get any better and whilst I did save myself on several occasions from falling from the shower seat when the spasms tried to throw me around I was not lucky enough when I was getting dressed in my bedroom and ended up on the floor. My legs were bent and buckled under me which I couldn’t sort out and the spasm repeatedly tried to chuck me to the right which was where the bedside cabinet was so that wasn’t going to happen. Eventually after ten or so minutes, one of my room mates came back to the room and went to get two of the staff to help. The spasms kept up for most of the night, waking me on several occasions which were more than uncomfortable but I did at least get sleep.
Saturday morning and I woke resembling something that you would see on health and safety video, legs all over the place and my body trying to leave the bed. It was seriously hard work to get squared away but some thirty five minutes after waking I was at least dressed on my lower half. Today was the day of the big mountain trip. I LOVED it last year, some simply incredible views and some amazing skiing and so I was really excited to be able to go back there. I have every intention of trying to get a family break here so they can also see the amazing views. When we arrived we got in to the Gondola and ascended the mountain. The views are fantastic as you ride up over the mountainside and as the skies were practically free from any cloud, it added to the feeling of being in the cleanest air possible. Half way up you have to change cars and when you reach the station you get out to a café and the slopes. I waited in the café while “Team George” went out to ski the route in order to assess the speed of the snow so that they were prepared for when I was in the Dualski. I had all good intentions of simply having a coffee but then I spotted the cake…a big piece of raspberry cheesecake….so I had some!
It was around forty minutes later that “Team George” returned, happy that they knew how we would progress through the day. We had briefings on getting me on the chairlift and of course off again and so we were now ready to get me in to the Dualski. We went outside and positioned me for the transfer; essentially I am lifted from my chair in to the ski. Then my feet are put on to the footrest and strapped in. I then have to be tipped forwards and my clothing is tucked in and any ruffles straightened out to avoid any chance of sores. Next my arms are strapped in to my adaptive ski poles or “riggers” and I have to lift and drop to ensure that I am correctly in the ski. Next my legs are strapped in and finally my stomach. Now we are almost ready to go. I take my weight while the team put there skis on and then we are ready to rock. From here we go down the slope to the chair lift and before we go on to it for the first time this year we practice the drills for mounting and dismounting. Happy, we go in and load. The first time was not perfect but the guy operating the lift is on the ball and slows everything right down. We had a slight issue in so much as I caught Ash’s ski with my rigger and his ski came off but as I said, the operator is on the ball and stops the lift until we are on. It is then the silent trip to the top of the piste, silence broken only by us talking about the dismount at the top. The dismount was good and we skied out of the way where we would then tighten me back upright and get ourselves squared away ready for our first run.
The first part of the run I am on the bucket simply leaning in to the turns to waste off the speed, then we stop and put the tethers on for the next part and I obviously ski with any corrections being made by the instructor. The final part I am back on the bucket as it is steep and narrow and there are people everywhere as it is the final part that takes you to the chair lift. It takes a little while each run and so we decided to do three runs and then go in for a coffee. It was on run number three, on our way in to the café that I lost control of the ski and toppled. The slope is steep and very well compacted. I had completed one of the best left “C shapes” that I had ever done and was going in to my right “C shape” when the ski went over and with the speed and gradient of the slope, it rolled over the top of me ski skyward and I landed hard. Every single topple I have had I laugh but this one was different. My arms were under my body and I was head down slope, I could feel something was not right and I could not muster even a smile. Ash came straight down to my level and spoke to me. I wanted to get my arms out but we had to get me head up slope first. Some of the other people on the slope stopped to help but unfortunately they want to simply lift and this was not one of the things we needed to do. “Team George” turned me and lifted my weight enough for me to try to get my arms out. This was not possible and so it was decided to get me upright, no sooner though had they done this I asked them to lie me down again. Something was not right and I was struggling to catch my breath. They lay me down again and my riggers were removed. After a few minutes we righted me again and I said about us having our cuppa that we were going in for and then we would see how it goes. Ash gently bucketed be down the slope to the café but I was in a mess. I couldn’t breathe properly and my chest was causing me so much pain I was a little concerned. Andy and another instructor who is also a medic took me in to a room and began to check me over. It was now that they said that it felt like I had damaged either rib 4 or 5 or both and so the decision was made to take me to the hospital. Here the x rays did indeed show that I had broken rib 5 on the right hand side but that fortunately I had not broken my shoulder or collarbone. I was moved to another room on the bed that they had placed me on and it was at this point that “Team George” joined me, this was also the point at which Ash began playing Doctors with the stethoscope and a pair of gloves which looked more suited for a nuclear plant. Anyway, Ash, Stu and Andy lifted me upright and let the pain settle before lifting me in to my chair. With the impact I had got off really lightly but the pain was immense. Les kindly went and collected my pain relief prescription for me and we went for a coffee in the town before a slow drive back to the lodge.
Last night and this morning I have been unable to do anything. The staff have had to undress me and put me to bed, dress me and get me in to my chair and even lift me onto and off of the lavatory. I am hoping that the pain relief will be enough for me to at least dress myself but I think it will be a few days before that will happen. We have talked today about the transport plan for me getting home and this will be implemented tomorrow. I will be staying until the end of the course and Ben, a physio is going to fly back to assist me on the aircraft. Life at home will be difficult potentially but we will cross that bridge when I get there. So my skiing days are done for this course, am I pissed off? No. Why? Because I achieved my aim to go solo and the feeling I got from those successful runs I will remember for years to come.