17 December 2017 | Essential Ski Wear 2017
Now, when I were a lad, I went skiing in Long Johns, a pair of jeans, a couple of woolly jumpers and a jacket.
It seems things have moved on somewhat.
At coffee break in the mountain huts, if you can call places with electric sliding doors, triple glazed windows and elevators for those that can't manage the one flight of stairs to the plush, wifi enabled restaurant, a hut, it's been interesting, if not amusing to watch folk peel off their layers and, once refreshed get tooled up again.
It's a bit like watching a group of SAS or Delta Force get ready for "an Op".
First, on goes the full length foam, and no doubt Kevlar, back protector. Next is the cross chest harness but instead of a Colt 45, in goes an avalanche transponder, its red light blinking to say, "look guys, I'm a cool off piste, hard core powder hound". Jacket follows and on top of that goes a James Bond style avalanche air bag equipped rucksack. Finally, a Porsche styled helmet gets plonked on their nut complete with its bronzed, metallic flip down visor that wouldn't be out of place on a fighter jet.
In the end, off they go, clumping out the cafe looking like a cross between Bravo Two Zero, Ninja Warriors and Top Gun........and ski off down the blue run.
They were probably more at risk from catching a dose of my Man Flu while queuing for overpriced spaghetti than anything else.
Me? I'm all dolled up in the latest gear. Ian has a pal, Scott (www.ScottWebster.co.uk) who is a highly accomplished and experienced mountain guide. In fact, he is the youngest guide to be employed by the British Antarctic Survey, employed to keep the scientists from falling down big holes, "out in the white". In his spare time he's put up numerous first ascents in Antarctica. As a result, Scott gets his hands on all the latest gear, some of which I've been wearing, cutting a dash among the glitzy folk of Val d'Isere. The problem is, Scott's about two or three inches taller than me so I'm skiing with my legs looking like a skateboarding dude's baggy drawers and when I get off the chairlift, the seat of my pants follows about three seconds later. But my stunning style, both fashion and skiing weren't compromised. Mostly. Yesterday morning for our warm up first run we skied onto one of the chairlifts. Just as the chair swung around and scooped us up the attendant sticks his head out ze door and says, "Eeez only Black. OK?"
"Bit friggin' late" says I in my best Franglais, clutching my baggy drawers as we go up the hill, me crying like a baby.
Anyway, we survived, ski trip is over, back home and legs still like jelly and of course, a severe dose of Man Flu.
Bring on Christmas.