By Liam Jackson – Friday afternoon, coach meet at five oclock. This means ski bag, back pack and rucksack all competing with the onslaught of angry commuters, a long week at work to be greeted on the tube with a six foot bag wielding student, clothes lining apologetically to anyone within the vicinity.
The coach to Dover has a buzz of anticipation in the air, meeting new faces, a whole week of no university and dreary London.The rules were tight, NO ALCOHOL ON THE BUS, this was a lesson well learnt in previous years, people too inebriated to make it onto the ferry, with the titanic fanatics whose enactment goes horribly wrong over the English Channel.
The ferry itself was a student only crossing, keeping all the nutters on one ship away from the normal people, the queue for the bar being nearly as long as the queue to get into the duty free for the week ahead. The mood was briefly dampened by the crossing itself. The deck strewn with the unfortunate who hadn’t brought their sea legs, green in the face, the braver were sipping their pints as the boat churned under the heavy waves, rocking people like crabs from side to side.
The trip through France is always much quieter, most fall asleep, with the few sneaky ones who had brought a few snipples of juice onto the forbidden murmuring and giggling away into the night. The highlight of the trip there is the supermarket at the bottom of the mountains, the French delicacies on display from the fois gras to the patisseries, boulangeries and not forgetting the two euro litre wine that can be as taste filling than any top shelf retailer in England.
All packed up you leave the motorway behind and head up the Alps into the snow laden mountains and snaky bends. After a good 20 hour travel you arrive in resort, brimming with skiers and boarders alike, milling around, a feel of a good Winter holiday.
The room allocation is next, you straight away feel you may be getting that bit closer to your friends this week by the study size space, with this being the last time you see the floor. A quick fair process of picking the shortest straw led to beds being given. To some such as JJ Shaw and Ben Brown who snuggled on the sofa, they had a week of having as much sleep as the last man standing and the earliest riser. Every room needs a clean freak and a keen cook, ours was in the form of Nick Morris and Josh Burns, Nick being the only man who could complain about the state of the toilet and mess even when on slope, with Josh showing us how hotdog sausages with cheese on pasta can really be eaten six nights in a row.
Wasting no time in our cellar, the ski’s were on and thus came that first hour were it all seems a little unfamiliar, after a few face plants and wayward ski’s the feeling comes back, ready for another week in the perfect conditions of Val Thorens. The sun was out for a full two days, the snow was thick and soft and the extra ski pass of “Les Trois Vallées”, the largest range in the world, led to the week being first class.
There were enough pistes to keep you skiing on new snow for weeks, with neighbouring resorts of Meribel and Courcheval having some breathtaking tree runs as well as various snowparks for the ambitious or for a good spectacle.
Anyone who has ever been on a student ski trip or any busy resort knows the fun doesn’t stop in the afternoon, a trip to folie douce, by far the most hedonistic place upwards of 2000m. The wooden shack at the end of the ski lift is fitted with subwoofers that make you wonder the increased avalanche risk. Fire breathers, dancers and the personal favourite of “champagne showers” took place for hours, the party starting at 2pm and finishing in the dark. Mulled wine, whisky warming hip flasks and dancing on tables to catchy euro trance results in a hazardous and playful ten minutes skiing down the slopes back to the hotels.
A quick few hours nap and then the nights start with a good old student pasta concoction and a bit of “hair of the dog” as you mix cramp with that empty hipflask you thought was a good idea on the slopes.
The night starts, hundreds of students all dressed from elves to umpa lumpas, togas to animal onesies.” The debauchery begins! It’s the well known presumption that when people leave the country, the wildness seems to kick in, the extra height above sea level puts the hormones into overdrive and the lust from that “50 shades of Grey” that everyone has been reading for the last year seems to be released! As a believer of not naming and shaming people in the paper, a certain CompSci student was the leader in his rendition of the famous Casanova, his smoothness now seeked widely around the world for his hidden techniques in the art of seduction.
There was no time for romance in some people’s rooms, ours containing eight lads who were not for having their sleep taken away from them. Playing Marvin Gaye’s classic “let’s get it on” through the speakers quickly dissipitated the frolics between a roommate and his new found love.
The reps on the trip were your port of call, whether it was a lost ski pass, a drunken friend or just a friendly face, making the trip that bit safer and more heartening than having to deal with the gendome, whoose pet hate is tourists, especially ones from across the channel!
So if you haven’t yet experienced the brilliance of a ULU ski trip, whether it be your first time or to improve you skills, or even to do more partying than skiing, this is the place to come. There is currently an Easter trip planned by NUCO travel to Les Arcs for only £329. For more information go onto the ULU Facebook page for more details.