Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Into the claws of death and back: the ski trip

OK so it's not quite as dramatic as that.

But I've just got back from a skiing trip and have been left with the overwhelming feeling of: WHY? Why do we do it? Why do we put ourselves in such a dangerous position? Why would we throw ourselves down a mountain where the potential for accidents and death must be at least double our normal quota?

In one week I saw some horrible accidents e.g. a woman skiing over her brother's arm once he'd fallen... slicing right through to the muscle beneath (I hope he's OK now!); copious crashes, broken bones and finally a very scary off-piste collision where all we could hear as we reached the top of the ski lift was the deafening cries of a seriously injured girl screaming. A lot.

I had my own pretty impressive tumble, falling front first down a vertical slope that was essentially one large sheet of ice. We all came home in one piece though thankfully.

Horrible really.

But there are plenty of counter arguments:
El Tarter resort, Andorra, March 2011

Firstly, there is nothing, nothing, like the feeling of freely swish-swooshing merrily down a perfectly white and powdery piste, with the wind in your hair, the blue sky all above and an endlessly dramatic horizon of mountain tops. Fantastic, breathtaking, exhilarating and beautiful. It's also immensely challenging and rewarding; it leaves you with a feeling of achievement far more than a beach holiday ever could.
Secondly, I heard today that you've got more likelihood of having an accident while walking than if you were driving home under the influence. Crazy statistics there. Read Superfreakonomics to find out more. Either way, it leaves you with the realistic outlook that even living in a city, crossing roads and driving cars every day is unsafe and has a risk attached. We might as well enjoy life while we can.

So why do we do it?

Because we love to push ourselves, to stretch our boundaries, to learn and to develop. Well I certainly do anyway. Yes, there's risk involved but that simply adds to the sense of success.  On top of all this, we love NEWness. Learn to ski? Brilliant, bring it on. More challenging pistes? Definitely, I'll give it a go. Snowboarding instead next year? Sure - a stretch is always good.

Whatever your sport or luxury, if you're attracted by risk and novelty, take your time and find some focus instead of rushing headlong into everything. There are huge benefits of pushing and stretching ourselves and we’ll feel great as a result. But if we do too much we’ll get sloppy, stop enjoying it, make mistakes and eventually hurt ourselves. Take the time to assess what you really want to focus your time, energy and money (!) on.

Life is full of exciting opportunities. So get out there and grasp them. But keep that focus onto one or two, or else your flailing hands will be unable to catch hold of even one.

Highlight of the trip? A Husky sleigh ride that made me feel like a true arctic explorer (or Santa Claus). Highly recommended.


  1. Cool! I'm your second follower! Found you on the A to Z Challenge list ( while getting a head start on April) I live in Utah but have never been skiing. My sport was always water skiing and I don't think it's quite as dangerous. I loved it!


  2. Thanks Karen - I would love to try water skiing and can't believe I never have!

    I actually felt like driving the Huskey sleigh must be a bit like it (although less water, more hard iced snow...!) But it's that sensation of holding on for dear life, whilst desperately trying to steer, direct and enjoy the ride!

    A lot of fun. Thanks for following. Good luck on the A to Z challenge in April! It's coming up soon now... Will check out your blogs too.