If you have an online travel resource or service that relates to winter sports like skiing or snowboarding (or any of the other sports you can do in the Mountains on snow) then please contact me (calvin) as I have a particular interest in devloping this section for myself.
There is nothing better than the air up there and the rush of coming down the mountain any way that you like :) For Ski and Snowboarders alike we hope that you will join in the fun discussion on twitter @landed and on the facebook page is usually easiest - https://www.facebook.com/landed.at/ and send us some cool things we can post here for you if they are not simply copied for pasting.

Thank you.

Grandad, have you borrowed my board boots again?

So what are you planning for your retirement leisure time in your mid to late 70s ? (Assuming the concept of retirement and/or pensions still exists by then, obviously.) Possibly a little light gardening perhaps, or some gentle dog-walking followed by a few cups of tea and a nap.

But wait – how about a bit of alpine skiing instead? Or snowboarding if you're feeling more adventurous. Few things cooler than surprising the grandchildren with a casual backflip off that wind lip they've all been going on about.

You'd think free passes for septuagenarians wasn't really that much of a give-away, but you'd be surprised. We don't see many of them in January (bit chilly) and none at all in February since they have more sense than to ski at the busiest possible time of year when they no longer have ankle-biters and don't need to, but now that March is here they're swarming out of the woodwork.

'I'm here for my free pass' they say smugly, half of them looking no more than about 50 as far as I'm concerned. Then they bounce around in front of the ticket window comparing prices and taking the mickey out of younger friends who have had to make do with a reduced price for being mere whipper-snappers of 65+.

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Peak season pain

So peak holiday season is over for another year and we can all collapse from exhaustion before embarking on low season hours and a more civilised life. It’s just as well the French let their kids out of school region by region – if they all descended on us at once we’d have to operate the kind of coloured armband system like they used to have when you went swimming on a Saturday afternoon.

It has to be said that only the greenest of noobs would book a skiing holiday in France in February. It’s not just the French – UK, Dutch and Belgian school holidays all combine to make the place anklebiter central, reduce all the roads to linear car parks and fill the mountains with terminally rude Parisians.

Why would you do it? Yes, I know people have children and all that, but be realistic – how much is your seven-year-old really going to miss if you haul him out of school for an extra week to go skiing? I know the teaching staff are going to wag their fingers at you, but that’s because they’re looking at a whole lifetime of nightmare half term ski holidays and don’t see why anyone else should have any fun.

Apart from anything else, peak season skiing represents possibly the worst value for money available. You’re paying top whack for transport and accommodation and there’s no way you’re going to get any kind of a deal on lift passes. And what do you get for paying this sort of top dollar? Traffic jams, queues at airports and ticket offices, crowded pistes, and a scrum to get served in the bars and restaurants. You ought to be getting a discount, if you ask me.

Possibly the most barefaced rip-off is at the ski schools. How many people would you like to see in your group ski lesson? Half a dozen or so, maybe? You do want to see what the instructor is doing, after all, and it might be nice to have a spot of individual feedback now and then. You are paying for tuition after all.

So presumably you wouldn’t be enormously chuffed to see your little dears in classes of 14 (no, that’s not a typo – 14) being led around the hill by someone hauled out of retirement for three weeks. You’d do better to pay for babysitting because that’s pretty much all you’re getting, particularly if yours is the kid at the tail end of the snake. Poor little sod is lucky if he can see the instructor at all at that distance.

Now, there are always going to be people tied to school holidays – teachers, parents with exam-age kids, whatever. But if anyone who doesn’t actually have to be there made strenuous efforts to get away on some other week, there would be a lot more space and better service over the holidays, and those shifting to low season would discover a whole new world of quiet runs, affordable accommodation and stress-free travel. Go on, try it. You might like it.

© Christa GIMBLETT

Pay attention in class there!

High season is upon us once again here in the Alps and the slopes teem with overconfident incompetents, snowplough beginners and wet girlies allowing their boyfriends to teach them. Which would be fine (if a bit twee) except that most of the boyfriends fit into category ‘A’ above. There are plenty of good reasons why qualifying as a ski instructor takes ages and costs a small fortune, even in countries where they don’t insist on Olympic level slalom skills and an ego the size of a small planet.

I do wonder occasionally whether people treat other sports in the same casual way they do skiing. Do they decide one morning that they’re going to have a scuba diving holiday, buy a load of gear they don’t know how to use and then just hop into the briny? Or attach themselves to the back of a mate’s speedboat and expect to be able to waterski despite the fact they they’re significantly overweight and haven’t done anything more physically taxing than open the fridge door since they left school and were no longer forced to play hockey in sub-zero temperatures once a week?

Skiers tend to be marginally more sensible about all this than snowboarders – there’s an ingrained attitude amongst boarders that you are somehow less of a man if you stoop to being taught anything. Not being a man myself I wouldn’t know about that, but it only takes five minutes observation off the first chairlift to see that it certainly makes you less of a boarder.

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Snow Shoeing in New Hampshire Tours

SNOWSHOEING from inn to inn in the snowy woods and fields of New Hampshire sounded romantic and adventuresome all at once, and the town of Franconia, nestled up under the wing of the Kinsman Range of the White Mountains and thick with inviting inns and public trails, seemed the perfect place to give it a try. But it’s often the nature of romantic adventures to be complicated by reality.

A few phone calls revealed that some Franconia inns were so thinly occupied this winter that dinner was not always being served — an alarming prospect if you’re arriving ravenous and on foot. And then a trial tramp nearer to home with a heavy winter pack suggested that one night’s supplies would be enough to carry at a time. So evolved a compromise plan: a couple of days of short training trips while based at a single inn, the Franconia, followed by a grand and ambitious traverse of the Kinsman Range with an overnight at a cool-sounding trail stop called the Lonesome Lake Hut.

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I'm on holiday, nothing bad can happen

Wanna bet ? Tell that to the Polish nine-year-old mown down and left bleeding on an Austrian ski slope the other week. Or the five-year-old sent flying in another Austrian resort during his ski school lesson and taken off the hill with a suspected broken jaw.

Accidents happen, you may say, and indeed they do – I was wiped out myself only yesterday by some chap who misjudged his line and clipped the backs of my skis. Technically his fault, but no more than an error of judgement and no harm done.

But the key difference between my little mishap and the other two incidents was that the chap in question stopped to see that I was all right, gave me back my poles and apologised before taking off again. Those two kids were taken out by adult skiers who just carried on hooning down the slope as though nothing had happened. In each case the child was injured enough to need hospital treatment. In each case they could have been much more seriously hurt, in need of immediate first aid, even dead. And the people in question just skied off and left them lying there.

These are children we’re talking about here. Children. You know? Small vulnerable critters. Supposed to be able to look to adults for shelter and protection. And said adults have just used them as ninepins and hooned off laughing. If I hadn’t had it from several different sources – if I hadn’t experienced it myself on various occasions – I would have writte it off as urban myth.

You wouldn’t knock someone over in the street and run off without helping them up, would you? And you certainly wouldn’t mow them down in your car and leg it down the road without stopping to face the music either. So why do people think it’s OK to do it on skis?

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