Well it’s been a few days since I’ve returned from the Monster Ski and I have to say the legs are just about recovered although the face is still a little sunburnt from the amazing weather conditions we had in Tignes!  What a weekend we had and first of all I have to say a massive well done to all those who took part and completed the epic challenge of skiing the vertical of Everest (30,000ft) everyday for 3 days, a total of 90,000 vertical feet. Also a very worthy mention was the effort put in by Donna who hadn’t snowboarded for some years.  Despite struggling Donna was not to be defeated and with a lot of courage decided to take a couple of skiing lessons.  Two days later we were all delighted to see Donna happily turning down a relatively steep blue run – a fantastic achievement for 2 days of skiing. [caption id="attachment_3522" align="aligncenter" width="491" caption="Day one just before first lifts"][/caption] Each day was a case of first lifts to last lifts. The group, which was split into 2, managed to rack up over 100,000 vertical feet over 3 days – a superb effort.  It wasn’t without challenges and although the snow was excellent it did get a little soft in the afternoon which isn’t too good when you have sore legs and you have to do as many runs as possible! The general route and way around this was to ski the Val d’Isere area until lunchtime then head over to the glacier in Tignes for the afternoon. This meant we were getting the sun at the right moment.  I led one group and the other was led by a different instructor from Progression Ski each day. A big thanks to Ken, Amigo and Woody for their help - the group really enjoyed their day’s skiing with them. [caption id="attachment_3523" align="aligncenter" width="491" caption="Team photo at the top of Bollin"][/caption] Day 1 was always going to be a tough one and we managed to complete the daily vertical target by the last lift. Olly, Mike, Michael, Alice and Ralph put in a sterling effort and we had to really dig deep, especially after a couple of leg burning, strength sapping slushy bump runs. The other group, which comprised of boarders Sam, Ian, Mark, Adam and on skis Chloe, Matt, Guy and Mark, all had a great day with Ken from Progression and ended up all the way over at Fornet in Val d’Isere. Their trip back wasn’t without incident with Matt falling which unfortunately ended up as a suspected broken rib. Guy also had a big wipe out and had an impressive Gorbachev style mark on his head – battle scars so to speak. Both lads were determined not to let this hold them back for the remaining 2 days - it was also a good talking point at the Hotel L’Ecrin du Val Claret’s restaurant that night. [caption id="attachment_3525" align="aligncenter" width="491" caption="Team photo at the start of day 3"][/caption]

Day 2 is always the “Big one” and we were determined to clock up huge amounts of vertical before the snow turned soft. My group lapped the “Coupe du Monde” run down to La Daille 5 times which gave us 3000 vertical feet each time. We were halfway there by midday. We had to keep going so a trip over to Tignes Le Lac down the Black run “Trolles” then up and down from the top of the Aiguille de Percee.  By the time we were back for lunch at the Aspen burger bar in Val Claret we had clocked up 22,000 vertical. This was one of the biggest morning’s skiing I think any of us had done before.  The other group who were with Amigo had another amazing morning flying around the place and Amigo certainly put the pace on. Our afternoon was equally productive and we completed 38,000 leaving us with just around 22,000 left for the 3rd and final day.  The challenge for many of us was now looking like it was achievable and we even rewarded ourselves with a couple of wines in the evening.

[caption id="attachment_3526" align="aligncenter" width="491" caption="Looking up towards the Grande Motte in Tignes"][/caption]

Day 3 was upon us and after having a bit of fun with a synchronized skiing contest we split again and headed out to get the challenge licked! Up and down the fast and real hidden gem of a run “Cairn” we were getting empty slopes and excellent conditions. This is accessed from the top of the Lanches chair lift and you can easily ski past the access point which is a small cat track. My group loved this run and we were getting some proper speed on it. Every run got us closer and closer to the target and a trip over to Le Lac and back put the icing on the cake – 90,000 completed before lunch.

At lunchtime the whole team met up and congratulated each other. It was a pretty emotional moment as every one of us in the group has direct contact with MS or knows friends or families who have been affected by the disease. We had raised over £32,000 and the sense of achievement from everyone was very moving. We could easily have sat and had some beers in the sun but hey, we were there to ski so had a great leisurely cruise around before finishing on a sun terrace for some refreshments and group photo shots. [caption id="attachment_3524" align="aligncenter" width="369" caption="Olly successfully completes the challenge!"][/caption]

In true Monster Ski tradition, at night we all sat down to a Savoyard dinner with Raclette and Tartiflette, finished off with a few cheeky Genepys which is supposed to help digest all that cheese but does get you a bit dizzy, so to speak.

All in all, the trip was a huge success and it couldn’t have worked without the terrific and determined effort of the people that took part. If this challenge sounds up your street and you want to raise money for a very worthwhile cause please get in touch with Ski Independence or the MS Trust.