82 days, 3 hours and 22 minutes.
Thousands of powder turns.
Hundreds of kicker jumps.
Zero severe injuries.
Countless new friends.
These are some of the numbers of the Perfect Winter. But you know as well I do that there is much more to a long trip than mere numbers. While I’m finding it difficult to stay away from emotional clichés when talking about this season in the Alps, let me try to stick to the facts of these last few months.
One of the big objectives of The Perfect Winter was to witness the changing of the seasons. In Portugal, especially in the south, spring and fall are kind of extensions of a long summer. Even our winter is very mild when compared to higher latitutes. Therefore, we are not used to the changes that come as Earth spins around the sun. In the Alps, on the other hand, these changes are not only obvious but they also profoundly affect the lives of the people living in and around the mountains. First of all, green and brown give place to a magical white carpet covering everything. I was fortunate enough to witness the first heavy snowfall that kicked this late winter into full gear.
At first I didn’t grasp the true importance of this in Alpine life, but it’s pretty obvious. While this generation relies on snow to make ends meet as it attracts tourists, previous generations would wait for snow to cover the fields and fertilize the earth for cattle grazing and crops. It’s scary to think that all this can change as winters get shorter and snow falls higher and higher.
I must say that even thought this winter was far from harsh, I enjoyed it to the maximum. Because I was there all the time and with the right people, I could go out whenever conditions were perfect. You can read all about this throughout this blog…
Eventually the season in Tirol came to an end. By the time of departure spring had arrived and once again I was privileged enough to witness the changing of the season, as the snow starts to melt and the grass starts to grow.
This time the arrival of a new season had a strong impact. After my first winter in the mountains I could really feel the days getting longer, and the warmer temperatures seeping through the valley. Experiencing the incoming Spring is hard to describe in words, and quite pointless at this time actually. However, while it did put a different positive vibe into the daily routines, it meant that Perfect Winter was ending.
I left Tirol on March 15, and headed West towards the beautiful village of Villars, in the Vaudoises Alps in Switzlerland. This town and the surrounding mountains are a picture perfect place – but extremely expensive. The obscene prices around here were simply an insult for someone coming from southern Europe, even after spending a season in Austria where the cost of living can be similar to that of Portugal if you shop smart. However, I was invited by friends to stay over and their company largely compensated for this financial shock. I ended up exploring most of the amazing mountains in Villars, Les Diablerets and Glacier 3000 in just 2 days, with a hint of local knowledge and chilled vibe. Thank you David and André!
The final stage of this journey would really represent the closing of the circle. Most of us usually started skiing or snowboarding with friends, and still spend their holidays in the mountains in groups, and friends are probably the most important part of every snowtrip. Most of the fun comes from the people you are with, regardless of the snow conditions or how nice the place is. So being reunited with the MG Snowtrip family in France, who I have travelling with for some time now, was indeed returning to the origins of snowboarding: sliding down slopes with your snow buddies. I would be lying if I said that it didn’t take some time to adjust to be snowboarding with other people around me instead of simply roaming free, but in the end it’s just another way to enjoy life in high altitude.
There are hundreds of photos of this amazing gathering of friends and snow enthusiasts here and here, so I’l just post one that shows the good spirit present in this snowtrip.
The drive back to good old Portugal was nice and easy. I was blessed with amazing waves right when I arrived, and pretty much that sums up the invaluable experience from this Perfect Winter.
However, the ride is never over. There will be more winters to spend and more paths to travel.