Serre Chevalier, SnowMonkees, Xmas 2014
Xmas 2014 was a strange one, I had planned to tour through Thailand, but following the coup we had to look for an alternative. This is when Gareth of SnowMonkees came into play and suggested Serre Chevalier. We booked the Xmas week with Gareth and the team. The apartments that SnowMonkees offer are in a great location within a couple of minutes walk to the village centre.
It had been a few years since my last full on snowboarding holiday and I was looking forward to the chance to have a go at Snowkiting. As with all trips boys need new toys. Luckily enough I don’t live to far away from Ben at Big Dreams snowboarding in Wareham. So following a visit and great banter with Ben, I left the shop a new board, bindings, boots, helmet and goggles. Now with a fully loaded T5 the trip can start. In fact it was an uneventful drive via Eurotunnel through France to Serre Chevalier.
Ok so it was not the best year for snow, but as I said before the location is great.
I’d not been on a board for a few years and it is 18 years since achieving my BASI snowboard instructor’s certification. So day 1 I booked a couple of hours with Julian of ESI Generation. As with all sports they evolve, from both a style/performance and technical/technology point of view, so there is always an opportunity to improve. I learnt to board back in the early 90’s and when I was teaching it was all about super stiff boots and boards. To be honest the 1st day Julian, did fall about laughing, watching me board was like watching a very early snowboard video. I was a very rear foot boarder, more surf style. After two sessions with Julian, we then could start racing all over the hill.
So given the snow conditions it was a golden opportunity to try Snowkiting. As a IKO Kitesurfing Instructor (International Kitesurfing Organisation), I do understand the principles of kite flying. So I hoped my speed to competency would be quicker than a complete novice. Julian recommended his friends Alex Robin and Remi Borgioli of Kite Légende @ Col du Lautaret.
Listening to Alex it is easier to learn to snow kite on ski’s rather than a board. The rational behind this statement is you can maintain your balance much easier. What we did was closer to ice kiting rather than snow kiting and given the harsh conditions board damage was inevitable.
In fact by the time I’d finished, you could only describe my board edges as rounded like a spoon. A small price to pay for a few hours of fun on Christmas Day, so yes the board did need a service afterwards. If there had been snow this would not have happened. Due to strong winds in the Col du Lautaret, did not manage to get back out on a kite during this stay.
Snowkiting was great fun. I will admit it was easier to learn, because of the amount of time I have spent kitesurfing. If you fancy a go, I would strongly recommend Kite Légende. Both Alex and Remi speak really good English, know their stuff and can’t do enough for you.
If you are going to go to Serre Chevalier and want to go self-catering, have a look at SnowMonkees. I know Gareth and Sarah will make you feel very welcome. If you intend to learn to ski or snowboard, I would recommend using one of the smaller independent schools like ESI Generation rather than ESF.
Now for snow kiting, if you are going to try this sport, it is great fun. I would suggest that you take land kite flying lessons before your holiday. The trick with snow kiting is kite control; you can book a ½ day course in the UK for about £50. In the UK the sport in governed by BKSA (British Kitesurfing Association) the international organisation is the IKO (international Kitesurfing Association).
Normally there is lots of snow for your Xmas holiday, I have been boarding in Serre Chevalier as early as mid November before, statistically the area has better than average snow for France. On our last night the snow arrived, 2 meters of snow fell over the region and this gave us and about 25,000 other visitors a delayed trip home. The Col de Lautaret was closed due to high snowfall. As with all activates that rely on Mother Nature, it is out of your control. Kitesurfing with no wind, Surfing with no waves. We had a great time and be assured, we will be back again ASAP.
If you would like any additional information please do not hesitate to contact me via this site.
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