Lifestyle Travel

Jesus College Ski Trip: “sunsets burned bright, setting the peaks’ celestial shimmer alight”

The Jesus College ski trip, usually held a week after the Varsity Trip, went to Alpe d’Huez this year. The trip presents itself as a more relaxed alternative to its Varsity equivalent with some nights involving pres and going out whereas others consist of homemade dinners and cosying up with a screening of Chalet Girl (a timeless ski classic). Seren Iwin offers her perspective on a trip that offers a lovely way to spend time with friends, away from the stress of Oxford academic life.

Waking up to clear skies where the sun’s radiance shimmers off the ice and illuminates the mountains is truly breathtaking. My excitement fluttered as I realised, I would be gliding through this gorgeous landscape, twisting, turning, flying…and falling of course!

Not only was it my first time in the Alps but my debut at speeding uncontrollably downhill on two planks of wood down what I considered to be the significant gradient of a green slope. I was told all I needed to do was ‘Let go’, channeling an energy not dissimilar to that of Elsa from Frozen. However, unlike this animated character, my powers did not extend to the realm of magic. The Snow Plough was my new best friend. I would inch down the slope, one little metre at a time. Eventually I came to realise this was unsustainable and after an icy third day skiing, the parallel turn was becoming my pal. Although stopping on a slope still required some work!

The days whizzed by and the sunsets burned bright, setting the peaks’ celestial shimmer alight. My Jesus College friends and I set off for what was to be my first Après. It was rather a surreal experience being at the top of a mountain, with techno music making the snow rumble, the aroma of mulled wine mixing with cigarette smoke, the students dressed in sequined clothes, the occasional trumpet solo blasting across the valley and of course the dancing upon table-tops in ski boots!

We danced and danced, not leaving a square of the table-top free as we touched the sky. But my time was up, I needed to get the last lift back down to the resort. Reluctantly, I said goodbye and put my skis back on, making my way to the lift. However, when I approached, the lift marshal said one word: ‘Non’. My friends had been wrong, I could not go back down in skis! I suddenly had horrific visions of myself getting stuck in the dark on the blue slope. My next decision was one of pure desperation and potentially one of the most dramatic things I have ever done… and no, I did not ski down the blue slope, I hopped on the lift leaving my skis and poles at the top of the mountain!

The realisation of the problem I created grew on me. I panic rang multiple friends who were still at Après and to my relief they came through. I can only say that I was incredibly lucky that not only were my friends able to find my skis, but also that they were experienced enough so that one of them skied down while holding my skis in his arms while the other carried all the poles (six in total) down the slope. The most important lesson I learned from this trip is always travel with people who’ll be there for you.

The next day, with the change of the wind and the blizzard blowing in, it was time to leave this ethereal land. It was my first time skiing but I don’t think it will be my last.

Seren and her friends on the Jesus Ski Trip