But what about the batteries?

Val Thorens – France

So much time has passed that I can’t actually remember the last time I went skiing for a whole week, but I’m guessing it’s around 17 years. Sure, I’ve had the odd day here and there but finding the time for a whole week hasn’t materialised because no matter how much I love to ski, I always find something else to do in a part of the world I like the look of more. Let’s be honest, no matter where you ski, it will most likely look the same. Mountain, snow, bar. But finally I was bullied into a week away and I had no excuse other than a dissertation to write, which of course, is the perfect excuse to bugger off skiing for a week. Now if you still have the stamina to read what I have to write after my bout of grumpiness over last summer, I thank you, but I also ask you to bear with me one last time. See this as a transitionary piece, where I wean myself away from grumbling about the state of the world and mankind and gravitating back towards unabashed travel in wicked parts of the world using language and grammar that doesn’t quite make sense to anyone but me. 

So there I was, crammed into a cable car the size of my little house, skis and snowboards in hand and attempting not to drop them into someone’s face, not that it matters these days because everyone is dressed up like riot police. Schumacher apparently scared the crap out of everyone and although I had a hard hat on my largely empty noggin, I still wore sunglasses because I still think sunnies are cool. Yet apparently I was the only one to think this and actually a pair of goggles that cover the whole face is much more on trend these days. But never mind that, the inevitable happened and my empty noggin started to tick and dare to contemplate the world. Most likely I was nursing a little hangover but regardless, I wasn’t enjoying having to stand in a crammed cable car as it glided up an impossibly steep mountainside on an unnervingly slim piece of steel cable. The beginning of my thought process was simple; if aliens turned up to earth and decided to visit a ski resort, surely they could only conclude that we are idiots? Seriously, it’s absolutely pointless. Far more time, energy, and effort are spent getting up a mountain than the few minutes hurtling back down it on your feet, ass, or face depending on your preference with one or two planks strapped to your feet, again depending on your preference. Repeat all day long until, ironically, you can’t walk because of the leg pain, drink the pain away, wake up with a hangover and go through it all again. It’s no wonder everyone is kitted out in body armour. The majority of people on the slopes are hungover or off their trolly. Don’t get me wrong, the day I can’t have an overpriced lunchtime beer on the mountain is the day I quit skiing, but those little aliens must surely get confused over the need for a hard hat when your neck is already broken, or a ski is rammed up your arse by a drunken hooligan. 


And so there I was, watching the world go by with the endless time I had available on chairlifts, gondolas, and cable cars (one way or another I fall down mountains rather fast), asking myself this; why are people so upset about electric cars!? I’m sick of the argument, ‘but what about the batteries, the mining of minerals, the recycling’? Why do people suddenly give a shit? How many countless AA and AAA batteries have been disposed of daily over the past decades? Do combustion engines grow on trees? Do mobile phones magically hold charge? The iPad is the most useless thing invented, the Galaxy notebook attempted to blow up anything it touched, yet we still don’t worry about their batteries and use of resources.  Christ, there’s a popular tv programme focused on tearing up rural Canada and America in search of gold, a mineral largely of no bloody use. How many resources went into Nord Stream 2 before never being used? Oil sands anyone? Skiing is the same, how much energy and raw material goes into hauling a constant stream of mostly privileged wierdos like me up a mountain so they can slide back down it all day long? Being France, the ski lifts are likely to be run on nuclear power and so we can put that to one side, but all other resources considered, isn’t it a little ridiculous? Skiddoos ferrying mangled bodies off the mountains, huge piste bashers to transport food and beer up the mountain in between grooming the pistes so they are in perfect condition, forests of steel pylons connected by thousands of miles of steel cables, private helicopters for the proper rich, not to mention the trees cleared to make way for it all. All the while I looked down across the valleys to see green, brown, and grey. There was no snow. Indeed, the European Alps have been desperately short of snow this year, and February looked and felt more like skiing in April. Naturally, there will be good years and bad years, but it is very likely skiing in the alps will die out and a lot of the infrastructure will be left to rot. So don’t talk to me about car batteries, especially if you enjoy a ski holiday. I’m no saint, but you won’t find me trying to berate people for having the balls to let go of the past and at least try new technologies.

A chair lift

But remember what I said, ‘unabashed travel’. I don’t care if an alien thinks I’m an idiot because there is no greater feeling then flying down a mountain as fast as you dare, striving for nothing more in life at that moment in time than the perfect run, the perfect turn, feeling in control, or maybe simply just not falling over. I fell over so hard the first day, landing on my shoulder, that I felt the aftershocks for days trembling through my body. So much so, I fell over on a green run a few days later for no reason whatsoever. Another incident involved hitting a patch of ice, sliding on my arse until I finally slowed, hit snow, sprung back up and skied off, unsure whether to hope everyone had seen me or not. Nothing else matters, not even the third-degree facial burns that no sun block can prevent (but maybe goggles can). For me personally, there has never been a greater palate cleanser than skiing, one of the few experiences in life that truly empties the trash from my mind allowing it complete freedom. It’s a little why I have taken to running surprisingly well for I am usually so focused on not passing out in a heap of cardiac destruction that my mind simply won’t think about anything else. And that is why no matter what, I’ll jump on a plane, and I will ski for as long as the snow remains. 

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