Ski Bliss at Hemel Hempstead

Posted: Wednesday, 5 October 2011 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: ,

Having a relationship with the snow is a curious thing, perhaps not that different to what most people would call sex.
If it goes well you are satiated, but all to soon the itch to do it again emerges, the better it was, the stronger the itch. Eunuchs must have a lot to be thankful for...

My last visit to Hemel had been so good I started looking for any excuse to go back. Finally I found one, packed my boots and trusty SnowBlades in the boot of the car and headed round the M25 in the late afternoon rush hour. My home is diametrically opposite Hemel Hempstead on the M25, luckily the journey was just early enough to avoid rush hour hell and took me just 1 hour and 15 minutes door to door to cover the 60+ miles.
As I had suspected we are now in the Snow Centre high season, which meant a hefty price hike to £38 for two hours open practice. I perceive this as poor value, that amount would buy you a whole day on the mountain in one of the Alpine Gran Domains.
But I guess the management know they have you over a barrel, you are an addict, you are there to be exploited.
In fairness to the Snow Centre, if you intend to be a regular user you can get membership and save a substantial amount on these rates. The website was a little coy and listed benefits but not the cost, so I asked at reception. For a single person this would be £130 per year with other rates for couples, families and concessions for the retired, unemployed, students, etc. I made a bit of mental arithmetic and it would appear that you would have to visit once a month for this to be cost effective.
One upside of the high prices is exclusivity. It was quiet during the 5:45 to 7:45 slot I had been allocated; there appeared to be one private lesson and one kids group lesson taking place at the same time.

So what did I do during my time slot?
I played around with very different skiing styles; when the piste was totally empty I practiced wide carving traverses trying my best to skim a glove over the snow, when busier I worked on narrow track fall line skiing, including what is my own crude and bastardised version of the Wedeln. Plus there is all the random fun of interacting with others and dynamically changing your lines to avoid a collision, then finding yourself heading for a hefty pile of snow, jump ramp, stanchion or other miscellaneous hazard.

I had a really good time and made my way home on a somewhat roundabout route to see a friend. The next day I had a 15 mile cycle commute into a headwind for a 6:50am start at work. I made it, I was exhausted but happy all day, it might not have been sex, but I'd scored.

This clip shows how the Wedeln should look!