The 'ultimate' bucket list for snow addicts...No.10
The Snow Rehab team were recently found arguing in the office over what constituted the 'ultimate' bucket list of hopes, dreams and aspirations every skier or snowboarder should wish to achieve in one lifetime. After much hoohah and debate, this is what we decided should make our number 10 on the Official Snow Rehab Bucket List™.
Gap year ski outfit.....for sale on ebay!
One of the least contentious calls was the unanimous desire to ski in either South America or down under. Having only spent our skiing lives in Scotland, Europe and North America it was perhaps no surprise that the team all had underlying ambition to experience snow that falls in a counter-clockwise direction...
So why visit South America? Well, how much did you pay for your last pint on French slopes? €5? €6? more? A large beer in Argentina and Chile; only £1.23. Even with a collapse of the Eurozone we can still expect to spend more than that on Vittel and Evian, never mind that over-priced lager...
So the more you drink, the more you save! But what else is there? Well, the last time you visited the French Alps, the Swiss Alps, the Dolemites or the Pyrenees, did you make much more use of your holiday after? Did you visit Paris, Zurich, Geneva or Barcelona? ...Probably not...
The cost of flying to South America means that you'll feel the need to make the greatest use of your time there. After skiing for five or six days in the sweetest of locations, without ski queues and with the novelty of Spanish instruction and direction, you'll want to see some more of the country before heading home. Why not head to Buenos Aires or Santiago and truly make it a memorable holiday. Visit the Casa Rosada (the Presidental palace), the obelisko (at the end of the world's widest street) or the Teatro Colon (the biggest performing arts theatre in the southern hemisphere outside of the Sydney Opera House). Whatever you choose to do, it'll be by some way an experience unmatched by the offerings of Europe!
The best part of skiing in the South however must be that you get to ski in summer! For many people, getting the time away over Christmas, half-term or the Easter holidays can mean a small French chalet or nothing. Rather than spending big on a holiday to Florida or a Meditteranean cruise, a once-in-a-lifetime skiing holiday can be experienced in the mid-British summer. What's more, is that even in their winter you can still expect better weather than back home!
Anyone also fluent in Welsh might be pleasantly surprised to know that Patagonia hosts the largest group of Welsh speaking people outside of Britain. Chosen for its isolation, Patagonia was selected in 1865 over countries such as Palestine, USA, New Zealand and Australia. Although the Welsh communities have become more integrated into Argentinian society, Welsh teachers are still encouraged to visit and teach Welsh as a foreign language in order to continue the survival of the dialect in Argentina. Although visiting doesn't guarantee meeting anyone who can speak fluent Welsh, it's nonetheless worth a visit to some of the settler's towns after your skiing has finished.
The other option to skiing in the Souther Hemisphere is in Australia and New Zealand. Where some language barriers might exist in South America, no such problems may be found in Oceania! To many the land of kangaroos, wallabees, Dame Edna, Rolph Harris and barbeques may be thought of a barron land surrounded by sea hugging cities. Much like California, it may comes as a surprise to some that there is exceptional skiing to be found on the land of the 'Oz.
Although only ten skiing resorts can be found in Australia, their quality is undoubtedly high. All based in the South East of the island, they offer up to 2.3million days of skiing a season. Although the snow is not like that of Colorado, Japan or perhaps even New Zealand, few other ski areas can promise the number of bluebird days or even the character that the Aussies offer in abundance. And then again, after your week's skiing, where in France you might be keen to instantly return home, who would do such a thing and pass up the opportunity to see what else Australia has to offer?
A skiing holiday in Australia can be rounded off with a short visit to Sydney, Canberra, or Adelaide, all a fairly reasonable distance from the ski resorts in Victoria and New South Wales. Although unlike Patagonia, New South Wales' lack of Welsh speakers may be made up for the delights of Sydney: take a walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge (literally- you can take a tour walk OVER the top of the bridge!), visit the largest performing arts theatre in the world in the Sydney Opera House, or just lose yourself in the shopping and nightlife delights that Sydney offers in abundance.
No discussion upon skiing in the South would be complete however without examining the jewel in the upside-down crown; New Zealand.
A land made famous by its Kiwi fruits, its Kiwi birds, its awesome All Blacks and its hobbit wandered scenery. Having watched any of the Lord of the Rings films, you'll already have seen some of what New Zealand has to offer. The gloriously uncrowded two islands offer a landmass comparable with the whole British mainland but with only the population of Scotland, minus Glasgow.
While Australia has the larger skiable areas and longer runs, it does not have Queenstown, heli-skiing or the incredible and diverse mountenous terrains of the North and South islands. Queenstown offers over 130 bars and restaurants in only 1-square km of space! How's that for apres?!
Choosing between New Zealand and Australia is not a simple question, it's more about deciding your priorities and working out which island suits you best. Snow falls below the treeline in Australia but above it in New Zealand, think Val Thorens as your European equivalent to New Zealand and Avoriaz to Australia; easy decision right?...
Ultimately skiing the Southern Hemisphere (or the Northern one if you happen to be from down under!) is not about the same considerations that you might make for a family week in the French alps. It's not a question of "do we drive or do we fly", "do we self-cater of get a chalet maid", it's a question of how ambitious and how incredible a holiday do you want to have?! For those who like to ski within themselves and just wish for an easy and cheap 5 days on snow, then the chances are you're just as well staying within Europe, after all, Europe has everything from Glenshee to Chamonix and Zermat to Pas de la Casa; there really is something for everyone. But for those with ambition and a desire to see the world and ski every possible terrain and conditions and sample every cuisine, culture, language and people, well, that's why we think that the Southern Hemisphere must be on your bucket list. For to ski your whole life without sampling it, that would be a pity indeed.