To say I was nervous would be hugely underselling the situation. I had arrived at the departure point for a trip I had booked onto knowing no one, as a fresher. But my God, what a week.
Luckily the coaches had all been organised by rooms so I had a tortuously long 30 hours to get to know my new roommates (all of whom were lovely! As was everyone on the trip I met, for that matter. It became readily apparent that booking on solo was not going to be an issue). The journey actually passed by surprisingly quickly – despite some questionable dialogue over the microphone from our charming Fife bus driver, “Jimmy the Beast” – and before you could say avalanche we were in Val Thorens.
There were costume themes for each night out but the first night was just get out in whatever and discover the resort. After we’d unpacked and finished our pre we had missed the pre-club bar and headed straight to main resort club, Malaysia. It. Was. Incredible. After entering a wooden shack in the snow we descended some icy death-steps before the sprawling cavern of alpine revelry opened up before us. The whole place was huge and the live band (a lovely change from the charming DJ Ian) they had were excellent, belting out club classics to the ever-enjoyable power ballad sing-along. And right in the center of all of this was a flaming shot bar! Night 1 had set the benchmark very high indeed.
Peeling ourselves out of our hangover pit the next morning was an effort but worth it for the skiing. Val T is the largest ski area in the world and although it was a little overcast the skiing was fantastic. I had bought an upgraded lift pass that meant I could visit other resorts and so our room went right from the top of the Orelle glacier down to the idyllic Meribel before heading up to the mountain-side bar ‘360’ for après ski.
Again, there are few words that will do alpine après justice and being my first experience I had little to no idea of what to expect. Up the side of the mountain, with a group of wonderful new friends and having the place filled with St Andrews students in our stylish trip t-shirts was extremely cool. The whole bar felt as though it had been rented out just for us as we screamed out the words to ‘Timber” at the tops of our lungs. I went over to the Folie Douce later on in the week as well and whilst it was everything that I had read about and more, it was just a bit too expensive for me! The drinks deals St Andrews got at 360 were just a bit more appealing. But the real piece de resistance came on the Tuesday when Afrojack played at 360. The entire outdoors bar was rammed and I couldn’t believe how close we were to such a huge name in the alps! People were up on shoulders, jumping about and with these two SAS flags waving about the whole place was lit up like a private mountain festival! Definitely an experience I will never forget.
Which brings me nicely onto the most bizarre and hilarious sight I have ever seen: The Mountain Meal. Again, I had been warned of what to expect (a lot of free wine and naked people) but I didn’t think it would be quite as crazy as it was. The entire trip was crammed into this lovely restaurant and 300 people proceeded to remove their tops, dispose of the wine and chant and sing all night long. Quite honestly, the most surreal and memorable experience of the trip!!
The only sad thing about the mountain meal and the night out which followed was I was in a desperate state the next morning and missed one of the two blue-sky days of the trip.
The rest of the trip, put simply, was phenomenal! From pirate and Harry Potter night, to a sweaty evening in the other resort club, Summit. SAS and the trip company NUCO put on an amazing show and I couldn’t recommend it more to anyone thinking about going next year. In the mean time, I’ve been told the big trip reunion, Snowball, is happening on the 2nd March. So only a few more weeks until I can relive the mountain madness!