During the February half term holiday, a group of students and staff enjoyed a fabulous week at Passo Tonale in Italy on the WHS Annual Ski and Snowboarding Trip.
A Student’s Diary of the Trip:
Friday, 15 February
We set of from William Howard at 12:00 noon, heading to Dover to catch a 10:00pm ferry to Dunkirk, unfortunately we missed this ferry meaning we had to catch a 11:05pm ferry to Calais instead. After a bite to eat, we arrived very tired in Calais, ready for a well-deserved sleep on the coach.
Saturday, 16 February
Being awoken by the French sunshine, we had a break at a service station for some French breakfast cuisine and a much needed stretch of our legs. Continuing across the Swiss and Italian borders, we eventually arrived at Ponte di Legno in the Hotel Mirella. We were fitted with ski boots, skis and poles, before heading to EAT! Everyone was in bed for 10:00pm for a good night’s sleep ready for our first day of skiing.
Sunday, 17 February
We were down for breakfast by 7:45am – there was a variety of different foods from ham and cheese to croissants and Nutella. Fully-fuelled for the morning, we got our ski gear on and headed to the ski locker to grab skis and boots and get up the gondola. On arrival at the top in Passo de Tonale, we were greeted by our ski instructors; Fabrizio (Fab) for the advanced group, Evelin for the beginners, and a snowboard instructor called Patric. We then split into our groups and went for a 3-hour ski lesson. Afterwards, we all met back together at the Hotel Dolomiti for lunch. We filled up with plenty of water, pasta and ice cream before returning to the slopes for a further 2-hour skiing session.
At the end of the first day the advanced ski group had been down a few reds routes; the beginners finding their feet on the blues; and the beginners snowboarders were able to turn well and learnt how to do a 180 on flat snow and could get on and off lifts well. The advanced snowboarders spent most of their time in the snow park learning new tricks and improving techniques. By 4:00pm we were all ready to head back down the gondola to the hotel. Dinner was at 7:00pm giving us all time to shower, change and relax a little. Those that wanted to, could have a nice swim letting their muscles recover from the busy day. After dinner we all met in the TV room for the QUIZ NIGHT! After many rounds including biscuit types; how many flags we could name; and a golfing round (which of course the PE teachers won). In first place was the team ‘Balcony saves’, followed in a close second with the ‘Don’t Knows’. We then all headed up to our room for a 10:00pm bed time ready for another early start.
Monday, 18 February
Again, we were down for another 7:45am breakfast, with all the trimmings. We changed our plans for getting up the mountain so we collected our skis from the locker and put them on the bus ready for a 15-minute bus ride up the hill, dropping us off right at the bottom of the slopes and the Dolomiti. We then went off in our groups for a 3-hour ski lesson, progressing and building on techniques and strategies we had been taught on Saturday. Back down at 1:00pm we had another tasty, filling dinner ensuring we were ready for the busy afternoon. After another 2-hour ski lesson, we loaded all of our equipment back onto the coach to drive back down to the hotel for dinner and a swim or a nice sit in the Jacuzzi to sooth aching muscles. After dinner we headed out for the evening activity – BUMBOARDING! This was run by the PE teachers with involved a very efficient system of groups, walky-talkies and loud voices. This took place at the bottom of a black run into Ponte di Legno. It was great fun with some healthy competition!!!
Tuesday, 19 February
Up for another breakfast after a good sleep from the excitement from the night before, we filled up and then headed up the mountain on the coach. We then had another 3-hour lesson, meeting for lunch, which was a lovely Italian spaghetti Bolognese. Another 2-hour ski lesson followed, in the glorious sun and blue skies. ICESKATING was this evening’s activity. According to Mrs Tait, this was a hilarious watch, with Mr Davies whizzing round like a pro, lots of comedic falls and the birth of the ‘ice-skating face of terror’.
Wednesday, 20 February
Another sunny day meant we were woken up with the amazing view from our balconies, just seeing the peaks of the mountains in Passo de Tonale. We were greeted by our fabulous instructors at the coach. Both of the skiing groups headed up to the top of the glacier and the advanced group were going to ski all the way down. On a nervous journey up the ski lift, we looked over brilliant views an Mrs Tait told us about some of the history of the area from WW1. We stayed for a while at the top to take in the surroundings, take pictures and, for some, a nervous toilet stop!!
The beginners group skied down the first part, down to a nice café for a hot chocolate before taking the ski lift back down. Whilst the advanced group skied down the whole glacier which included blue, red and black runs. By the end everyone was very pleased they had done it, mainly injury free.
After dinner was the highly anticipated FANCY DRESS NIGHT!! We arranged to meet on the landing at 8:30pm and by the time this came we saw Sumo Wrestlers, horses, princesses, 60s girl band, Power Rangers, flamingos and many more emerging from the rooms. Downstairs, we were greeted by a disco ball and a great DJ. We danced all night to everything from ABBA to Mylie Cyrus and of course, the Macarena.
Thursday, 21 February
We had another 7:45am start but this was becoming easier as the week went on. We had our usual initial 3-hour lesson, but in the advanced group Fab took whoever wanted to, up the glacier. The rest of us did our favourite red run called Blais a few times with Mr Davies and Miss Balmer. We then had lunch and another 2-hour lesson, which included a slalom race where we were timed and our photos were taken. An hour for practice ski followed, where we were able to ski with friends that were in other groups.
Back at the hotel, there was a presentation where gifts were given to our instructors, Fab, Evelin and Patric. We also gave the teachers gifts to say thank you. Each group received the results of the slalom race and a group photo with the instructor. We then went back down to the Mirella to spend some time packing before dinner. That evening, NIGHT SKIING was so much fun. We skied on a flood lit blue run with our friends – it was an amazing experience!
Friday, 22 February
Today was sadly the day we had to say goodbye, however we still had the whole morning skiing. The beginners went up again to Passo de Tonale whilst the advanced skiers and snowboarding group stayed in Ponte di Legno. The skiers went on the red and black slopes in that area of the resort. This was a great morning as we had not skied down here before, so it was something new and it also brought challenge coming down some of the blacks. By the end of the week, all the snowboarders were going down reds and even did a black route. Sadly, we had to say bye to Fab, Evelin and Patric and head back to the hotel to pack. We had our lunch at the hotel, loaded up the bus and were on our way home. We drove all night, with a few toilet and drinks stops along the way, through Switzerland and France, heading to Dunkirk.
Saturday, 23 February
A slight delay, due to a small problem with the bus (fixed by Mr Davies), meant we were too late for the 8:00am ferry meaning we waited for the 10:00 ferry. There was a full English breakfast available on the ferry, which was very welcome. Arriving in Dover, we switched bus drivers and then drove home with a much-needed McDonalds stop. We arrived back at William Howard by around 8:00pm greeted by lots of happy parents.