This past Wednesday, January 14, I went to the Col de Rousset to go snowboarding. Col de Rousset is in the same department as Valence, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get to. I first had to catch a bus to Die, which was late. In French, the city is pronounced “Dee” and doesn’t have any violent “Die, Die My Darling” connotations. At the Die train station I waited for another bus, which was also late. That bus then took us up a winding road to the Col de Rousset ski station. I don’t get car sick easily, but this road was vertigo-inducing. The turns were sharp and steep and overlooked a deep chasm.
There was a tunnel through the mountain to the ski station and when we emerged all we could see was white. There was a snowstorm covering the whole station, with cold temperatures, wind, and enough snow to make visibility in even the parking lot difficult. I thought about just drinking coffee all day in the restaurant, but I went ahead and bought a lift ticket. There was barely anyone there, so at least there was no lift line.
I had never been to the Col de Rousset before, so when I got off the ski lift I was terribly lost. Slopes in France don’t seem to be very well marked, so while there might be an arrow to the left saying that it’s a blue slope, it could just as easily turn into red midway through. The slopes are rated green (easiest), blue (intermediate), red (difficult), and black (death wish). I saw some skiiers going to the right, so I followed their silhouettes as they faded into white. Then I felt like I was snowboarding through a cloud and hoped I wasn’t going to suddenly emerge at the edge of a cliff.
I eventually figured out a way down to the bottom of the station and stuck with that path for the day. The slopes were pretty icy and all of my exposed skin lost feeling, but it was amazing to go down a run and see absolutely no one. It was like having my own private ski station. I was able to get my confidence up a bit with turning on narrow runs and could go as slow or as fast as I wanted without fear of people suddenly whipping out in front of me. After I felt sufficiently tired and frozen, I got a coffee at one of the restaurants at the bottom and thawed out before going back to Valence. I had to take the train to get back and discovered that they have handy ski/snowboard/bicycle holders on some of the cars. I think I’m progressing with snowboarding because I still made it to the bar for the international club meet up instead of immediately passing out in my bed.