Category Archives: die

Die and Snowboarding

Clear skies at the Col de Rousset ski station.

Clear skies at the Col de Rousset ski station.

This past Wednesday I went with 13 assistants to the Col de Rousset. We were divided into snowshoers, skiers, and snowboarders. Above is a picture from that day, taken almost at the same place as this one a week before. Two of the people who rented snowboarders had never done it before, so I attempted to teach them. It was alternately hilarious and successful. Snowboarding is harder than it looks and isn’t very easy to teach, especially when standing up on the board can at first seem impossible. However, by the end of the day they were both making it down the mountain. Although there was a moment where one of them, Richard, somehow slid into this fence and couldn’t drag himself out of the snow ditch. At exactly that moment the students he teaches in primary school skied by in a massive group. I had my own unfortunate comedy moments trying to use the téléski/platter lift. I just cannot stay on that thing and both attempts ended with me planting myself face forward in the snow and then taking a long hike up the mountain.

Snowy fence and trees at the Col de Rousset.

Snowy fence and trees at the Col de Rousset.

I think that the biggest obstacle I have to improving my snowboarding is fear. I just can’t hurtle myself down the slopes the way a lot of people do. I don’t mind going fast, but I get nervous when I’m not in control of my board. There was a red slope at Col de Rousset that I was peer-pressured into going down. The first snowboarder, Eric, went down at a ridiculous speed, crashed horribly, stood up, and kept going. I, on the other hand, carefully S-turned down the icy drop. I think I have the snowboarding technique down, now I need to figure out how to lose my fear of death by snowboard crash.

Vercors, as seen from the Col de Rousset.

Vercors, as seen from the Col de Rousset.

Near the end of our day at the Col de Rousset it started to snow and we got beers in the restaurant at the bottom of the station. Everyone in our group made it to the bus on time. Unfortunately, some of the other people on the bus did not, making us late to the Die train station and consequently missing the 5:52 pm train to Valence. The next train was not until 11:25 pm. So, we bought food, Cidre, and Clairette and spent the evening at Patrick’s apartment (the English assistant in Die). Clairette is a sparkling wine that tastes kind of like Champagne and is made in the Die region.

DIE!!! The sign at the Die train station.

DIE!!! The sign at the Die train station.

We finally did make it back to Valence on the train. It was a train that apparently goes all the way to Paris, although very, very slowly. I was a little tired teaching the next day, but was able to get through several readings of Eric Carle books. Does that man know how important his books are to the teaching of English?

I’ve booked my flight and hostel for Berlin in February. I’ll be there February 9 to 14. I know very little about what to see in Berlin, so I’m open to suggestions.

I saw what is probably the most tedious piece of theater I have ever witnessed. It lasted for two hours with no intermission and for most of that time sustained almost absolute silence. It centered around a guy who was depressed because no one would publish his writing, his wife who berated him, and their baby. He just lay on a couch for the entire time and stared into space a lot. She also spent time staring into space. This was interrupted by music that played on a CD while videos of babies or flowers were projected on screens. It finally ended with the couch guy shooting himself offstage, but this was the point when the music was actually loud so I couldn’t understand what the other characters were saying. Like the other two plays I’ve seen during my time in France, this one had cathartic yelling. Maybe that is the staple of French théâtre.

Col de Rousset

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.