This winter there will be many thousands of holidaymakers plannings their ski holidays to resorts across the globe, yet if this blog makes even just one of those holidaymakers take note and pay attention then it will have been worth writing. I have felt the need to write after hearing the tragic news of the death of young Durham University student Rachel Ward, aged just 20 years old, whilst she was holidaying in the top French ski resort of Val d’Isere in the Alps. Rachel was enjoying a night out there with fellow students in a local bar, before she decided that she’d return back to the apartment by herself whilst the others headed to a club. She mistakenly took a left turn instead of a right turn when she exited the bar and therefore ended up heading out of town instead of back to the apartment. Now lost, it was believed that Rachel turned back and started walking towards town, but despite not being drunk and being suitably clothed for the icy conditions (unlike many other revellers) it is believed that she slipped down a 30ft snow bank and into the river Isere where she died of hypothermia.
Please, please carefully respect the unfamiliar surroundings when on a ski holiday – one blink and things can ultimately change very, very quickly. Although there is no magical protection available from accidents, common sense is often easily forgotten about when on holiday and people don’t think about the consequences of their actions. You can forget that certain things (such as knowledge of an area) that you take for granted back home has to be learnt from scratch when in an unfamiliar place. Take time (even half an hour) to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings before you venture out on a night out. Remember always, always stick in groups of at least two, preferably more and never split up completely. Make sure you have suitable clothing – layering is the best policy to adopt as you can always add or remove clothes as and when required then. Keep up to date with the ski weather reports, including any warnings (of avalanches etc) so you know not to ski in dangerous areas. Despite the cold remember it’s very important to keep hydrated and have sunscreen and sunglasses as the sun is surprisingly bright and direct. Don’t over-exert yourself and know and keep within your boundaries on the slopes – don’t attempt anything too risky or anything you aren’t comfortable or confident with as you will more than likely come off worst. And make sure you have adequate ‘winter sports/ski’ upgraded travel insurance just in case the worst should happen – A whacking great big hospital bill at the end of your trip isn’t what you need. Despite all my advise please ultimately remember to enjoy yourself and have a good, fun time on your ski holiday… Stay safe!