The summit of Verbier was neatly tucked behind several more open faces of chutes, couloirs, and jagged rocks. We climbed aboard a bus that was labeled the Verbier Express, and once again paid a stiff $15 dollars just to get to the top of the zigzagged stretch of road that took us to the base of the mountain. As we began walking through town we soon realized that we didn’t quite fit in amongst the fur coats, Louis Vuitton purses, and leather jackets.
To give you a little perspective on the prices, people, and accommodations there in Verbier, I will share a little story with you. Before entering our condo we were informed that the rental company would not provide any towels, sheets, or toiletries. Did I mention we were paying over a $150 a night! Fortunately upon arrival we were provided with some simple blankets, a couple sheets, and a few towels. My photographer/film-maker and good friend, Tommy Penick, had now joined us in this apartment as we approached our second day on hill. However, eating all that cheese, salami, and bread makes for a constant battle between the three of us over the one little toilet tucked behind the front door.
As we ran out of toilet paper, and the one garbage bag got full, we decided to go to the front desk and politely asked for some more. The damn stuck up Swiss lady behind the counter had the nerve to tell my dad that we had to go to a local grocery store, and buy our own. She also mentioned that we would be fined if we didn’t take out our own garbage out, even though there was an excessive cleaning fee! After a few minutes of complaining she finally gave us a new garbage bag while sharing with us that she doesn’t do this for everyone, and that we should be thankful for her kind gesture. Screw that! I immediately went to the closest public bathroom and ripped off a giant role of toilet paper, and stuffed a few garbage bags into my pocket. As I slipped away from the scene, I gave my dad a thumbs up as we both laughed at our own petty theft.
After wiping our rears and shedding our tears over the pricey costs, I was glad to get on my snowboard and rip apart the open face of that first contest. Luckily for us, I took home the gold and our spirits were slightly lifted! Immediately we went to the bar and ordered a round of beers and shots. Once again the hype was short-lived after looking at the bill. Disappointed and hungry,
we hung our heads as we walked back to the apartment to stuff our faces with some more salami and bread. We even treated ourselves to some pasta that night, which surprisingly only cost around $30 dollars for the noodles, a little chicken breast, and some sauce. We were eating like kings, right?
I came down with some sickness a few days later, and was bed ridden before the next window opened for the next contest. Perfect! Here I am laying half-dead in bed, no doctor in sight, while 10” inches of fresh fell on the ground. I had to suck it up, pull myself together, and head out to work! Luckily we had plenty of time before my run, so Tommy and I headed out to get some shots. We ended up nailing some lines as we dragged our tired bodies to the goods, and scored some freshies!
Coming from the draught ridden state of California, I was just glad to be riding powder, but my body did not feel like it was attached to my head. Unfortunately, I fell on a stupid little rock shark at the top of my run and of course nailed the difficult cliffs, and spin at the bottom. It wasn’t enough for a podium but I was just glad to make it through the day without puking.
As we sat on the last chair lift of the last day, I think we were all more than happy to leave the upscaled village of Verbier. I mentioned to Tommy, “Dude, do these people seem a little stuck up or what?” He replied perfectly,
“Thank god I am not the only one thinking that! I thought I was just being a little sour puss, uncivilized dirt bag!”
We pointed ourselves downhill and got the hell off that mountain, leaving behind only a trail of fresh tracks, and a few dusted gapers that tried to catch up.
We awoke the next Monday morning, packed our bags, paid our last $15 bus fare down to Le Chable, and booked it straight east through Switzerland and headed towards Austria! After not getting a bid into the next contest in Hochfugen, Austria we decided to head further East to see my grandparents, and fathers home land of Slovakia for some good food, warm beds, and friendly faces. This next leg of the trip held some of the most eye opening experiences I have ever had. From almost getting mugged at gunpoint in a racer bar, to seeing a mountain goat scurry past me at a ski resort, everything seemed alive and new.
To be continued…