An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: Daily life and challenges in a ski town

For many, coming to a ski resort is their idea of heaven. Whether it be to escape from their trappings back home, to simply be in amongst the fresh clean mountain air and the stunning panoramic views,

or perhaps simply the opportunity to strap on a pair of skis or a board and slide down the mountains – there’s an alluring draw that will keep a constant flow coming into town.

This year so far in North America the reasons already mentioned will still hold true, along with the fact that due to a number of factors, coastal proximity, the mountain ranges converging, favour of the gods - in particular Ullr, who at last seems to have settled here, we have been receiving huge amounts of snowfall in comparison to almost every other resort. Where to go for your winter vacation, well, where the snow is of course!

So the resort has been busy since the season kicked off. The usual ‘lull’ that many were expecting after New Year has yet to happen, albeit things have dropped off slightly as kids have gone back to school. However, the projections for the coming couple of months are as high as ever with some weeks across February even busier than Xmas! Great news for the business’ and the resort.

For the locals though, those of us who live here at least long enough to see a whole winter through, daily life doesn’t come without at least a few challenges. The town isn’t too far spread out, but the various sub divisions around which we all live are still far enough out from the main village that some unfortunates daily travels into the village on a bus could take a good 30-40 mins. Now, one problem seen from time to time with the buses, no doubt not too different from anywhere else, is that they aren’t always that punctual.

Another other issue is that its not all that rare to be waiting 20 minutes for your bus, only to see it churn past you completely full, without the driver thinking twice about turning and giving you any apologetic look. If you’re really unlucky, two ay even go by!

Now, the problem with this fact is that too many people have cottoned onto this and have used this ‘excuse’ too frequently for their poor bosses and managers as they stroll in late. Another problem assuming the bus isn’t already completely rammed, is on a heavy snowfall day, the bus may never make it to your bus stop or get up your road that you’ve just had to run to or have been patiently waiting for the last twenty minutes trying to figure out if you’ve missed it or not!

For those who need to walk anywhere, although the village stroll area where thousands walk up and down every week, is maintained exceptionally well and cleared as best as possible to avoid too many ‘slips’, much of the other paths and walkways are a tad dicey to manoeuvre.

A quick slip here, a quick fall there and when it’s not icy, then there’s slush and wet damp mush everywhere – there’s a reason my wife and other ladies complain about not being able to wear a ‘nice pair of heels’ much in winter.

For those who drive, there can be the almost daily task of digging your car out from the fresh snow overnight or even during the day, just to get home! Then there’s the small matter of those such as myself, who will from time to time, need to clear our patio of the white stuff.

Not always just that which has fallen from the skies, but largely from that which has warmed during the rising temperatures, gotten heavy and slid from the roof. This is the reason we had to have our patio completely reinforced this summer under the sheer weight of the heavy snow that can quickly fall and if you don’t get to it quick enough, it can accumulate and then if you’re really lucky, freeze so hard you can’t dig the darn stuff!

For the runners amongst us, there’s the consideration of how to get around and remain upright. You’ll often have to pick your route carefully depending on where the ice may be; perhaps it’s rained during the day and then frozen overnight.

Obviously you need to dress appropriately and choice of footwear becomes imperative. Many will use what are referred to as ‘Yak-Trax’ – a lightweight device that you slip over the sole of your shoe or trainer, usually having some metal design in places to ensure good stability and grip underfoot. Personally I think that the extra challenge just adds to the fun!

So, have I sold you all on life in the wintry mountains yet? Trust me, the payoff has to be big or we wouldn’t do it. So before you all start shedding a tear or two for our ‘hardship’, think of all we have. Access to some of the worlds finest ski slopes at our fingertips, hundreds of great dining opportunities (perk of being in a resort designed to attract visitors), stunning panoramic views at every which way you turn your head, fresh mountain air, one of the healthiest environments you could possibly imagine – everyone’s either skiing, cross country skiing, hiking, running, relaxing in many a spa pool….I could go on. Yep, life is tough!

Anyone want to join us?