It’s 9.16am, I’m on the bus to the resort and I’ve got to face facts. I’ve turned my pockets inside out and there’s no trace of my smartphone, I’ve left it at home.
The music playlist I’d spent days perfecting for this exact journey will have to wait. The same goes for my carefully planned itinerary. Even though I’m kind of familiar with the ski area, it’s so much quicker to get around using the resort app.
A bit wearily, I look out at the snow-capped mountains and that’s when the first rays of sunlight stream through the bus windows. The gentle warmth is welcome in such a cold morning.
I can see the snow front, which means it’s time to get off the bus. I pick up my equipment and take the first chair lift. The lift goes through a forest to get to the summit. I’ve never noticed before how loud the birdsong is, finally – an upside to not listening to music. I close my eyes to focus my other senses and that’s when I notice the delicate scent of spruce sap. It makes me want to take the green run that goes through the forest. I’ve always ignored this beginners’ run because I thought it’d be boring. However, after a few turns, I discover an amazing new viewpoint, and better than that, access to a great bit of off-piste. It’s so well hidden from the rest of the ski area that the snow is still untouched and I can leave my tracks in it!
After a few runs, I treat myself to a little break on the ski area’s highest point. A hot cup of coffee, uninterrupted mountain views, it really is a beautiful day.
It’s already 11.30am by the time I head towards the Snowpark and boardercross. I thought I’d see some familiar faces there but it’s during the week so not everybody is able to spare the time to get away like me. And without my smartphone, there’s no way to check who’s about. No matter, the perfectly sculpted modules will be all mine. I try out a few shapes. A 360°, a few grabs and even some kozak tricks, vintage shapes from the 1980s that always make my mates laugh. There’s nobody around to film me, which is just as well as it means I won’t have to watch my mistakes.
For lunch, I don’t need a TripAdvisor app or Google Maps, I already know the best terrace on the ski area. Their pulled pork burger with fries and house sauce is delicious! While I gather my strength, I set myself a goal for the rest of the day: to ski all of the area’s red runs. Piste map in hand, I prepare my itinerary over dessert.
Over the course of the afternoon, I get into a good rhythm with the downhill runs and my legs start to feel the burn. Sitting comfortably in the gondola lift, I take stock of how I’m doing on my challenge. La Génépi? Done! La Yéti? Also checked off! That’s when a pretty young woman comes up to me, intrigued to see me crossing off runs on my piste map. The story of my “disconnected” day makes her laugh and we swap a few personal anecdotes before arriving at the summit. We ski together for the rest of the afternoon. The red runs I’ve missed will have to wait until next time. There’s no doubt about it, dating apps will never replace the quiet thrill of meeting someone out of the blue.
It’s already 5pm, it’s time to take off my gear and enjoy a bit of the resort’s après-ski. We head to a buzzing terrace where you can have a drink and dance to live sax music and an energetic singer. When evening arrives, I come to terms with the fact that it’s time to go home. Whether it was just a coincidence, or an experience I’d try to repeat soon, this smartphone-free ski day was truly exceptional.
© Photos : Merci – Les Arcs