Friday, August 31, 2007

Albert College goes skiing

- Joshua Swanepoel and Matthew van Heerden -

Albert College worked through the June school holidays and our reward was our first ever skiing holiday. We left Prince Albert, heading for the Tiffendale Ski Resort, near Rhodes, in the Eastern Cape. We stopped at the Molteno Guest House for the night and left the next morning, after a good breakfast. We knew that we were getting near to the resort because the road was getting steeper and the temperature was dropping. We ascended the final pass in first gear, passing lots of bags of salt, which can be spread on the road when it is icy.

Tiffendale is situated in the Southern Drakensberg Mountains. During the winter it is a ski resort and during the summer, when there is not enough snow, they offer hunting and trout fishing. It was a very well organized resort, with chalets with underfloor heating. The chalets are just three minutes walk from the ski slopes. We hired ski suits and bought goggles and gloves (you need special goggles to protect your eyes from snow and to act as sun glasses) and went out skiing as soon as possible.

Our first lesson was great. Joshua learnt how to ski down the slope in snow plough position while Matthew stood at the top of the slope, skis parallel and proceeded to make a daring decent, breaking the record for the shortest distance ever travelled at the highest speed on skis and eventually, running out of slope, valiantly colliding with a post.

Sandy, Joshua, Rebekah and Caleb were the first of the Albert College skiers to qualify. They moved straight from the Nursery slope to the more advanced slope and this brought them the honour of an award - a bone ski - as the quickest learners at Tiffendale for that week.

Robin, the smallest member of the College, should not be underestimated for her skiing ability. She would be towed (by one of the older members) on skis to the top of the slope to ski down expertly. She did give more attention to bum-boarding though – she is terrific on a toboggan and went down “bum-board alley” with great aplomb.

Sandy was the jumper of the week, by the second day he had hired himself a helmet and was practicing his jumps. None of us saw much of Caleb because he was always on the slopes.

After the second day Matthew obtained a new ski instructor, none other than Luke Swanepoel and under his instruction graduated like everyone else, achieving a grade one skiing certificate. At the end of that day we all went up the big slope to drink glühwein at the highest bar in South Africa, called Ice station 2720. Overall it was a wonderful holiday and everyone really enjoyed it.

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