The Winter ski trips were a great experience for all involved

Year 10 & 11 Ski Trip

A party of 46 pupils and 6 staff departed school first thing on New Years Day, heading out to Folgarida in the Italian Dolomites. This is a relatively small resort, interlinked with several others giving access to 150Km of piste. Following quite a straight forward day of travel, they arrived at their hotel in time for dinner, and some rest, before an early start the next day.

Ski fit began at 7am and everyone was kitted out and ready to go by 9. The sun was shining and they were lucky with plenty of snow so the week ahead was looking good. After a brief ski test the pupils were split into 4 ability groups and off they went. The instructors made the occasional change during the week to ensure that everyone was in the appropriate group. The weather remained kind to them for the entire trip, albeit unseasonably warm, and good ski conditions were had by all. The evenings were made up of some time to rest, some great food, and an après ski programme including a disco, karaoke, quiz night, bingo, and a pizza restaurant.

A good time was had by all!

Sixth Form Ski Trip

The day after the end of Michaelmas term, 18 pupils and 3 members of staff left Gresham’s at 0400 and travelled down to Heathrow to start their journey over to Panorama, Canada. The trip comprised of five days of skiing, followed by a trip to Niagara Falls and day in downtown Toronto. Thankfully, the plane seats were comfortable and flight entertainment substantial for the 7-hour journey. With the change in time zones, the group landed only a couple of hours after they took off. The connection from Toronto onto Calgary went smoothly and they were on schedule until Mr Liberman’s ski bag didn’t turn up. Finally at 0100 they arrived at their destination, The Approach, Panorama. They quickly settled into their rooms, knowing that breakfast was only a few hour away at 0700. 

Following a filling breakfast, they were quickly fitted with their ski equipment and ready for the first day of lessons. The well pisted slopes and crisp Canadian mountain air were refreshing and invigorating allowing everyone a great day of skiing expect Mr Liberman as his skis had not arrived yet. After another filling and quality meal in the resort’s Great Hall, they decided that it was a good idea to get an early night. 

The next couple of days were much the same as the first, they were on the slopes and in ski lessons from 0900, skiing until lunch time when they had an hour break to visit one of the restaurants, the pizza and steak house was a favourite amongst the staff and pupils alike. As a mid-afternoon break some of the group would choose to have a little hot chocolate treat to keep them going . The skiing lessons ended at 1600 when they would ready themselves for some lovely food, which was always hot and in plenty of supply. On an evening, they made use of the hotel’s excellent amenities; gym, hot tub and sauna. One night, the group chose to go to the local hot pools, which was a naturally heated outdoor pool.  

Mr Liberman’s skis did not show up until towards the end of trip when he could be seen tearing up the slopes, there was literally nothing that could stop him. To say that the weather turned cooler towards the end of the week is a bit of an understatement. They found that the top of the mountain remained closed due to the –35 degree C temperature. The mid mountain sat around –25 and even walking about at the bottom of the ski lift could cause water moisture in the nostrils to freeze. This did not put off the pupils though, who wanted to get every last minute they could from the excellent ski instructors. All of the pupils made progress and it was great to see some of them show real grit when it came to the cool skiing days. 

The next phase of the trip was to make an early start to get over to Niagara Falls. This meant leaving Panorama before sunrise on a 3 hour coach journey followed by a 4 hour flight then an hour in the coach to get to our hotel next to Niagara falls. They quickly dropped off our bags and then headed out for a meal together. They found a relaxed dinner and refueled after a long day of travel. Another early night was needed to make sure they could get full use out of their day in Toronto. By 0930 they had visited the awe-inspiring Niagara Falls. Many of the pupils were surprised by the size and the noise it generated. Mr Majid then took to the mic and gave an impromptu site seeing commentary as they travelled through Niagara on the lake and then onto downtown Toronto. Options in Toronto included climbing the CN towner, watching an ice hockey match, or shopping in the largest mall in Canada. The group decided that a shopping trip was required so they spent the last few hours of the trip shopping for Christmas presents. Once they had all spent up, they met up again and boarded the private coach to the airport. On the way, they hit some pretty bad traffic and a journey that should have only taken 40 minutes was, according to the Sat Nav, going to take double this. Worrying about missing check-in, they started to check the news on what was causing the delays. It became clear that the huge snowstorm that had already caused the freezing temperatures in Vancouver and caused the –35 daytime temperatures in Panorama was catching them up. At this point they realised, if they didn’t get out of Toronto in the next 24 hours, they might not make it back for Christmas. This was not a great time to arrive at the airport, to find it full of people trying to escape and make it home for Christmas and then to be informed that the flight was delayed by at least five hours AND they didn’t know how long specifically, until it had taken off from Vancouver! All that could be done was to head over to the departure lounge and wait patiently. After franticly enquiring and failing to get some pupils on a flight directly to where they had planned to travel onward from London, the group had some good news. They would only delayed by six hours! After many laps of the airport, they were finally able to board the flight back to the UK and make it to their final destinations in time for Christmas.  

Many thanks to the pupils and staff for being patient and understanding throughout the delays. The team have already started thinking about the next trip.