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  1. #1
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    What could go wrong? (Chapter 1)

    If you can get to La Grave you must go. End of story. Huge props and mad thanks to Bad Roo, Brownmonkey, Ripzalot and Mulletizer for taking care of this euro jong. Without you freaks I never would have gone. Amazing trip, amazing place and amazing people. La Grave is the real deal maggots, as big and burly as you can dream of and then some. If there was ever a place deserving of a maggot summit this is it.



    Below you'll find a selection of my pics as well as links to the other Euro Mini threads. Stay tuned for Brownmonkey's pics as his Canon D1 9 mega pix beast has the goods on it, OMFG sick shots. Helmet cam and video will follow as soon as possible. I'm nursing a fuct left leg from one of the most violent wrecks I've ever had on Friday afternoon. The muscle that runs below the inside of my quad simply won't work, making lifting my leg more than a few inches at the hip impossible. Combined with the massive tweak of my ankle in the boot (felt like my foot was being torn off) and walking is less than fun and sleeping nearly impossible. I did get the whole wreck on the helmet cam though. Enough bitchin. Enjoy.


    Pics...

    Roo's pics and stellar TR...

    Ripzalot's TR & Pics...

    1/17/04 14:00 CST

    Arriving at the International terminal I find a line that is looking to be an hour and a half long to check in at KLM. That would not be too big an issue except that my flight leaves in 2 hours. Dragging a dually and a split roller through the maze is entertaining but I’m starting to stress as the clock ticks away. Once checked in I cut the line for the baggage screening and shove the gear into the inspection area with negative time on the clock. KLM whisks me through the security checkpoint and in a blink I’m seated in 22d bound for Amsterdam.

    8 hours spent sharing a row of four seats with a 20 year old marine heading back to Iraq offered up little insight into the war on terror as this jughead left little wonder why he was a grunt in the desert. Free 25cl Heineken’s were keeping him entertained and allowed me to get some needed rest. Arriving in the Netherlands I was hoping to fire up the cell phone 1 2 3 as T-mobile had told me days before it was not an issue. Wrong. Whatever, I seek out coffee and find just what I need at the gate for my connection to Lyon. I order up a double espresso and balk at the bill when some Dutch dude acting French tries to stick me for 2 doubles. I guess he’s not used to Americans that can count and after some heated debate regarding his mother he coughs up the right change.

    1/18/04 10:30 CET

    The flight to Lyon goes according to plan and with 6 hours to kill until my bus to Grenoble @ 16:30 all I have to do is collect my luggage and find a corner to catch some Z’s in.



    Luggage streams onto the conveyer and passenger after passenger grabs bags and goes on with their lives. When no more bags are coming out I realize there’s a problem. I find the French chick in charge of KLM baggage services and we begin the dance. After a bit of linguistic sparring we find a common ground and she starts filling out the forms. Seeing as how the baggage tags have bar codes you’d think that KLM would be able to figure out what airport my baggage was last scanned at. Nope.

    The next flight from Amsterdam arrives at 16:00 and so I wandered the airport seeking someplace to curl up and snooze away a few hours. One thing you quickly learn in Lyon is that French public restrooms are perhaps the nastiest places on the face of the earth. Couple this with an extraordinary number of third world middle eastern immigrants moving through Lyon (any disbelief as to what side of the war on terror the French are on is quickly put to rest here) and it would seem that the vast majority of toilet users are squatting near the can rather than on it. I chose to clench the sphincter rather than risk the maneuver and the unavoidable contact with biological agents unknown.



    At 16:00 I return to the baggage claim area hoping my gear made it on the next flight. No dice. I ask the KLM chick what the deal is and she says KLM has no idea where my bags are and that they will call me as soon as they do. Great, except I don’t have a phone that is working and only sort of know what the place we are staying at is called. I give her Roo’s cel number and something close to the “Chalets de la Mieje” in La Grave (which she had never heard of) as an address and head for the bus to Grenoble.

    Pulling into the Grenoble bus / train depot around 18:00 it’s dark, cold, raining and half of France is trying to catch a train back to wherever from their weekend skiing at Alp Duez. I wander toward the ticket window and try to find out when the bus to La Grave is leaving. “NO BUS TO LA GRAVE! Go find hotel.” Was all that was said before moving on to the next person in line. Some quick recco work reveals that the pass just beyond La Grave is closed so the French refuse to run the route at all, brilliant.



    I scramble to try and find a working pay phone (tougher than it sounds) and pray that the credit card calls go through. I ring Roo and Brownmonkey, and feeling pity on this euro jong they offer to drive the 90 minutes to come and fetch me. I also ring my folks back home and inspire my dad to call T-mobile and get my phone working, which he does (right on Dad!) and the first positive thing to happen in hours is celebrated with more espresso and a pack of Camel lights which were most delightful for this non-smoker to indulge in.



    Roo and Monkey arrive in a spiffy Opel and we are off to La Grave, but not before a stop at McD’s. Fuck the French and all the crap they spout about American cuisine, those bastards love that happy meal shit as much as anyone. A royale with cheese and some pomme frittes later we are rolling uphill on roads traversed by the gods of the Tour De France.



    I am frazzled but glad to be outside of an airport or station for the first time in 36 hours. We roll into town and head toward the glow of the chalet to find Ripzalot and a curious looking fellow in turquoise camo and a funny hat sitting at the table hovering over a laptop…

    To be continued
    Last edited by truth; 01-26-2004 at 02:50 PM.

  2. #2
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    Thumbs up

    Favorite caption: "Roo getting some goat cock."

    Nice photos.

  3. #3
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    Excellent! I like your flair for the self-portrait, truth!

    Some damn fine scenic shots.

  4. #4
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    London : the L is for Value!
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    Nice Pics

    edg

  5. #5
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    Words added. Thanks, but the scenery makes taking pics easy.

  6. #6
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    Thumbs up

    sweeet!

  7. #7
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    nice write-up, dude!

    next mini we'll have you fly into a civilized country like switzerland and avoid the nastiness of the french. geneva has some pretty nice bathrooms. you can even get crazy and allow skin contact if you like. but if you think france is nasty, you need to book an italian trip sometime for a reality check!

    damn, you had enough aches and pains for a whole season! heal up quick. you'll need it for the next mini.

    i'm stoked on la grave now. everything else looks short and dumb!

    great to meet and ski with you!

    -jay, token snowboarder JONG

  8. #8
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    Re: What could go wrong? (Chapter 1)

    Originally posted by truth
    We roll into town and head toward the glow of the chalet to find Ripzalot and a curious looking fellow in turquoise camo and a funny hat sitting at the table hovering over a laptop…
    "This lady is perhaps not so hot. She is an older lady. A German. But, well, you know..."

    BLONDIN RULES.

  9. #9
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    Re: Re: What could go wrong? (Chapter 1)

    Originally posted by bad_roo
    "This lady is perhaps not so hot. She is an older lady. A German. But, well, you know..."

    BLONDIN RULES.
    Hey, no jumping ahead in my TR you English bastard!

  10. #10
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    Heh - couldn't resist sliding that one in there.

    Truth - you've either received some outrageous good fortune or are due some because having no bags, getting your bus cancelled, missing the biggest bluebird pow day of the season and then taking that unscheduled ride has to generate some positive karma points somewhere.

  11. #11
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    Originally posted by bad_roo
    Heh - couldn't resist sliding that one in there.

    Truth - you've either received some outrageous good fortune or are due some because having no bags, getting your bus cancelled, missing the biggest bluebird pow day of the season and then taking that unscheduled ride has to generate some positive karma points somewhere.
    Karma my ass you story thieving bogey! I figure I was paying for bad things done. I'm just glad I'm still breathing if that's the case.

  12. #12
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    Taking one for the team (chapter 2)



    Despite our best efforts to front like hardcore super extremo mountian dudes our vast T-shirt collection was no match for the sharp witted nature tour guide who pegged us for snowshoing clients of the first degree. Ripzalot had been bamboozeled into opening the chalet door and a 2 hour laptop slideshow sales pitch by a very lonely "Paris meets Grizzly Adams" charachter was underway when we arrived. Accodring to Blondin, the man in the turquiose camo and funny hat; Chamois, Ibex, Marmot, Squirel and German Cougars abound in the mountains surrounding La Grave and a day long tour was the crowning jewel in any trip.

    "This lady is perhaps not so hot. She is an older lady. A German. But, well, you know..." - Blondin describing one of the 5000 pics we were shown.


    Having reached my wits limited end I headed for a long soak in the bath as quickly as possible so as to avoid any sort of international incident I might have been capable of in my hyper cynical state of mind. (see the Iceman cometh thread for my track record ) After an hour in the bath I emerged to find the slide show just winding down as the Euro maggots politely deffered their comittment to a tour to a later date. That duty would fall on my broad shoulders a few nights later when Blondin walked into the chalet unannounced as I emergred from the loo trailing a natural and earthy scent that only a diet of beer, cheese, advil and cereal can create. It proved usefull in assuring his rapid departure.




    1/19/04 08:00

    After a much needed horizantal rest I woke to what can only be termed a bittersweet scene.

    Views from the chalet




    The storm had finally broken, the mountain would be open to 3400m, the skies would be bluebird and over 50cm of untouched pristine icecold smoke would be up for grabs. The stoke level was rising and I had no gear. I was benched. Left to fight it out with the ever so helpful KLM representatives in Lyon.



    As the crew left for what was to be the best day in recent years in La Grave (Brownmonkeys pics will attest to this as did almost every local) I settled in to find my gear. Running up a masive cell phone bill I can't wait to see next month I managed to find the KLM baggage claim rep in Amsterdam. Polite requests having failied miserably I resorted to the "ugly American" tactic and within hours my bags were on the way to La Grave. Woot woot! It was time to get out and see the sights of this 500 year old village nestled in the deepest crags of the Alps.










    Not so bad, this place is magical in every aspect. For a skier it is the realization of life long dreams to touch the very soul of the sport that has transformed my life. I recalled my first crush with the sport, sitting in history class in 8th grade, never having skied, perusing the trail map a classmate had brought back from a spring break trip to Breck. I was hooked. It brought me to Durango and the best 6 years of college anyone could ever dream of, it brought me to LCC and a mentor named Mark Riley, to the Kootenay's, to the maggots, and now to La Grave.



    Sitting in a postcard setting, sipping espresso and rejoicing in the knowledge that my new friends were having the day of all days 6500 feet above me I was happy. Totally and truely happy.





    Hell, my gear even found it's way to me. Tommorrow I would rip the shit out of something...


    To be continued
    Last edited by truth; 01-28-2004 at 08:56 PM.

  13. #13
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    FKNA! You nailed it regarding the feel and soul of La Grave.

  14. #14
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    bad_roo and truth: two of our best trip reporters serving the La Grave stoke. All's we have to do is sit back and soak it up. Bring it on, boys.

    Sick and ashamed and happy (and full props to truth for hopping the pond),
    d.

  15. #15
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    Me no likey work now. Kick azz TR.

  16. #16
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    Please sir, can I have some more?

  17. #17
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    Originally posted by gincognito
    bad_roo and truth: two of our best trip reporters serving the La Grave stoke. All's we have to do is sit back and soak it up. Bring it on, boys.

    Sick and ashamed and happy (and full props to truth for hopping the pond),
    d.
    well, you dont include Sir Ripzalot because he is from this side of the bay or...?
    I have never been good with facts.

  18. #18
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    That is phenomenal, Truth. Your words truly give the pictures life - one of the coolest trip reports I've read. Thank you for your efforts.


    P.S. - I would never be that patient - I woulda lost my mind. Wait, I did have a similarly frustrating experience once in Valdez although it was caused by different circumstances.
    "When restraint and courtesy are added to strength, the latter becomes irresistible."
    Mohandas Gandhi

  19. #19
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    KS...to be honest it was tough. The time period starting when my bags did not come on that 4:00 flight to when they showed up at the chalet was one of deep introspection. I feel I rose to the occaision and am quite proud of the way I allowed things to sort themsleves out. Sitting at the Grenoble depot with no gear, no phone and no ride to La Grave was a pretty low moment. I really questioned the decision to make the journey until I accepted the idea that the journey is what it is all about. After that it was like bring it. I have cash, credit cards and a plane ticket home in a week. I was not afraid and began to enjoy the process for what it was. This pic outside the Grenoble train station is one of my favorites as it really represents my turning the corner and finding the beauty in a really crappy situation. The lows define the highs and the peaks and valleys, much like the alps, were extreme.

    Last edited by truth; 01-26-2004 at 07:12 PM.

  20. #20
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    I really questioned the decision to make the journey until I accepted that the journey is what it is all about. After that it was like bring it. I have cash, credit cards and a plane ticket home in a week.

  21. #21
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    Amazing, as mentioned more please. Way to keep your head up, travel isn't always a to b, there's a flow, whether you resist it or ride with it makes all the difference.
    Great photos.
    Skiing, where my mind is even if my body isn't.

  22. #22
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    Roo chooses goat over sheep. (Chapter 3)

    1/20/04 - 08:00

    The crew was itching to repeat yesterday's epic conditions and in their view La Grave had been shralped. Combine this with clouds down to 1800m and the vast open expanses of La Grave would be skiing by braille. It was decided that Serre Chev would be a good bet as it's known for it's tree skiing. Lagging a few days behind I struggled to get my gear sorted and ready for departure as the euro mags were dialed into the rhythm and I was holding up the show. Rushing to get in the game fate was about tom throw another curve ball my way.

    As I headed for the car arms full of gear the double black metal staircase leading down from the main lodge building to the road reached out and bit me in the ass, literally. I lost my footing and with a series of thuds dropped the staircase bouncing of my left hip again and again. It hurt, but I sprang up and onward glad that my digicam that was in my hand was unscathed. We crammed four of us into the Opel with the 60/40 rear split folded down to fit the stix. Ripzalot and myself got cozy in the back seat for the 90 minute drive over the Col.



    At 6'1" 200# I'm but a phUnkdoll in comparison to Sir Rip. He's got me by 4" and 40# easy and after the torment of travel and my not so pillow drop down the steps my spine was growing less and less happy with me by the moment.



    Arriving at Serre Chevalier we are greeted by clearing skies, much warmer air, and a breeze that would grow to gail force above tree line. After a gondola, a chair and a poma we arrive up top to find the mountain scoured of snow. Winds were moving every last crystal uphill and into the next valley and everything off piste was over the bars endo slab. The bounty that was harvested the day before was but a distant memory, and angst toward KLM simmered in the back of my mind.

    To make matters worse the tumble and resulting hits to my hip were starting to render my left leg useless and my ability to pressure the ski with that leg was rapidly fading into a searing pain that shot from my ankle up into my back. After a paltry 4 runs and a leisurely lunch at a mid-station that featured a cd of Frank Sinatra and Willie Nelson singing duets, I was done. I bid the crew farewell, tucked my tail between my legs and headed for the Opel. The boys found some fun billy goat action in a lift shot in the trees out of the wind and I nursed my wounds with a few beers soaking in the sun on the valley floor.



    Returning to La Grave we hit the chalet as Roo had a date witha special sausage he'd been working up the courage to get at. Affectionately named the "goat cock" Roo took great delight in circumcising the beast .



    Roo's cel rang and we hooked up with Mulletizer and Glissuer at the "Swede Bar" where Glissuer is the bartender du jour and maggot pricing was in full effect. After some much needed libations we made our way to a pizzeria operated by a jovial fatman that served you what he thought you should eat rather than what you might have ordered. My hip was not getting much better with stretching and Advil and it weighed on my psyche. Returning to the bar we made plans for a tour of La Grave under the guidance of Mulletizer and Glissuer and headed back to the chalet for some much needed rest, ice and Lortabs. I needed to make a miracle recovery as my date with La Meije was only hours away.

    To be continued

    Last edited by truth; 01-27-2004 at 09:45 AM.

  23. #23
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    Good stuff....(your story , not the goat cock)............................

    More please.........

  24. #24
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    Originally posted by Spamhelmet
    well, you dont include Sir Ripzalot because he is from this side of the bay or...?
    Oops. Sorry, my bad.

    Sick and ashamed and happy (and just a little more accustomed to the former two),
    d.

  25. #25
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    Originally posted by gincognito
    Oops. Sorry, my bad.

    Sick and ashamed and happy (and just a little more accustomed to the former two),
    d.

    Don't worry about it, he lives in Switzerland. What's he gonna do, threaten you with a pocket knife?

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