Each winter, a flurry of white wonderland landscapes graces numerous postcards, Christmas cards and (more recently) Instagram accounts, embedded in our nation’s conscience for as long as we can remember – and when snow falls outside, we’ll be there with bells on. Bells – and also skis, snowboards, poles, helmets…
The idea of hurling yourself down a blizzard-battered mountain with two thin pieces of wood strapped to your feet sounds crazy, right? That it may be, but we have been skiing, in some form, for about 5,000 years. Brought into common practice by Scandinavians in the Middle Ages, the purpose of these pieces of wood was to aid in hunting and war, and they were used as the chief mode of transport for mountain dwellers. First practised as a sport in the mid-19th century, the popularity of skiing has since spread globally – to anywhere that receives more than a frosting of snow – and now it’s the must-do activity for many of us looking for that velocity-driven thrill come winter.
We spoke to Red Rainey, former Jack Wills Seasonnaire, intrepid traveller and photographer, about one of the biggest events on his skiing calendar:
SO WHAT’S THE SKI WEEK? It’s a series of week-long boutique ski festivals in mountain towns across the world. At the core of the project, we are nothing more than a merry band of adventurers who have set a path to ski the world together. Our founders decided that exploring half the world for half the year with The Yacht Week just wasn’t enough and now here we are!
YOUR FIRST ROLE? A coast-to-coast hunt for the best mountain in the USA – we covered 19 in 26 days. Having long since chosen Aspen Snowmass as my adopted home mountain, I was dying to show the squad what we could pull off on home turf. Why is Aspen the best? Four mountains. Zero lift lines. Champagne. Caviar. White snow. Blue skies. Hunter S. Thompson and the Gonzo movement. Most of all, the people!
YOUR TOP PIECES OF ADVICE? Make an effort to learn the local language, or some of it. The locals hold the keys to every mountain, and dumb lines in a scrappy foreign tongue can actually come in useful. Secondly, look up @jerryoftheday and decide who you want to be on the mountain. Lastly, don’t order Rocky Mountain oysters.
WHAT NEXT ON THE SKI AGENDA FOR YOU? I spent Christmas at home in Edinburgh with my mum and of course caught a plane shortly thereafter to go ski. Cold holidays for the win!
The Ski Week is holding events in Obertauern (Austria), Aspen (USA), Chamonix (France – sold out) and Niseko (Japan).