Halfway through the season and with the busiest week of the year behind us, we decided it was time to let off some steam at Mountain Lifestyle HQ – so we went paret sledding!
It was the first time for some of us and we were more than a bit apprehensive at the thought of launching ourselves down the 2900m descent of the Pierre à Ric home run – even more so when we were handed our sledges. No brakes, no steering, just a precarious wooden hobby horse perched on a short single runner.
We gathered round our instructors as they explained how to ride the paret; effortlessly leaning from side to side, casually sticking out a foot for ballast, steering with one hand whilst fixing their hair with the other… Then it was our turn to have a practice run before hitting the big slope and there was a lot of flailing, skidding and squawking involved as we attempted to gain control over the wobbly wooden contraptions.
We shuffled nervously towards the start of the piste and looked around to see who would be first to launch themselves into oblivion – obviously it was the youngest who were the most fearless and then we all had to follow so as not be shown up by a gang of 12 year olds.
Funnily enough, we soon found that the steeper the slope, the easier it is to keep your balance. A bit of speed is your friend, a lot of speed is the kind of friend who gets you into trouble and then abandons you to sort yourself out.
Within minutes all our fears were forgotten and everyone was flying down – shrieking, laughing and tumbling like a herd of lunatics. There had been a dump of fresh snow the night before and by the end of the day it had been pushed up into big soft moguls that were great fun to go flying over – I can’t claim to have landed many of them but falling off is all part of the game.
Our instructors kept track of everyone on the way down, hanging back for those who didn’t want to go quite so fast and leading the way for those that did, stopping at a few points on the way down to regroup and make sure that everyone was having a great time.
By the time we cruised to a halt by the new lift station everyone was breathless, grinning and covered in snow – if we’d have been allowed to go straight back up for another go then we definitely would have! I’m already planning a new career for myself as a professional paret pilot and am about to start lobbying for it to become an Olympic sport…
Paret sledging runs every Wednesday afternoon at Les Grands Montets; you meet your instructors in front of the main lift station at 16:15 and take the last cable car of the day up to Lognon where you will receive your “paret training” and then it’s chocks away. It costs just 20€ per person and is one of the most exhilarating apres-ski experiences you can have! Private paret sessions can also be booked for larger groups on any night of the week on request. Please visit this page or contact us for details and booking.