Soham Grammarians - Winter Sports visit to Switzerland, Easter 1971

Soham Grammarian Summer 1971

Winter Sports Visit - Easter 1971

On April Fool's Day, of all days, thirty-seven pupils and three members of staff left Soham for a third ski-ing visit to Lenzerheide-Valbella near Chur in Switzerland.

The journey was completed quite smoothly, the French Railway Authorities even providing the correct accommodation this time, until we left Chur in all Fenland innocence in the traditional yellow Post Bus. Not even Mr Riley's sheer luck in forecasting the first encountering of snow more accurately than could the expertise of our geographer, Mr Humphry, could take our minds off the ascent of the mountainside around endless hairpin bends travelling on the wrong side of the road and alongside interminably deep descents to right and left alternately. For the duration of this journey heavenwards all thoughts of food left even the most imaginative minds and empty stomachs.

Our arrival in Valbella confirmed our suspicions that our visit had started very late in the season for the snow was fast disappearing. After a welcome meal at the hostel we walked back to the village to have our ski-boots fitted and collect skis and ski-sticks, send postcards home and make a reconnaissance of the village. The second formers added one peculiar item which is best explained as the selection of suitable trees to act as refrigerators for their bottles en route from hostel to village.

Upon the performance on one run the second-timers were divided into groups, the least successful joining one or other of the beginners' groups. Captain Scott (unfortunate nomenclature!) led the advanced group of mountain goats from the rear, S Curtis and N Ticehurst being ever to the fore. Proficiency profused and apart from the said Curtis embracing a tree with one leg on either side this party ascended the mountains every day and on the last three days used two and even three successive ski-lifts.

From the first day it was quite apparent from the quality of instruction and the standards demanded of us that Lenzerheide-Valbella was superior to Braunwald as a ski-ing resort. The ski-ing this time was the most enjoyable we have experienced, the runs being far greater, more open and less precipitously steep.

All things must end and how more typical to leave such a visit than on the final evening with some of the party sitting in a large restaurant consuming plates of chips, like mum's back home, at 20 new pence per portion, and the remainder (minus the fourth and sixth year Common Marketeers) sitting drinking coffee and eating monkeys up sticks in a dimly-lit hotel dining room to the serenade of a traditionally-dressed local leading community singing to the accompaniment of his piano-accordion.

PJ Jaggard, DHR

Peter Scott (Maths 60-72): I came across this photo of Don Riley and John Humphry recently.   It was taken by me at Chur station in Switzerland. The Ski visits from the Grammar School at that time used the YHA who arranged travel by train and ferry, the party consisting of 3 Staff and 37 boys.

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last updated 1 Dec 21