A Series of Unfortunate Événements

Ski Trip Embodies “Siccisa Virescit”

A Series of Unfortunate Événements

Kevin Jin, Staff Writer

This spring break, Delbarton’s “Global Programs” offered a trip to the French Alps to ski or snowboard and experience French culture. For one week, 20 students stayed in the Belleville Valley of Les Trois Vallées near the Swiss border. Unfortunately, however, a series of unlucky events reduced the quality of an otherwise well-planned excursion (especially near the beginning and end).

At first, the trip proceeded without any irregularities. The students flew to Zurich, Switzerland, and then to Geneva. After we arrived, we took a bus to the resort. However, due to heavy traffic, a reported two-hour drive was extended into a six-hour ride, causing an extremely late arrival that was exacerbated by hotel room difficulties. Fortunately, everyone was able to get decent sleep for skiing the next day (Sunday).

For most skiers and snowboarders, Sunday mainly consisted of exploration. Personally, I found it a bit hard to keep track of all the lifts and trails on a mountain so huge compared to those on the east coast of the US. Even with all the different options (there were three different valleys where visitors could ski), the lift lines were of similar length as those in the US. After a day of fun, students relaxed and prepared to attend mass in French. Following mass, we ate dinner at the hotel (all meals were included in the trip cost) and prepared for another exciting day. On Monday and Tuesday, the temperature rose so that most of the snow melted and turned syrupy. Made worse by an increased number of people on the mountain, the conditions consisted mostly of a thin layer of soggy snow over a hard layer of ice.

After the ski hours on Monday and Tuesday, the students went to town to explore and buy souvenirs. We were even able to go on the mountain coaster, a roller coaster built directly up the mountain. Unfortunately, the falling snow was really painful as it pelted our eyes at high speeds. 

The next night, about a third of the students fell ill with a stomach bug. Many experienced symptoms, such as nausea and upset stomachs, and were confined to their rooms to prevent contamination. This would continue the next few days, though fortunately, everyone was able to recover before the end of the trip. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, it snowed during the entire morning. Although the increased snow allowed for a wider range of accessible areas (one student actually caused a small avalanche while going off-trail), visibility was reduced drastically. In fact, most students decided to stop skiing or snowboarding early due to whiteouts. On Wednesday night, we went to the local pool, and Thursday evening, everyone had one last chance to get a memento during a trip to town. Finally, on Friday night, we packed our bags and prepared to leave.

As the students boarded the bus to go to the airport, everyone reflected on their experience and prepared themselves for a return to normalcy. Then suddenly, calamity struck, as about two hours into the bus ride, slippery roads caused by a snowstorm led to the bus getting stuck after attempting a sharp turn. Emergency services finally arrived after several hours, and the bus was painstakingly towed back onto the highway. However, the return home was further delayed as the bus got a flat tire. At this point, everyone just wanted to get home safely. When we finally arrived at the airport, we had to book new tickets since we missed our flight. After staying the night in Geneva, we boarded a plane early in the morning and headed home.

Overall, this trip to France was beleaguered by simple bad luck. The inopportune occurrences on this excursion happened by no means due to poor planning or the chaperones; in fact, Sr. Majano, Mr. Sherwood, and Mr. O’Connell all did exceptionally well to deal with the many struggles that arose. In the future, if blessed with serendipity (optimal weather conditions, smooth flights, etc.), the France trip definitely has the potential to become one of the favorites among the Delbarton student body.