As we look forward to the next Monster Ski in March 2015, Sarah Burgess who took part in this year’s ski challenge in Chamonix tells us what it was like to be part of this unique fundraising event.
As soon as I heard about Monster Ski I knew I wanted to take part! I am an avid skier, and the challenge of skiing the equivalent vertical descent of Mount Everest for three days in a row sounded just awesome! A little daunting, perhaps, but surely the chance of a lifetime. The MS Trust is a charity close to my heart – my husband was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS about six years ago – so I didn’t hesitate to sign up!
The first challenge
The first part of the challenge was the fundraising, although it was actually a lot easier than I expected. I found it helped to break it down into smaller chunks, that way it didn’t seem so daunting. I did all the obvious things first – set up my fundraising page with Virgin Money Giving (which was actually really simple), then set about emailing all my friends, family and colleagues, linking in with my Facebook account, and generally badgering people!
Then I planned a series of fundraising events. We held a party on bonfire night, sold Christmas cards, did a collection in the local pub and made cakes. The single most successful event for me was a pub quiz – in addition to the funds raised through selling tickets, we held a raffle on the night and ended up raising over £500. Plus it was great fun! As long as you give yourself plenty of time, and plan events that you (and your friends) enjoy, it is surprisingly achievable.
Excitement kicked in
I have to admit to being a little apprehensive when I first arrived at Heathrow Airport, not knowing anyone or what to expect, but as soon as we all started arriving, swapping stories and getting to know each other, any trepidation rapidly vanished and excitement kicked in!
We were very well looked after the entire time. On arrival in Geneva we were met and quickly transferred to our hotel in Chamonix, which couldn’t have been better placed, right in the centre of town. I found myself sharing a room with another solo female participant, and we were both ecstatic to walk out onto our balcony and see the most amazing view of Mont Blanc!
The group comprised a complete mixture of people, some travelling together, some alone, many with personal links to MS (including one amazing guy who has MS himself and completed the entire challenge – probably skiing quicker than anyone else in the group). Despite the various different backgrounds, the group gelled incredibly well and many new friendships were made.
We skied from first lift to last
The three days of skiing were full-on and exhausting – certainly a challenge, and one which wasn’t made any easier by the slushy spring snow conditions. We split into two groups with Beatrice and Fred, our lovely ESF guides, and they monitored our progress to ensure we all covered the required vertical distance. Lunch and loo stops were speedy, and we literally skied from first to last lift each of the three days!
Other than one minor injury (a slight altercation with a snowboarder!), we all survived intact, and on the last evening were presented with our ‘awards’!
The trip was jam-packed from start to finish, with no time for Glühwein stops or sunbathing! Having said that though, the camaraderie was excellent and everyone returned home feeling accomplished and proud of our achievements. Some people added on a few days at the end, for a more leisurely experience of the Chamonix slopes – certainly a good idea if time permits, particularly if it is your only ski trip of the season.
I would certainly recommend this trip to anyone looking for a ski trip with a difference – pushing yourself to the limit on the slopes, whilst at the same time raising money for a great cause – what could be better?!
The MS Trust is now taking bookings for the next Monster Ski event, which will take place back in Chamonix from 13-17 March 2015. You can register before 8 September at the earlybird rate of just £99, then after that for £150. Find out more about Monster Ski and book your place