We’ve all seen James Bond; whilst skiing flips out a parachute and falls (with style) off the edge of the mountain. And do you know what, it’s f-ing awesome and it’s called Speed Riding. When you are here in Morzine and if you can at least tackle a red run on skis, you have to give this a go. A couple of winters back HOFNAR guest Will Cheverton (aka ninja Will) gave it a go…
“Traipsing over to the Morzine bubble lift, the safety blanket of my ski poles has been replaced by the cumbersome harness and parachute that I am now strapped into. This is my first venture into the world of speed riding – an exhilarating combination of skiing and paragliding.
People that know me will tell you that I’m an extreme kind of guy; I turn the Quo up to 11 to rock out and I’ve seen Point Break twice. Despite these credentials, doing the initial research of watching ponytailed men throw themselves down the Eiger, skimming over the bone-shattering rocks, had left a knot in my stomach. On our ascent I look to my seasoned instructor for some comforting words. In broken English he explains that it’s perfectly safe as we would only be using the gentler slopes to start with. The biggest danger would be getting caught in the chair lift. He doesn’t know the word, so casually uses a hand gesture to imply me being strangled by my own para-foil lines instead.
On the slope, after a short briefing and with radio ear piece fitted it is suddenly my turn. A full throttle approach is needed to fill my wing and after a surprisingly short run the scrape of ski on snow is replaced by near silence and an effervescent feeling of buoyancy as I take in that I am now actually flying. The experience is short lived and I literally come back to earth with a bump, which is shortly followed by a tumble, but this matters not as I now have a taste which can only be satisfied by further flights.
A couple of goes later and I can now get the chute to actually take me where I want to go, all the time with my instructor shouting ‘left’ in my ear (I’m not sure he knew the word for right). For an extreme sport, the experience is surprisingly tranquil. The controls are instinctive and I am achieving 50m controlled jumps followed by the smooth landing that comes with skis touching down into the powdery snow. The Eiger may still some way off but when the rewards are this good those jagged rocks look like less of a hazard. Anyway, chicks dig scars – right?”
There are several companies in Morzine such as Aireole that will give you taster sessions for about 160euros. Ask your HOFNAR chalet host and they’ll book you in.