Condor moment…and ash…

Condor moment…and ash….

Whilst out with my Level 2 here, Matt, Nick, Jess, Lucy, Katie, Tom, Luke, Hal, Graham and George.

Today the weather was fantastic with some amazing views over the Andes. We are lucky with the clear skies to see the Volcano in the distance still spewing the ash into the sky.

As we were going through our BASI Central Theme( This must be Tuesday!) we had a visit from a group of Condors. Swirling round the radio tower and teasing us for a photo! Shooting into the sun means less contrast but with some magnification here you can see the size of these birds. 2 settled on the rock near the ski slope, so, tomorrow, if they are there, we will be paying them a closer visit and hopefully get some good shots of them basking in the warm sunshine. It was very impressive today to see a snowboarder ride close by to one as the bird took off…it’s wing span was clearly at least twice the size of the snowboarder who was only about 6 feet away from him! These birds are truly gigantic!


What a great interlude whilst demonstrating the skiing central theme….


Welcome visitor to the new World Class Skiing web site!

We are very excited about our new site. With the new video review pages and lots of other exciting things it is looking good for 2012 and beyond!

We are now seeking to develop an ‘online store’ for you, with the every day ski essentials and new innovations.

So, thank you for visiting and if you have not, as yet, subscribed, then do so below for news and exciting new posts about our travels.

Thanks for reading, Regards, Alex and the World Class Team!

Plastic fantastic, Kite surfing, and a missing bottle of red…

Plastic fantastic, Kite surfing,   and a missing bottle of red..

Yesterday, September 10th, was a beautiful day. Sun and clear skies. As seen here by the beach hut picture. Today however is another story..It’s been raining since 3am heavily. As there is no skiing today, the accommodation is full of quiet gappies reading, downloading youtube videos and generally a bit bored


Another bus ride into the town again yesterday, again the bus full of loud chatty kids and teenagers on their way to the metropolis!  A short walk to the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi  I spy a chap  kite surfing, now, in Patagonia that’s wild! He was screaming back and forth on a blustery, cold day on the lake. It’s impressive with the Andes as a backdrop. Shame about the homeless plastic bottles and stuff. Poor plastic doll, her one arm seems to be asking for one answers.

The Cathedral in Baliloche is impressive, a grand building overlooking the Nahuel Huapi Lake. I could not get in, the door was locked, however I did spy a chap snoozing on the steps, and I wondered for a moment, was he waiting for God or just taking a morning nap? Needless to say, I thought better not to ask. You’ll see him on my flickr photos, (opposite) click on and browse the shots.


Interesting meal last night. We were advised by the local staff here at  El Retorno that the place for exceptional steaks at the best price was at LA FONDA DEL TIO restaurant. With its formica top tables and tomato ketchup it was not a tourist venue!. We were served with 4 enormous steaks which were so tasty. We worked out that you would probably pay more for the steak on its own in your local supermarket than we paid for the whole meal!  60 Pecos…that’s about £8.75.  Me Duncan, Lee and Simon enjoyed the big juicy steaks..yet again.

What was missing from the meal however was a bottle of Red…….We happened to pick the night that Bariloche has a night of NO ALCOHOL to be served, or sold in public places. From 8pm Saturday to 8pm Sunday, they refuse any alcoholic drinks to be served what so ever. It is to remember 4 people who were killed in a tragic road accident several years ago in the area; the accident was caused by drinking and driving. I think this is an amazing ‘community’ response to 4 –could be avoided-  deaths which certainly makes you think about the excesses of drinking. I wonder if this could be done in the UK?…  People here abide by the rules and the absence of alcohol for the day is accepted by all, no complaints.

Theres no doubt that all countries have drinking problems, but some seem to be more aware and prepared to do something positive about it.  So, water sin gaz, and coke were our drinks. That, certainly made us all think.

We returned home..sober..and had an early night, and my thoughts were of the accident victims and what a shame about the plastic… .

A windy ridge..a taxi driver and nothing forever..

Half Way through the gap course in Argentina.

Today we have reached our half way stage on the BASI gap course with Peak Leaders.  All the students passed their level 1 last week and are now about to embark on the level 2. A week end off and some rest will get the troops ready!

Seen here are all the skiers, and inset pic my guys from last week, Callum, Grega, Doug, Ben, Ross, Sam, Ed, Alex, Tom & James. great bunch of enthusiastic skiers.

What a great job I have, aged 53, skiing in the Andes with some wonderful happy people, sometimes I have to pinch myself..!

We have had some varied weather conditions over the past two weeks and today was a very wet and windy one! This does not ‘dampen’ (excuse the pun!) our sprits for ensuring the students get the best from us. Take a look at the video and see firsthand the high winds on Condor 2 lift! today. This is completely opposite to the weather I experienced last September. Just scroll back to the blog last year September 2010 and see for yourself.


The Lift Company here do their best and the lift guys are always friendly and helpful, especially Cecilia, on the t bar, probably the prettiest T bar operator in the southern hemisphere!! I’m trying hard for my guys in the group to at least ask her out! It has only taken them 4 weeks to pluck up the courage! (I’ll ask her for a photo and post it later!)

It has been very hard for the businesses of Bariloche and the Cerro Catedral this winter, the Volcano and now the weather. I took the local bus ride into town yesterday, only 3 Pecos….44pence! It takes about 45 mins, however, it was school out time and the bus seemed to stop every 200 yards! Full of local mums, dads, kids and teenagers going somewhere, noisy, and bustling with activity. I was worn out by the time I got into town! So I decided to get a taxi home, infact a remiss, they are generally cheaper than taxis in that they only charge you for one way. Talking to the driver yesterday evening on my way back, he was a very gentle chap, you can tell that he is so proud of his home town here and the amazing countryside around about. Fishing is his sport and his gentle philosophy of ‘feeling the senses’ when he catches a 8 kilo trout and the special feeling he gets when he releases it back to nature. He is teaching his 4 year old son the gentle side of life and the art of good fishing, he said that he hoped his son will understand and grow up to appreciate all he has around here. He says that life has many changes, the volcano has changed everything locally and nothing in the world is ‘forever’ it is like a book with different chapters he says, all we need to do is be able to read them correctly… …What a great chap, a true philosopher…we might say..salt of the earth, and he drives his taxi every day in a stunning location…he knows it too.

Should have got a picture…Might meet him again one day.

Volcano dust and effects on the skiing

Ash haze over Cero Catedral and San Carlos de Bariloche

It’s still here, the ash that is. The eruption of the Puyehue-Cordón-Caulle  volcano is still causing disruption in Argentina.

The eruption on June 5th caused havoc and is still effecting air traffic here in Argentina and as far afield as Australia and New Zealand.  As over 48% of their revenue comes from tourism, Bariloche and the surrounding ski areas are badly affected.  Where many shops at the ski station were open and thriving last year, this year you see them boarded up. It is difficult for many to get here due to the closed airports. The ash is still being thrown out and is hanging in the air most days. If we are lucky enough to get a westerly breeze then the haze will move away….over to Chile. Not good  for the neighbours over the other side of the Andes though.


It is strange to think that we are carrying out a BASI gap course under the shadow of this huge natural phenomenon! Millions of tons of ash must have been blown high into the atmosphere to cover such a large area. The Volcano is 90 kilometres away, not far when you think that it is affecting New Zealand!

Take a look at these links to see the scale of the eruption.

Makes for an interesting BASI course though!

Back to Argentina 2011

BUENOS AIRES Sunday 28th August 2011

Here I am again, did not think I would be back here within a year but here I am! Working on a BASI gap course with Peak Leaders. Along with my fellow travellers and trainers, Lee Townend and Duncan Adamson.

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Seems like getting here is always an adventure. To cut a long story short, our original flights would have taken us to Brazil then onward to Buenos Aires with a connection flight to Bariloche. Needless to say, this original booking was cancelled leaving the team to find alternative flights within 48 hours. We did it with BA! good flight and comfortable. The transfer flight to Bariloche however was another story….The flight was cancelled and re scheduled for the evening to Neuquén which is  a 6 hour bus ride from Bariloche! So, total travel time..37 hours…Seems to be the average time to get here!

To add insult, A local Volcano has erupted, infact it erupted in June and keeps spewing ash into the atmosphere, the ground here is covered in this sandy substance and gets into everything. This has had a major effect on the tourist industry here. With many flights being either cancelled or lengthy diversions from Buenos Aires leading to fewer skiers willing to travel here. The snow is not as good as normal with the volcanic ash interfering with the precipitation, more rain than snow has been falling apparently.

This looks like it is going to be quite a challenging month here with the BASI courses to get through and limited time to do it.

I’ll keep you posted!

Rio Platte Buenos Aires..

Come and join us! Hemel Hempstead snow centre 25th June

Come and join us! Hemel Hempstead snow centre 25th June 2011
Alex Leaf WCS New Gen


Come and join us on 25th June, at the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, where  and  will be hosting  a Summer Snowsports Camp!   This one day opportunity will run from 12pm – 5pm and include coaching sessions from our team of BASI trainers and Level 4 instructors .  Round off the season by reviewing your snowsports performance  and exchanging skills and experience with like-minded people.   Top this off with some serious socialising with a buffet thrown in!

This is World Class Skiing’s 20th year, and we are in the mood for celebrating!  Following this event  we will be partying in October with a special  week scheduled for our Showcase in the autumn. So, with this in mind, our event at Hemel on the 25th will feature a draw for 2 free course places for the 22nd October Autumn Showcase, along with some fun giveaways!

A top snowboard trainer (BASI performance development) will be joining us for the day, provided there is  a minimum booking of 3 snowboarders .

Following the snow time there is every possibility of carrying on the party in a local watering hole!

Price for the event is £90.00, which includes slope time, coaching fee and buffet.

To book please contact the

The Snow Centre
St Albans Hill, Hemel Hempstead,
Herts, HP3 9NH 0845 258 9000

and RSVP to World Class Skiing on our email …………………Enjoy!

Regards, Alex (World Class Skiing) & Pete (Alpine Coaching)



Demolishing the old!

From a single chair in the 1980’s early 90’s Hintertux now has a new 10 man gondola to be installed.

Major work is now being carried out demolishing the old chair lift and concrete platform to make way for the new lift.

Work starts soon and the new lift is expected to be fully operational by November 2011. It appears that it will make the easy slopes of the centre of the glacier more accessible for intermediate skiers, rather than having to go to the summit and negotiate the steep section from the top station!

More news as the project is created!

(photos taken with HTC Desire mobile phone)

BASI training Hintertux May 2011

Quite a gap since my last blog, been a wee bit busy!

Well here we are again! The British Association of Snowsport Instructors.  May courses 2011.

Hintertux provides an ideal venue for our ski teacher courses. The glacier is in superb condition at the moment with fresh snow and even the odd area of un touched off piste…if you dare venture into glaciated terrain. Not recommended without a guide however. With over 350 attending various ski, snowboard, adaptive and Telemark courses, it is the busiest time for BASI.

This is the end of my first week of three, two weeks of an Alpine level 2 followed by a week of the level three teaching module. Seen here are the three groups taking the level 2 courses with trainers, Shona Tate, Lee Townend, Ruth Mosley and myself.   All the candidates are working hard to improve their performance for the final week of more teaching episodes and personal performance sessions with the results day on Friday!

With such varied terrain we have the ideal opportunity to ensure that all candidates have ample time to ski to their best in these great conditions.

Good time too for World Class Skiing to survey the area ready for our 20th birthday in October this year. On that note, bookings are coming in already and it is shaping up to be a GREAT few weeks!

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back soon!

Skiing in a white out

Skiing in WHITE OUT and FLAT LIGHT conditions.

skiing in flat light

This is the dampener on any skiers day….when you cannot see far in front of you, when you can hardly make out the terrain just 2 metres ahead. You feel sick, you feel disorientated, you think you have stopped and then just fall over because you are still moving! This is when the cloud is so low that you cannot distinguish between sky and ground.

To cope with these conditions there are several pointers which will help you through the fog.

  • Ski much slower than normal….safety is paramount
  • If you are in an area which has very few markers, look for the edge of the piste and follow the piste markers from one to the other.
  • Always try to get into the lower areas where there may be some tree line skiing. The shadow of the trees gives more relief to the features on the snow and helps in your navigation.
  • Technique wise, ski in a wide stance, say, feet slightly wider than ‘hip width’ apart and slightly lower than you normally would.
  • Keep your posture balanced by ensuring your hands are kept out in front of you. Use rotary movements to keep the speed down and make sure you finish your turns off, i.e. skiing across they fall line and NOT just skiing from edge to edge. AVOID carving turns as this will take you too fast and into danger very quickly. Look ahead at all times and start to FEEL you skis underneath your feet.
  • Flat light and white outs require all your senses, Sounds, (Auditory) Vision (Visual) Feeling (Kinaesthetic)
  • A well balanced, centred skier will always win the day…

Whatever the weather….enjoy your skiing, a day on the mountain is better than a day in the office!


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