Unit members stood in 159 formation for aerial photograph159 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps conducted its annual Skiing expedition during January 2023. On Saturday 21st a total of 29 personnel embarked from Luton Airport heading to Flaine, France for what would prove to be a cold, at times challenging but all-round fantastic week of alpine skiing.

This year’s expedition broke down into four groups – covering SF1 (Ski Foundation 1) comprised of two groups of 6 beginners, an SF2 (Ski Foundation 2) group with seven members and a five strong SF2 qualified group on continuation training towards SF3. Together with a team of four instructors and the expedition Officer in Charge Captain Speak, the team from 159 arrived at the UCPA in Flaine on Saturday evening just in time for dinner and raring to go.

Day one saw both beginner groups using a nearby gentle green run to start working on the basics under the watchful eye of their instructors Corporal  Parker and Staff Sergeant Boiston. Meanwhile the other groups took straight to a few blue slopes higher up the mountain to find their ski legs. Conditions on day one was sunny with great visibility although very cold with temperatures dropping to below minus 10.

Already there were some legends in the making with Private Bradbury sealing his nickname ‘The Red Baron’ as he features in one of the best wipe-out images of the week with his instructor Staff Sergeant Boiston in the foreground unable to look! Undeterred, by mid-week both SF1 groups had graduated higher up the mountain to some more difficult blue runs and even the occasional red.

Progression up the mountain clearly came with some risk and not to be outdone by the antics of the Red Baron, Staff Sergeant Scrimshaw decided to hurl himself off the side of a piste into what can only be described as a 6ft deep snow hole! This was really putting the ‘adventurous’ into training and once the laughter had abated and it was clear no harm was done – the team cracked on with their day – safe in the knowledge it would have to be something pretty spectacular to top this!

Aerial view of unit members skiingWhile both SF1 groups were getting to grips with the joys of skiing, the two experienced groups were busy honing their skills on a variety of different runs across the resort, including the chance to practice some off-piste skiing and to experience the scenic ‘James Bond’ run which winds through the forests near the base of the nearby Aup De Veran gondola.

As the week wore on, the weather simply got better and better with temperatures warming to around freezing and glorious sunshine persisting throughout. On day five the SF2 group had the opportunity to experience ski touring and to practice some basic avalanche drills using the relevant equipment.

During the afternoon of day five the whole expedition met at the top of Les Grandes Platieres for the obligatory group photo with Mont Blanc in the background. The group then skied together in human slalom formation – snaking its way along a few of the nearby slopes as a moving slalom course before splitting down into separate groups. This was a great opportunity to mix things up and allowed the novices to ski alongside the more experienced skiers for the first time and showcase their newly honed skills.

On the last day of the Expedition everybody was given the freedom of the mountain to form separate groups and ski independently of their instructors. This was a great chance for the newly qualified to experience the fun of trying to use a piste map to navigate their way around the resort. Combined with a deterioration in the weather to near whiteout conditions – it was testament to the training delivered that nobody got lost or separated! The final evening in Flaine saw the team gathered for their evening meal at the UCPA where several prizes were awarded together with a few toasts and speeches etc. All in all it had been a very productive week resulting in 12 newly qualified skiers, seven personnel attaining the SF2 standard and five more gaining invaluable experience towards SF3. Finally everybody arrived home on Saturday 28th January tired but re-enthused after a truly fantastic week’s training.

Group photograph at Les Grand Platieres


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Published 10/02/2023