Page 57 - The Chapka 2016
P. 57

   Stash or Glory Disaster imminent
Exercise HAUTE LANCER – Lancers in the snow
Each year the Regiment departs to the grand slalom slopes of Verbier to pit its skills against those other Cavalry regi- ments, testing one’s bravery on the formidable slopes of the Grand Slalom. However, this year, we thought we might put in a little pre-selection prior to the following year’s exercise. Exer- cise HAUTE LANCER, despite its name, was not a visit to the Haute Route of fame, but rather to the less well known Stubai Glacier close to Innsbruck. Having left in late March there was some consternation as to the presence of snow, but the resort lies upon a glacier and has excellent all year snow, boasting the famous 10km run named the ‘Wild n’ Grub’ – or ‘The Wild Pit’.
It was here, on our second day on the snow, that our good in- structor, Major Fisher, took us down the Wild Pit in a white out that belied the steepness of some of the more ‘Pit’ parts of the run. This was for the benefit of the first timers, he claimed, as Trooper Starkey’s skis were last seen descending a good 500me- tres in front of him and Trooper Cheetham-Pasquier complet- ed the rest of the section on his backside – not by design. But, Major Fisher had a point; later, the team - undaunted by the blizzard - once again attempted the ‘WildnGruppe’ (it went by a few names) the next day in the burning sunlight, and, Trooper Merton, having thought he was now the master of the slopes, was lapped by a woman with one leg. There was work to be done.
So, with a quick lesson delivered through the means of film (Ed- die the Eagle) and having last seen Captain Purbrick following some people under a sign of ‘Caution: Crevasses’ and the ‘Ad- vanced’ group (a term that must be used most sparingly) having
challenged a group of AGC troops to a race, Major Fisher de- cided that the beginners group should be developed. In true sink or swim style, this was duly carried out on two-metre deep pow- der on the back of the ‘Fernnauferner’ (or ‘Hell Runner’). The dream of bouncing through puffy clouds of powder whooping with delight was firmly quashed as Troopers Toyne and Black- burn were seen splayed across the mountain digging for various items of ski paraphernalia buried deep in drifts.
By day three the team were all getting there. This is of course the most dangerous stage when people begin to think they have mastered it. Hence, whilst on another part of the mountain, I was rung by Major Fisher and told, “I think you better come to the shop, there is something you should see.” I immediately imagined the worst. Already I was drafting my apology to the Commanding Officer (“Well Colonel, admittedly the ski school was in Trooper Potter’s way...”). I arrived at the hire shop to find Trooper Potter’s skis, not one, but both were broken, and in two separate places. As Franz, the ski shop manager said, in 40 years of skiing he had never seen this before: the cause of the acci- dent? “Well I just skied into some snow; and they snapped, Sir.”
Thanks to the Regimental Association for the support and to Major Fisher for organizing the instruction. Ski Foundation One was awarded to all participants, which will enable them to eventually attend their Ski Instructor award. And perhaps by then the full story of the broken skis may come out, along with a place on the Regimental downhill team...

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