Summer adventures in the Alps for Kentish Paralympian
We catch up with James Barnes Miller, 29, from Broadstairs – who was part of Great Britain’s first-ever Paralympic Snowboard team where he competed for ParalympicsGB at last year’s winter games in PyeongChang, South Korea – as he takes a well-earned rest in the Alps…
Today, with his sights set on competing at the next winter games in Beijing 2022, James is training hard on and off snow to improve on his seventh and 10th placed finishes in the snowboard cross and banked slalom events respectively. But with winter training starting as early as July and the season finishing in April, James has few precious weeks in the year when he has time to relax and unwind. We caught up with James following a week in the Alps with his girlfriend Aoife, as he writes an exclusive travel feature for INDEX about how a winter paralympian spends summer.
Training never really stops, whether it’s in the gym or on the slopes – it’s constant throughout the year and not too often do you get time to switch off from the sport and relax. With spending so much time in the mountains during winter over the years, I’d never really been during the summertime, and it had been something I’d always wanted to do. So after a long hard season my girlfriend and I hopped on a short flight from London to Geneva, with Morzine in the French Alps as our final destination.
Our home for the week was Chilly Powder, nestled in the heart of the Portes du Soleil, the family-owned chalet business operated by British couple, Paul and Francesca Eyre, with Paul also being originally from Bromley in Kent. After meeting his wife Francesca in Morzine 20 years ago, they have created a chalet business with everything you could possibly want from an alpine holiday. From individually themed bedrooms and ski memorabilia decorating the chalet, to a mezzanine library with pool table and outdoor yurt for massage treatments, everything about Chilly Powder makes you feel right at home.
After a hearty breakfast on our first morning, we took a trip to the stunning Lac de Montriond, walking around the lake, surrounded by jaw-dropping mountain faces. From there we took a short drive up to Les Lindarets, otherwise known as “the goat village” – quite literally a village filled with goats! Whilst there’s little to no snow in the summer, a number of the chairlifts are still open, which is perfect for quick access to mountain peaks for great hiking access and beautiful panoramic views as far as the eye can see.
The next day we hiked a circuit from Chilly Powder to Avoriaz to Morzinette and back, which took us around five hours in the beaming sunshine. My girlfriend Aoife counted 23,000 steps – so it was a good old hike! When we returned it was BBQ night on the patio terrace at Chilly Powder – which we’d definitely earned! There were untold amounts of meat – a real feast and so tasty, as were all the meals during our stay.
During our trip, we made friends with some of the families also staying at Chilly Powder and headed off on a zip wiring adventure together to Plage de la Beunaz. What an amazing day. You could zip right down into the water – where we hired paddle boards and kayaks too. It was like being in a natural water park – and a great way to cool off from the summer heat.
White-water rafting! The location was just over half an hour away from Chilly Powder, where we went with A7 Adventures. We got soaked of course but smiled and laughed all morning. If you haven’t tried rafting, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. We took it down a notch in the afternoon and went down to Evian for the rest of the day, which was a beautiful town to walk around and explore.
After all our adventures, on our final day, we decided to really pamper ourselves, with Aoife having an aromatherapy treatment and I had a deep tissue massage by the in-house masseuse at Chilly Powder. Then we relaxed in the hot tub before another incredible evening meal.
With no rest for the wicked, we caught an early morning flight the next day to Gatwick before I headed straight back out to train in the indoor centre in Landgraaf, Holland. The week away was just what the doctor ordered. The staff at Chilly Powder couldn’t have been more helpful and it’s so easy to understand why so many guests return year after year in both summer and winter. Paul and Francesca have created something very special at Chilly Powder.
Chilly Powder operates all year round offering active summer holidays for individuals, groups and families looking to experience the stunning natural scenery and beautiful mountains of the Portes du Soleil region.
- Summer prices start from £575 per week based on two adults sharing a standard bedroom or £1,575 per week for two adults and two children sharing a standard family bedroom. Prices are based on a half board basis with wine included in the evening meals with B&B or self-catered options also available.
- The chalet also run a winter programme and is available for weddings and events.
- For more information, email email@example.com, call 020 7289 6958 or visit chillypowder.com