The obvious answer is the scenery. I'm lucky enough to have skiied down the Col du Tourmalet, in Bulgaria and in the last few years the Italian Alps. All are stunning and I'm always taken aback by the beauty of mountains when covered in snow but I don't need to pay a small fortune to sit in a chair dangling over a void so I can slide down a steep slope, risking injury or worse, a photograph of me looking rubbish, so that can't be it.
Then there's the Apres Ski. Now I'm sure tales are still being told in Borovets of my awesome karaoke skills. Never before has a singer so effortlessly produced a medley of Whitesnake's Is This Love and S Club 7's Reach before and probably never will again, but I'm 41 and the sheer expense of things in the Alps knocks this theory on the head.
Anyway this year we set off for Sauze D'Oulx on our annual trip and I felt my usual nervousness. What if I hurt myself? Will this new resort be too difficult for me? What will the snow be like?
The snow forecast were pretty dire. El Nino has produced much too warm weather this year over Europe this year and the Alpine resorts are suffering. Talking to some locals I was told that on Christmas Day the temperature in Sauze D'Oulx had been a staggering 25 degrees Celsius! Winding up the road to the resort the lack of snow was evident. Although this was tempered somewhat by my salivating over the thought of bringing my road bike here and riding up this hill.
We were staying at the Hotel Edelweiss and had been looking forward to the Ski in Ski out potential that the Hotel's location offered. Sadly the warm weather put paid to this and a walk in Ski boot to either the lift or the shuttle bus was the choice. The Hotel can't be blamed for this but I do have to note a few issues. The Hotel has a drink now pay later system which could lead to unexpectedly high bills or as one of our party discovered, drinks appearing on the bill that weren't ordered. At breakfast on the first morning I was horrified to discover a coffee machine. In Italy I want proper Espresso not a dispenser! The food could best be described as inconsistent (If I'm promised a Raspberry Cheesecake I do not expect a Digestive with squirty cream and a strawberry) and whilst the staff were enthusiastic and friendly they were inexperienced and the little things you expect in a hotel especially a relatively expensive one weren't there. Things like glasses for a drink of water or closing the balcony door after cleaning the room.
The town of Sauze D'Oulx itself is a typical alpine mix of resort hotels and rowdy bars with old town buildings and proper coffee shops. Walking around and dodging out of the way of Italian drivers was a pleasant enough experience but the thought occurred to me that soaking up culture isn't the reason I go on these trips. I've been skiing in Bulgaria three times but I can't honestly say I've been to Bulgaria, at least not in the way I've "been" to Estonia or Croatia or Hungary.
So why do I ski? Well this year conditions were awful. Sauze did its best and shifted snow around where it could to keep as many runs open as possible but still there were bare slopes and mud patches. A day across the border at the French resort of Montegenevre produced a better days skiing with improved conditions and I managed to face plant in powder, scratching my new goggles. Sounds awful? No way, it was brilliant. Why Ski? Because it's fun. It gives you a buzz. Sitting around in the evening over a beer comparing stories of crashes, dodgy moments or the bloke dressed as Thor (including hammer) is positively life affirming and as for the posing, well I think I managed that last year!