Five members of 104 Regiment RA embarked on what was surely to be a memorable 2nd Exercise Snow Storm for the Regiment. The trip got off to a slow start and nearly never materialised as WO2 Church failed to first parade his vehicle when collecting snowboards from 103 Regt RA in Bolton, subsequently suffering a blowout on a very busy M6.
With the van finally packed and the essentials purchased from a local supermarket we finally departed the lovely Newport. The sat-nav suggests a time was 16 hours to reach our destination (Altenmarkt im Pongau). With the help of some fine tunes and lots of enthusiasm we were optimistic we could make it there in good time, even with trimbl!
After a long arduous journey, we finally arrived at our destination. We were greeted by the lovely Geisla and her dog Sammy, who would be accommodating us for the next 2 weeks.
We had the Saturday to acclimatise and relax before we began the 2-week Snow Storm Exercise, which saw the team take in the local sights, which consisted of cafes and sport shops.
Day one, the team woke up at the crack of dawn buoyant and aroused by the thought of the day’s proceedings, we arrived at Flauchauwinkl astonishingly early from the excitement. After the welcome and introductory briefs had been completed, the team of 104 Regiment RA were split into a novice group (Gnr Marsh & LBdr Patrick) and an open riders group (LBdr Pritchard, WO2 Church & Capt Sprigge). Novices spent the next 2 days learning the basics whilst the open riders went straight up the mountain to further enhance their skills. After many bumps and bruises, the novice group were deemed to be at a satisfactory level to go up the mountain on day 2 and over the next week or so both groups were pushing their boundaries and comfort zones. We made our way further up the slopes, hitting harder runs, going to different resorts and taking whatever advice we could from the quality and extremely patient Civilian and Military instructors.
During the week, it was learnt that within our ranks was a ‘Master Chef’, none other than our very own, Adjutant, Captain Sprigge! Whilst LBdr Patrick was keeping a tight hold of the CILOR purse strings it was up to Captain Sprigge and the team to muster up meals between them. It can be safely said, that the team were well nourished throughout the duration of the exercise.
The second week saw both groups consolidating their skills and beginning to practice for the competition. Both groups were individually seeded following 2 attempts of a challenging slalom course, all members of 104 Regiment RA team can hold their heads high with their individual seeding’s, with the standout performance coming from WO2 Church.
The competition itself consisted of Slalom, Slope Style (the novice jumps slightly easier and less daring than the open) and the adrenaline filled Boarder Cross, all of which we had proficient practice in. With the exception of Gnr Marsh, who on one attempt of the border cross managed to knock himself out. Eventually, Gnr Marsh gained consciousness whilst murmuring the words “where am I?”.