Three Cambridge students enjoying the Varsity Ski TripJoe Helm with permission for Varsity

“I used to be a Varsity ski Trip rep,” confessed one student outside of the ARC cafe. “Forgive me for my sins.”

Val Thorens, France – skiing all day, partying all night. With the Varsity Trip booking day coming up this Thursday (20/10), Varsity got an inside scoop from the committee and other students who have ventured out to the Alps.

Often considered to be as essential to the Cambridge experience as May Balls, both events have faced criticism for being inaccessible. Simply put by one student: “excessive, inaccessible, fun – but at what cost? [...] I could have gone on a fun holiday with the people I liked – without ski boys.”

I probed this student further: what are ski boys? “Rugby boys but they get on skis.”

While one student called the Trip “pretentious and exclusionary”, a committee member begged to differ, claiming: “One of our key priorities is making the Trip as affordable as possible.”

Another committee member shared her experience, saying: “I thought £500 is a lot, but then I searched up alternatives and they were triple the cost.” Representatives of the Trip have stated: “You will struggle to find ski trips that offer the same scale of events and services for the price we offer.”

Upon offering this perspective to some students they exclaimed: “It is not affordable! Who has £500?”

A third year shared her life hack for reducing the costs of the Trip after she missed out on getting tickets last year: “I just booked an Airbnb for the same week and did all the activities through buying them on Ticketbridge.” Her advice to people? “Do Varsity privately in the same week.”

With the cost of lessons, clothing and ski equipment, one student remarked: “They advertise it as affordable but it’s not once all the things start to add up.” The committee advised to “try to borrow clothes, rent them or buy them cheap secondhand.”

The committee were keen to debunk any issues of inaccessibility. “One of my biggest worries is that I would go, not like skiing and then be stuck there for a week without having anything to do,” but she was pleasantly surprised to find that “there were plenty of other things to do” including club nights, “student bingo” and “mountain yoga and art”.

“It’s accessible to me,” said one frequent skier. “It’s not a big deal to me because I know how to ski.” Recognising that this may not be the case for everyone, they concluded: “Skiing in general is not affordable.”

One particularly passionate second year said that the Varsity Trip is “arguably a keystone in the Oxbridge experience” and thought it to further “alienate the students that cannot afford to go”.

A committee member from a “background where skiing isn’t accessible” argued that “with student loan and bursary money, it’s such a cheap ski trip – I thought: why not try?”

Yet, the same committee member said: “There was new terminology I hadn’t heard before, so I didn’t know where the meeting point was.” However, she found it eventually by following “a massive group of people wearing red jackets”.

One committee member found that her experience of being a first-time skier helped her to bond with other students: “We went down the difficult slopes together.” Apparently “a third of guests are complete beginners”, so you won’t be alone.

However, another found it to be a “problem learning to ski when all your friends know how to”, finding it made her “confidence much lower”. She did however find it useful when the lessons taught her how to “walk sideways down a slope if you got stuck somewhere that was too steep”.

But not all first-time skiers have this experience. A student fitting the stereotypical mould of person the Trip often attracts revealed that he “didn’t know how to ski already” and went to the beginner lessons, praising the Trip as the “greatest week ever”.

Referencing the spiking incidents that happened in the previous year, one student deemed the Trip to be an “inherently patriarchal construct”.

“I know a girl who was injected last year on Varsity”, she went on. “I don’t really want that to happen to me.”


Mountain View

Varsity Trip sells out in half an hour

In response, the committee has said they are taking extra measures this year by not holding events at Malaysia nightclub and using their own bouncers at their other venues, as well as providing “welfare rooms at all major evening events”.

The rush last year to get tickets was reminiscent of The Hunger Games – with those with money able to bypass the stressful rush, paying up to £2000 for a £400 ticket on Ticketbridge.

The committee advises prospective Trip-goers to “carry out basic checks to ensure that they are buying from an actual student and not a scammer”. However, they say that they would be “unable to regulate what people buy and sell their tickets for in secondary markets”.

“The trip is no ordinary ski trip,” concluded the committee. With the “ski boys”, the club nights and a much anticipated Tinie Tempah cameo, it sure isn’t. But we’ll leave it up to you to decide whether to take on the slopes for the iconic event’s 100th anniversary.