For them, a shopping night means chatting about different kinds of helmets. Seriously, it says so in the itinerary.

There are about 20 girls on the trip and we meet at Rudechalet’s flagship pad, Christophe in Morzine. Set in the base of the valley, the town is made up of wooden chalets with snow-covered roofs. Overlooking us from the top of the mountains is Avoriaz, a smaller village that attracts a predominately French crowd (Morzine has more Brits).

Chalet Christophe, I’m happy to see, is decked out with all the mod cons — Playstations, DVD players, iPod docks and ensuite bathrooms. And the best news: the wine is free.

The second best news is that the group is made up of mixed abilities. While some have a few weeks’ experience under their belts there are others like me who are absolute beginners. One South African girl has never seen snow before.

The first morning we awaken to the sound of large blasts. I later learn the explosions are part of avalanche control — triggering avalanches so they don’t happen willy-nilly. I don’t have much time to dwell on this before my mind is taken up with learning a new language: off piste, goofy, snatch (see right).

There’s a slight drizzle, and I wonder if slushy snow gives you a softer landing. I’ve got enough layers on to rival the Michelin Man. Maybe if I fall over I’ll bounce back up again? I don’t.

We’re on the baby slopes and at first glance it looks flat, but once my foot is strapped to the board I become aware of every dip and groove. We fall over a lot, but manage to giggle about it as we right ourselves and trudge back up the slope to attempt it again.

The next challenge is getting up the mountain. Riding a T-bar with a snowboard is almost impossible for a beginner. I fall off, start again and hold on for dear life on the second attempt.
When I get to the top I consider sliding down the whole hill on my bottom, ignoring the board.

Eventually I manage to stand up, and promptly fall over. I stand up again, try to remember the instructions: look the way you want to go (seems kind of obvious, huh?), stick your bum out, stand up straight. I get the hang of it and glide to one side of the mountain, only to fall over again. At the end of our first two-hour lesson, I trudge back to the chalet and collapse on the couch.

The next morning the sky is blue and intense sunlight is bouncing off the mountains. All the girls, including myself, are raring to hit the slopes.

While the more advanced boarders head off to hit the black runs and try out some jumps, my group heads back to the nursery slopes. I’m determined to get better and, as we learn how to board on our front edge (facing the mountain), I manage to get to the bottom of the slope before falling backwards and smacking both my bum and head. So this is why everyone is wearing bum protection and helmets.

My bruises are soothed over lunchtime when I hear stories of other spectacular tumbles from the girls. But the next morning the aches and pains are back in force. I feel like I’ve gone a few rounds with Ricky Hatton. To top it off, just as we’re beginning to master getting down the slope without falling over (until the end), it’s time to try and learn how to turn. Cue tumbling down the hill again.

I cap the day off with a well-deserved full-body massage, which relaxes the muscles and leaves me feeling very Zen. Back to the chalet for more wine and a session in the outdoor hot tub and it’s starting to feel like the holiday I’d imagined.

Our final day comes and my group is still perfecting turns on our snowboards. This requires us to go straight down the mountain on our boards, but as soon as I pick up speed I freak out, and fall on my arse.

As I’m lying flat on the mountain after smashing my head yet again, a group of four-year-olds scoots effortlessly past me on skis.

I thought I’d be carving up the slopes by the end of the week. Instead it seems snowboarding is a lot harder than it looks. Despite this, it’s been lots of fun. After all, there’s no better healer than a laugh with the girls, accompanied by a large glass of red wine.

» Erin Miller went on a Rudegirls Snowboard Week with Rudechalets (0870-068 7030; Prices start from £659 including half-board accommodation, airport transfers, lift pass, tuition and snowboard hire (no flights).

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