Whistler part 2
First day back in Whistler, I got up early to get up the mountain as soon as possible.
For the people that did not check my Facebook status in my first week on the mountain. It was about me being in love with Whistler. There is so much snow that it is just unbelievable. You don’t need to look hard to find fresh powder. Off course this is what makes Whistler famous. It snows a lot and it is really rare to see the sun. The first two weeks on the skies it was snowing almost every day. It varies from 10, 20 or 50cm a day. On days after a big dump of snow the locals stop working and get up with the first lifts to make the fresh tracks. This is called Pow day. Since you have a lot of these Pow days so you can imagine people don’t work that much around here. It took me a while to realise by the way what they were talking about with pow days, but now I know and will never forget.
Not only was the snow great but I also reunited with some great friends from Banff. It seems I was not the only one that wanted to see a few ski resorts. Julie was already in Whistler a week before I arrived and Tim Wakeling arrived a bit later. Unfortunately they are both snowboarders and a bit slow, but great to have around on the mountain. Only joking guys. I don’t mind your snowboarding :-)
On my second day on the mountain, I met an English ski guide from the ski club of Great Britain. We skied the rest of the day together; he was there to explore the mountain to see where he could ski with his guests later that week. I got invited to come back and join him with some of his members another day.
The next day I started my ski improvement course. So the ski club was put on hold for a few days.
On the first day of the course we had to show off how good we could ski and we were put into groups according to our ski level. Since I just had my 4 weeks in Banff under my belt I was already warmed up and was coming down the mountain pretty nice.
Our teacher/guide Dave is a level 4 ski teacher similar to a ski Fuhrer in Austria, which is defined as a pretty good skier that can make some nice turns. Just to clarify for the non skiers. This is the highest level you can achieve when it comes to skiing. If you ski from when you are a young kid you might be able to make it to this level. (On this note I would like to congratulate FX with getting his Level 3 this season)
I was with 6 other men in the group who were all pretty good skiers. I had a great time skiing with the group and we did some nice runs. Despite that we had a fast group and the standard was high, I was hoping for a bit more extreme skiing. I might have picked up some tips here and there but unfortunately, I was not really put out of my comfort zone to learn a lot of new things. This is probably because I had already skied in Banff for four weeks before I started the course. Most of the guys in the group just had their first or second week of skiing. It always takes a bit of time to get your muscles into shape to be skiing all day, so I see that as their excuse. But all together it was nice to meet this great group of people and ski with them. I had a good time.
The weekend after my course I got in contact with Toby from the British ski club again to set some fresh tracks. With three other skiers we had a great time in the fresh powder. We walked up the flute. This is a 20 min walk. It’s a bit of an effort but you get rewarded with fresh soft untouched powder where you leave your beautiful tracks behind. These are the moments where you bounce in the soft fluffy snow and wish it would never end. But unfortunately it does...
The next few times I joined the British ski club for a day of skiing I was asked to lead the advanced group. This was of course an honour but also lots of fun. Taking people to the edge of their limits and finding the balance between fun and fear. No, just joking I was not that extreme with them...
Looking at the amount of beer they bought me at the end of the day I can only assume that they had a great day on the mountain.
In Whistler I was skiing most days by myself. This was pretty good in a way since I could ski my own tempo but it did stop me from making some adventure tours. I am sure that my family is glad, that I stuck to the inbound ski areas most of the time.
I was really happy though that Tim and Julie were here and joined me a few times on the mountain. Tim was only there for a few weeks but we had a lot of fun together. Not only on the mountain but also tasting the beers. We had to compare of course the different tastes between the beers in Banff with the ones in Whistler even if it was the same brand, it was hard work... One day Julie, Tim and one more snowboarder who’s name I forgot, but let’s call him Jo for now, went out onto the mountain. Whistler had a big dump of snow the night before and so we went to Symphony bowl to ski some powder. We started in the morning and made some great runs. The snowboarders got stuck and had to walk from time to time. The snow was so thick and there was too much fresh snow to ski or board down at some points. Because of this I chose the steeper runs to maintain some speed. On one particular run Tim and I went down a steep run and Julie and Jo went another way. Down at the lift we Julie was missing. Mobile phones are not working all over the mountain and also not in this case. After a 10min wait Tim and I went back up to find Julie and Jo stayed behind to wait for her. On the way up I noticed ski patrol half way up the mountain in a bowl with a patient. I was hoping it was not Julie. Tim went down one way to check that area and I checked out the ski patrol. When I got closer I already recognised Julie’s snowboard. She had dislocated her shoulder when she tried to get up from a sitting position. So no crash or anything spectacular but not less painful. The doctor onsite put her shoulder back into place and we helped her down the mountain. We finished the day with lots of beers in the pub to get over the shock. At least this was one day we will not forget any time soon.
Once on the mountain I really enjoyed myself, even on days where I was a bit tired and was not really up for it. These days I just had to push myself a little and in the end I had lots of fun again once I was up high in the snow. I might have got a bit spoiled from time to time to be able to ski every day I know. I started to consider not going up the mountain sometimes if there was no fresh powder. Since it was snowing a lot these days it did not happen that often.
Off the mountain I took it easy. I went to the night clubs a few times but I cannot say I had such a great time. Just a relaxed beer in the pub with my roommate Terry was already great and enough for me. While writing this I feel old. Not liking night clubs any more, what’s wrong with me.
Time was going fast and before I realised my final week in Whistler was approaching. My brother Jurriaan decided to join me for this last week and travel back together with me to Amsterdam. This was a real nice last minute surprise. The actual reason I think, was that he was sent by my family to make sure I was really coming back. I can imagine they thought I would just stay in Canada.
Enthusiastic as I was to have my brother with me, I made all kinds of plans to ski some interesting routes. But Jurriaan did not have the privilege of having skied for the last two months like I did. So on the first day I think he was happy the lifts were closing at four a clock and we could go home so he could get some rest. The following days we took it pretty easy. We even had time to eat a nice Belgium waffle on the top of the mountain. Since I normally started to skip lunch, not to waste any precious time in the snow. I almost forgot that this was also a holiday for Jurriaan and not a ski drill training camp.
To complete the Canadian experience we went one day on a snowmobile (snow scooter) tour. While we were booking the tour I was afraid it would be a pussy family tour where you would not be allowed to go fast. But the booking agent advised us not to go for the extreme tour if this was our first time on the snowmobile. I must admit that it was the right decision. The group comprised of 4 people, Jurriaan, myself and a young couple. On arrival the guide changed the smaller snowmobiles for the bigger 1200cc Renegade ski doo’s. I think he got the message that we wanted to go fast.
After a short briefing on how to operate the ski doo we took off. We had a fast run up the hill where we ended up at a bowl with fresh powder. Here we were let free to ride and play and have fun.
I never thought that sitting on a machine like this would be hard work. But soon I was sweating. I also got stuck twice which did not help me to get any cooler, as its even more hard work to lift and dig the ski doo out of the snow. For whole tour we had the biggest smile on our faces. I can easily say that this was one of my best days in Canada.
The rest of the week we skied on both mountains Whistler and Blackcomb, we even had some sun here and there to take some photos and videos. Jurriaan skied some real fresh Canadian powder and I fell down filming Jurriaan. We also joined in with an avalanche awareness tour. So all together it ended up being a nice program with unforgettable experiences.
Unfortunately all the skiing in Canada came to an unavoidable end. It was time to pack the bags and head back to Vancouver. We spend one day there before heading back to the airport and back to Amsterdam.
As you can imagine I have not written down all of the stories from Canada. But in this blog I just have a few highlights for you to read. Some stories are missing. Like when Sandra got this amazing lift in a big truck for FX, me and herself back and forth to a village 20 minutes (one way) from Banff.
The great table soccer skills me and FX had in the pub.
Helping beginner skiers down black runs on several occasions and assisting with a ski accident.
There is much more to tell but I will leave it for now.
..Off to my next adventure in Asia soon.