whistler day 11/lauren’s first ski day

Day 11: (run of the day: Jersey Cream?)

Last Sunday, Lauren, Katrina and I headed up to Whistler for the day. Lauren has been saying that he wants to learn how to ski since I met him so for his combined Christmas/birthday present, I gave him a lesson and day on the slopes. It probably would have been more wise for us to go before we went to Smith Rock because there was probably more snow then, but it still worked out!

We paid a UBC student named Michael to give Lauren a lesson and it turned out to be a great deal and experience! It was cheaper and he seemed like a really great teacher. I can’t remember my first ski lesson.

Anyway, as you can see from the video, Lauren did really well for his first day! He zoomed by other beginners. If he turns into a pro-skier, we can use this video in an emotional TV commercial.

I am in the second week of school now. I am taking Group Dynamics & Teamwork, Finance and Recruitment & Selection and also working as a Business Communication TA. It will be a busy semester but a different kind of busy than last semester I hope.

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whistler day 8-10

WOW THIS WAS SO LONG AGO!

whis-0Day 8: (run of the day: Glissando Glades)

Rob and I skied around Symphony/Harmony the day after the Men’s Hockey Final. This ski carrying technique is inspired by:

whis-2Day 9: (run of the day: The Bite)

This was from the weekend that Kat and I went up to Whistler when she was doing lots of skeletoning. I skiied with my roommate Nathan and friend Luke. Nathan got to try his new AT skis out on the way back to the parking lot!

whis-1Day 10: (run of the day: Whistler Bowl & Grand Finale)

On the Sunday of that weekend, Katrina and I skied together. She asked for powder so I brought her down this. She was not happy. You can see her in the picture but she kind of looks like a tree (hehe). It had snowed a lot over the couple of days before and there was lots of powder!! Cue muchos falling. I also met up with Lisa and Phillip for one last run which was lots of fun!!! So good!!

Whistler is open until late May this year, but I am not sure how many days I am going to get in. It was nice getting a ski pass this year, but I found it pretty stressful trying to find rides to get up there! Even though it is a great deal, I am not sure if I will buy a student pass again. Lauren and I are hoping to get up to Whistler this weekend so he can have a ski lesson. Pizza! French fries!!

whistler day 6 & 7

WHISTLER-0Day 6: (run of the day: Blackcomb Glacier)

The day before school re-started I managed to convince Kat that she should go watch the skeleton races going on so I could also go skiing (hehe). The day was pretty mediocre – some of the iciest skiing I have EVER been on. I decided that I was going to try skiing down the Blackcomb Glacier this day. It’s at the top of all the Blackcomb lifts and in-bounds, but you have to do a short 3 minute walk up the hill with your skis off to get to it. Because of my intensive ski-walking training in NZ, it was no problem (pant pant). It wasn’t the greatest conditions but I could see that on a powder day, it would be amazing!! I cut the day short because I wanted to get home to finish unpacking and because every muscle in my body hurts. Climbing and skiing are super duper tiring. My hips, ankle and fingers especially.

WHISTLER-1Day 7: (run of the day: Chunky’s Trees with Lisa & Phillip)

A few of us went up to celebrate Lisa’s 22nd birthday and it was INCREDIBLE!! In 24 hours, Whistler got 63 cm of powder and it was amazing!!!! The lines were absolutely massive (the line for the Creekside gondola went all the way over the bridge to the Starbucks), and stayed huge all day as not much of the mountain was open but it was all really worth it. We did a day of tree skiing and we all felt the thigh-burn of powder skiing. I love skiing with other people because you get to try so much more terrain and go places you haven’t been.

I’ve been finding it tricky to take good photos. I always find an excuse not to bring my camera (won’t fit in my pocket, will get wet, etc) and then don’t even take pictures (snowing too hard and it’ll get damp, my hands are too cold, having too much fun). Not sure if my pictures will improve or not.

whistler day 5

WHISTLERDay 5: (run of the day: Rhapsody Bowl with Itai & Patric)

I went up to Whistler on Christmas eve with a bunch of students and it was fuunnnnn!!! We started off the day with Rhapsody Bowl (under the Symphony chair) which was great (knee-deep powder), but because the lift isn’t running you have to walk out (not as fun). I can’t wait for this chair to open because it looks like some great terrain! It isn’t open too often, but last year it opened in January so I hope this is the case again.

It was a beautiful day. I spent the day skiing with Itai and it was great! The conditions varied between EXTREME ice, and soft packed snow. We spent most of our time on the Whistler Peak.

They have blackout days on the student pass, so I won’t be going up again until the new year.

 

whistler day 1-4

This year I got a Whistler student season pass, and I’ve been able to use it a lot since I’ve been back! To qualify you have to be a full-time student for either fall or winter semester, but it can’t be co-op. I wasn’t sure if this was going to happen again so I decided I had to get one this year!

I am crossing my fingers for a couple of big storms to come in because there is a lot less snow than there usually is. Not very many runs are open, and it is really icy. It’s still relatively early in the season though so still lots of time.

I’m not sure how much skiing I will do during the semester. I hope to do a lot, but I just talked to my friend in 4th year and he said: “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TAKING ALL THOSE CLASSES AT ONCE?” Oh dear.

The annual Santa ski day was awesome! This was my 2nd year going. I expect this to be an annual tradition’ I was pretty bummed I couldn’t go last year. This year just Scott and I went, and we ran into Rob & Adam there. It was lots of fun!!! We even got free beer because we were dressed up as Santas. I LOVE SANTA SKI DAY!!!!

santa-0Scott and I are in the front row in the middle-ish left. Scott has an electric blue helmet. You can see more pictures and bigger pictures here!

They let all the Santas have priority boarding on their new chairlift (a 6-seater Harmony express upgrade), but they had serious issues once a bunch of people got on. Seems like it was having power issues. I was waiting for Scott (the access was a terrible, narrow blue run with rocks everywhere), which worked out perfectly because they ended up shutting down the lift completely. There ya go, karma! It would have been too funny if 160 Santas got stuck on the new chairlift. That would be good advertising.

I’ve only managed to dip into powder on the Santa Saturday, when we went up to the Whistler Peak. That was awesome. Otherwise, rocks, trees and extreme ice are the way to go.

Day 1: (run of the day: Backstage Pass, off of the new Crystal Ridge chair)

santa-2

Day 2: (run of the day: West Bowl with Scott, Rob and Adam, with lots of fresh snow)

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Scott’s awesome Santa suit post-blue run

Day 3: (run of the day: Slingshot, but not by any big standards)

More snow please!

More snow please!

Day 4: (run of the day: Panorama with Mike, Tiff and Tiff’s UBC med friends!)

Mike's photo

Mike’s photo

What an (unexpectedly) AWESOME shot!!!

ski touring 101

Last weekend, Brendan and I ventured up to Temple Basin for NZ Splitfest (splitboarding festival). I’d been looking for a beginner friendly ski touring trip since I got here and this was the closest I could find, so I decided to give it a go.

temple basin topo

This was definitely the best weekend for skiing in terms of snow conditions, terrain, people, and how well I’ve been skiing. Brendan declared Temple Basin an “off-piste ski field” which I think is a good description as they have 3 rope tows (only 2 are running right now though) and even if you buy a pass, you have to do quite a bit of walking to get around. It is definitely not a great place for beginners or the lazy!!! Your day/weekend also starts with a walk up to where the huts/tows are of about 400m. Luckily your gear gets transported up by a goods lift or that would suck a lot.

On Saturday, Brendan took me ski touring and showed me the basics. It kind of feels like uphill cross-country skiing but permanently uphill and your boots/skis are way heavier. It felt a bit like trudging through mud. Best part about it was that it was freeeee! I reckon we did about 850m of vertical climbing that day.

Then on Sunday I did an avalanche workshop which was partly theory and partly learning how to use tranceivers. Everyone had left by the time that ended and my hip flexors felt like they were going to combust so I just skiied on the ski field for the afternoon. After I managed to fall into a hole filled with water (don’t ask) I decided to call it a day heehee.

I met a lot of really friendly people and a lot of really keen skiiers/snowboarders. One guy went up and down about a mountain 4 times in one day (about 500-600m vertical each time)! I don’t think I have that much determination.

Brendan skiied a route called ‘The Gultch’ on Sunday. He’s hardcore! Last year he attempted to ski Laila Peak in Pakistan (read here). I still find it pretty funny that we became friends after we took the same bus from Christchurch to Nelson. (me: why do you have such a huge ski bag when it is the middle of summer?!?!?!)

temple basin

Brendan’s line

NZ is small. The outdoorsy community is small. The climbing community is smaller. On Friday while staying at the Alpine Club hut in Arthurs Pass, I ran into my friend Chris and another person who I recognized who were both doing a mountaineering course. I also had met the guide that was leading the course in Wanaka. We then found out they were also going to the Temple area. Then up at Temple, I ran into the guy that I got a ride with last weekend to go skiing. Then in the hut, I ran into a bunch of people from the uni club who I’d been introduced to. And then I ran into our friend Kieran who I climbed with a few weeks ago at Gibraltor. Friends!

t-bars are awesome

I was a bit disappointed about skiing in NZ after I went up to Mt Hutt a few weeks ago, but this past weekend I decided to give a club field a try. The decision was made to head up to Broken River. NZ has profit based and non-profit based ski fields, which differ hugely in infrastructure, road access, grooming and atmosphere. I had heard great things about club field skiing, so I went!

The biggest difference I noticed was the lifts. At most of the club fields, you have to attach yourself to a rope tow using a harness and nutcracker. Robyn does a very good job of explaining the ‘nutcracker’ finger eater:

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Because the infrastructure at club fields is minimal, the lifts are often a bit of a doozy. Most club fields employ the ‘nutcracker’ rope tow system, which has been known to claim fingers. Basically you wear a harness, attached to which you have a ‘nutcracker’, which is essentially a metal clamp. The lift itself is a rope that spins in a big loop, over a series of terrifying pulleys. You have to stand at the bottom, cling for dear life to the rope while your arms feel like they’re going to fall off. The rope will slide through your hands creating some friction until you’ve got a grip on it. Once you’re up to speed with the lift, you flick your ‘nutcracker’ over the rope, and voila! You’re on. The battle isn’t over once you manage to get on the lift, though – once you’ve successfully clinched the rope with your nutcracker you have to face the pulleys. Your nutcracker clinks against the pulleys at a pretty alarming speed, and there is a risk that in your terror you’ll pull the rope off the pulleys. For one or two pulleys, this is usually not that big a deal, but once you manage to knock off several, you’re essentially being dragged up the hill by a snake-like rope on the ground. Oh, and then there is the forearm burn brought on by clinging to the nutcrackers to prevent them from popping open. It’s a very efficient way to get up the hill, but a pretty stressful experience.

… I am never going to complain about a t-bar ever again. Wowza, I really had a hard time with these lifts!!! I was planning on trying out some ski touring gear, but I spent the majority of the day falling off the rope tow, getting my thumb stuck between the pulleys and the cable (ugh), remembering how to ski, and sitting and moping by the hut.

It’s pretty cool though because the hut on the hill is like a normal backcountry hut. They have a shared kitchen with cooking facilities, communal dishes, a sandwich press, a bbq and even a deep fryer (haha!).

IMG_0644 IMG_0637

I haven’t skiied since April or May 2012 and I was even having a hard time just remembering how to turn. I hadn’t had that bad of a day in ages!!! Skiing by myself a few times has really made me remember how much better it is to ski with good company. Past skiing buddies and family, I look forward to skiing with you again!

It was a pretty bad day, but whatever it’s ok, that happens.

In other news, I lived with Caireen in my first semester in Fiji, and now she is on TV as Miss Fiji in the Miss World contest.

And also if you’re feeling generous, you can help us raise funds for CureKids by donating here.