Last Week of the Season :(

Monday of the last week of the season, I stayed in bed thinking I was missing the start of the AMP (All Mountain Pro) course which I decided to opt out of in favour of working on my snowboarding for a few days instead.  The AMP is in place for those choosing not to take Level 2.  However it was running from Tuesday to Thursday, with two half days planned so I had a change of heart as there were only two of us and the instructor.  I dedicated my Monday instead to snowboarding which allows ample time to hurt oneself! Once I figured out I was in fact regular and not goofy it made life alot easier.  Craig was a great teacher and stayed patient when I needed him to give me alot of space to make mistakes!  It was a slow day going back to the magic carpet and starting from scratch but the other way around.  As it was our last week, our dinner lady Randy upped the ante a little and we got home made pizza for dinner.  Yes it is the little things that matter when life is simpler!

On Tuesday the Level 2 people were well into their second day of training for their five day assessment as Rob and I were to start the AMP with Jonathan.  This roughly means being able to ski on any terrain, at different speeds and turn shapes, getting air from jumps, doing 360’s on the snow, skiing switch and anything else you think you can do over and above what’s required!  This is something that NonStop created for the people who chose not to take the Level 2 assessment and isn’t quite official but more like a week of fun!  It made it all the better that there were just two of us with one instructor so almost 1:1 and the fact that Jonathan is also a friend brought the fun levels through the roof!  After the first day I was totally wrecked trying to keep up with the two boys as my knees were about four weeks past their “we can take no more” date but I did the best I could.  After taking our first chair of the day and getting a free face exfoliation from the wind and a total whiteout, they announced a lift close so we chose to head back down and try the facing mountain, hoping it would stay open!  This meant we had so many tree runs through the day that I was begging for mercy by the end of it!  Unfortunately for me the plan for Jonathan just to do a half day was forgotten and we pressed on right to the end 😦

On Wednesday we did however just do a half day and it was an easy one.  Called the ‘Expression Session’, it meant skiing switch, doing jumps and turns although I didn’t manage the 360 unlike Rob but I was happy to just jump getting more air.  We finished up at lunch where I caught up with the boarders but quickly got tired of them racing and came home at 2pm with bad knee ache and end of season tiredness.

Thursday was a great news day as both boarders passed Level 2 and we had to call on cheap jugs of beer again at Rafters to seal the celebration!  After our last dinner of the season at ‘Sunshine Cafe’ where we brought our own wine to drown our sorrows, we carried on the celebrations at Drift and the Steam Shovel some local bars in town with instructors Brent, Jonathan and Matt.  Andy’s dad had flown over to spend a few days with him before he continued his travels for another six months around the world so he also joined the gang for drinks with hefty jet lag I’m sure.  We stayed a little too long which made sure there was NO way home so nothing for it but to walk icy roads and climb a snow bank to a sleepover at Jon’s house.  While deciding this I decided to accidentally crash myself to the ground on ice outside the pub and give myself a fat hand, even worse than my snowboarding bruises!

We needed to be at 7am next morning for the only lift back to the hill so it was a quick pack up of the reluctant hungover bodies from the sofas and back home for a leisurely breakfast.  Luckily we had finished the season with Jonathan the day before but it was still another final day for the three Level 2 skiers who luckily all passed much to their relief after a stress filled five days.  Craig, Steve and myself just about made it to the top of the mountain with fuzzy heads to take pictures although I think we spent more time in the lodge with hot chocolate than skiing!  I went for a few drinks for the Level 2 celebrations and came home for early night as I wanted a full day of boarding on Saturday/Sunday and to make the most of my final days at Red Mountain.  The others however partied on and it was a late night and interesting chatting on their return to the condo – I heard my name a few times, hmmm.

I was fresh and ready on Saturday for a day of boarding which much improved again since Monday and things were finally happening quicker although still falling and bruising of course!  The day started slowly, with me at the lift, board off and changing my mind before I had even gotten on it and thinking I just wasn’t up for it.  After Craig convinced me it was indeed a good idea and ok to fall off the lift trying to get off at the top, the day developed into a great one with smiley faces all around!  I did get some good footage recorded by Matt so I can remind myself when I have to start all over again next season that I did in fact get somewhere with my efforts.  Georgina was also out learning to board so I wasn’t the only one on the mountain who looked scared!  The end of season dinner at the local Prestige Hotel came all too quickly and we found ourselves back in the same room we gathered in 11 weeks before for the welcome dinner.  Things changed so much from that night in January, with everyone becoming good friends, much better skiers/boarders and so many great and not so great times shared together.  It was a sad night but alot of fun too.  Mogens (skier) took it upon himself to put together two quick movies of both the skiers and boarders time at Red which consisted of alot of people looking silly and created a room full of side splitting laughter – they were fantastic!  Owing so much to the instructors who had brought us to levels we couldn’t have imagined, it took a while and alot of debate to agree on suitable thank you gifts.  There were mug, T-shirt and voucher suggestions but the best and the one we went with was two bottles of good wine for each, personalised with their own label describing them like a wine!  Rodrigo put together very authentic labels and used his access to a printer to finish the great gifts.  They went down a treat and I think there were almost tears as each instructor had to stand and read aloud their own labels!  It wasn’t over yet as there was a surprise to come for us.  The instructors had gotten together and planned an appropriate fun award for each person.  I got a length of climbing rope, carabiners and a hard hat which was suggested I wear for being too adventurous getting stuck on rock face and needing rescuing!  I think it was hint that I might be able to rescue myself next time!  Everyone got something small to take away but unfortunately my ropes were just on loan and very heavy!  Craig got a baby’s dummy for being the person in the group who objected to some of the instructor’s decisions and was very opinionated and difficult!  I thought the best gift was for Georgina who, being from Australia, had never seen powder before and her first sight of so much of it was memorable as she was so excited.  They gave her a jar with a sticker on it saying it was powder from Red Mountain, however it was just a jar of water being the snow that melted!!  Again the party ended for Craig and I at the hotel as the others partied on at the Shovel.  We got a lift home in the school bus which luckily was doing a shuttle that night for another event.  Yes probably a bit boring of us but I still wanted to squeeze in another day of boarding and that doesn’t happen with a hangover!

An early start to Sunday although I was at this point so tired and decided to call it a day early and end on a high note with minimum injury, finally saying goodbye to Red Mountain snow.  It was clear to see the winter was leaving and spring was coming as we sat on the huge main lodge deck without jackets and the ski bums and ski school instructors gathered to take in the sunshine – it was time to end the season 😦  We spent the rest of the day packing, the worst chore and alot harder going home when you seem to have so much more acquired, well an extra board and skis at least!  Later, instead of cooking, eight of us went to a restaurant a short stroll away for our last meal together which was a little subdued with thoughts of leaving next morning at 8am and the goodbyes we were trying to block out.

Morning came all too fast however and even those who weren’t scheduled to leave for another week were up and about and ready for our send off.  Poor Georgina had said goodbye to three of the boys the evening before and was so upset so I knew it would be worse and it was, she was inconsolable 😦  Even one of the boys shed a tear, it was a long car park goodbye for all and no telling if our paths would ever cross again.

Driving away ready to leave but still leaving a big piece of myself behind at Red Mountain………………….

 

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Paddy’s Weekend

Saturday arrived, Paddy’s Day and also the day that Ireland had hoped to beat England which didn’t happen 😦  As I had sold my seat to Georgie for cat skiing I was all ready to dress up a little and take part in the green day instead.  The cat skiers were gone at 7am so I had a lie in and then up to cut out some more green shamrocks to decorate my helmet.  I had also gotten a tacky green tie in the thrift store and some face stickers to make sure I really looked the part!!  However, the day didn’t quite go as planned as it ended up quite bored because I skied on my own and despite the weekend and the great snow conditions there were very few people skiing.  I took all the chair lifts by myself so I was thinking people thought I was a bit nuts in my greenness and banging out my Dubliners tunes!!  I did however get a kiss from an old man who thought my face sticker read “kiss me I’m Irish”!!  I was definitely the only Irish person on the mountain and most likely the town aswell!  I popped into the lodge on the mountain for a hot chocolate with rum for the occasion and got a bunch of Skittles from the server as a treat for wearing so much green, ha ha!!  I soon got bored and came home while finding no fun on the mountain and the guys at home weren’t interested in Paddy’s Day, being English. However I got a message from our Swedish friend Marcus to say the party was kicking off at Rafters so it took me about 3 minutes to get there to find a full on Irish party with alot of people in green although I was still definitely the only Irish person in the building!!!  With girls there putting green dye in our beer it was finally a good day!  Craig joined us shortly afterwards in his green hoodie after arriving home from cat skiing full of stories and hyper with the fun they had.  I was a little bit disappointed I hadn’t gone as they didn’t go anywhere any higher or high risk than what we usually ski on – ah well, not sure my knees would have kept up anyway.  We got invited to a party in town later in a ski bum’s house which by all accounts would be a big one.  After some home cooked fajitas Craig, Georgie and myself headed into town, picked up Marcus at the hostel and headed to the party down a very icy, snowy path to the friendliest house I have been at so far in Rossland.  The boys were great and a fun house complete with band equipment and ping pong table and the most beautiful white husky called Hannah!  We hung out there until after 2am chatting to the guys who work in the rental shop and the lifty’s who we see every day but only now have gotten to know just as we head home 😦  Luckily as there is zero transport in Rossland we were able to bunk in with Marcus at the hostel as most of the beds were empty.  In true Rossland style we just walked in the front door (no keys) and up the stairs to our beds for free!  Somehow the next morning seemed alot brighter than normal with our fuzzy heads so nothing for it but eggs benedict at the local cafe, a quick supermarket shop and then on the road with thumbs out for a ride to the hill.  This is practically the only way to get anywhere locally and it works a treat as the wait wasn’t long.    Craig and Marcus headed back on the mountain in the afternoon and I had the same great intentions but just didn’t make it as my bed beckoned!  Eventhough we ski all day every day, it’s still a novelty to ski at the weekend without clock watching and sticking to a schedule and we can just decide where we want to go ourselves.  Ah well, another week to go until we leave the lovely Red mountain and Rossland for the season……………………………………sad times

Season Close

Last weekend was a great one.  The 12 Fernie NonStop group visiting for the weekend arrived on Friday afternoon but stayed in town so we didn’t see them until Saturday when we were to escort them around the mountain.  I gave up my Friday night in favour of a bigger Saturday night out and so I would be fresh for skiing on Saturday although I still missed the introduction and escorting, I did catch up with them later for lunch on the mountain.  The local beer was having a blue and white themed night complete with fancy dress at Rafters on Saturday night and giving a prize for the best costume.  We didn’t make the best costume level but we made the effort a little.  I wore a white shirt, blue tie and blue glasses and painted some blue and white hearts on my cheeks!  The Fernie group joined us and all 12 of them came to our apartment first so it was pretty wild by the time we got to Rafters.  The music was rubbish but we still managed to have a great time.  We were due to host the other group again on Sunday but we just didn’t make it, we didn’t leave the apartment all day!

It’s been a long week with a hell of alot of snow (30cm +) and it’s taken it’s toll on my knees so it’s been a mixture of deep powder skiing and taking the afternoon off on Tuesday just to let me knees recover.  I took Wednesday to myself to just ski a little on the groomers as there was plenty of snow on it so no need to go through the trees which was just too much of a pull on my legs as they come to the end of the season.  It’s nice on your own because I skied to my own timing and had a long hot chocolate on the hill and chatted to a few randoms and also got an offer from a very nice man who I had met at the ice rink before, to ski with him and his kids.  Instead I met the boarders and hung on a little longer at the lodge enjoying my own timing to the day.  I also got some great tips and some private tuition from the director of the course on Thursday as he realised I was struggling to keep my strength up a little so guided me through the powder.  There was soooooo much snow this week and while that’s great it can also be a hindrance if you find yourself falling over and fighting to get up from knee deep snow.  The snow patrol were bombing the mountain like mad to cause avalanche so that it won’t happen later when we are on the snow!  However the run I had chosen not to go down because I saw where a complete layer had broken off from the top and took out a tree, caught the instructor and one of the guys up in a little snowfalling 😦  Avalanche or the thought of it is my worst nightmare and some of the reason why I have decided to give away my cat skiing space on Saturday.  People say I am really going to miss out on alot but there is so much snow here that I can get all I need for my skiing right here on the mountain without the risk of getting buried under snow…..shudder……..

We came to the end of instruction on Thursday and next week the group splits into two – the Level 2 group and myself and Rob who are doing ‘All Mountain Pro’ instead.  Not sure why I agreed to that as I want to take the time to snowboard instead before I leave although with the drops and 180’s we are meant to be doing for the AMP, I’m not sure if I can fit snowboarding in until next weekend before we leave.  The weather changed a little on Thursday and with the huge amount of snow came more spring conditions of a little rain which made the snow quite wet and difficult to ski on.  My ski stuck in it at one point and I went flying and my helmet flew off, oops!  Because of the rainy conditions and everyone being so wet, we wrapped up the season and decided to take the afternoon to the hot tub instead and finished at 1:30!  With beer and music we chatted a little about skiing to make it still officially class time and then took the party to ‘Rafters’ before heading to dinner.  Jon, the course co-ordinator and problem solver invited us to his place after dinner so we continued the party until we could party no more.  Unfortunately in this neck of the woods the transport is zero so it was a 30 minute walk home along the main road with just the snow for company as not one car passed in that time!  We made the time a little quicker with an ’80’s playlist along the way and some loud singing – we would never be heard!

 

Refining

The week has started with a blast as my skiing has finally turned a corner I think and I am now finally getting the results I came here for and more.  We have Jonathan again as our instructor after three weeks and I had forgotten how much fun he is while being a fantastic instructor.  Eventhough we don’t have powder right now we are still managing alot of fun and his chair lift singing is the best!  Not sure sleepy Red Mountain is quite so happy!!  It has been great to get Jonathan’s opinion on our skiing as we are with the same people every day so we can’t see the improvement as much as an outsider.  He hasn’t seen us in three weeks and was very surprised with our progression and asked me if I realised how much I had progressed since the start so that really made me happy.  He had thought I was doing my Level 2 as my skiing is up to scratch and added the very nice comment that he would want me in his ski school as I would be a very patient and caring instructor which I was delighted with!  I now really appreciate how lucky we are to have this kind of high level instruction as it’s been absolutely amazing at Red.  I will so miss the freedom of the mountain as it’s like no other resort I have ever been to.  It’s small and very local with no fancy frills.  It has marked pistes but you are free to go wherever you want on the mountain as long as you are prepared for the worst!  Also the smell of weed in town and on the slopes is like it’s almost legal here – just a way of life here and probably the reason everyone is so relaxed!

We have started synchronised skiing this week with the group in different formations and it’s looking really impressive and forces us to stay in short, sharp turns.  Picture the Red Arrows on the snow if you will!!!  I am loving it and the attention from onlookers is great too because it gives entertainment to both us and them.  Hopefully I will have videos of this soon to upload.  We will ask the boarders to be our audience and do the filming as I’m not sure they believe what we have been up to!  It would really help if we had a little powder though as I caught an edge in the icy run mid formation this evening and had to stray from the group for a second and then do a quick recovery back into my line, phew!  We also mixed it up and in mid formation, on a flatter section, Georgie at the back of the group lay back on her skis and went through Andy’s legs at the front so she was then heading the group and Andy dropped back.  An experiment but it worked – we finished on a high this evening!  Tech session after class this evening was to help out the Level 2 people with their teaching which gave a different angle, just simply demonstrating how to put on a jacket and shoe with actions and no speech and then speech and no actions.  More difficult than you think!

I will be really sad to leave Red Mountain and the three streets that are Rossland which we have grown to love and slowed down to it’s pace.  I have taken for granted how great it is and the pace of life here is the one I want – I’m not a city girl!  Where to next????????????????………………………

 

Coming near the end :(

So it’s been a while and the days flew by last week.  I was signed up with three others to do the snow park course on Monday/Tuesday but unfortunately it was cancelled at the last minute as they decided that the minimum number was five which was a pain.  I wanted to perfect my 360’s!!  Classes rant from Tuesday to Friday instead of Monday to Thursday and it was a deep powder week and amazing although this week we are crying out for more snow and lots of powder days as we are skiing on ice at the moment which is not a familiar sound at Red.  We had Brent last week and it was great to have fun with him as he likes to mix things up and keep us interested because now it’s coming near to the end of the season and we are tiring fast.  We had some wrestling to warm up which was hilarious and a race with the boarders which was very competitive!  I never straight lined down the run before and I got to the bottom of the chair lift faster than I thought possible on skis!  We also mixed the time up with teaching sessions as the Level 2 is coming up in two weeks so it’s back to the books for some although I’m not taking it.  When Wednesday came Mogens and I thought it was better time spent to go with the Reverend again (the “soul rider”) and check out powder on the rest of the mountain so the three of us set off to find fresh tracks and boy did we ever!  We had the best afternoon knee deep in the white stuff and through the trees – the way powder days should be spent!  Wednesday night we went curling in Rossland after dinner and my god is it alot more fun playing than watching!  It took me a while to get into it and then I loved it although I thought at the end it would be more fun to hold on to two of the rocks, one in each hand and launch myself down the ice but landed spread eagled of course!  More deep powder on Thursday and class moved off the piste into the trees and fun.  However it wasn’t to be a fun morning for me as I strayed onto a rock face and was stuck and pretty scared.  I was holding on by my edges and the only way down was to jump through the rocks but I wasn’t taking any chances.  So I couldn’t go up and I couldn’t go down.  Brent, the poor soul had to hike back up in thigh deep powder to save my sorry ass.  He took his skis off, climbed up the rock and wedged himself beside me while he took my skis off and now I was left with nothing to hold me up but his kneeling knees.  I turned back up the face and digging my boots in one by one made a ladder for myself.  We both took a long rest at the top while I promised Brent many beers!  A sticky situation with very shaky legs, I was reluctant to put my skis back on and as luck would have it my next move made me take the biggest stack and do a nice somersault – lucky there was alot of powder!  Many stacks later on my less favourite runs and the day was finally over but the morning memory still hanging in my head – shiver!  Friday I had every intention of getting up and completing the week but it didn’t happen as I chose a lie in instead and just wanted to perfect my skiing by myself in the afternoon.  It’s great to ski with the group and have fun but when you know what you need to work on sometimes there is nothing else for it but to do it over and over again yourself to perfect it and now it’s time for that.  I didn’t see my group on the mountain so chose to join the boarders instead for a while which was a nice change of pace.  We headed straight to Rafters for some end of the week drinks and it ended up to be an impromptu party with just us and the lifty’s and me dancing in my ski boots for longer than they probably wanted to!  I can vouch for there comfort both on and off the slopes!  Luckily when you start at 3pm the night ends pretty early and the weekend isn’t ruined!

I hired a snowboard and boots again on Saturday and let Craig take over the teaching which went well although I chose to take the chair lift a little too early as things were going great before lunch.  I started with a fall off the chair lift at the top and it went downhill from there!  A few nasty falls and a little whip lash later I chose to go back to the magic carpet and perfect my turns once more.  After getting it right yet again I chose to hand back my board and end on a high note albeit with a throbbing head.  I think after the season my helmet really deserves to retire as it’s done the best job at keeping my skull intact!

On Sunday it was Craig’s turn to ski and my turn to teach!  I have to say he is a very reluctant student with very little patience with either me or himself but I ignored it all and carried on in the professional manner in which I was taught!!!  The result is a new skier who can go from top to bottom without a hitch – my second success story!!  I wish it was as easy to learn to board as it is to ski.  Now I just need to teach him some tree runs and jumps and he will be a proper success!

 

The Weekend……….

As much as we love to ski all week, we also love Fridays and party time or just down time but this weekend it was truly party!  It was Lee Roy’s 18th birthday on Friday and we were surprising him with a trip to Castlegar for an Indian but unfortunately the snow had really dumped so we were stuck at home because the school bus just might not have made it there and back!  So it was off to our closest local, the Rock Cut, a 5 minute walk down the road, where the walk to and from is almost better than the time there itself!  The locals think the food is good but it’s pretty impossible to get something that isn’t fried and at a reasonable size for eating but the wine and beer are good.  For Lee Roy’s birthday the boys decided to give him a mohican hair cut and dress him in a tiny pink T-shirt for the night – it all actually suited him!  We walked home in the dark after a great night and a few of us got to kiss the snow with the fun and games along the way!  It was a slow start to Saturday morning with no choice but to start the festivities all over again for Stevie’s birthday celebrations.  Fourteen of us dressed up and hit the slopes at midday for a late ski and then to catch the last lift to the party in a cabin in the woods.  The dressing up was hilarious and everyone really made the effort – we got alot of laughs and attention on the piste!  Unfortunately we split up for a few runs as the birthday boy wanted to take it easy and I think his plan ruled but the others had different ideas so just myself, Craig and Steve wandered the pistes alone looking a little strange!  We all met up again and headed to the Stagger Inn which is a lovely little wood cabin in the woods owned by one of the ski school teachers and his mates.  One of the instructors was having a birthday too so they kindly invited us to the party and it caused a big laugh when we turned up in costume, especially when I got stuck in the snow in my spongebob outfit!  It was mystical standing around in the snow in the trees and around a huge fire pit in the snow.  The owner Tom turned up a little later dressed in a kilt and carrying a picnic basket – funny sight!  The Stagger Inn is one of many huts privately owned and dotted through the trees which if you happen to find and ski past, you might be lucky enough to get invited in!  Of course with so many ski professionals knocking about in one spot and a big hole with a fire in it, it seemed the only thing to do was to get your skis, climb above the fire and let rip down the hill and jump over it, hopefully landing in one piece and not in the fire!  A few of our gang braved the jump a few times as we all held our breath and cheered them on and for a minute I felt a pang of regret that there were no girls partaking and thought I should keep the side up.  That feeling quickly passed when I realised I had swamped one rum too many and I was only happy doing jumps without a hole and a fire underneath!  We also tried jumping off a huge boulder covered in snow and landing in deep powder – another fun thing to do when there has been rum!  When the dark came and some of the party goers had left, the rest of us moved inside to the tiny cabin with the hottest stove and lots of interesting characters.  I actually met a cousin of an old boyfriend in Limerick many years ago – small world!  I chatted to the cabin owner for ages and I think got us another invitation to use the cabin, hopefully overnight before we leave – would be fun to wake up right on the piste!  If that fails I will definitely drop by there on St. Patrick’s day as I made alot of friends claiming to be Irish who were very excited about my Limerick roots!  At some point we decided it was time to go home although still probably only 8pm but we had eaten and drank our fill and there was the long ski home in the pitch dark to consider.  The very nice Irish lovers gave me a head torch but just getting through the trees to the piste first was the real skill!  I loved the ski home in complete darkness with the only noise coming from the skiers and boarders dotted around and a random light here and there guiding the way home (ish!).  We got there but not without falling.  One of our boarders had just a little too much weed and beer and Mogens carried him on his back home (while skiing!!).  Major payback owed for that one!  We brought the party straight to our condo, where people usually congregate, and the hot tub and my 90’s music collection got full use again!  It felt like there was a hundred people in the room but I think there were eventually just five of us left dancing around until 2am – LONG DAY!  Sunday was a rough day although it seemed well worth it.  All our clothes smelled of camp fire and still do a little, well the clothes that made it home anyway!  Somehow our costumes didn’t come back as complete as they went out that day but we have the phtotographs!  Roll on the next party at the Stagger Inn………………

Frustrating Week

Three frustrating days at home suffering from another bout of food intolerance or something unexplained, fantastic!  I think the culprit was flour that went into our delicious pancakes and I thought avoiding the dodgy ‘just mix water’ variety would be safer!  The pharmacy said there was no medicine and I should just drink hot water!!!  Failing that I should punch myself in the stomach which might get better results!  I ended up with anti nausea pills and prescribed the pepto bismol myself!  I wasn’t happy with my time off the snow as Brent is back as our instructor and I was looking forward to this week. Craig joined me for a day off on Tuesday with knee problems after a crash on Monday.  Not sure if it’s all worth it as our team are dropping like flies with injuries, another hit a tree today!  Craig was back on the snow on Wednesday and was doing well until he hurt his ankle!  I went out as I was missing so much skiing but it all went wrong again.  The main lift was closed because of a mixture of avalanche clearance and high winds but to beat the queues Brent chose to bypass the first lift and do a trek across to the next one but as I was feeling sick again and made the good decision to say no thank you and came back down to join the queue and use the conventional way – what’s 10 minutes in the grand scheme of the day I ask!  I did a few runs on my own but didn’t feel any better and was back in the condo by 10:30 feeling like I might have to visit the ER.

I went back to class on Thursday and was so glad to get back onto the snow and it was a blue sky day to boot.  However after my first warm up run I thought there was no way I would make it to the end of the day as I was lagging behind and very shaky because of lack of food.  Brent was great and took me aside a few times to catch up on what I had missed and skied behind me, giving pointers on my every turn which really improved my few remaining problems.  We skied some fantastic powder and jumped a 5 foot jump in the trees which I went over not realising how high it was, just trusting Brent’s ok that it was safe!  It was a fantastic day and I did manage to hang in there for the whole day only to arrive home to find Craig who had only managed one run and had to go home to sit out the day and ice the ankle he thought was ok.  He acquired a second hand pair of ski boots today so he’s giving skiing a go to see if there is less pain involved but the lesson from me might be more painful!  I succeeded with one already so I’m remaining hopeful!

We have a busy weekend ahead.  Eventhough we don’t have class tomorrow I still need to be up at the same time and be at the top for a private lesson with Brent at 9:30 for an hour and a half which should help to tidy up alot of my messy habits.  The gang are travelling to an Indian restaurant in Castlegar (hour away) Friday night for Lee’s birthday (he will be 18!).  Saturday is Steve’s birthday so we are all doing fancy dress and skiing around the mountain like idiots and then catching the last lift so we can ski to a cabin in the woods where we have been invited to a party.  This will involve carrying beer and food up the lift and skiing home in the dark later in an unknown condition!  I will be wearing myspongebob squarepants outfit that I got in the thrift shop in town.  The thrift shop has provided us with all our silly outfits and everything is on average $1-$5! I also got a great pair of ice skates for $3 – ok so they’re hockey skates but in great condition and should do the job even if I give them back to the shop when I’m leaving.

IT’S THE WEEKEND!!……………….

Post Level 1 Blues

Funny start to the week with the Level 1 over and time to decide on going forward for Level 2 or taking the ‘All Mountain Pro’ option.  However no decision necessary just yet as this week was just for having fun in the snow after a long five weeks of hard work and assessment.  We lost our instructor Jonathan this week and gained Tad again.  He reminded us of the problems we need to keep working on and found some fun terrain to play in.  However when I say fun I mean it’s more fun for some than others (me!) because the kids want to jump off stuff and I’m still a little more cautious!  We were back in the trees again and it took time to get used to the quick thinking and sharp turns – I got intimate with a few trees and am swore alot again!  Eventhough it wasn’t a full on ski ski ski start to the week, I was completely knackered and fell asleep after class and missing the bus to dinner!

Valentine’s day and Georgie and I had the idea to give our instructor Jonathan a V card for being such a sweety and a fantastic instructor.  We got our heads together to create a good rhyme for the card which went like this……

Jonathan you helped us ski
Others tried but they weren’t for me
Now we’ve passed our Level 1
A milestone has been and gone
The stance you showed us changed our lives
Have you seen Clive??!!!
A great time has just begun
Now it’s time to ‘devil up’ and have fun!

Love from the genuinely determined xx

The Clive comment relates to one of our group who gets lost a bit! ‘Devil Up’ means develop but Jonathan has problems saying it – he’s from Quebec! He also has difficulty with the words genuine and determined so we stuck them in at the end!

Eventhough I had a good start to the week, Tuesday came and I was completely done with the sight of snow, skiing and being in a group all day every day so I took an Yvonne holiday and tuned out of the world for the day which was complete bliss and a much needed time out.  The day was made better with a lovely Valentine card, chocolates and a dinner at Gypsy www.gypsyatred.com on the mountain.

How nice to walk 2 minutes to a grown up dinner for a night and take a break from travelling to dinner on the school bus!! We had a beautiful bottle of local red wine and the food wasn’t bad by Canadian standards although it would have been fine if my cod wasn’t smothered in creamy coleslaw and the portion was half the size.  I’m not used to being asked if I want the rest of it packed up to take home!

Back to the mountain on Wednesday and good to go again after my great day off.  We had a lovely hot chocolate break mid-morning and a late lunch in the sunshine which broke up the day nicely and lead to our afternoon with “Dr. Soulride”, AKA the Canon Neil Elliot of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Trail, BC.  He calls himself the “Vicar of Red Mountain” because snowboarding is one of his lifetime joys.  In fact, snowboarding is so enjoyable to this priest that he decided to write his thesis on the the term, “Soulriding” and the spirituality of snowboarding.  It was our choice whether to continue skiing with our instructor for the afternoon or see what the reverend was all about and because I needed some variety and was curious to see what he had to say I chose to “soul ride”!  His thought is, there are three things to skiing/boarding which are “me”, “you”, “the mountain” and how they connect.  He’s not about getting our technique right but more about throwing that out the window and concentrating on really feeling what you are doing and enjoying it.  We were a mixed group of skiers and boarders so it was good to ride together for a change.  Our first exercise was start each turn and then close our eyes and feel what we were doing rather than worrying about technique.  A little scary but fun and it works!  We then had to ski down backwards which I was delighted with as we had skied a few runs in the morning  backwards from top to bottom so it wasn’t a problem for us and meant to get us out of our comfort zone, it did!  All in all a great afternoon experimenting with something new and forget about getting it right all the time.

For something else new and different I also spent the afternoon in the fun park on Thursday.  Neil, the guy who instructs the freestyle kids took some time out of his day to give us some tuition, introduce us to some jumps and sliding on a box.  I love the jumps but when it comes to sliding along a 6 inch metal box sideways on my skis it just doesn’t feel right.  There were four of us trying it out, two boys, two girls but as is the norm the boys just go straight in and jump but the girls like to take it slower and be more technical which doesn’t help the nerves!  At the end we were landing switch (backwards) and doing 180’s however I managed to just about turn and the boys did much better – I will keep at it!

Ah Fridaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy……………It was time for the DJ party at ‘Rafters’ and some more fun and games.  Our boarder Rodrigo was one of the DJ’s and by far the best, with the other two offering not really offering the right music for the clientele!!  We unfortunately arrived too early by Rossland standards and had a few hours of boredom and drinking until the place filled up a little – the boredom pictures I cannot publish!  By that time the boys were well and truly trollied and all my attempts at matchmaking them with the locals went on deaf eyes and ears!  Friday night antics made for a very very slow day on Saturday for three of us, with the new fall of fresh powder not even enticing us so a ruined day indoors was all that we could muster – in my pj’s until about 4pm!  A few of us were all set to go to Salmo, a little village an hour away on Saturday for night skiing however at the last minute we found out there was night skiing right here at Red so our trip was postponed for a while and we got to ski in the dark at home!  However it was just the run beside the T bar so a slow trip up for a run down which is over in about 3 minutes.  When you have done that 5 times the novelty wears off but it’s fun to ski under a flood lit slope and a little dangerous as you can’t see every bump – Craig and I almost crashed twice, well he did have his silly music in!  Ear phones, dark and snowboarding don’t really mix!

A bad start to Sunday probably because I was looking forward to the ever increasing fresh powder a little too much but my ski legs just were not responding.  Nothing like having a bad ski day on a powder day, grrrrrr.  I got a bit lost in the powder and trees, missed the others who ended up looking for me for an hour on the same run but I was already gone back home not too happy with my performance :(.  Monday will be a better day.  I spent the afternoon today teaching Steve, one of our group, to ski as he is already a snowboarder and wanted to do something new.  It was a very fulfilling afternoon as he learned super quick and was doing full runs with parallel turns within two hours and didn’t fall once in the whole lesson – I was a very happy teacher at the end of the day and now Steve is free to ski whenever he wants, job done!

An excellent dinner of  parma wrapped chicken, roasted veg, sweet potatoes, crepes for dessert and a movie, a great end to a weekend.  Now we’re ready for another week ahead – the skiers are with Brent, an instructor we haven’t had in a few weeks who is great fun!……………..

 

We Passed!

The skiers with Jonathan our instructor in the middle with the smiley face!

So the long week is finally over and thank god WE PASSED!  We are now officially Level 1 ski and snowboard instructors and boy are we relieved!  Luckily all 16 of us, 8 skiers, 8 boarders passed.  Thursday and Friday were long days of teaching, incorporating a group of complete beginners on Thursday and a group of three more advanced students on Friday.  The complete beginners stayed at ground level so no lifts involved but I found it difficult to demonstrate in front of my peers who can all clearly ski already!  Having gotten over that, each of us had to take a group of three up the lift, pretending it was their first time, and take them down a run safely to the bottom while all the time demonstrating, giving individual attention and correction while watching obstacles and safety.  Our own instructor and examiner was skiing around us taking notes all the time, listening to our instruction and watching our demos so that was another difficult distraction.  Also each class had an age scenario, for example teaching 8 year olds, 15 year olds or 18 year olds and adults.  I got to teach the adults which is a little more difficult in that you need to explain more but on the flip side need to think of less games to keep them interested although I did try to incorporate some bumps through the trees to scare them!  When it was my turn to be a student I was meant to be a 15 year old so that was fun and a little strange as there was a real 15 year old in our group – the freestyle skier, so he was a little bored with the slow pace!  Also our own skiing was being assessed during the whole week just to keep us on our toes so fine tuning our technique was a constant reminder that we were being watched all the time so no fooling around!

On Friday at 2pm it was all done and dusted and our five weeks of preparation and hard work was over for the weekend.  Just two long hours to wait until results at 4pm so there was nothing else for it but to go straight to the bar and calm the nerves.  Myself and Georgie, the only other girl on the course, had some beers while the boys went home to put on their makeup, hmmm!  The announcement was a little like X Factor as we were called in to sit around together for the announcement which I thought might have been embarrassing if some of us didn’t pass!  He said he would read out the people who passed the teaching and failed the skiing, then the people who passed the skiing and failed the teaching and then the people who passed both so we were given to believe that there were failures already but it was a trick!  A huge sigh of relief all around when we all passed, well everyone that is except two unfortunately.  One skier had to go back to London for interview so couldn’t complete the week but arrived back just in time for our celebrations.  One boarder hurt his ankle two days into the week so couldn’t finish and he’s gutted although will probably find another Level 1 course in a nearby resort later in the season.  I was very happy with my results however I understand I still have alot of work to do on my skiing but I was pleased with the note that “I would do well teaching kids”.  It was then of course time to go back to the bar and celebrate with the instructors who did such a great job in bringing us to this level.  I was the only person in ski pants and boots by the end of the night somehow – I thought it was only right to honour them!  The party moved from the bar to one of the condos and continued into the early hours with some pretty outstanding pictures to remember the night by and also some new love blossoming!  I couldn’t keep up with the kids and opted out early – the stressful week caught up with me!

Saturday was a slow day with many casualties from the celebrations although we managed to drag ourselves into town for breakfast and some light shopping (thermals!).  The boys cooked up a storm for dinner and then another night of poker took off.  The instructors Matt and Jonathan came over to relieve the boys of their money!

Sunday we were all up early and ready for some relaxed skiing/boarding and fun on some jumps although it was difficult to get back into it after a week of going back to basics – we had to remind ourselves we could actually ski properly so did some tight tree runs which is one fast way to remind you how to turn very quickly!  I swapped my boots and skis after lunch for snowboard boots and a board and got Steve to use his new instructor skills on me and teach me to board!  It was great fun, I made lots of progress and looking forward to the next lesson on Friday.  Some hard sitting down though so I have a sore back and wrists and my neck issue is back but all in all a good afternoon’s work and another new skill and this is the best place to improve on it when I have free time.  I bumped into a freestyle instructor who was a little confused when he saw me carrying a board and said “but you’re a skier” so I told him I was going over to the dark side for a while!  It will be expensive however if I need to rent every time I have a lesson as I only found one pair of girls snowboard boots in the whole town which don’t fit me.  Yes there are two ski shops and one snowboard and they only have ONE pair of boots left!  This town should come with a warning “do not enter unless you have all the gear you need for the season or you’re screwed”!!!…………………..

That Week!

The week started with Monday off so a nice extension to the weekend and it meant we could ski a little more on our own time although we are still practicing ski basics for teaching on Thursday/Friday.  I spent the morning studying the course material and making notes while the boys went out to practice snowboard teaching on the easy slopes.  I did however clean the apartment first, hmm………  I lasted until 1pm and got sick of being the only one off the slopes and with the sun shining I got booted up and went out to play.  Craig and I played on small jumps and bumps and had some non course material fun until almost lift close.  Veggie lasagne for dinner tonight and straight back to the books unfortunately.  Movie night tonight tonight in the mini cinema in the building but I chose to study instead of join a room full of testosterone and Brad Pitt!

Tuesday, first day of assessment arrived.  We worked on our own skiing and did exercises all day to improve different aspects of our skiing after assessing eachother and picking out skills to work on.  A complete full day of ironing out faults was really helpful as there was no break for normal skiing and fun stuff although it was a good day for stopping and starting as the sun was shining!  As Andy, one of our skiers had to go to London for an interview and is missing his Level 1, we gained Sean, a 15 year old freestyle skier in his place for the week.  Our first warmup run of the morning and Sean does a 360 off a mound of high snow and we knew he was good!  However, no matter how many backflips you can do on skis you still need to  slow down and learn the basics to be able to teach them!  In the evening we had an hour theory session to go over skills and competencies again and discuss what we learned during the day.

Half way there, day two and a full day dedicated to the 5 steps of skiing from beginner to basic skiing without taking one lift!  It was a long day and pretending to be beginners again was difficult but alot of fun!  It’s hard to go back to the start again but a good reminder of how difficult it is to start from scratch and have to learn how to put on a ski again properly!  We also practiced taking the magic carpet and T-bar which is funny for us rather than traumatic as it would be if we were true beginners!  At this point I was really itching for a long, fast ski – amazing how frustrating it is being at the bottom looking up at the mountain all day and not being able to go up, I was getting withdrawal symptoms!  Unfortunately we just finished as the lifts closed so no chance of a last quick run up to tear down and blow out the cobwebs of the day.  Then straight inside for 1:1 consultation, looking at videos of our skiing and chatting about how happy we are to teach for the next few days.  I’m very apprehensive about that but I know what I know at this stage and all I can do is put everything into it and see what happens.  If we all pass on Friday it will be one mad session in Rafters at 3pm!…………………..

 

Ah the Weekend

Friday was dedicated to teaching practice and we used eachother as our students which was very successful eventhough it’s always difficult to teach a friend who knows the same if not more than you!  A good place though to start for our teaching assessment next week which is a worry!  Finally after a hard week of cramming information, improving skiing technique and teaching practice we came to that enjoyable 3pm hour when we know we are finished for a few days and can relax but not before we had our group meeting of the week where everyone swaps information on how they feel the week went, what they learned and what they want to achieve in the future.  It’s good to hear everyone’s comments and give feedback to our instructor.  A few wind down jugs of beer in Rafters and it’s the weekend and time to get away from the mountain for a few hours.  Craig and I gave up our group cook with the others in favour of dinner in Rossland in the one and only Japanese restaurant ‘Drift’.  It’s expensive and not very authentic in that they feel it’s not real food unless it has some batter on it and fried!!  It’s does however do a great martini and delicious Spanish wine.  We brought Josh with us so not quite a romantic night out!  Then on to the ‘Steam Shovel’ to meet a few of the others for some games of pool and the hammering nails into a stump of a tree!!! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammerschlagen) – we were home by 9:30, party animals! On Saturday six of the group went to another town an hour away called Nelson where the plan was to ski, go out on the town, stay the night and visit Nelson’s hot springs on Sunday.  Four of us in our condo were getting a bad case of cabin fever being stuck on the mountain and eventhough Rossland is a change, we have used it as our escape too much so we thought the next town, Trail might have something to offer to keep us distracted for at least an afternoon.  Getting to Trail however isn’t the easiest as the bus on Saturday only travels back!  As we couldn’t get our usual shuttle driver who we could offer a small sum, we were stuck with the one and only taxi which would need to travel from Trail, 30 minutes away and because there would be six of us, he would have to do the trip twice and charge  two fares!  I really understand the importance of a car in this country!  There are no words to describe the town but I’m sure I have seen it in some scary movie sometime!  The streets are deserted, there are a handful of not so useful shops, most of which look closed, however we did find somewhere for lunch but had to settle for the usual deep fried everything!  We did a weekend food shop, got on the $2 bus home and that was Trail ticked off the list, never to be repeated but was a break from the mountain for a few hours.  We cooked a great Indian curry feast (everyone is missing curry!), watched Batman and were all in bed by probably 10!  Yes, it makes no difference on Red Mountain whether it’s Monday or Saturday but a nice evening spent cooking and chatting nonethless. Sunday was Superbowl and eventhough I have zero to less interest in the sport I was happy that we were having a large gathering/party planned around it.

In the morning the sun was shining so we all went for a ski and a recap of what we need to know for our assessment and of course to have some weekend fun in the snow!  Craig got to christen his new board that was delivered yesterday and he’s a happy boarder.  Given that it’s the same board as his instructor is a bonus too!  We skied until the last lift and came home to the first of the gang arriving for the game.  We cooked up a storm on the bbq, managed to drink alot of beer and had about 22 people in our condo so  it was a great day, well after the football finished and the music started anyway!  In true style it was all done and dusted by 8pm and we were twiddling our thumbs again so I inflicted one of my favourite movies on the boys to get away from the usual Holywood blockbuster rubbish and it went down a treat.  All in bed by 11, we really are partying hard on the weekends here!!!!!

 

Back to Work


WOW!

Looking at little odd early morning!

Now that we had our fun powder day it’s back to a little more preparation in the sunshine for next week and what a classroom view!  Today we studied and commented on eachother’s skiing, picked out what was wrong and suggested ways to fix it and worked on that until lunch.  We started with two fast warmups down Main Run and then to easier slopes to work on technique.  Lunch was our first day outside in the sunshine with jackets off and it was a far cry from other weeks of freezing fingers and toes and warming gloves by the fire!  In the afternoons Jonathan likes to step things up a notch just when I have a tummy full of Jambalaya which was a little unsure it wanted to stay down at the mention of the ‘Beer Belly’ run!  We demonstrated traversing in steep terrain but unfortunately I stopped over what looked a little too sheer a drop for my after lunch feeling so I demonstrated traversing backwards to a more workable drop!!  The last run of the day was introduced with words like cliff, sheer, trees so I came to have a look at what was to come and bowed out of the challenge choosing to take the easy way around with Niall who at least tried one turn but hiked back up to safer ground.  I just took one unsteady look over the top and backed out.  That view of the rock face in front of me probably made my mind up!  When it’s time I will know it but it wasn’t today!

No activities tonight except for stocking up on weekend food so it was all eyes in the course notes after dinner and sleepy heads all around.  Another wild night off to bed at 9pm!  School’s out tomorrow until Tuesday so we can let our hair down for a few days and have a few cheap, rubbish Canadian beers at 3pm!

Powder Tuesdays

We woke to snow coming down and coming and coming – there was excitement, it was going to be an amazing powder day and play time!  There was the familiar whoops and shouts through the slopes and trees as the powder was deep, soft and begging to be skied.  It took a few runs to get into the swing of it again and glide through the white stuff, we were all happy and laughing.  We did some challenging slopes like ‘Link’s Line’, where the racing takes place.  It is steep with boulders so I was a little dubious about that choice but it is all possible on powder days because the landings are softer if it all goes wrong!  We also skied a narrow corridor of trees so no shopping for turns, there was just one choice!  Jonathan showed us how it really should be done while whooping and cheering his way down – he is a happy bunny on a powder day!  After lunch my neck started hurting from the jarring I gave it falling on the cat track earlier in the day and the muscle I pulled was screaming and giving me a whopping headache.  Another injury to add to the ever increasing list!  I dropped out early to rest and dose up on drugs before dinner – a pitiful end to the day but I only missed another run on Link’s Line – this time steeper and trees so wasn’t too sad!

There was a taste of curling after dinner but unfortunately my neck got worse and I had to head home with a couple of the others who decided curling wasn’t for them.  By all accounts it was a great evening and I was a gutted I couldn’t join.  Hopefully there won’t be another injury to stop me from enjoying the evening activities 😦

 

The pre ‘Level 1’ exam week

Another amazing view from the top

It’s all systems go now to prepare for our Level 1 assessments from the 7th to 10th Feb.  We got Jonathan back as our instructor today and it was a great start to the week with a mix of fun exercises, tech sessions and ski, ski, ski!!  I was going too fast down the moguls though, fell on my shoulder and gave it a good wrench so heat packs and muscle cream at the ready – good timing eh!  Jonathan will also be our examiner next week so it’s great to have his instruction a week before.  The sunshine today was fantastic and the views of the mountain again were amazing which also makes for a shorter day and not having to stick your head inside your jacket like a turtle as you come over the brow of the hill on the chairlift!  No wind today – a blessing!

Getting ready to jump in the clouds!

I had a really good ski day today and felt the benefits of my private lesson on Friday.  We did nice easy wide runs over and over, working on turns, with a mix of mini bowls (easy tree skiing) and then ‘Beer Belly’ this afternoon which is a run that I have hated – it’s steep, full of trees, moguls, rocks and holes.  Today I came down it with alot less problems and was happy.  Also through the trees my skiing improved alot and I’m just ploughing on with turns instead of bailing the difficult ones and with Jonathan’s encouragement at every turn it gave me the push I needed.  His enthusiasm is infectious!

Tonight chicken curry for dinner 🙂 and now the guys are over to play poker – 5 serious players around the table and Rodrigo, our Chilean DJ who has become better known as ‘DJ Santiago’!!  I think it’s early to bed for me, yes it’s still only 8:30 but it’s a long day and alot of exercise to fit in.  It’s only party time at the weekends……………….:)

 

Rossland Winter Carnival

The boys waiting for curtain up!

The weekend arrived and my god was I glad to be done until Tuesday and free to party and enjoy Rossland and not ski for a few days.  As much as I’m enjoying learning and skiing every day it’s still great when the weekend arrives and the alarm clock is turned off! It’s Winter Carnival weekend and we have tickets to ‘Ski Bum’ the musical to start off proceedings!  We headed into town in time for the festival start, the parade and fireworks and try out the ice bar area which was rocking.  It was great to see Rossland with a whole lot of life and everyone having fun eventhough it was dark, snowing and very very cold.  None of us came prepared for night time outdoors and by the time I reached the school for the musical I was an icicle! The musical was absolutely fantastic, had just a cast of four, one of which was the composer, and she kicked ass as did the other three.  It was a whole lot better than what I was expecting and great to get out of our usual environment and feel like a part of Rossland – our home for now.  As Rossland is small and only has a few bars it couldn’t cater for the extra visitors in town and the spill of people from the musical.  We were trying to get in any door possible because of the cold but the bars were jammed and we were out in the cold so it was home time and try again tomorrow!

James, Steve, Rodrigo

Saturday lie in but up and ready to head to Rossland for breakfast and the day’s fun at the festival.  James, Steve and Rodrigo were volunteering at the ice bar so we split up into easy hitching numbers to get to town.  We got a lift straight away just out of the resort from some nice kids living at Red for the season too and we got to town in time to watch the bobsleigh racing before breakfast.

bobsleigh team member!

This involves a team making their own bobsleigh out of pretty much anything, jumping on and letting rip at the top of one of the approach streets into town and arriving at the bottom hopefully unscathed which didn’t quite go according to plan for a few entrants!  It was great to see the whole town out to support and enjoy the fun of the racing although I did hear that one ambulance was used!  A breakfast of omelette, hash browns and toast and we were ready to seize the day which pretty much meant keeping the boys company at the ice bar and watching the rail jam which was on the street facing us so a perfect few while sipping much needed mulled wine.

The snow was really coming down and a beer garden is perfect for summer but not for these conditions so we went for a stroll to my friends at the Powderhound shop to solve my footwear problem and purchased the warmest Baffins I could find which are good up to minus  40 – now I feel like a true local!  My soaking boots were tossed to one side and I walked out of the shop wearing soft clouds of heat – I was happy again and ready for pictures and bearing the cold beer garden for another few hours, brrrrrr.  We stayed until dark and the boys had had their fill of beer and mulled wine by then but I held back waiting until I got home to test my Canadian Merlot with dinner and it didn’t disappoint.  After another great home cooked feast (we are getting good at making the most of our big dining table!) we headed to the rest of the gang at 307 to finish the night and catch up on the day’s stories and some hot tubbing!

Unfortunately I also brought with me the bottle of cinnamon whiskey I purchased and drank it like it was water and inflicted the same drinking technique onto Clive – we both had long nights which involved some babysitting – thanks Derek, Niall and Craig!  I have a very large bruise on my back today, hmmmm!  Note to self:  no more Fireball or at least not straight up.  Today was a long day involving no outdoor activity or indeed not even venturing outdoors at all.  Another ‘all around the table’ dinner tonight of roast chicken (cooked Jaime Oliver style with a can of beer inside it!), roast spuds and veg and I was starting to feel normal again.  A day wasted but lesson learned.

It was an excellent weekend of carnival fun and games, roll on the next Rossland outing…………………

Week 3 – Changes

So another Monday.  It’s the same wherever you go whether heading to a boring desk job or heading into the mountains to ski fresh powder.  We are still getting that Sunday night feeling in anticipation of another week of class, what the instructor has in store and will we be able to step up to the plate for yet another week.  This week we had to say goodbye to our instructor Brent for a couple of weeks and gained another called Tag with a whole different teaching style and personality.  Our two groups of 4 were merged again which didn’t work too well as we are now used to 4 students to 1 instructor which works well but we find ourselves at 8 again.  By midday we had one bored dropout who chose to play with his visiting Danish friends – and then there were 7!  The weather however made up for the change to the class configuration as it was blue skies all the way and a view as far as the eye could see – spectacular scenes.  The terrain however got much harder for me – steeper, more trees and rocks and I wasn’t comfortable and spent alot of time debating my next move.  I was shattered after a long day of go go go skiing and technical lessons as Tad doesn’t like to hang about!  After another yummy dinner which was lapped up by everyone and burned off instantly, we headed to technical sessions back at the condos – the skiers watching the Bode Miller story and boarders The History of Snowboarding.  There were nodding sleepy heads by the end of each movie and it was still only 9pm – our evening stamina has been shortened by hours and our appetites have gone through the roof!

[me: the small one in yellow pants below]

Tuesday was a good day but the weather was back to cloud and varied visibility.  By lunch time we had lost yet another 3 students and Tad was getting increasingly worried about his  teaching ability!  We assured him it was just the 3rd week syndrome and things would improve.  It was a great afternoon with just 4 students left so we were back to more individual attention again and good fun in the trees and deep powder.  That was ruined though by the freezing mist that came down which left us blind as our goggles froze over every few minutes making seeing or skiing impossible.  The moisture that fell on our clothes  froze too and we looked like abominable snowmen so it was time to give up the day early but it was a long way down without eyes and taking off goggles wasn’t an option – like being stabbed in the eyes with needles.  Hopefully the weather will improve tomorrow and let us enjoy the large amounts of fresh powder that fell today.  Another early night…………………zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday was a bad day for my skiing because I was so tired by the end of the day and just wasn’t feeling it.  We arrived at the top of Silverlode lift to be told that the next lift to the top was closed due to high winds so it was back down and over to Red Mountain lift – we took one run and then that one closed too!  An old two person lift is scary in high winds, eek.  We were then reduced to the T bar at the foot of the mountain, back to basics.  I think Tad was getting a bit antsy because we couldn’t properly ski the mountain so when news came of the open lift at the top of the T bar run, we trekked to the lift instead of going back down to get a chair to it.  Tad likes to zip off without saying where he’s going so we just followed without knowing it was an uphill ski!  That finished me off I think and then there were the difficult runs with deep snow to follow and by 2pm I was sitting back on my skis with every turn and falling like there’s no tomorrow.  I was never so glad to get on Rino’s run home to lay on the couch with helmet and goggles still on!  I declined the bus to dinner in favour of my own cooking and thinking I had a night in alone.  However nobody took the offer of the trip to the cinema so my single night was doomed!  I was in bed by 8:30 and 12 hours later I emerged back for another day hoping it would be a better one.

Thursday was indeed a better day with lots of sleep and rest behind me and also Australia Day!  We took some runs at the top before lunch and lunched at the base where Australia burger was the lunch special – the difference?  Pineapple and beetroot, yes!  Because the weather turned we dedicated the rest of the day to technical lessons and teaching techniques which was fun and interesting and it seems the snow plough is not as easy to perfect as we thought!  End of the week and Australia Day and open mic night at Rafters so apres was a must.  The night died a death a little with nobody getting into the Rock Cut and Rafters closing early it was another early night 😦  Not a problem as getting up early again for a morning private lesson was at the back of my mind and I wanted to be in ship shape for that.  I woke rested and ready for a long weekend as classes do not start until Tuesday.  My private 1 1/2 hour lesson was great and really helped me.  I wanted to work on my stance but it seems my turning needed more work and my left foot is a bit of a lazy one!  You can’t cover alot in an hour but getting some individual pointers is a must for improving.

NonStop

It was a long week but with great ski progression given that we were split into two groups of four so the tuition is almost as good as 1:1.  Our instructor is Brent and his mix of wit and chilled attitude makes for good fun days of skiing with lots of technical exercises.  As the snow arrived we spent alot of time in the powder and trees and buddying up with a partner so we wouldn’t get lost or be left if we hit a tree!  I fell alot again this week and got stuck in some bushes and trees.  Trying to take your skis off upside down and put them back on again in deep powder up to your knees is just not easy!  The course director, Mark joined us for a day to look at progression and show us some more fun in the trees.  When I arrived here I was terrified of the trees and avoided them completely, sticking to the piste, so from that to racing after Mark through the trees on Wednesday was a pretty good feeling despite still falling here and there!

We had a ski and snowboard edging and wax lesson on Monday which was very helpful but we just need to find the time to do it ourselves in between skiing and bed – that leaves about 5 minutes at the rate we are going!

The highlight of the week, or so we thought, was our visit to Walmart which wasn’t great although as usual we still managed to spend money – luckily they don’t sell beer!  Still good to get out and about………….

On Thursday somehow I felt rubbish from the evening before and decided to give class a miss to nurse my bug.  As the flu is flying around here and hit my instructor last week I was worried but luckily it passed over and I was 70% ready to start the avalanche course on Friday.

From 8am to 3pm 13 of us sat in a classroom learning about different terrain and avalanches and what causes them.  More importantly we learned what to do in a burial situation i.e. when your buddy is buried under the snow and how to go about finding him with the help of a transceiver, probe and shovel.  A pretty grim subject and Keith our tutor was very keen to be ‘realistic’ and talk alot about death so I found myself needing air and the classroom closing in a bit!  There was no happy stories whatsoever although we did finish off with a few hours in the snow where we paired up and simulated some rescues by burying our bags with transceivers inside while the other person tried to find them and dig them up which was good fun as the snow was really deep.  Good to get out of the classroom too!

On Saturday, the 2nd part of the course, the plan was to jump in a snow cat to the top of a nearby mountain, be dropped off and ski and board untracked snow with nobody else in sight – no lifts, no public.  We would also study the snow, looking at layering and hopefully (Keith hoped!) to see an avalanche (in the distance of course!).  This all sounded great, especially the untracked powder given that the snow was pelting down, however with all the talk of avalanches and my heightened imagination I woke in the middle of the night with heart thumping, terrified and no intention of going into avalanche territory that morning as the latest avalanche bulletin didn’t look pretty.

As it turned out the boys didn’t go near an avalanche area, took one long powder run down from the cat at the top and then had to walk back up again, much to their surprise, with skins on their skis and boarders wearing snow shoes and carrying their boards on their backbacks (ouch!).  This took hours (no lifts!) and the tutor turned out to be little or no help with information on what everyone should be doing.  Disappointed I missed the fresh, untracked powder but if Keith hadn’t scared the bejesus out of me with talk of constant death I would have been there with bells on! 😦

To fill my day in the absence of the boys I went up the mountain for an afternoon ski only to come straight back down on Rino’s run (top to bottom) because visibility was zero, there were weekend crowds and long lift lines (unheard of at Red!) so it was not enjoyable.  The day was stormy too and the snow was coming down in buckets but despite the weather I took the walk into town along the cross country ski path which would have been alot easier if I had in fact cross country skis instead of trudging through the snow in my non waterproof boots.  I visited the usual three shops but it seems the season is over and they are waiting for their Spring stock so still no decent waterproof boots for me 😦    I didn’t think it was an issue arriving not fully prepared for knee deep snow to a town with huge yearly snowfall i.e. boots aplenty, I was wrong!

Saturday night, oh yeah!  It was time to party with a full Sunday off and time to lounge.  As we’re on the mountain we have but one option to go to the party in ‘Rafters’ our only apres ski bar.  It’s the after party following the Kokanee Canadian Open which was held at Red for the last week.  After a quick booze warm up in the condo we arrived at Rafters to be asked for photo i.d.!  That’s a first in a very very long time!  Unfortunately that meant our two minors had to go back home and make their own fun 😦  A good fun night with Rodrigo djing, dancing and watching the locals and ski racers taking their clothes off, dancing on tables and looking like surfers!  Some of us had just enough to drink and some forgot how they got home (3 minute walk!) and had to be put to bed, ha ha!

TABLE GAME (interesting!)

HE IS WEARING SUNGLASSES TOO!

MARCUS, SEBASTIAN, ME, CRAIG

CANADIAN TABLE DANCING!

RIPPED!

It was a slow Sunday for all today and no riding on the mountain for fear we may not make it home!  Craig and I got hold of some snow bodyboards and had a break from the long day indoors for a play in the snow but we didn’t last long!  With great plans to cook tonight we discovered the one pizza place in town which delivers but as luck would have it they had no drivers tonight, aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!  We called our Red Mountain complimentary shuttle driver John who was happy to pick them up, pay for them and deliver to our living room – we love John!  So it’s movie and pizza night at 208 and trying to get back the energy to start another nonstop week on the mountain……..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Next weekend another party and also Winter Carnival in Rossland, never a dull moment……………..!

Powder’s Here!!!

Finally the snow dump came today to alot of eager skiers and boarders very excited to get up the mountain to our first deep powder of the season and it delivered!  From the lifts, yelps of delight could be heard in the trees as it was possible to glide rather than negotiate the moguls and packed snow.  Still remembering technical lessons of stance and balance from the day before but leaning towards fun in the powder which was encouraged!  The wind chill and constant snow fall required regular ‘heat’ stops to ‘Paradise Lodge’ and thank god for that hot stove – the hardest worker on the mountain!  It is packed daily with gloves resting on the surrounding grid and lots of cold skiers leaning in for some warmth.  Also great for toasting a packed lunch which only takes minutes!

We managed to lose one of our group twice today in the trees but he was safe and sound inside each time – I think we need whistles!

Looking forward to more powder tomorrow…………………………

1st Week

An easy start to the course with instruction on just Wednesday and Thursday gave us an introduction on what’s to come, revealing that I’m definitely not skiing at the level I want to be at and trying to keep up with the rest of the class.  Hearing we are to be split into two groups next week made me feel better and having four pupils per instructor is a pretty good ratio for a season.  The trees are definitely a weakness for me and being at Red where everyone comes to specifically ski the trees is keeping my nerves up and confidence down.  My new skis are not loving the packed groomers and whoever said they are ‘all-mountain’ skis wasn’t entirely right – they are longing for the powder as am I so I can get away from the shuddering legs on the packed steeps.  The snow is on the way we’re hoping this week so we can do what we came here to do and the landings get softer!  I broke my record this week for having never fallen off a lift…..hmm!  I grabbed the wrong bar on the very basic lift which likes to swing backwards as it scoops you up but unfortunately when it did I went flying off and underneath it and instead of reversing the lift my unfortunate lift partner was told to jump off, come back and try again with me!

We are being bussed every evening to the village for dinner in a big yellow school bus which in itself is a funny adventure but it takes the whole journey for the bus to heat up so we are arriving and just getting warm!  We are finding the nights long and are usually in bed by 10 after cooking a hearty meal for eachother and watching a dodgy movie as the t.v. is unwatchable.  We have paired up by room to cook dinner on the weekends for the rest of the condo which is working well – fajitas tonight!

The integration to the community is happening already with Rodrigo, our resident DJ from Chile, doing a few sets in the one and only apres ski bar ‘Rafters’.  Winter Carnival is coming up too which by all accounts is the best event of the year in Rossland, and we are encouraged to volunteer which is a good way to get to know the locals a little better and sty on their good side http://www.rosslandwintercarnival.com.  We thought we may have messed that up on Thursday night when after bingo at the ‘Flying Steam Shovel’ (yes!) we started walking home only to realise we hadn’t paid when the barman came running up the road after us!!!  I think it was the trauma of realising there was no other way home than to walk that made us forget about the payment!  Luckily hitching is one of the popular activities in Rossland and the only way to get around so myself and two others managed to jump in a car with a girl going our way and leaving the rest of the poor guys to walk home in the -10 temperatures in the dark 😦

I took the half hour walk into town and back on Friday along the snow path which would have been even better if I hadn’t taken the more scenic route through the woods where every werewolf movie I had ever watched flashed before me and the mention of cougars in the area didn’t help either!  Worth it though for a spa visit and a hair cut and a welcome change to talk to girls and relax away from the snow for an afternoon.

Saturday we went on a snow shoeing half day around a nearby huge frozen lake (Nancy Greene Lake) http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/.  Stopped into a log cabin where we lit a fire, toasted our cheese sandwiches and drank hot chocolate mixed with a little Baileys that our guide had kindly brought – purely for warming properties of course!  A great little day to do something completely different and learn about the surrounding countryside to boot.  We finished off Saturday with a great party in our condo inviting the whole group but it seems even if you have a party here you are still in bed by 12am!  The booze ran out which was good otherwise we wouldn’t have made it to the mountain today although I think I just went up for the nice lunch and had a leisurely ski straight down again on my own leaving the boys to play some more.

Back to school again tomorrow with a little dread and back up the same three/four lifts which are getting monotonous but I guess it will be all worth it in the end when I’m an olympic skier!!!!!!  Our only day off next week will be Sunday as we have signed up for an avalanche course which takes up the whole weekend, a day in the classroom and a day on the mountain with our shovels and transceivers pretending to search and dig for people who are lost.  Sadly it is a reality like today when the helicopter was circling this morning looking for two missing overnight.  Luckily they were found and as I came back down the mountain today after my quick hangover ski with the helicopter overhead, the ambulance had pulled in to meet it at the base 😦  Backcountry is exciting but unpredictable and if not prepared it won’t go well for you………………………

Condo Living

What can I say………………amazing!  http://www.liveatred.com/index.php/residences/slalomcreek.  Still pinching ourselves after stepping into our new home last night, WOW!  We are all settled and the whole group are great, ranging from 17 to 55.  Six in our condo and a great fun bunch.  We have everything we could want and more and I think the hot tub, mixed with Cuba Libres last night was the highlight, well at least for the 6+ guys that were in it anyway!  No room for me!  This is definitely not roughing it living and the perfect place to retire after a hard day of non stop skiing for the next few months.  Still sore and pulled after my fall but can’t wait to start the course tomorrow with a nice easy cruisey day on the mountain.  Tonight welcome dinner where we all get to meet and chat properly now that everyone’s suited and booted and ready to start the season with a bang……………………