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………………….