Well, Skiing is finally being learned. Its something I’ve wanted to do for ages and I’m doing it. This update has 2 days in one as I was too knacked to write one yesterday. If you want links to the trail maps, click here to see where I was. I was on Blackcomb Mountain. (Plus, if you want to skip to the bit where I actually start skiing, go to Sunday on the Mountain)
Saturday on the Mountain
I woke up early to get the ski pass, but took mates advice and stayed back for a bit, since Gee wouldn’t be ready to teach till 10 at the earliest. Got 2 hours more sleep in most of my kit. On went the boots and I headed for Blackcomb Base II to pick up a ski pass.
After queuing and nattering to some vetran skiers about what to expect, I was sent on my way with a ski pass and a warning that if I gave it away or sold it I would loose my job. Harsh, but fair I suppose.
A muddy walk down the hill in ski boots is not fun, niether is seeing the enormous line at the base of the hill. After standing about for 10 minutes I saw the singles line and cut 45 more minutes of queuing. I then let the lifties know that I was new at this and a short guide would be nice, they really went, instead informing me to go back to finance and count a few beans. I went up anyway since I had said that there was no way I wasn’t going up today, too exciting.
At the top of Wizard Express (the lift I was on) there was yet another queue for a lift, Solar Express, this time the singles line was much longer. Too boot, at one point some Asian father went mental because people started jeering his young daughter to get on the lift faster and not fall. I can see his point.
Anyway, eventually I made it up to Rendezvous, a restraunt/hut at the top of Solar Express, 1860 metres (6102 feet) up. The view was fantastic, even though we couldn’t see the valley. Its like a new world up there.
It turned out Gee couldn’t do the lesson, so I went to the Ski School and asked if they were doing group drop-in lessons. They apparently were, but changed thier minds at the last minute, and told me to come back at 10 the next morning. So, I learned how to use the lifts and spent money on food at Rendezvous, which actually isn’t too expensive, but I don’t have my staff discount yet which would actually make it cheaper than the village!
I headed down and after another muddy walk, was back in my room by about 13:45.
$2 Whistler Welcome Meal
Oooo thanks WERC (Whistler Employment and Resource Charity)! $2 for a buffet meal with prize give aways + (poop, hippy) live music. Was nice having some decent healthy food, followed by carrot cake and no name fizzy drink. I had 3 helpings + 2 deserts (hey, they offered, waste not want not). Was also nice to have a good meal with loads of people who I knew there. A few bevs in the lounge after this then rest for the ski school tommorow, and I wasn’t taking no for an answer.
Sunday on the Mountain
I took the Excalibur gondella up the mountain instead of walking to Blackcomb base. Not a smart move on my part. I wound up stuck with the only way to a nearby lift being on your ski’s. Fortunatly, I randomly met Gee, who offered a lesson. Off I went, unfortunatly not knowing how to regulate my speed. The only way to stop is throwing yourself into the snow… its soft!
After a while of not quite getting it, Gee and me gave up really, and I just made it to the lift after being in more snow than a fish in a trawler hold. After ascending the Jersey Cream Express lift I headed to the Ski school. Horray! They would do me a lesson! Infact as it turned out I was the only one who wanted to ski in the morning so I had a FREE Private Skiing lesson.
We started out with getting balence on one ski, then on the other foot, and practiced putting the heals out (to create the Snow Plough). Same again with both ski’s on, then we moved on to turning. This is quite wierd in skiing, kicking your heal out on the ski on the outside of the turn, and putting your wiegh on it (i.e. if you want to go left you put your right heal out and put your wieght on the right leg). We dumped the poles so I just practiced moving my hands from leg to leg to get the idea. This also has to be combined with Snow Plough. Anyway, I got the hang of it so off we went onto the Easy Out run.
Dispite being called Easy Out it is in fact both quite steep and for the first part has a 12 foot drop into trees on one side. We were practicing weaving down the slope. The most fearful part of this exercise is easly turning, since you will pick up speed in doing so and at one point your skis will be pointing straight down the slope. This is countered by ending your turn with your angle slightly up hill if you want to slow down with more power than the Snow Plough.
Anyway, by the end I was pretty good. Anita (the instructor) told me that a lot of people don’t even get above Snow Ploughing on thier first day, to get to the bottom of a run is above average easily. The lift back up (Catskinner) started to cement it into my brain that I’ve got mild vertigo and it’s tough not to just hold on for dear life. Total time for that run was about 60 minutes
Second run of easy out, this time with the poles. All I’m allowed to do is propell myself with them and drag em in the snow (which helps keeping your wieght angled downhill when your cutting across the slopes). No stopping with them. It was quite easy to pick em up, although I may practice again without them to get more balence. Using them to turn was allowed after I had the basics.
The second run went very well, much longer without stopping or falling, better flow between the turns, more control. It only took 30 minutes and there was a lot less falling! At one point I even (accidentally) ended up skiing the snowwall at the side of the run and not falling! After all that, I needed some lunch and so did Anita.
Chilli in Rendezvous! Bleeding well worth $7 I tells ya! Plus warming up is great! Ria and Arron were working there today so we had a small chat.
After lunch the ski school was doing another group lesson, this time with paid people. After they were just getting on the lift at the time they should have been at the top, I decided to go for a solo run (which Anita recomended I do at the end of lunch anyway). Easy out suddenly seemed a bit more scary. I stopped a few times to pick my line a bit and fell a few more. Still, it took about 40 minutes and its all practice.
I was going to see if I could access some more open Green Runs by going down a Blue Run in a Slow Zone (a mountain host said this would be OK), but decided against it. Instead I took Solar Express down, got some free Hot Choclate between it and Wizard Express, thanks Mountain Hosts, and then headed down again. I got talking to my chair lift buddy, a begginer snowboarder, Lorna (spelling?) from Loughborough. Nice lass.
Bus back to HOUSE, took my feet out of the vices that are ski boots and started to rewarm and right this. A fun day to say the least!