Having now completed the first full week of skiing I had finally started to overcome the trauma of being told by our instructor for the first week, Terry, that according to the Canadian way of skiing the last 22 years of my skiing life had been a total waste and I was doing it all wrong. With the words ‘get those legs apart’ and ‘centred stance’ still ringing in my ears it was time to meet our instructor for week 2, Simon.
Simon is half English, half Swiss-French of Bolivian origin and an ex Nonstop client no less. Having taught deprived children how to ski in his native Malawi for 17 1/2 years he returned to his roots in Fernie 6 weeks ago where he has been teaching ever since.
Now Simon is a very nice fella and I hoped given his Euro background that he would side with me on the whole slide the skis around, stand upright, legs together stance, but alas he did not. Whilst he was sympathetic my whole skiing life had indeed been a total waste.
I therefore decided to give in and go with the flow.
I would love to give you an idea of the snow conditions but to be honest, at the time of writing this some 2 weeks later I can’t actually remember. I do seem to recall there was still a lot of deep powder to be skied in and I also recall that quite often for some reason I seemed to be eating quite a lot of it. So instead I’ll just say this was probably the first time in nearly 2 weeks that I felt I was getting somewhere towards understanding and implementing the Canadian model of skiing and I could see how it made skiing pow and bumps a whole lot easier.
On Wednesday night after skiing we returned to the lodge for a tech session on Ski touring and how to attach the skins and operate touring bindings for skiing uphill (a somewhat pointless activity my sceptical mind was telling me – how wrong I was).
The trip to Kimberley: Today we drove to Kimberly, the nearest resort to Fernie, conveniently located a mere 1hr 45mins away – like a short trip to the shops in Canadian terms.
The sun was shining and the sky was blue. The mountain was deceiving as when you arrived you thought ‘is this it?’ and when you left you thought ‘that was awesome!’ Best of all it felt like there was no one else there, I’ve become used to the quiet slopes at Fernie but wow this was even quieter.
The place had lovely wide groomed slopes if you wanted to rip it up carving style and some monster mogul/bumps runs if you wanted to shatter your knees. I tried both and thankfully I’m still able to walk, in fact this was the first time in my life that I have come down mogul runs and felt some sense of achievement, maybe these Canadians have got it right after all……..
Some pictures to help you understand I’m talking about:
Today was the Avalanche safety training field day. Today we travelled to various locations across the mountain with our avalanche guide/instructor Rick. We learnt how to use transceivers and did a few drills whereby one of us buried the unit to mimic a buried avalanche victim and the other had to use his transceiver to locate it. This was a useful exercise and one could quickly appreciate what an important and essential piece of backcountry safety equipment these puppies are.
Exercise completed we moved to the other side of the ski hill and exited at the Lost Boys Exit in order to dig a snow pit. Snow pits are used to examine the different layers of the snow pack and enable various tests to be performed to help evaluate the risk of avalanches happening in the vicinity of said pack. It was also an opportunity to learn the most effective shovelling technique when trying to recover an avalanche victim. I think it’s called a conveyor system whereby one person stands at the front digging whilst 2 stand behind removing the snow that the first person has dug up. In fact it actually just turned out to be an opportunity for Shaun to chuck shovel after shovel of snow in my face. I got my revenge though and instead of using a shovel to perform the shovel test on a 1 meter column of snow I picked the column up and tested it’s strength by launching it at Shaun’s torso.
Training over it was time to head down the mountain to catch the bus home. The run down turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip so far. We had spent the whole day up the mountain but our skiing time was obviously minimal. I think Shaun and Steve were itching to let off some steam since as the three of us skied down the mountain it quickly became obvious that it was in fact a contest to see who could get to the bottom of the hill first with the smallest number of turns.
As the speed built up and we neared the bottom of the run (Falling Star I believe) the two idiots in front took the left hand option which I recalled featured a massive roller across the width of the slope. It occurred to me that maintaining the current speed could result in death or certainly some sort if injury and I therefore reduced my speed only to see the other two fly off in to the distance. I approached the roller and being unable to see what was on the other side I figured that surely I would see at least one but possible two bodies sprawled on the other side. And sure enough, waddya know??!!!! I skied over the top of the roller and as the rest of the piste came in to view there was a familiar looking person spread across the piste some and get this, 25 metres past the roller. That was some unintended jump! Once I had finished pissing myself with laughter I enquired as to whether Steve was ok. ‘Yeah I’m fine – didn’t know that was there’ came the reply. That figures, I thought. It was one of those had to be there moments but it kept me laughing my arse off all the way to the bottom of the run. Wish I’d got a photo……
TO READ WEEK 3 CLICK HERE