My dear friend Roanne turned 30 on Friday and invited me to celebrate with her and some friends up in Whistler for the weekend. We couldn't have timed it better - with a snow storm blowing in some flurries on Friday night and fresh powder on Saturday! She and Cam rented a condo within walking distance of the gondolas so we crammed 10 people into a space comfortable for 4. Reminded me of my college days!
We were all smiles at the base near the ticket booth on our way up Whistler mountain.
We did a couple of groomed green runs on Whistler, before quickly discovering that everyone else on the mountain was doing the same runs we were. So we headed out on the Peak to Peak gondola to Blackcomb. It was cool riding it - especially since it just opened the day before. At one point the gondola spans 3km of cable without any support - 1,200 feet above the valley floor!
Here's a shot of Emily - as we are just approaching the the last tower before the big span...
Apparently the gondola can still run in winds up to 60mph. But just think how scary it would get after that....
Ben and I were happy to be in the middle of the Gondola - where it felt a little safer? Check out the new jacket! It's a honing device for people to find me on the mountain and it works really, really well!
We skied the rest of the day on Blackcomb on some off piste sections - with enough coverage to make it pleasant - though we were still destroying some exposed bushes on the way down. A couple of front face dives (or as Mike deemed them - torpedoes!) and several hundred lunges later - I was more than ready for the hot tub! There's nothing like that after skiing exhaustion that puts you to bed by 9:30. I know - party animals, eh?
The next morning we opted to do some skate skiing at Callaghan. This facility is going to be used for the Nordic portion of the 2010 Olympics - so it was super cool to check it out. The luge was really cool - who knows, maybe some day I'll give that a go?
It was a beautiful bluebird day - but COLD! Temps were in the -15 Celcius - without the windchill factor. But our skate skiing adventures kept us nice and warm. Here's a shot of Fras, Cam's brother hamming it up while we watched a decathlon race finish up.
Then a group shot - Emily, myself, Fras and Kyle.
Fras, Cam and Kyle stopped for a second to let me capture them on film. Kyle sported the old school long socks and pant tuck method - and rocked the house on skate skis for the first time ever! Pretty impressive.
Roanne and I were separated from the rest of the group at one point as she was trying to teach me some techniques that might actually make me faster..... and as she tucked down a hill to swoosh down to the bottom, I heard her squeal and came around the corner to discover a complete wipe out!
We laughed for a solid 5 minutes. And just when I was thinking to myself, that's usually me who does something like that, I lost all of my balance and took a dig into the nicely groomed snow. We howled for another 5 minutes. Cam came around the corner, wondering where we were and when he asked what we were up to - we both just started giggling again. "Nothing." Ha!
To top it off - the race course finish was still fairly untouched so Cam, Ben, Fras and Emily decided to do some sprint finishes to the line. Fras smoked Ben with his double poling and enthusiasm technique.
And then Cam followed suite to throw his poles up in victory as he crossed the line before Emily. Those Charles brothers are quite a pair! (They kept calling each other Max all weekend from "Where the Wild Things Are.") "Nice work MAX!!!"
We left the park shortly thereafter and headed back to Vancouver to drop Ben off at the airport, after eating at the Swiss Chalet, everyone's favorite spot restaurant in Canada. I was introduced to the 1/4 chicken with fries, multi-grain roll and special sauce. And I have to admit, at first I was skeptical. But then after a while, it starts to grow on you. We made a mad dash to the airport, only to find out Ben's flight had been canceled due to the weather.
On we continued to Bellingham to pick up Makiah - boy was she happy to see us! And we watched the temps dip into the teens on our way home. Burr!!! The cold weather is supposed to stick around all week - making for some cold riding conditions or ideal skiing. On Saturday I head up to the Colorado Rockies for some more snow play and adventures - so looking forward to it!