Monday, March 7, 2011

Skiing Update - 2011

Winter is going by quickly and we are certainly making the most of a snowy year. My shoulder's not really improved, much to my great dismay, but I'm certainly enjoying doing a lot of skiing with Elise. She has improved in leaps and bounds from last year and we are already discussing a possible season pass at Whistler for next year (if we can afford it!). We have two weeks left until we head down to Smith Rock for a one-week break. I doubt I'll be able to do much climbing, but we are looking forward to a getaway and will bring our skis so we have options.

Elise and I did our first ski day to the top of Whistler about 2 weeks ago. Whistler is a huge mountain and this was a big jump up from Grouse and Mt. Seymour. We didn't start too early and I didn't plan for a huge day. Regardless, fatigue was inevitable. Here we are riding up the Creekside Gondola together first thing in the morning. The guy who took this picture was Swiss and almost fell out of the gondola door while focusing. Yikes!

One of the highlights of the day was a much-anticipated ride on the famous Peak to Peak gondola. This lift goes from the restaurant on Whistler across the Fitzsimmon's valley to Blackcomb. It's got the highest span of a lift in the world, higher than the CN tower! I'd promised Elise we'd ride it, and she would not take no for an answer.

Here she is, riding the Peak to Peak. Looking quite pleased, I must say.

On the other side at Blackcomb, and getting ready to bomb me with a chunk of snow. Throwing snow at Dad is always a fun time...

We were blessed with a gorgeous day. There was fresh snow and the sun was out. As you may have imagined, it was cold and Elise was very bundled up. Here she is poised to ski down the Horstman glacier from the very summit of Blackcomb (around 7,000 ft). I did not plan for this, but when we reached the summit of 7th Heaven, she exclaimed she wanted to ski the glacier, with great determination. I think she was mostly just excited at the idea of being ON a glacier. She did well and it turned out to be a highlight of the day.

Here she is having a slopeside snack break on Blackcomb. We just sat and enjoyed the winter sun.

She skied all the way to the valley at the end of the day (1 mile vertical drop). We broke up the journey with a stop at the Tree Fort on Whistler, which is a kids' playground complete with slides, snowcaves and bridges in the trees. She had fun, but the slides were a tad extreme.

Skiing down to the creekside base. She had to ski long stretches of intermediate (blue) terrain on the way down and did very well. She got compliments from a number of other skiers along the way.

A few days later, we went to Vancouver to attend Olivia's 9th birthday party. It was a skating party, and we all participated. Elise had never skated on proper skates before, so this was a new experience. She had lots of fun, but would not leave the security of the slider. Doesn't she look cute in her little white skates?

We've had lots of snow in Squamish. This was a morning of sledding at the Brackendale school with her friends Isabella and Kaian.

Last Thursday, I took her skiing on Cypress Bowl in West Vancouver. Again, we lucked out with a fabulous day. The ski was partially clear and the mountain had received over one foot of fresh snow in the past 24 hours. The best part was, it was deserted! We never waited in line and skied "fresh powder" on the sides of the run until noon. I really enjoyed the skiing this day. Cypress suffered terribly last year during the Olympics due to a lack of snow. This year it's buried! Murphy's Law, I guess.

This photo shows the fresh powder under the lift. There barely anyone on the lift in front of us and only one other skier in sight!

The bear in the lodge.

Getting serious about her french fries. This is a special ski day treat for her. Sometimes, I think she eats more ketchup than fries.

Self portrait in the new Cypress lodge, built for the Olympics. It's a beautiful building.

Feeding the ravens at the top of Cypress' newest quad chair. This was an unexpected treat.

The next day, we went skating again - this time at the Squamish arena. She'd had a great time at Olivia's party and was excited to do some more. Again, she used the supporting slider. Check out her new down parka! I'm jealous...

About 15 minutes into the skate, she turned to me and said, "Dad, I want to try it by myself". Who was I to say no? She "walked" across the ice (not really skating), but managed to learn how to balance on the blades, which was a good progression I think. She did lots on her own and by the end of the session felt more comfortable.

Here she is, about to fall.

At least she's smiling!

This past Sunday, we all went skiing on Whistler (Pam, Elise and I). The forecast was for sun, and we decided it was an opportunity we couldn't pass up. Elise had a bit of a cold, and didn't seem to have quite the patience or spunk as on our first day at Whistler, but did well nonetheless. After a couple of warm-ups, we went up the Peak Chair, a very intimidating ride over cliffs and glaciers right to the top of the mountain. Here she is, posing like an explorer at the summit of some challenging peak! Truth be told, she was mad because the sun was bright and demanded to have here goggles back on shortly after this shot was taken.

Pam and Elise at the top of Whistler mountain. What a beautiful day! It's an incredible environment up there. No wonder it's considered world class. We need to utilise this amazing resource more in the future.

A highlight of the day, of course, was feeding the Whiskey Jack's both at the base of the Symphony Express and at the base of the Harmony Express. They are bold birds, and having the feed off the tops of our heads was really funny!

We met up with our friend Mardi and her daughter Neve for one run on Blackcomb. It was nice to see them and the kids enjoyed skiing together. We went to the Castle on Blackcomb, which is much like the Tree Fort on Whistler. Unfortunately, both kids got pretty shaken up on the slides, which were also a tad extreme. Elise hurt her ribs and Neve cried. I can't believe Elise skied all over Whistler and Blackcomb (to the top of each) and had her most damaging experience in the playground. It actually really knocked her off her stride. I ended up carrying her for part of the next run.

We decided the best thing to do was take a late day break in the lodge before skiing down. Who looks the most tired here? Turns out, it was a good idea, because Elise got a second wind, and we had a wonderfully, sunny, crowd-free run to the valley floor. Elise loves to take jumps (ride over bumps on the side of the run) and ski through little forest trails. The run down provided ample opportunity for both, and we had a great time. Thankfully, the day ended on a very positive note after the carnage at the Castle.

Pam is looking forward to her break, and I'm closing in on the completion of my latest book project, Bow Valley Sport Climbing. We'll post from Smith Rock. We hope you all are well.


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