Posted by: TomA | 28 March 2007

Whistler

At the weekend, I headed up to Whistler to stay with Ste who’d come over for a week of skiing. The bus drive up on Friday evening was somewhat miserable – the gorgeous views promised didn’t manage to break through the rain and gloom.

Saturday really wasn’t much better. It rained in the village and it rained 2/3 of the way up the mountain. Only the highest third had snow – though it got lots and lots of snow. Made conditions high up fantastic for snowboarding – much better than the slushy, melty snow lower down. We spent the first day on Whistler Mountain, doing some great runs. Lots of long and wide green runs to ease myself in through the morning, plenty of fast and steep blues in the afternoon and a black or two to make things a bit more interesting. Had an short excursion off piste too. Nothing too terrifying, but off piste non-the-less. As the day went on it got nicely colder, the snow moved down the mountain and we had some really good runs. My snowboarding was coming together nicely, turning fluently, feeling comfortable going at speed, it was great. 7 hours later we took the descent from the top down to the village, around 5000ft vertical descent in one long and very quiet run down. With such empty runs, it was a great chance to really blast down some of the runs at speed. Awesome.

Sunday brought typical spring conditions. Icy snow, not very pleasant to board on, and slushy snow nearer the base. We headed up to Blackcomb Mountain and headed high in the search for snow, rather than ice. Not a huge amount of luck, but two areas near the top were sublime. The first, at the top of 7th Heaven lift had great snow and lots of great, fast and wide runs, without a huge number of people. The second was around the area of the glacier right at the summit, where the pistes are very loosely marked are you’re confronted with snow everywhere. All the trees are buried beneath the snow, leaving you to board wherever you wish (watching out for cliffs and scary looking rocks). Depending how brave you’re feeling, you either take the direct and ridiculously steep route, or a longer route with a less fearsome gradient, and just go until you happen upon a marked run to give you some sense of direction again. Great fun. My only frustration was with the significant traverses involved – very narrow, flat trails you had to get along to get to some of these lifts. OK if you’re on skis as you can push yourself along with poles, but with both feel strapped to a snowboard if you run out of momentum, your only choice is to walk. Too much momentum on the other hand and you’re flying over the edge and plummeting towards something painful…

Monday was a frustrating day. Gorgeous weather with clear blue skies and just enough fresh snow to make the icy conditions enjoyable was met with my complete failure to get any sort of flow going with my snowboarding. Ste and I spent most of the morning on greens on Whistler trying to work out where I was going wrong having been so comfortable on Saturday. Eventually we moved on up to near the top of Whistler Mountain, by the Harmony Chair, an area similar to the Glacier and 7th Heaven for a huge, skiiable able. Going at speed along the blue run that follows the top ridge, preparing to take on the steep rise ahead of me, my board twisted horribly under my feet and I feel in significant pain. I managed to board all the way down from there in pain. I couldn’t really face being one of those people being brought down by the first aid people on a toboggan. My foot has since swollen up nicely and is now starting to go black and purple along the ligaments I’ve damaged. I walk like a 75 year old. Bit of a sad way to end my snowboarding season really.

Becky had a far more successful Monday, going on the zip wire trek in the valley between the mountains. Lots of fast sliding down wires, some of it upside down, sounded far more fun than trying to descend 4,000 ft in huge pain…

At least the Greyhound bus back to Vancouver along Highway 99 (Sea to Sky) was nice. The road runs right next to the sea and through the mountains. So here are some photos:

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