After the eating, working & driving too much of the previous week it has been nice to be at home & a lot more active over the last few days. Especially as the weekend was free to go skiing finally. Thursday I got to try out my rock shoes for the first time at the bouldering gym (“gime, what’s a gime?”). At least after a couple hours of that I didn’t have any really sore muscles over the next few days.
The weather forecast over the weekend was for (relative) warmth & clear skies, so I was keen to finally see if I could remember how to ski. After a reasonable sleep in Saturday morning (much needed after [perhaps too-] generously babysitting Finn on Friday night so Megan & Alex could go see Harry Potter – Finn screamed most of the three & a half hours) & Megan being unable to join me I headed up to Sunshine alone. I must never get to Sunshine so late on a weekend – it’s not fun having to walk even half the length of the parking lot.
The early season snow wasn’t great but it was nice to try out my skis & have a little refresher on what was a stunning day. There was no wind & I think the mercury sat around -10 to -5ºC, so it wasn’t unpleasant on the chairlifts. I hit the new Strawberry lift first (sucker for little traditions like that) – it’s a huge improvement on the old one, much faster & now a quad-chair. I got quite a few runs in there, off Wawa & down from Jack Rabbit to the mid-gondola station before meeting another Aussie (a friend of Alex & Megan’s whom I’d been for one G8 ride with some months ago), Joel, his girlfriend, Kristy & their colleague, Anya/Anja/????, for lunch .
After a leisurely lunch (the poutine was average, as was the service) & getting to know everyone a bit (not to mention many Fort Mac stories – always one of the hazards of sitting with a group of people that all work together) we were off up for quite a few runs down from Standish. It was nice to be skiing with a group, as although it’s nice to ski at your own pace & not have to wait around when you are alone, it gets a bit boring after a while & skiing with others better than you helps improve your own skiing – much like biking & many other things I suspect. The views from the top of the Angel chair across the meadows to Mt Assiniboine were spectacular & rather a lot whiter than last time I was out this way.
After a rather rocky ski-out, what better way to treat bodies that have forgotten the aches of a day’s skiing than a good soak in the Banff hot springs? We couldn’t think of one, so that was where we headed & it was great. The day finished with a few beers & snacks at the Drake (somehow I’ve managed to avoid it over the previous seven months) – good yam fries (yams in this country are what we call kumara or sweet potatoes back home, not those tiny little red twisted vegetables).
Sunday dawned an even better day. James (a workmate from Lafarge) & I were heading up the Spray Valley for an easy ski-tour to Chester Lake to start off the touring season. The -20ºC at the parking lot didn’t really seem that bad & with the skins on & climbing up the trail it wasn’t long before the jacket was off. We climbed for about 75 minutes before I was hungry (surprised I lasted that long) so we had lunch in the sun. Getting past the annoying flats parts on the way back, the skins were off & we had a pretty cruisy run down to truck passing many others on their way up to enjoy the glorious day. Thankfully not much of note happened this time – last time I was up here was the second & last of my shoulder dislocations. There was snow, could do with more, & the views were good.