Dan and Elaine’s Skiing Journal – January 12, 2014

100 mph winds predicted for tomorrow. Six inches of new snow. What's that equate to?  Heinousness predicted tomorrow morning. And yet, the stoke is high, as Elaine does Victoria Secret pajamas right by waxing up for the adventure. The 8th Street connector needs connecting and we might as well be the ones to connect it. These pre-work adventures are good for the body and the soul.


Being back from British Columbia has been strange, at time depressing, and yet oddly invigorating. Got home Tuesday afternoon and decided I had to go skin. Elaine, being the sensible one, stayed home and did some yoga. Dead ass legs, yet feeling good. It was cool to go to the top, look north, and know that the same mountains that we're in are only 500 or so ridges down from Rogers Pass, the mecca of it all. Besides, I'm not sure I'd want to live in a mecca, because than the mecca gets stale and there is nothing to aspire to.

Highlights of the week? Moose. Two mornings in a row I woke a sleeping moose on the skin track. Sorry buddy, but thanks too, because you made my morning. A touch of wild in the valley. The run has opened for the season but conditions are iffy. It's been everything from trecherous to nearly delightful. The backyard ski is a myriad of adventure – 35° slopes, mine holes, massive hidden rocks, jacket ripping tight trees…pure salvation really. It's the battleground, it makes us tough, teaches us how to turn and be brave. 

British Columbia. What can I say. Best skiing I've ever done. The combo of snow, amazing mountains and just one of those trips where everything works out. Case in point. Upon getting to Spokane I informed the Dollar rent-a-car agent that we were going to Canada. Oops, mistake. Canada travel requires you buy insurance. Damn…a wasted $11 a day. But then, lo-and-behold, a B.C. semi came ripping by us at 100 km per hour three hours into the drive, kicked up some gravel and chipped the windshield. Thank you insurance. Sometimes it all works out. 


Nelson, BC. Cool town that makes me wish I was Canadian. Or, consider moving to some northern, Pacific Northwest town, become a Mariners fan and make the hop, skip and jump to these amazing ski mountains known as the Selkirks every day off possible. Nelson is artsy, liberal and surrounded by a skiing stoke that permeates the community. That was the biggest surprise. People love skiing in the Pacific Northwest. From the kids in the hostel sharing stories from the day (30 foot cliff to tomahawk…gorgeous!), to the girl on roller skates at Sonic Burger in Spokane who lit up when she saw our skis to the devilish grins of the odd pair in these elf like woods who, standing up to their knees in three feet of powder, look like they just got away with something. And looking back up at their tracks, they did. 

Our first day at Whitewater was an eye opener to Canada. Strange snow, steep lines, vertical skin tracks with way too many switchbacks. On my first run, I got rocked. Back seat riding, scared that EVERYTHING was going to slide. Stop, breathe, repeat the mantra, "Welcome to B.C. Now get your shit together." 



We relaxed, turned less, let go more. We learned the art of pillows that day and embraced the novel idea that you can ski over just about everything. That night the temperature rose, the rain and ice fell in Nelson, the high peaks got blanketed and we resolved to bring our game up a notch and embrace the challenge. 

The next morning after another one of Elaine's sister's power muffins (those things are amazing Alyss), we were off to Kootenay Pass, an hour south. Our Suzuki SX4, baptised with its cracked winshield, rocked the freshly coated white roads. For a car the size of a mini Cooper, the thing eats snow like a six-year old.  Got to the pass and – stalled. Closed for bombing for an hour. Sit tight. scan the guide book and figure out where to go when the gate opens. And then, moving again, and before we knew it, we're on the top of a pass legendary in the backcountry skiing world. 



Big crowds of Canadians and chaos up top, but Elaine used a little of that rando-racing efficiency to get going quick, and pretty soon we had broken free and got first tracks off the ridgeline. Pure powder perfection, giggles, giddiness. And THAT was the connector run. Hmm…where to go? How about up there, the distant ridge to the east. Up to the saddle and across a nausea inducing ridgeline where sky and earth blended into a fog of white. 



Across that, and it was time to drop in. Poof, swish, swoosh. Skiing's version of silk, through massive trees and almost as big tumbling snow flakes. Near the bottom, a gully that I would never consider skiing in Colorado. And yet, everything seems stable here. OK, let it rip. Spotted Elaine and she rocked it. My turn. Wow, that was fun, and there is absolutely nobody here. Our personal Canadian playground. Up and down three more times, until we finally headed back to the car under the early setting 49° latitude January sun. Well that was a good day. And then we met a couple in the parking lot who told us, under no uncertain terms, that we MUST head to Rogers Pass. They popped out the iPhone and showed us pictures. Ummm…those mountains look incredible.  Five hour drive north, but we're in Canada and those mountains are seductive. 



Decision made. Back to Nelson as the B.C. sun set over the Selkirks. We backed out of a night at the hostel (thank you hostel manager for understanding flexibility is the key to freedom) and made a reservation at a hostel for Saturday night in Revelstoke.  Cooked a quick meal, set the alarm for 4:30 am and settled in for a short night of dreaming about the best skiing on the planet. 


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