The blog is evolving!

Stay tuned for new features including journey maps, some missing posts, linked photo albums, minor tweaks and ultimately... the earlier trips...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Day 7 - CA

Two words:

Pow - Der!

Dave from NZ has on occasion said how he's boarded on days that were 'all time', well... after today I believe I've now experienced the definition of 'all time'. The report said 15cm had fallen overnight and the end result was something beyond amazing.

The crew as we were leaving for Symphony

When we were leaving this morning, they were still bombing some of the slopes by the time we made it halfway up the hill. Initially we hung around Emerald (Whistler) for a coupla runs but as soon as Harmony opened, it was like rats leaving a sinking ship. Once there we were greated with a winter wonderland for the rider. Bowls, drop ins, long slopes, open runs... the choice was yours, there were fresh tracks a plenty to be made and at times we were up to our waist in snow!

View from the base of Harmony lift

We dropped into a bowl off a face I'd never thought I'd try and it was brilliant. Riding down groomed runs is fun but floating through real powder is just amazing. Even on our last run we made fresh tracks albiet short but on that run I actually had snow being thrown up around my face, it was incredible.

Cam after a day of powder and a face full of cold snow

I'm actually standing on my board!

The crew also had some fun with someone's lost phone
which is being returned tomorrow

Nicole will be happy, I wrote this blog watching Sleepy Hollow.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Day 6 - CA

Go hard or go home I say. Ash, Mel and I headed out but everyone else went soft. Don't blame them though, three days of boarding and the mornings conditions were far from favourable or enjoyable and they've got Big White in front of them after three more days here. We still had fun though. Initially 7th Heaven up Blackcomb was where we headed but it was too windy so we moved to Whistler. Ash had his binding fixed which was in the process of failing and we stopped in for and early lunch.

It's a beautiful winter wonderland

We stuffed around on the runs around Emerald. Coupla quick legs however the clouds were dropping and making for low visability halfway down the hill. Mel and Ash headed off so I decided to have a stab at Peak to Creek as quick as I could. I did the run in under 16 minutes without stopping or stacking and my legs were burning like a good Indian curry.

Ash, Mel, Pas and I ate in tonight with some nice chicken dish and we got stuck into some 500 whilst watching Warren Miller's Off the Grid. Cam and Inga headed to Kirst and Fi's place for dinner and the others found some Chinese joint in town.

Large cards help with the eye sight of people like me!

Checking out the Symphony / Harmony bowls tomorrow with some reasonable dumpage overnight and then we're hoping to grab a fresh tracks tickets on Friday.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Day 5 - CA

Well, it just keeps getting better. Fresh falls today made for an aweful lot of fun. Ordinary conditions, mid week and no holidays made for a mountain that wasn't busy. This meant that when we made it to Whistlers Peak to Creek run, there were riders far and few between meaning more powder for us. This run is the longest here measuring around 8km. Just to give some idea of it's size, it took us just on an hour from when Ash, Pas, Cam and I left her, caught the lifts and made the run until we joined her again. The hot chocolate and coffee's were welcome after major stacks by Pas, Ash and myself.

This is what it's about... let's get our swerve on

After lunch and meeting Kirstin, Matt, Lucas, Inga and Mel we hung around the Emerald Express and made multiple fast and glade runs. By default moguls are the bane of boarders. Glades are basically moguls with trees so you'd think we'd avoid them. At least, smart people would but boy they are fun. Hard work but fun.

Those gondolas get cosy

Dinner saw us back at the Italian joint from the other night. Smaller crew but heaps of fun. It was here we decided to call ourselves Crikey Team and a moment where I was on the verge of laughing my head off whilst witholding a mouth full of tea. Some how I kept my composure and avoided some impromptu redecorating. We also decided that whilst there's more Kiwi's in Australia, there's more Aussies here than Canadians.

After last nights litre beer, Mitch's wheat intake has substantially reduced

I think the others want to take tomorrow off so we'll see what happens... wusses...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Day 4 - CA - Meet the McKellars


Introducing Fiona, Kirstin and Cameron. Our families have known each other for a long time having parents that have lived in the same street, kids go to the same playgroup, church and schools up until their teens. Fiona is 3 days younger I, Kirstin went to school with my brother Gavin and Cameron went to school with my sister Megan. Both Fiona and Kirstin have moved over seas to London than New York and London respectively. Kirstin's Liverpludleon boyfriend Matt is on this trip whilst Fiona is on a 12 month sabatical and is quite the lady of leisure. Cameron's girlfriend Inga is also enjoying the time here.

Also, legend has it that Fiona takes with her a photo from her childhood. It contains Fiona, Robert Thiele (now a married father), Robert Ratcliffe (presently living in Canada) and yours truely.

Day 4 - CA

Well, if yesterday was good, today was great. It was pretty much a bluebird day and although it was around -14 early on, it was relatively calm and the sun made things plesant. Once again Cam, Pas and I headed to Blackcomb however we made it to the top. Yesterday we only covered about 30% and today we did another 30%. Jeff joined us early on and then Ash found us.

Ash needed a tool for his board,
so I pointed there's plenty around the place...

Mikey, this place is prepared for you

A few quick runs made for an enjoyable start on fairly untouched runs. Ash has a helmet mounted camera and on a glade run he managed to capture Cam tackling a tree and coming off second best while I had to stop in a hurry to avoid him.

Hangin' with the boys

We pitted in for lunch and caught up with the girls who then joined us afterwards. Fi had been spending the morning with Kirst and with her joining us, it meant she could enjoy some faster runs. Pas hiked off to some far off bowl and was stoked with the run so Cam and I joined him to do the same. Pas and Cam made their runs and had to hike it out after not carrying enough speed to make the opposite ridge. I decided to learn from their mistake and go fast. This resulted in making other mistakes ending in one of the biggest stacks I've had to date and fits of laughter from the other two. I'm glad that I stacked it in powder and had a helmet on. Our return to the villiage saw us going from the top most Blackcomb chairlift to the villiage which is almost 1500m's of vertical and a lot of fun.

Dinner was at a Mongolian joint and it was pretty good. They also had fortune cookies and I was fortunate to have three bits of paper in the one.

Mitch had a Mongolian beer...
which was basically a one litre glass of beer

I guess things are looking up?

Very light snow on the way home tonight and fresh falls are expected this week. Heading up Whistler for the first time tomorrow.

It's pretty cold here

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Day 3 - CA

Two words: Whistler / Blackcomb

Today was the day but We had to get there first. Steve was gracious enough to drop me off at the bus even though it meant getting three hours sleep. We arrived as the others were and it was all aboard. Fi's plane had been delayed out of NY by two hrs which meant that she'd arrived in Van around 4 in the morning and after the 2 hr bus ride, she was spent and living on caffine.

Once we were into the accomdation we suited up and headed out. Most of the day saw me trailing around with Mark Passier (skis) and Cam (board) up Blackcomb. Pas is fast and Cam is pretty quick too however he managed to break a highback off a binding and discovered the other was cracked too.

Cam, Pas and some clown

Here's a view from Crystals Hut on Blackcomb. There's impressive views all round but they don't convey how big an area it is. In NZ I'd get burning muscles from doing one quick run. Here each leg is a run in itself. In the words of Jeremy Clarkson: It's simply astonishing!

A view from Crystal Hut

Afterwards we all met up for dinner and as Mel and Ash had arrived, we were now at our full complement. I'd had burgers for dinner for my first two nights here so eating Italian was a good change.

Lucas was trying to be the typical backpacker
and cutting corners where possible.

He was also concerned about the grizzly bear warnings however we found some
safeboxs which might come in handy should he be chased.

Clockwise from me; Pas, Lucas, Jeff, Mitch, Kirst, Matt, Mel, Ash, Fi, Cam and Inga

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Day 2 - CA - Meet the Board

This one goes out to Mikey.

Bought myself a 162cm Burton Custom Wide and Burton Cartel bindings. Not cheap but for what I paid total, it would probably cover the cost of the board back home. Picked up a travel snowboard bag at the same time although it only just fits the board with the bindings fitted. Think I'll remove them for travel once I'm finished here.

And the iPod is the most important bit of kit here

Quite a good board although I suspect that it's a better board than the owner is rider. It's quite stable at speed and I've managed to manouver around moguls, trees and downed skiers well enough. Also managed to stick jumps better than last year

C is for Cookie

Also, rumour has it that I can claim tax back on purchases when I'm leaving the country - hope so! Now... the question is whether I should buy some new boots :P

Day 2 - CA

Happy Australia Day! I know some people enjoyed it ; )

Anyway, day two and I almost missed it. Steve and Jo let me sleep in and when Steve said that I was about to miss breakfast by 15 mins, I thought he was joking. They let me sleep in till 11:45. Ducked out for breaky into and went to this pretty stylish supermarket. That's right, you don't normally put stylish and supermarket in the same paragraph let alone sentence but check out how they present their fresh produce...

Woolie's could learn a thing or two

Well, todays mission was to buy a bag, bindings and boots and I got a little more than I thought. Scored some gear; Burton Custom Wide board, Burton Cartel bindings and a Dakine bag. Good gear, not cheap but that sorta stuff isn't cheap in AU either.

Jo and Steve were off to a work thing so I met up with the crew I'll be boarding with at this dingy pub under where they're staying and in a dodgy neck of the woods. And I mean dodgy... they got photos of a drug deal down the ally next to the hotel hahaha! Plus the pub had a baseball bat behind the bar!

Mitch and Cam

In the mean time, we had a few beers and turned out it was a bit of a 50's theme night so we got some pics. Had some odd shots too. Can't remeber one but the other had some banana liqueur in it but looked blue!

Corey, Amanda (birthday girl) and Jesse - Locals or yocals at the pub

Now, before I met up with them I left the appartment and asked the concierge to book me a cab because the snow that had started to fall in the arvo had turned to rain. So I'm waiting in the lobby and a couple come around the corner asking about a cab and the desk dude was saying that he was calling me one and they were taking their time (he'd been on hold for 5 mins) and this guy appologises thinking he'd interupted me. I said no probs and by then I'd already done a double take but it was Keanu Reeves! Now I know that some of you won't believe me without photographic proof however I'm not the kinda guy who feels it's okay to invade their privacy so I decided I'd leave it as quite a privilage to have traded glances a few times. I mean, how often does a celebrity get to meet me? Lucky guy!

Blogging this is proof that I managed to survive the hood as there's beggers a plenty around the pub (apparently taxis don't stop if there's just one person hailing) and it's not wise to walk in pluggers down the street due to the number of sharps lying around.

Tomorrow: bus ride to Whistler

Friday, January 25, 2008

Day 1 - CA

'Welcome to sunny San Francisco...' says the first officer followed by muffled laughter from the passengers...

It's nice to know the rain is as miserable here as it is back home

So you thought I was flying to Canada from Sydney... well... so did I. I arrived in the end however the brief stop in San Fran is actually a method that the U.S. uses to include you in their security database including any information attatched to your passport, a photo and fingerprint scans. The first officer should have said 'Welcome to the land of the paranoid'!

That aside, Bris to Syd to San Fran to Van flights were all pretty mundane. Forgetable food, minor turbullance, poor sleep and passable service were the order of the day. And due to the miracle of the international date line, I landed in Vancouver an hour before I took off from Sydney.

It it weren't for gravity, it would be fun playing around out there

After landing and bidding farewell to Jack (a nurse from Geelong who sat next to me from Syd), I caught a taxi (the driver asked if driving on the 'wrong' side of the road was weird and I said 'No, I mastered that years ago in Europe' refer Sarah, Fiona or Mim for further information) to Steve Perrett's place (of Wivenhoe fame) where we caught up and settled in. Jo (Steve's wife) came home and we went for dinner at a pub with some other friends of theirs; Chris, Lisa*, Brian and Tanya. Lisa studied* with Kate (also of Wivenhoe fame) in Sydney before moving to Canada.

Carbo loading for the cold!

Yes... the up photos have begun!

Tomorrows task: buy a snowboard, some bindings and a bag.

Oh, the answer to the big question that you all wanted to hear... yes... water in a toilet really does swirl backwards here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Canada - Europe '08

Well, what started out as a snowboarding idea has turned into a seven week adventure. I'm looking forward to hitting Whistler with Cam and the crew along with catching up with his sisters whom I haven't seen for several years. Can't wait to see Steve and Jo again, hanging out with Gavin and Sarah, seeing if Kate and Tim are around and find out what Brendon's up to. Last but by no means least, it will have been about 6 months since I have seen Julie.

So it's locked and loaded now bring it on!