Do we have to go back yet? We had a really nice holiday break. We skied the weekend before Christmas at Sunshine Village and Lake Louise in Banff National Park. The skiing was nothing short of amazing. Sunshine was already mid-season like conditions and due to recent snow there was fresh power everywhere. Also, due to it being unseasonably cold, we are among the few crazies that were willing to brave the cold to tackle the mountains. It was totally worth it.
After the holiday, JB took Jaybird and Mid skiing with another dad and his kids. They had a great day. (Apprentice had a hockey camp so we stayed behind.)
Not to be outdone, I wanted another chance to ski before we entered back into the school, work and activities schedule. We picked Thursday. Although there had not been new snow, the temperature had warmed and it promised to be a great day on the slopes.
Braving the cold! Let’s go SKI!
Early Thursday, (or not, we were running late), the kids and I headed out to Sunshine Village. It was brisk sunny morning and we spent the majority of the drive talking about our plans for the day. The kids have specific runs they enjoy more than others and wanted to be sure that we had included all in the day. First thing was to head over to The Great Divide Express lift, which takes you up almost to the top of the mountain. It also straddles the line between Alberta and British Columbia, hence the name. It is a great view of the mountains and has nice wide open ski runs. After a few runs we started to get hungry and made our way back to the lodge. I was feeling particularly accomplished at this point, as my kids were tearing down the blue slopes off the Divide lift like nobody’s business. It was a fun morning.
We had plans after lunch to hit Tin Can Alley, their favorite run. We did it a couple of times, but the sun was moving across the mountain, so we decided that we should as well. Mid wanted to head over to another lift to get more sun when skiing. We had a couple of options. Either we took off our skis at the bottom of Tin Can Alley and walked up a little to other lift, or we could zig-zag and traverse a little and ski to it. We chose the latter. We starting traversing, which is a lot of work, and turned downhill when we(I) thought we could catch a green run to the bottom of our chosen lift. I stopped to be sure the kids were close behind. They were on their way and voicing some apprehension as to where we were headed. I told them not to worry. As if on cue, a woman passed us, walking uphill, carrying her skis and poles. She told us that the run we were about to go down got “quite steep” and she was going down another way. Of course, I thought she was greatly underestimating our skiing abilities. I thanked her for the warning, asked the kids if they wanted to walk back up the hill or take our chances on this run. From where we standing the slope was nothing we couldn’t handle. We slowly carried on.
Mom, do you know where we’re going? We’d rather follow Jaybird.
We past the point of no return when the slope became almost straight vertical and very narrow. Not wanting tha panic the kids, I showed them how to gradually go down sideways, so that they would not get going out of control and hit a tree. I assured them that if we went slowly we could get down this short run and over to the lift. We started down. A few thoughts crossed my mind, but I can only remember thinking “holy shit”.
Apprentice was first to call out. As I heard him yell to me that he had fallen, one of his skis skid by me. Then I heard Mid trying to help him, but he was too far from Apprentice to do much other than encourage him to get up and take off his other ski. Jaybird was behind Apprentice and also tried to encourage him, but she had problems of her own. She was sliding down the slope and about to run over her brother. She sat down, or fell, and as a result her skis popped off. They made it down to me in time for me to try to pick them up. That’s when I tumbled and my skis let go. I yelled up to the kids that they needed to take their skis off and carefully scoot down the slope on their butts, holding their skis and poles. I said, “Watch me, this is how you are doing to do it,” intending to go one step forward and them assist them on their way down. I lost my footing and went down the slope on my butt, or front, or both, for about 25 meters. Mouths gaping open, the kids stopped screaming. I started laughing, embracing the fact that we were providing entertainment for all those that passed us, which thankfully, was not many. A good Samaritan skier picked up my skis and brought them to me. The kids started to make their way down, on their bottoms, and once they realized we were going to make it out alive, they started to laugh as well and enjoy our folly. The run was not long, maybe 200 meters, but seriously straight down for about half of them. I found out later that this particular run is sometimes rated a “double black diamond” (or, are you crazy enough to attempt this?) on account of the steepness of the slope.
When we got to a safe place, we all put our skis back on. We came out of the run and, sure enough!, there was the lift we were hoping to get on for our last run of the day. Our last run was a green (or easiest). Jaybird led us down the run, as the boys had told her that she is better navigator on the slopes. True enough.
WE MADE IT! Jaybird takes a rest.