Sunday 9 January, 2011
Happy new year and greetings from Fernie – home of 30 feet of legendary powder snow annually. Or so they say.
We have enjoyed a white Christmas at Whistler and had a fantastic 14 days or so. A bit of everything – sun, snow, rain, snow, snow – the lot. A few powder days, one or two cement-snow days but for the most part heaps of snow and heaps of fun – 2m of snow fell over the course of a week over Christmas. It was amazing really.
I must say my scepticism about the Peak to Peak gondola, built for the 2010 Winter Olympics to connect the launching pads for the alpine areas of each of Whistler and Blackcomb directly, and thereby avoiding a long trip down one hill to the village and up the other hill, has been replaced by my eventual acknowledgement that it does serve a useful function. In fact we used it on more than one occasion to get over to Blackcomb to the Crystal Hut to get a fully loaded waffle for lunch! Now there’s a use for you!
Whistler of course was crawling with people after 26 December. Observation – heaps of really attractive dogs on holiday in Whistler too. Lots of poodle crosses and cute looking terriers. I was struck by the contrast with the dogs that seem to teem over New Zealand, or in the Hutt at least – which all seem to be jowly, deep chested, slavering pit bull types. Not the least bit cute anyway.
We did First Tracks at Whistler on our last day, which happened to be 1 January. We figured that everyone would have a hang over and so we would have less company and we were right. Only about 100 of us uploaded at 7.15am. It was a beautiful gondola ride, starting in darkness with Venus glowing brightly. Breakfast was way better than our usual rush job at home and then at the ring of the bell at about 8.00am we hit the snow. As lift after lift was gradually opened we were amongst the first down at each – fantastic. To cap it off it was a blue sky day so all in all a great last day.
January 2nd we transferred to Fernie. That involved a beautiful bus journey back down the hill to Vancouver, a flight from there to Cranbrook and an hour-long bus shuttle ride to the tiny ski village of Fernie. We haven’t been here for many years and it is little changed.
Snow has been falling ever since, except for uuugh – rain on Thursday and above zero temperatures. Not good. Since then however it has been dumping and the temperature has plummeted so it is all good. We look forward to the avalanche control guys getting things sorted and opening up all the high bowls very soon. They have been hampered by the very low cloud and poor visibility apparently. Need to be able to see where to let off their explosives and what effect the munitions have to guide their next steps. Apparently the White Pass chairlift was destroyed by an avalanche 4 years ago so they take the whole avalanche thing very seriously.
Over this past weekend we have met up with Brenda and Donna who we met at the Pari Centre in Italy in May. They live in Calgary and drove (along with Bruce, Brenda’s husband) to Fernie to ski with us. It was really great to meet up again.
The disappointment of the trip would have to be the beer. I had this recollection/vision/image of very distinct and tasty local beers. Kokanee very different from Kootenay and so on. This trip I have been struck by the soapy tastelessness of all the local drops and have resorted to old faithful Stella. Seems a crime to drink a Belgian beer in Canada but there you go. Crumble proposes the theory that this phenomenon of regression to the beer mean can be put down to the global beer hegemony of Fosters and Lion Nathan. He is probably right.
Dr Quake & Dr Crumble