January 10&11, 2010
Said our good-byes to our friend Steve. We had a really great visit with him and we were so glad he decided to spend the night with us. As we said our good-byes we asked Steve “are there any big hills on our way to Rossland?” “No you should be fine he said as he got in his car.” STEVE WHAT THE HELL WHERE YOU THINKING…..THE KOOTNAY PASS….WOW!!! Bill did a great job driving through there. We were just commenting on how great the weather was and enjoying the dry roads when we approached a sign that read…..expect weather changes for the next 60km. We hit a bit of everything, but luckily we didn’t have any traffic behind us and didn’t feel rushed. Thanks for the heads up buddy!!
January 11, 2010
We spent some of the day on the 11th in Nelson as I had some gear questions. We stopped at a few shops. We got all kinds of advice…move your bindings forward, move your bindings back, you need a stiffer boot when you ski the resorts, it is probably the touring bindings….ok maybe I just need to sort this out on the mountain. Made it to Rossland. Got organized with groceries, did some laundry in the dirtiest place you can imagine. There was only 2 washing machines working and 2 dryers….This place was so old that it advertised laundromat with washing machines. We found a great rec centre and stopped for a shower and clean up.
January 12 , 2010
Ok…..not much sleep last night as I was too busy wondering what the avalanche course was going to be like and who was going to be in my class and if there would be some other women. I was a little concerned we might sleep in also…what a worry wort eh?? Anyway the class had both men and women which was nice. We were very surprised when the door opened and one of our friends from North Bay joined the class Hendrick Weigelt (Linda you know him right?), very nice guy ! He moved out here about 6 years ago.
Our guide/teacher was incredible. He just made everything so interesting. I found I was really drawn in by him. It was definitely a full day of work, covering lots of material, movie watching (just in case we didn’t know how scary getting caught in an avalanche could be) and beacon searches. I partnered up with a young guy to do the beacon searches as I thought it would be good for Bill and I to split up. This was very interesting! Your partner went outside and buried his beacon like he had gone down and you had to resue him with your probe and shovel. Then our teacher dug an avalanche pit and showed us the different layers and the different signs to look for. Really incredible. Our homework was to get the avalanche report which today was high. There are 3 levels you can ski, alpine(high), tree line and below tree line. I think we were all wondering when we left class what exactly Keith was going to decide if the danger was still high…I guess it gave us something to sleep on…like I could sleep with this on my mind. We decided to treat ourselves to dinner out!
January 13, 2010
Up at the crack of dawn to meet for 7:00 am in the parking lot. Well I guess we are going!!! Holy shit!! I guess a part of me wanted Keith to say it is just too dangerous. He asked us “so guys what is the report?” 3 Highs!!!!!!! His response was “YOU GOTTA GO TO KNOW!” Oh my god!!! I am beginning to understand why I had to sign 3 release forms saying Big Red Cats is not responsible for any accidents both on the mountain or in the cat ride up the side of the mountain.
He said the other 3 ladies won’t be joining us and that he had called them this morning… just Sara and Deb. Sara was this really cute/gutsy girl from New Zealand. She asked me when we got in the cat if I was nervous…… I was like are kidding….I am scared shitless. I am so glad she was there!! They shut the door and gave Bill a 2 way radio in case we needed anything and Keith went in the front with the driver….ok where are they taking us???? Climb, climb, climb….the visibility was good at first and then went downhill from there. We half watched for little slides and clues in the snow on the way up, but mostly just got to know each other a little more. The ride was about 45 minutes. The cat stopped and dropped us and our gear off at the shoulder of Mt.Crowe and Neptune. I turned and watched the cat drive away and realized I was really going to do this. The visibility was not very good. I don’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing…hehe…..I looked down and all I saw was steep and trees. I am sure Bill could see it on my face. I took a turn or two and fell down…..got up brushed myself off and continued down. We did a leap frog pattern so that we were not all in the same area in case something bad happened we wouldn’t all get taken out. We had to bush wack for a bit and then hit a really nice somewhat open meadow which was pretty good skiing and I think we could have easily gotten greedy with the way this was feeling, but Keith stopped us lots and made us guess the steepness of the slope and other material we had covered in class. Then it was time to put our skins on our skis and climb to the summit of Mount Crowe. We started skinning and we were getting lots of action out of the snow with a lot of whomphing and cracking….Keith gave us each a turn to lead the pack so we could all feel the snow breaking away and cracking in front of us. He was quite excited about us being able to experience this. I have to admit it was pretty cool. We stopped and did this digging test which we had to measure out as group work and complete together and then you send someone up to the top of it to test it ….gee I wondered who volunteered to do that….The results were very good or bad depending on how you look at it. It is safe at a 6 or 7 and it scored a 2 which is rare according to Keith who always says “the good news is and the bad news is” with the excitement of a child…..I think we all know what a 2 means. We continued up higher and decided to do another dig to see if the results were any different and they were better, they scored a 4. We made it to the summit and had a group talk about whether we should take an easier or more difficult way down the mountain. I wasn’t saying much…the guys were thinking we should take the hard way while we had Keith, Hendrick thought we would get better skiing on the easy side…I was still wondering if the cat was coming back to pick me up…hehe…Bill said you better speak up if you don’t want to go Deb and I thought either is scary for me so I am in. I am just going to go with whatever the group decides. Keith was saying I am not trying to talk you into it or anything, but I think we are seeing some pretty incredible action and you would learn much more if we go the difficult way……Like I am thinking about learning…ok maybe a bit of me was….let’s do it. We made a few good turns, splitting up and going one at a time and then Keith said I am just going to go over here and check this out myself….I watched him ski away and thought oh my god there goes our guide….Our guide is gone…..he skied a bit and slowly started backing up and back tracking….oh I know what that means we are definitely not going down that little face….Here he goes” the good news is we are not going down that part as I didn’t like what I felt out there, but the bad news is we need to go through these heinous trees". Sara and I looked at each other and how tight the trees, stumps, logs, debris was and thought oh great our favorite- tight trees. I kind of stuck near the back of the pack so when I ran into a tree maybe nobody would see me….bad, bad idea as the more tracks that ski the same line get faster and faster each skier…so now I am going too fast, too fast…boom…..exactly how does a person get up when they put their pole out and it goes right through the snow to the handle and is know where near the bottom of the snow pack and your legs are facing uphill completely buried….climb up the tree beside you?? Tried that..Impossible to get up from this position…do I yell out as I am the last one out here? I guess that would be embarrassing to my husband….I am just going to try and take my skis off….totally comical…I wish someone was filming this move. Once I got up and went around the corner Hendrick was wrapped around a tree also, this made me feel so good seeing a level 4 ski instructor who could not get up. Sorry to laugh Hendrick, but you made me feel so much better and I am so excited to see someone. I waited for him and we continued on together. I was over my embarrassment as everyone had taken their turn tumbling. Bill did a face plant when he thought he was going over a rock ledge. We made our way down and the visibility got better, but there was definitely more bush wacking. Then Keith said he had to go to the bathroom and to give him 10 minutes. So we thought we could have a little snack and drink and give him a few minutes. I should have known the excitement wasn’t over. When we went around the corner, he had pools and skis debris spread out and told us an avalanche just happened and to deal with it and he didn’t tell us how many people were involved. I couldn’t believe the adrenaline kick. We each took on a roll and started responding and it took us 16 minutes to dig out the 3 pretend victims using our beacons, probes and shovels. 2 were not too bad to find, but the third was tricky as he didn’t have a beacon on, so we had to go on clues and use our probes until we found the person well ok backpack….but it seemed real. Had we not asked if the avalanche looked finished and just started reacting we would have all been taken out by the imaginary avalanche. I hope this means we pass even though Bill threw a probe and hit the guide in the head…oops. How is that for adventure? I was excited to see the road and Hendrick’s van, but I also felt a real sense of accomplishment…..I asked Keith on the way back to the shack if there was a test ? I needed something to stress about since things had settled down….he said it will all be oral….what does that mean???? He just stared talking about different topics and senerios and we had to answer the questions and take part ….like our minds were working after 8 hours in the back country. Anyway we all passed and we now have our level 1 certification!!! Yeah!!!! Hendrick had us over for a nice dinner and visit!!!! I feel really good about completing the course and have met some really nice people!!!
Miss you all!