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December 28, 2005

A day of powder..

So both myself and SK had the day off today, we awoke to find the snow report indicating the freezing level had fallen to Village level and that 15cm of fresh snow had fallen overnight :)

We got into the village for 10am to find it completly packed, obviously the sight of snow falling outside peoples hotels rooms inspires them somewhat...
We decided on Blackcomb (local knowledge suggested it was the safer bet) and queued for the respective gondola.

30 minutes later we were up the mountain and facing monsterous queues for the main "Jersey Cream" lift, deciding life was too short to be spent queuing on a powder day we headed to the very top of the mountain to the glacier (up the cunningly named "Glacier Express"). The 'queue' consisted of about 10 people - probably helped by large notices saying 'Glacier Ski Area for Advanced/Expert Skiers Only' :o)

Although a little windswept at first we had a good couple of runs down the mountain to mid station.

At about 1pm one of the lights on the lift status boards twinkled from red to green and showed the highest lift on the mountain was open - allowing access to the glacier down the back of the mountain.

We got up as quickly as possible and did the small hike from the lift top to the entrance gate. We were part of a small group of about 10 'die hards' all looking for fresh powder despite the rather windswept conditions. A short traverse across a trecherous snow bridge brought us to the top of the long snow bowl - the lift station was an 11km ride away!

We strapped in and started the 4km run down the glacier itself in ~1m deep soft powder, despite the poor visability it was great fun and a fantastic feeling to just be effortlessly gliding over soft fresh snow.
The remaining 6km of steep cat track were fantastic as it weaved through the valley floor with meltwater alpine streams and pine forests lightly covered in fresh snow. Awesome.

A brief stop for lunch left time for one final run from the main restaurant near the top of the mountain right down to the Village base - a vertical drop of just over 1200m - a bit of a thigh burner over churned up 'mogaled' snow.

So what else is happening? We've just got back from the local - 'Dusty's Bar & BBQ' having taken full advantage of their $1/rib offer.
I've just found out due to the increased number of visitors I've got to work for the whole day tomorrow - not just the morning :o( - nevermind, it'll count as overtime.
I think we're going to 'Uncle Chris' house tomorrow for a late christmas dinner which will be very nice I'm sure.

Also with the lack of improvement on my knee I've decided to get some physio on it, just got to pick the right day - one where I'm not working or when the snowboarding will be remotely decent... April next year seems to be the next available gap.

Posted by edwardnorthridge at 09:21 PM | Comments (1)

December 26, 2005

The Update !

Well here is that large update I warned you all about,

The Christmas party was good fun at the Fairmont Chateau, SK joined me and we had a good evening with my work mates eating ourselves silly on the Turkey dinner buffet. Any possible gaps were filled with dessert then at about 9:30pm we went to a local lounge/bar to further fill any pesky holes with beer. It was a fun night and waking up the next day was certainly a struggle. Photos from the bar can be seen in the photo album - although they're not *that* much fun :o)

Also on the 22nd we went snowboarding with Katharine to give her one final go at this sliding down a mountain malarkey. Although progress was a little slow at times she did very well and got from the top to the bottom in one piece - well done Katharine :o).
At the bottom a large melt water pool had formed at loads of guys were skiing/boarding over it for a laugh. I took some photos and stuck them together into animated gifs - they can be seen in the photo album but give them a minute to load.
I also got some video and this can be seen in the video section - again just remember to download it to your computers before watching it :o). The crowd which had joined was loving the sight of people skimming over (and sometimes into) the water and were giving them all the encouragement they needed to try more daring antics - certainly some of the pictures couldn't be shown on this website...

After that Christmas "proper" crept up on us. I went for a wonder through town with SK and got some photos of Whistler at night including the Christmas decorations. It certainly looks very impressive in real life, especially with each area of the town colour co-ordinated.

Christmas Day itself was spent working in Ski School, slightly depressing (especially considering the few number of people who wished us merry Christmas and even the select few who needed to ask the date when signing forms...). Anyway, after work I headed home and opened gifts with Ben and SK. Thanks to the folks from home who sent gifts (the puzzles will be attempted as soon as we clear a space). Ben got me a new wallet and SK got me a Hoodie, new belt and a guide book for the mountain showing all the advanced and extreme trails/routes not on the main map - its turned into my new PGE (climbing guide book for those that don't know). SK received lots of fancy bath stuff as well as a DVD, Ben received a DVD, a T-shirt, cooking book and a lock for his snowboard. All gifts were greatly received so thanks again to all the senders :o)
Afterwards myself and SK cooked ourselves Christmas dinner, Ben had eaten his the night before with some friends and wasn't feeling too well anyway (the two things were unrelated...). We had roast chicken, vegetables and gravy, all cooked in our tiny oven and a single saucepan. It was excellent although eating at 9pm on Christmas Day did take some of the festive sparkle away. Pictures can been seen in the photo album.

The resort is still getting busier as families arrive after Christmas at home - it builds up to a crescendo around New years. Ski School lessons are selling out and we are slowly loosing patience with people wanting refund because its raining...

After new year my shifts return to normal with 4 days on (sat/sun/mon/tues) and the rest off which is great.
No definite New Years plans have been made but with bars in town charging between $40 and $140 to get in we are probably going to a house party.

Anyway enough drivel for now, just time to mention the final new photo album 'Health & Fitness' - have a look (just don't be eating at the same time)

Merry Christmas :o)

Posted by edwardnorthridge at 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

It's 6am, I'm working today, ugh

Hope you all have a great day :)

Posted by edwardnorthridge at 06:04 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2005

An Update is coming...

I need to go to bed (working at 7:45am tomorrow) however a huuuge update is on its way (4 albums, animated pictures and more videos) along with a load of inane information about what I've been doing.

Will be up as soon as possible.

Katherine went home this evening having (I hope) had a good holiday, more news later

Posted by edwardnorthridge at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2005

And so the Snow arrives....

The holiday season has begun in Canada and visitor numbers have started to rise steeply. Work over the past few days has been noticeably busier with a constant stream of customers to the main building.
Things are only going to get more hectic though...

Tomorrow I'm working in the office up the top of Whistler mountain - 'in the alpine'. After that I get 3 days off to snowboard.

The weather forecast cannot decide if its going to rain or snow, the best case scenario is 60cm of snow in 3 days, the worst is 60mm of rain... we'll have to see how it pans out.

Ben returned from his "Kokanee Valley Race Series" Giant Slalom race victorious and clutching the Gold "medal" having come first in his class! Before you all congratulate him it was slightly by default... he was the only snowboarder who entered. But it was an excellent effort anyway ;o)

Katharine is still enjoying Whistler despite the sore arm, She says it feels alot better so I thinking of going snowboarding with Ben and SK tomorrow as they both have the day off.

Yesterday herself and Ben investigated the newly opened 'Tube Park', imagine sliding down an snow/ice luge track on a tractor inner tube and your pretty much there. Add in a few jumps and turns on the more 'extreme' runs and you've got a really good evenings entertainment! I'm still waiting for a day off so I can investigate it for an hour or two but I'm certainly looking forward to it.

This evening we went for a meal at the local Thai restaurant. We each had a different thing to eat from fish cakes and spring rolls to start to egg noodles with spicy sauce and Wok Fried mixed seafood for main. The food was excellent and overall it was a fun evening.

Last night one of my supervisors had a small party at his house to introduce us to his specialty dish - deep fat fried (whole) turkey. He has an industrial deep fat fryer and so a few times each year fires it up and has some people over for dinner. The skin seals all the oil out so it doesn't get greasy and as it takes 3mins/lb to cook the meat doesn't dry out! Certainly something to try at home :o)

Wednesday night is the staff Christmas party at the Chateau Whistler (posh hotel). Drinks and an all you can eat turkey dinner, promises to be a fun night. I'm working Thursday morning from 7am so i don't think its going to be a big night for me though...

Anyway, I start work at 8am tomorrow morning so I should go to bed.
I have some photos of the Christmas lights so once I have got those sorted I'll post them up.

Posted by edwardnorthridge at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2005

The Visitor....

Felt it was time I published more inane drivel - it has been almost a week

4 1/2 days of work followed my last post, it generally crawled along but 1 day I was posted in the Ski School Alpine hut at the top of Whistler. There was low lying cloud in the valley but other than that the skies were clear and the views were great - made the day go by alot quicker.

An injury update as I'm sure your all wondering, my shin is well on its way to healing - currently itching like you would not believe, the shoulder has almost recovered - still a little stiff in places but generally fine. My knee still isn't great - can't straighten or fully bend it - but it is getting slowly better so I'm still giving it time.

My silliness on a snowboard is continuing, switch is becoming (very) slightly better and ollies are getting a little better. Still lots of room for improvement though, so I won't be doing "switch 9's" in the pipe yet ;o)

Today on Blackcomb was the first of the "Kokanee Valley Race Series", a timed Giant Slalom race down a blue run. Entrance is $20, you get a free T-Shirt and the fastest time in each of the various age/type categories wins a prize. Ben and a mate entered today (I was feeling a little rough), we're still waiting for them to get back from the pub to find out how they did but I'll let you know.

Our first visitor from the UK arrived on Monday evening, Katharine from the climbing club in Nottingham. We gave her a tour and got her kitted out with all her rental gear on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning left her at the meeting point for her lessons which she had booked.
The lesson went well and by the end of the day she was starting to link turns.
That evening we introduced her to the local Apres at "Dusty's Bar and Grill" (ribs were on special - although she went for the vege option :o) )
Today dawned bright and sunny and myself and SK left her at the meeting point to start her 2nd day of lessons.

We wondered onto Blackcomb for a while before deciding it was too icy and so ventured onto Whistler. Conditions were generally good but a few rocks and stones were exposed in places. I manged to put a large scrape down my board by hitting a large chunk of hidden ice, I'm waxing my board tonight so that will hopefully fill the hole :o)

We received a phone call at 3:30 from Katharine to say she had finished her lesson, was off the hill ... and was on her way to the emergency clinic with a suspected broken arm following an awkward fall!
3 hours and various opinions and X-rays later the doctors didn't really know what was wrong, It was swollen like a break but the x-rays showed nothing... very odd. She has a fiberglass splint on it at the moment and is returning in 6 days for a follow-up x-ray. We think its just sore and she'll be back on the board in days :o)

She's been given various painkillers just in case along with the advice to eat lots of fibre as "it'll plug you up good". Nice.

About 6 other people in the ward had similar wrist injuries - alot of them much worse as the person in question wasn't wearing wrist guards, the description of how they fix broken wrists is rather cringing - so this is just a plea to everyone to wear them when snowboarding.

Well I think thats enough drivel for one night, we're having a quiet evening with some beer. Tomorrow SK is working, I've got the day off so I'll act as a tour guide for Katharine around town.

Posted by edwardnorthridge at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2005

New Board, New Tricks....

I'd like to apologize in advance that this entry contains some sections of geeky stuff - a summary will be provided for those people who wish to skip it

So I spent the 3 days I had off boarding with SK. We decided to change from our usual schedule of hurtling down the piste as fast as possible (which 99% of the time makes us the fastest people on the runs...) and concentrate on "fun" stuff - riding switch (backwards), trying jumps and little tricks.

After 2 days of re-learning how to turn, learning how to land and trying not to catch edges in the snow I decided it was time to try my new board

******* GEEKY BIT *******
Summary: I changed to my new board!

So for the past few weeks I've been riding my rock board which I picked up for $50 in the clearance center.
It's made by "Never Summer", called the "Premiere", is 163cm long and is narrow width. Its a freeride board and as such is quite heavy and stiff. It made it really stable at high speed and wasn't thrown off by lumps and bumps in the snow, which is great for such a scrawny runt as myself :o)

My new/main board is a "Nitro - Atlas 160", this is more of an all mountain board, its much lighter, more flexible and is wider (designed for people with big feet. Ben has been riding one for years and swears by it. However due to my meager stature compared to the Rugby Playing Thai Boxing Welshman I was wondering how it would handle.

I also had a play with my binding settings but thats far too geeky even for this special section - for those that really want to know I changed from 15/-3 to 18/-6. For those who don't understand, its really not that important!

This was also the first day I was using the board since getting it repaired by SKs work. I dented the rail during the first week and needed a small base patch and edge sharpen...


So armed with my new board I hit the piste, any worries I had were quickly dispelled. The Atlas handles as if on rails :o)
The shorter length and razor sharp edges made it easier to turn and fantastic to ride. Also the extra flex and width meant landing little jumps and doing ollies' was really easy and great fun! Next step is to try the spins...

SK was also trying out some new kit, but I'll leave her to tell that tale.

We came off the mountain at 3pm and met with a work mate of mine in the Village, he had some tokens for free beer so joined him in the bar for a jar or 2.

Rumor has it Whistler mountain opened from top to bottom today, although I'm still waiting for someone to say they have done it.
"Fresh tracks" started today though, $15 buys a ticket for a 7:30am lift up the mountain to the main restaurant where you enjoy an all you can eat breakfast before avalanche/ski patrol give the all clear and allow you first run (or Fresh tracks) down the hill. We're hoping to get a few of these done through the year on good powder days.

Time for dinner, Speak to you all later

Posted by edwardnorthridge at 08:04 PM | Comments (1)

December 05, 2005

More of the same...

And so the cycle continues...

Sleep, Work, Eat, Sleep.... for 4 days
Sleep, Board, Eat, Sleep.... for 3 days

What else is there to do :o)

I had a 1/2 day at work today so spent the afternoon on the hill, it was pretty foggy so the bad light made boarding nearly impossible.

I've got the next 3 days off, the weather is meant to be clear and sunny, it means good visabilty but the pistes will get icy - guess you can't have both all the time.

Today I managed to complete my first "proper" jump (on a man made ramp and landing) however there is a little bit more to that story which I will tell at a later date...

Going to have a beer, watch a movie and go to bed.

Posted by edwardnorthridge at 08:07 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2005

More Work and Snowboarding....

Sooo, update time...

Wednesday Myself, SK, Ben, Emily (SKs friend from work) and Sam (Bens friend from work) all headed up Whistler for a days boarding (except Emily who was on Skis...)
It was awesome :o) powder or hard pack snow everywhere, we spent the whole day doing the majority of runs which were open on the mountain - and a few that weren't, including my first Black run :o)
In the evening myself and SK went to "Dusty's" (the local bar) for some beer and happened to meet up with a couple of people from my work. We chatted to them and had a good evening.

Thursday I headed up Blackcomb with SK, we got up for about 10:30am and after a brief detour to return a lost child we found to the lift station had a good day on the piste.
It was freezing cold (about -10*c) so SK left at about 2 for the warm sanctuary of the flat. I stayed until about 3:30 and investigated the glacier near the peak (bad idea it was a wind and spin drift ridden -13*c hell hole) and the park (good idea - managed to complete my first set of boxes successfully).
Thursday evening was again spent in a bar, this time with Emily and her house mates, they had been "on the high stool" since about 1 so were quite full by the time we arrived. It was a good evening though and we had a great laugh.

Work started again on Friday - another day standing behind a counter selling lessons making myself horse explaining the same things over and over... :o) Although it was payday... which was good.

Friday night myself and SK went to a local restaurant (it was our papier mache anniversary - 6 months) for a meal - The Rim Rock Cafe - there was another offer $40 for 3 courses (again it was rude not to take advantage)
It is a "Seafood and Game" restaurant - so we were quite at home. The meal consisted of 2 starters and a main - we had, in order...

Starter 1
Shared - Rim Rock Antipasto - seafood tasters (sushi, prawns, deep fried stuff..)
Starter 2
Ed - Caribou Medallions with a porcini mushroom sauce & nut crusted pastry shell
SK - Opah - With Cashew nuts and a spicy sweet sauce stuffed in a crisp sesame cone
Each had - Rim Rock Mixed Grill roasted rack of lamb, beef tenderloin & caribou

All in all very posh but excellent although their definition of "medium-rare" rivaled the French in how undercooked it really was!

Work is continuing this week, I'm again working Fri, Sat, Sun and Mon - so I miss the main rush of people
More snow is forecast for the end of the weekend which is great, the snow cannons have also been working 24hours a day for the past few days getting the lower slopes and the bases ready for full mountain opening.

Christmas fever is gripping Whistler and nowhere more so than our house. Advent calenders arrived and were duly compared. Ben didn't get one, so lost immediately, SK got a rather funky chocolate Simpsons one and I, well you can be the judge of it...

Mine and SKs advent calender - with a DVD for scale...

Really quite special - thanks Mum(s) :o)

Hope all is well and the country has reopened after its dusting of snow ;o)

Posted by edwardnorthridge at 06:56 PM | Comments (0)