Monday, March 26, 2012

Crossing boundaries

I haven’t skied outside of the U.S. since 2001 at Tremblant.  I was a college junior on spring break with my beau at the time.  As a compulsive rule follower, I also hadn’t consumed alcohol before that trip.  The drinking age in Quebec was 19 at the time.  I pretended it was the same when I returned to school, though that’s another story.

I recently headed up to British Columbia for an adventure. The Canadian border patrol asked me about three times if I was planning to work while there.  Oh, but how I now want to. 
Kootenay Lake

The trip details and recommendations on why you should go and where are saved for another post here or on the DivaSkiTips blog.

This was a trip about pushing my boundaries a bit.  The exhilaration of exploring new resorts – Whitewater and Red Mountain.  Picking up hitchhikers on access roads. Getting nearly cliffed out and lost on my way to a named run.  Noting that many a Canadian makes their home-grown Arc’teryx gear look pretty good.

Oh, and some cat skiing with White Grizzly.  I’m hooked.  

Here’s something that’s embarrassing to admit – my whole time in Utah, I never had enough faith in my fitness to go into the backcountry.  I even had avy gear and the knowhow to use my beacon and probe.  I had plenty of friends with skins and touring gear to borrow.  Many an invite to tag along.  But never trusted myself to be able to keep up with the guys who I would trust with my life in avalanche terrain.  Never thought that I would add anything to the group and unwilling to just be along, slowing them down.

So really, this was my first trip into the backcountry.  No lifts, but no skins either, just a cozy snowcat and a few trusty guides.  With somewhat tricky avalanche conditions and very steep terrain, trusting the guides that we were with was pretty key.  And I did.  They shared what they were thinking, too.

Incredible powder skiing.  Deeper than I’ve ever skied for more than a run or two.  Steep trees and fun lines.  Scolding myself for skiing poorly then putting it together to point ‘em down the fall line and go.  Getting into the air a few times – highly unusual for me.  Pushing my own boundaries. 

Photo: Brad Karafil, White Grizzly Adventures

Giggling.  A lot.  Forgetting to breath.  Making new friends.  Drinking Canadian whiskey.  Smiling until my cheeks hurt.

Being sad. Among the reasons - sad to leave the powder, terrain, and friends behind – not necessarily in that order.  Sad for those who died doing what we love in an avalanche at a nearby heli-skiing operation.  One gal who was caught was 29 and from Salt Lake.  That precise tour operator and date were in my final list of possibilities for this splurge of a trip.

This trip was well-timed for me.  It’s hard not to look introspectively at life when surrounded by amazing mountains, adventures, and fun people amidst a pending career change for me and with news of an eerie tragic accident.

B.C. has stolen a place in my heart - I’ll be back to cross the boundary for more. And next time I get invited into the backcountry with people I trust, I’m going.  If nothing else, I can add the giggles.  

1 comment:

  1. Becky, this is so cool. You almost bought a tear to my eyes. I am so proud of you, and jealous. Also on my to do list is to do some cat skiing in BC. That place has carved a place in my skiing soul too. I was blessed to go to Whislter Blackcomb. I did not get way in the backcountry, but I did manage to do some nice side country stuff on the glacier. It was spooky to see avalanche debre and see the massive over hangs. But boy it was nice to ski that fluffy stuff. I was worried about my physical abilities too as I was climbing up the mountain to the glacier and out in to out of bounds territory. But I made it, and guess what, are a bad skiing gal. lol Thank you for sharing your journey. Keep trekking, exploring, discovering and most important.....giggling.
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