A Travellerspoint blog

I'm Trying!

Madness here trying to find time to sit and write!

snow -20 °C

Sorry taking so long internet in this place is worse than in some countries that don’t have clean running water! Here is just a quick bit of a catch up until I finish another hectic week of 6 hour full lessons and 4 hours a night of First aid training...

Lessons started after the big freeze on Friday and Saturday temp was still -20 and below but hey it’s a winter sport if we wanted sun and hot temperatures we would have taken up surfing! Start of the first day was a quick analysis of how much snowboarding we had already done and see what rough groups we should be divided into. By the end of the day we had all been mixed around got lost, found each other and had a solid day of riding under our feet I finally felt I was in Canada and about to begin training to be an instructor.

There’s not much I can say about the lessons to be honest or the day to day life. Every morning we are up at breakfast for about 7 for the continental buffet and the daily choice of scrambled eggs, home fried potatoes and naff American bacon or weird sausages and very occasionally pancakes of course all of this offers the option to pour maple syrup over it all, after over a month still confused by that one. We’re on our school bus by 8.15 and the bus stays silent as people try sobering up or catch an extra half hour of sleep until we roll into the base chalet. Soon as we arrive though, like someone has switched on a light switch, everyone is up and climbing off bus and eager for another hit of snow.

Here we get all wrapped up, get boots on and tied and walk up to the container where all our gear is kept. Basically a glorified sea container with a porch and stupid number padlock where you have to spin it 300 hundred times one way 13 the other get the number spot on twice back again and then rotate it in reverse to another number to open it, fills a lot of people with fear and dread to attempt opening it and some just don’t bother and wait to be let in, like lazy cats not bothering with their cat flap. In the first week lessons were doubled up to replace the ones we missed during the big freeze so had a good 6 hours riding per day, which I’m not complaining about but was a lot of information and rider progression to take in one go. So anyway that week rode nonstop all day every day until Thursday when I had to take the day off due to hurting my ankle on one of the last runs the previous day. It wasn’t anything serious iced it, deep heated it and was back on the snow with my old trusty ankle support on for first thing Friday. Thanks to the support I haven’t had any issue with it since.

Along came the weekend and boy did I need it but we weren’t allowed to rest too much, we had to represent the CRA as volunteers for the “Jasper in January” festival. This is a big street event where the main and pretty much only road in town is blocked off and there are fire pits, performers, traditional Inuit products on show and for sale plus music from them and a DJ, all the shops were open late with big discounts. There were stands with different tourist information, events that go on around town, different sports teams, street hockey and a whole range of food stalls selling things from maple syrup ice lollies to hog roast baps. And I would tell you more about it but I was put on road block duty with a few others as my volunteer role and only got to walk through festival once. The event went on pretty late and finished with some pretty spectacular fireworks, which illuminated the nearby mountains and had the explosions rebound back to your ears from all different directions and at different times. To finish the night off the pub was defiantly needed.

Will get some more up asap!

take care

Posted by Nick.t 21:02 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

I did warn you!

getting there

sunny -40 °C

I did warn you about this, I reckon you will be lucky to get a post before I’m home after this one. No I’m joking you should get at least one more between now and then. To make an excuse though, it’s been hectic round here with plus wind chill locking us up for almost a week, doubling up lessons the week after and totally shattering everyone making last week our first normal week of training and personal development just in time for this week, the dreaded first week of exams! So enough of the excuses I should probably get on with this.

As I said it is now exam week and everyone has improved greatly in the short period of time some better than others, me included I need to keep practicing but I have still improved hugely as a rider. Anyway it’s the night before the first day of the 3 day exam for my level one and to free my mind of teaching theory, snowboarding progression, tasks, tactics and Acronyms I’m doing this.

I left off having been drunk at however many thousand feet, landing, travelling more by land and settling into my temporary home in Jasper. The Day after was an early start and after being jetted half way round the world and not having really slept in a good 24 hours or so people just wanted to sleep and didn’t really want a day of admin. But that wasn’t a choice available so we rolled into breakfast ate, got dressed and piled into our ‘luxury’ transport for the following 11 weeks, A Stereotypical yellow American School bus, and drove off into the early morning dark. The drive was uneventful with everyone just trying to see through the windows which were frozen inside and out! About half an hour later we arrived at the hill still in semi darkness and headed to the bar, for a presentation and introduction to course leaders, instructors, ski patrol and others, not an early morning pint. After a couple hours we had been told loads of information about the course the mountain and other bits and pieces, that I won’t bore you with, and sorted out our season passes for the lifts and finally seen the mountain in all its glory. What a view snow covered peaks in every direction freshly groomed runs leading up the mountain and a view of the valley below us, and then the penny dropped, I was in Canada about to become a Snowboard instructor.

We then headed back down to town for a bit of free time followed by a tour of town and the shops, we would receive discounts in for the duration of the course, Finishing in Downstream the bar considered to be the CRA’s (Canadian Rockies Academy, who runs the course) local, for a Free Drink. This led to getting pretty sideways and pulling a blank in what happened towards the end of my first full day in Canada.

The next day came and I was feeling pretty special but with breakfast in me, a nice plate of eggs, bacon home fried potato, pastries and toast accompanied with coffee, juice and water I was ready for a day up on the hill. Everyone piled into the bus up to the mountain when we got there we were met by the instructors and roughly divided out to ride in groups to assess what level everyone was at with their skiing and riding. The day progressed nicely on and we were divided up again into more permanent groups based loosely on ability and rode the day away being given the occasional pointer and task. By the end of it I was pumped and ready for the next day as we were to be let loose to just ride.

As soon as the doors opened at the base chalet the next morning away we went free to roam the slopes, tree runs and jumps that Marmot Basin had to offer. First run was straight to the top and all the way down and how amazing it was to have real snow and a whole mountain under my feet doing a run that went for ten minutes not 10 seconds, Like the Local Indoor centre back in Hemel. Eventually the day came to a close at the hill all exhausted but still covered in grins we headed back to the hotel. After dinner we were told a big storm was coming in and they weren’t sure of the situation up on the mountain or if the lifts would be open the next day, not what we wanted to hear ahead of our first day of Lessons.

So the next day came and the mountain was shut due to it already being minus 20 and the temperature likely to drop below that through the day, Bummer. Next day was the same but Matty had managed to change one of our classroom activities at short notice so we rugged up and braved it out into the minus 40 temperatures of the outside world to take part in an avalanche awareness course at a local teaching complex a short fridge on wheels drive away. There I learned loads and was really keen to head back the next day as once again the hill was due to be closed due to -40 plus wind chill. The next day we braved it out again jumped back into the yellow fridge on wheels and headed back to the avalanche course centre. We finished off the teaching side and then were told we would be doing an activity outside (GULP!) but to be safe we wouldn’t be outside for more than 10 minutes as frostbite would kick in within twelve. Now believe me when I say we all rushed through this part of the course and did everything we could at mach 5 to get it over and done with as soon as possible. Now I Don’t know if you’ve been out in -40 with a wind chill taking it to closer to -60 but it freezes your eyes together if you blink to slow and your nose freezes up due to the moisture your breathing out, it’s not fun so we were so glad to get back inside and warm up.

That Night Matty passed out the message he had arranged a trip to Edmonton for the following day as the hill was likely to be closed again. I wasn’t keen on spending the money on a 4 am start, 10 hours of bus journeys and a place full of shops with temptation to spend my limited budget so bailed with a few others. Next morning when we woke good news met our ears ‘the hill was partially open’ so later in the morning when the local bus began to run a group of us headed up to rid us of the cabin fever slowly taking us over. It was still around -30 the snow wasn’t great and most runs were closed but it was still so good to be up on the hill not in the hotel we didn’t care and still had a blast.

Anyway that’s enough for this post will move onto the first week of lessons in the next one.

Peace N

Posted by Nick.t 20:51 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

11 Weeks of Snow!

the Start of...Behind as Expected

snow -10 °C

Ok, so somehow I have found myself a few thousand miles away from home, for more than your standard 2 week holiday. I’m in Canada to be specific I am in a small snow town called Jasper near Calgary (Canadian interpretation of near, that is) in Alberta and I’m here for 11 weeks. Now 11 weeks may sound like a weird amount of time, and I suppose it is but that is the time my course lasts and so that is why I am over here for 11 weeks. Course, what course? I hear you ask. For those of you who didn’t know I am over here training to become a CASI registered snowboard instructor, answer your question about “what course?”

For those who followed my “Round the World in not quite 80 days blog” you will remember I am at awful at keeping these things up or set to specific upload dates so as a reminder or pre warning this hasn’t changed!! But I will strive and do my best to keep these weekly or there about. So Anyway I shall start as I mean to go on, I’m already behind as I have been here for about two weeks already and this will be my first entry.

So this journey actually started before going round the world, I went to the metro snow show in London a few years ago with some friends one of who wanted to become an instructor and so looking around the show found a couple of companies that offered a course in Canada i liked the idea too and got information and started looking deeper into it. To cut a long story short, I decided i needed to travel and do my own thing before thinking about an organised course and possible career.

Now on getting back from the slightly extended round the world in 80 days trip, i decided again i needed to get out of the UK again and so sent off applications and money and confirmed my space of the Course. Next thing i know a Year has flown by i have had multiple jobs earned money, lost money, lost a part of a finger, gained friends and a loved one got another year older brought in another year and it was time to get packed up and head off to Canada, Leaving behind Friends, Family and a special someone.

This is when you realise how far behind i am... On the morning of the 12/1/1012 I left that special someone at Watford train station to get on with her day and headed off to Heathrow Airport. I then Waved good bye to The Family, Passed through Security and was on my way on another voyage.

A couple hours later, after slowly meeting others who were going on the course we piled into a plane, almost literally. Last messages were sent, phones were turned off and we took to the skies and were on our way!

The flight consisted of a range of movies, all sorts of conversations between rows and over aisles, plenty of complimentary alcoholic beverages and being told off by the air stewardess’ quite a few times, who didn’t think cutting off the alcohol would quieten us down and continued to ply us with more free drinks. Then 10 hours later or something like that we touched down in Calgary Airport and had fun with a Miss Trunchball lookalike and impressionist (A complete Hard ass with the face of someone who had just been slapped by a cold wet fish, if you didn’t get the Matilda reference) on immigration. On the other side we picked up bags, boards and skis and met our course leader, Matty. We then got divided onto buses and started the final leg of the journey to Jasper about five hours away!

I managed to get a comfy position on the bus and fell asleep after about 4 hours and woke up just as we came into town, and stopped outside the Whistler Inn our home for the next 11 weeks. The other bus was nowhere to be seen so we got checked in, I headed off to room 205 My home for the following 11 weeks yet to meet my roommate and chose a bed had a well needed shower and headed to the bar to socialise some more. An hour or two later the other bus arrived and I finally met my roommate, Jake, and headed up to unpack and hit the hay...

Ok, there is number one of however many I will get caught up on time as soon as possible

Peace, N

Posted by Nick.t 21:24 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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