It was October. That morning, when I opened my apartment door, the air crackled with cold and it smelled like winter. Fate must have also been lurking in the air. No more than a few hours later, I received a message from my long-time skiing friends, “let’s live our old teenage promise: A Ski Trip to Western Canada!”
I’m a believer that you must seize the opportunities that come your way so seize we did! Within the time-span of dinner, an inter-mountain pass shopping session and a 6-hour flight later, we landed in Calgary. What a surprise we had while waiting for our shuttle to the rental car as we discovered a bottle of perfume that had exploded between two skis. This would remain the lingering smell and running gag that would follow us (physically) throughout the four peaks along our journey.
When hunger calls from the depths of your belly, you answer it! The first stop of our family caravan was a ramen landmark near downtown which started our trip on the right foot.
Another former ski friend who became a stewardess and is now based in Calgary accommodated us for one night. We took this opportunity to blast her and her boyfriend with questions to gain as much knowledge of the terrain further west as we could. This inspiring discussion rocked our dreams and had us eager for tomorrow’s adventure. We woke with the first sign of light at dawn and headed to the first mountain on our list: Sunshine Village.
A summit that is aptly named, Sunshine provided the goods. We enjoyed breathtaking views and a healthy dose of Vitamin C. After a few descents on the windier slope, we ended up finding a less wind-blown area that provided us turns with fresh snow under our skis.
The days’ activities hit our legs hard and we finished sooner than later at the bar at the bottom of the slopes. Here, we shared a gigantic plate of nachos that could easily fill the hopes of hungry folk who try to bite off more than they can chew (incriminating finger to myself). A good glass of hops and several laughs of fatigue later, we clipped into our skis and began our descent. We hurtled, not without silliness, down the winding and fun track all the way back to the parking lot.
Another surprise awaited us at our check-in in Canmore: our friends took care to choose accommodation with an outdoor spa. A much-appreciated luxury that would nurture our sore skier legs for the next few evenings.
As the days rolled on, each one began with a new adventure. After Sunshine, we got a taste of the Lake Louise terrain. Here, the bowl at the top and the glades on the Larch slope offered challenges that we rarely encounter skiing out east and made us both laugh and cry. Ciao Comfort Zone!
It was during our time in Rogers Pass that we really put our comfort aside, learning the hard way what type two fun is really like. Our guide Mike took advantage of the 4-hour ascent and shared the history of the place, the snow and its whims and challenges of the terrain.
Only in this kind of situation do you really understand the extent and value of good decisions. How to climb, where to go down, what to read before leaving and how to interpret the signs of the mountain. This was a whole new part of the backcountry reality that I discovered as well as my heart capacity that day.
Once the climb finished and my first turn in the delicious powder started, I understood all the meaning of the type 2 pleasure. The one you have to work hard for. Unlike the elemental type 1 joy which corresponds to the moment my feet will step into the spa after a long day on the slopes.
Finally, I discover in this ascent the importance of powerful, versatile and lightweight equipment. In the evening, my blisters are the first to be introduced to the spa-water. I wince until the initial stinging subsides and then welcome the warmth.
There are also the skis that I borrowed that were heavy and the bindings difficult to change modes (ski / touring). The good news is that I ordered the Black Diamond Helio 95 and the Fritschi Tecton bindings that will be joining me in Revelstoke in the next few days.
Ding, dong! A Fedex package arrives and is transformed into a pile of shredded cardboard within minutes. I’m 6 years old again and it’s Christmas when I see the beautiful combo and can’t wait to test it on the snow.
Daybreak provided time to install the bindings on my skis and the opportunity to get to know the town of Revelstoke. My excitement is beaming while my knees and friends are thankful for this little rest time. It’s during this mountain break that we discover the community that makes Revelstoke such a great place to live.
After a small work session at the charming Dose Café, we take a walk in the streets, stopping in bookstores and ultra-cozy outdoor shops. Immediate observation: the joy of living is everywhere. Is it due to the environment? Nothing proves it, but the theory is confirmed when our footsteps lead us to the beach that borders the winding river at the edge of town.
The sun tugs at our eyelids as the translucent water on which we skip stones carries our troubles away. The impressive mountains surrounding us, watch with a benevolent eye. While skiers hit the slopes at temperatures below the freezing point, we sunbathe on the beach a few kilometres away, taking advantage of the seductive spring temperatures. If the sun had decided never to go to bed that day, I’m afraid we would have never left.
And yet, I had new skis to try! Immediately on my feet the next morning, I thought I had lost them in the snow they were so lightweight! Carbon skis, HELLO and WELCOME IN MY LIFE, I’LL NEVER LET YOU GO! I’m almost afraid to get used to the lightness of the skis and the efficiency of the bindings that clip and unclip with ease. I’m now comfortable and equipped to get out of my comfort zone. Bring on the backcountry adventures!
To follow my adventures, find me on Instagram: @raphrouss