The opportunity to turn a five-day Canadian ski trip into a 14-day Canadian ski trip isn’t generally something that falls into your lap. What’s even more rare is having the actual ability to extend a ski trip by 9 days and not lose your job or have your life fall apart.
I’d originally come to British Columbia in late-January with a group of three women I’d known collectively for about a month. With Mountain Collective passes in hand, the first five days of the trip with them were insane, if only because I had become accustomed to the skiing and scenery of Michigan. The Canadian Rockies hadn’t had fresh snow in about a week when we arrived, so most in-bounds spots at Revelstoke and Lake Louise (both Mountain Collective resorts) were cashed. But because I’d skied Nubs Nob for the first half of the season, the change of scenery, 3-mile-long runs and steep terrain — despite being void of fresh snow — were welcome changes.
By the end of the trip we all lamented our return to the homeland. A storm was coming, we were just starting to get a grip on the Revelstoke resort layout (and hidden stashes), and on top of it all, our money was worth more here (the exchange rate ensured we were receiving 25% off everything we bought). The nine-hour drive home started to look pretty unappealing.
On our last night in Canada, our group happened to cross paths with some college friends of mine in a tiny mining-turned-ski town in interior British Columbia as they headed west and us east. It didn’t take long for the peer pressure to start.
“Come on, it’s only another 10 days, what else do you even have to do?” they all asked. And because I’ve fully dedicated this winter (I fight fire in the summers) to skiing, I really had no reason to leave. I made a few phone calls, loaded my skis and backpack into a college friend’s truck and made for Lake Louise, Alberta.
The next ten days were dreamy — I skied (mellow) backcountry pillow lines for the first time, learned a bit about avalanche gear, terrain and snow science, skied in-bounds powder at Revelstoke, bombed groomers at Whistler Blackcomb and generally did all the things I hadn’t really had the opportunity to do as a born-and-bred Midwest skier. All the while, I bunked up in the “guest room” (the bench seat/dining room table) in a friend’s truck camper, where both space and ski boot smells were confined and the menu consisted of pasta, pasta and more pasta. It wasn’t my first foray into being a dirtbag, but with sled-accessed backcountry laps or resort powder on the schedule each morning, it was certainly the most rewarding.