I finished work early on Friday and was dropped off at Fraserview church. Earlier in the week I had withdrawn $225 to pay for their snowboarding trip. The money included two days of lessons at Whistler-Blackcomb, transportation to and from the mountains, accommodation in a ski lodge, food for the entire weekend, board hire and the chance to have a great time with a lot of people my age.
Fraserview church is the church that the Reed family, the Bowen family and the McPherson family all attend weekly. The three families have all known each other for about 20 years and chose Fraserview as their most recent church because of its emphasis on youth. As well as the church having many sports/recreational facilities, two youth clubs and a rock band during the Sunday service, it also runs a variety of trips throughout the year to various destinations including Mexico, California, Whistler and Tofino (Vancouver Island), all at bargain rates, for anyone aged between 15 and 25.
The journey was about 2 hours long, with a stop at one of Squamish’s various roadside fast food outlets. Most people filled up on Wendy’s “Baconators” but I decided to save my money, having just eaten beef jerky and dried apricots (provided by my workmate, Sally, for the trip) and snacked on various goodies provided by Barb!
We finally arrived at the lodge at about 7pm and unpacked all of the snowboards, food and bags from the trailer. As we got more and more aggressive with our passes, as all guys do, a tub of salsa became the only fatality, after it was launched at a wall by Tombert!
We then set up our areas and headed upstairs for snacks and games. I was introduced as the English guy and instantly became a celebrity! From then on I was totally unable to escape the introductory games and jokes. The first one, which admittedly I fell for (literally!), involved approaching two girls on a couch, spouting some cheesy chat up lines, showing off some moves and then sitting between them. The trick was that the “couch” was actually two chairs with a sheet on top, so that the middle section was just air – something that I would have noticed better under less anxiety!
Nevertheless, my attempts were awarded 10/10 (probably for being English!) after a sweet spin and some flexes, with a sudden burst of confidence that remained thereafter! I even managed to redeem myself in a second game by not shouting out “KNICKERS” at the top of my lungs, as the rest of the room (instead of joining in) looked on and laughed! Ironically, I wouldn’t even have been embarrassed by this; having spent lunchtime in a packed restaurant playing “Bogies” with my group!
Top of the slope; posing with the board
Time on the slopes worked out at about 5 hours each day, with half an hour for lunch. Our instructor for the first day was a guy called Sebastian (or “Sea Bass”) and he taught us the basics of staying upright, stopping and basic turning. He was pretty cool and the group did well, with the know-it-alls taking many more tumbles, much to my amusement!
Despite living in Canada all of her life, Virginia had also never been snowboarding so we were in the same group and both did very well. The other members did well too, despite the two guys (Stewart and Derek) constantly proving that "slow and steady” wins the race, especially if there are bonus points for remaining upright throughout! Despite this, they both insisted that we were going to be doing jumps, tricks and rails on our second day!
In the evening we visited Whistler and went swimming. The shops were filled with British, Australian and New Zealander gap year students and I chatted with many of them. I also had a white chocolate flavoured hot chocolate which was delicious! The shops were mainly adventurous activity clothing shops and I plan to come back one day and buy some stuff for my various outdoor pursuits.
The second day of snowboarding focused on turning the snowboard and travelling more sideways than forwards, the first day really only being a pendulum motion of side to side across the slope. After a morning of many shaky turns I was able to complete the turns quiet well and it was only on one particular run that I actually fell over! Unfortunately it was the last run before we tried something harder and it made me a little shakier again as I fell a couple more times before reaching the bottom.
The harder route involved taking a second chair lift from the top of the first one (that we had been using for the last two days) and took us much higher. As we ascended the mountain, our view was of the steep ski run. This was not great for our nerves until we were told that we would not be going by that route and were able to relax again!
The actual route turned out to be gorgeous as we whizzed along the mountainside, between pine forests, all the time with a beautiful view of the village of Whistler, and the valley beyond. The weather was beautiful and we could see a vast and breathtaking view of the mountains, including a glacial lake about 10 miles away!
After our second day finished, we were picked up by the vans and headed home. In all it had been awesome and I was not only inspired to snowboard more, but also to try for a job there in the winter for a free lift pass and the opportunity to meet many more gap year travellers!