The last day of our week on the road took us out of BC and into Alberta, and the beautiful Rocky Mountains. We hadn’t been here for a few years, and being used to the gentler Coastal mountain range, the massive peaks around Banff simply take your breath away.
There are actually three ski areas to choose from if you buy the tri-area pass – Mount Norquay, Lake Louise and our pick for the day, Sunshine Village. Whereas we’d spent all week seeking out advanced and intermediate terrain, day 7 was a chance to take the pace down and do something a little different. Someone came up with the plan of swapping gear – the skiers would snowboard for the day, and vice versa. We’d get a different perspective on the resort by seeing it through the eyes of a complete beginner, and hopefully capture some funny footage for the blooper reel. We didn’t need lessons, as we could teach each other! What could possibly go wrong?
Actually it was a really fun day. After several pretty incompetent laps of the little magic carpet, we rode the Strawberry chair to try the real thing on a – wait for it – Green Run. Oh yeah. Going back to beginner status really does adjust your reality. I’d forgotten how simple things like riding the lift are challenging for a learner – getting off the lift on a snowboard is a nightmare. You’re also suddenly aware of the slightest increase in the steepness of the pitch. Trails that would normally register only as an easy route to something more interesting, are suddenly fraught with peril. We soon discovered that snowboarding involves a whole lot of sitting down, and that just getting upright with both feet strapped to a board is no easy thing. Meanwhile the skiers were putting down some low speed snowploughs to make your instructor proud. Either I’m a kick ass teacher or our buddies are naturals.
So what did we learn? Banff has some pretty nice beginner runs back to the lodge area. Learning to snowboard is hard on the ass. Skiing is easier to begin but it takes longer before you look remotely cool doing it. And novice boarders should always download over taking a flat road out, as I learned to my cost when a heavy fall on flat ground earned me a broken wrist and a 6 to 8 week layoff. Not good, but these things can happen in snowsports, and you have to accept that the awesome fun comes with a degree of risk. If the road trip turns out to be the last week of my season, at least it was a huge one.
Video highlights will be online soon, but I think I’ll edit out the first person footage of the wrist injury. The audio track involves some fairly anglo-saxon language.