Monday, March 29, 2010

Blackcomb Mountain

Friday - March 26th

Rob and I took a big plunge and hired a willing soul to watch our hooligans and headed to one of our favorite boarding spots, Whistler-Blackcomb, eh.  The Olympic & Paralympic Games are over and the crowds should be less impacting, so we hope!

Upon confirmation by our sitter that she would be willing to watch our three boys & two dogs for the weekend, I jumped on Central Reservations on the Whistler-Blackcomb website and selected what I found to be the 'best' option.  I also checked Vacation Rental by Owner and Owner Direct Vacation Rentals, two websites we have found accommodations during past stays at Big White, Sun Peaks & Whistler.  The Horstman House was the choice, as it was $150/night (CAD) and had a kitchenette and living room with a king size bed in the bedroom.  The reviews were positive and at that price, I was willing to give it a try.  Of course I admit, as we approached our destination I was getting nervous as the last 'this price is too good to be true' delivered an interesting place - comfortable, but odd.  Sometimes pictures are very deceiving and Rob had not previewed my selection.  In the event the choice was a bit 'off' in a way - I'd hear about it.

The drive to Whistler, B.C. Canada,  from Poulsbo, WA is 225 miles plus a 30 minute ride on the Edmonds/Kingston ferry.  We departed on the 1:40 p.m. ferry and arrived at our accommodations in Whistler at 7:35 p.m after making a wrong turn (Mt. Baker Hwy vs. Guide Meridan) and hitting rush-hour traffic in Vancouver, B.C.  The boarder crossing (Aldergrove)took a meer 5 minutes, the real patience game started shortly thereafter.  We passed the time joking about our wrong turn and by practicing our Canadian enuciation of 'about' and 'eh'. 

Luckily, The Horstman House was a fine selection.  Rob did mention his preference could include a spot a bit closer to the village and the gondolas, but he had no real complaints about our room.  (Bonus, his F250 fit in the parking garage!)  On our walk to dinner (at 9 p.m.!!) we passed the Four Seasons and the Pan Pacific, both five star hotels and he questioned how much a room was there.  I did not have a response, they did not show up on my accommodation search.  Hmmmm?  Apparently, I missed a search option -  Duh!  Rob figured that since we were visiting during a slow time, we could have found a place at a high end (not that Horstman House was a dump, mind you) place for a dirt cheap price.  I spent the whole night questioning my decision.  He joked with me throughout the trip, but really we had as good of a place as any so there were no complaints.  (When we returned home, the first place I looked was and found that a room at the Pan Pacific or Four Seasons ran about $300/night...  we definitely had the right choice from the start.  We would not have been able to get $450 more fun out of a different spot.)

Oh how extremely wonderful it was to only be in charge of myself!  I was enjoying my freedom more than I imagined I would.  The debate became which mountain do we ride first?  I was thinking Whistler as we are not able to enjoy all the above alpine areas when we visit during opening week (Thanksgiving), but I know that Rob predominately prefers Blackcomb.  Both mountains are awesome, but it is a choice we needed to make before we stepped onto the gondola.  In theory, we are able to change our mind once we get to the top - just step inside the new Peak 2 Peak gondola and in 12 minutes, we could be at the top of the other mountain.  The fact is, it will take an act of god to make Rob step foot in that 'ride'.  Once we decide on a location, we are committed.  Blackcomb it is. 

The photo below is the view of the high alpine area near the Harmony chair on Whistler mountain from Blackcomb. 

I have to admit, I struggled in the a.m. with the spring-like early morning conditions.  It was warm and rainy the day before and the groomed runs had hardened into ice during the night and I was having difficulty connecting to the mountain. 

This is the time when I need to insert a disclaimer on my behalf.  I am riding a 2001 K2 Eldorado (154 cm) board.  It has seen many a day on the mountain and beginning to delaminate a bit.  The edges are beyond grinding to make useable and my ability to hold an edge is tough.  I am in desperate need of a new board if I am going to ride hard all day.  Up until this trip, the riding I have been doing this season have been accompanied by a couple of boys that are under the age of 7.  It has been sufficient.  I have been relucant to buy a new board without trying it out first and all the demo days on my local mountain have fallen on days I did not make it up.  Excuses, excuses, excuses. 

After an early lunch at the Rendezvous - poutine none-the-less (french fries, cheese curds & gravy) and some 'about-eh' lessons (I needed all the Canadian support I could get) I was ready to get back out there.  I also wasn't complaining that the temperatures were getting warmer and the snow softer. 

Things were looking up!  Off the Solar Coaster Express lift we ducked some ropes and found the closed 'Children's Adventure Park' and did some exploring. We are easily amused on the ride up, we found the highlight of the day - THE BOARDERCROSS COURSE!  I've watched the races on t.v. and have always wondered where one would go to actually ride a course.  I was just telling Michelle a few weeks back that boardercross is something I would dig... and I did!  I am still giddy about the run.
We saw cloudy skies, fog and sun - sometimes all on the same run.  It seemed that the weather varied in 500' increments.  Visibility was questionable from time to time, but if we just kept riding we would run into something different.  Tree riding was variable as well.  At the top of a tree run we would have awesome conditions but traveling downhill we found wet heavy snow that was soft and tough on the ankles to get the board to respond.  No complaints. 
It's always a great day (either early or late season) when you can ride from the top of the mountain all the way to the base.   We parked at Base II and was able to ride right to the truck.  It was apparent that the snow conditions were dwindling as shown here with a view from the half-pipe just above the parking lot.  But we were happy!!

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