While Phillip struggles to squeeze his giant calves into his socks, I stretch my legs in preparation for an awesome day of snowboarding. We’re parked a short walk away from the slopes, uphill from the lift. We simply changed at the car, walked over, and rode down to pick up our lift tickets. How cool is that?
Once joined by Jennie, we hop on our first lift and make our way up Blackcomb Mountain. We’re headed to a run that Phillip heard about from a friend. To get there, we have to ride up a lift and then up another lift. But wait, there’s more! From there, we ride down to the base of yet another lift which takes us up to a T-bar. Mind you, each one of these lifts are long enough to take you to the top of most ski resorts. And from the top of the T-bar, we have to hike up over the ridge to the other side. Word is that it’s powder heaven back there.
“What’s a T-bar?” you might ask. That’s an excellent question. The name sounds like a horrible combination of a T-bone collision and an arm bar, and for snowboarders, it’s as bad as it sounds. The T-bar lift is an invention made by skiers to punish snowboarders. A T-bar is a tow lift mechanism where a cable runs overhead from which hang upside down T’s on retractable cables. For skiers, it’s quite easy to use this horrid contraption. Two skiers stand side by side facing forward and the T-bar is place behind their bottoms, giving them a gentle push forward and up to the top. For snowboarders on the other hand, it’s a different story entirely. A snowboarder must stand facing sideways, and the T-bar is placed in between the rider’s legs. The forward and up tension on the T-bar puts it, you guessed it, right up in the inner thigh, crotch area. Yea…
Phillip is the first to go. He lines up and gets the T-bar placed between his legs and off he goes. It looks uncomfortable, but doable. Next up is me and Jennie. We line up and the T-bar yanks us up and off balance and down onto the ground. After apologizing to everyone behind us who are waiting, and watching, we decide to go up one at a time. Jennie is knocked off balance again and calls it quits on the vile T-bar. We decide on a location to meet up at and we part ways. Apologizing again to those in line, I line up for my second attempt. I get the T-bar in place and I hold on and hope I don’t fall. It’s shaky at first, but I’m on my way. Half way up, I start sliding off to the left and I don’t know what to do. I’m supposed to stay flat, but I’m getting further off course. What do I do? As if the T-bar heard my thoughts, it pulls me back on course. Whew. My first T-bar ride has left an impression on me I’m sure, it feels like it anyways.
Phillip and I, along with the other powder junkies, begin our hike up towards the ridge. It’s a little steep, the footing is, well, snowy, and progress is slow. As each little step brings us closer to the top, the wind starts picking up until snow is blowing sideways off the ridge and into our faces. This feels like proper adventuring if you ask me. At the top of the ridge, our efforts are rewarded by views of Blackcomb Glacier flanked with tall rocky peaks. Visibility isn’t the best, but the view, and the altitude, is breathtaking. Cue the music!
Once over the ridge, some people strap in right away (and whatever skiers do) and follow the marked run down through the the glacier. Others, however, hike further out against the wind. Because, you see, the further you go the more untouched powder you have to enjoy. There are acres and acres of powder up here! I’ve never imagined anything like this before. It seems you can go anywhere!
Here we go! The powder is so smooth and deep. Leaning back and shifting my weight onto my back leg, I lift the nose of the board up above the powder, and I’m surfing. Wow I’m surfing. Without losing any momentum, my legs absorb the soft bumps as I carve my board over the deep powder. This is sensational and I could go on like this forever. But first, a break.
While my quads rest, I can’t believe what’s around me. I’m snowboarding in a glacier. A glacier! Everywhere I look, the view is just so amazing, it’s unbelievable. I just came down from there! I get up from my rest and back to the best snowboarding of my life. I can’t believe it. I just can’t believe it. And that’s when the pain started.
The sensation of surfing on powder, the amazing views around me, they all faded to the back of my mind. What took their place was the growing sharp pain in my quads. My legs can’t be giving out already. We just started! I mean, we still haven’t made it out of the glacier. I ride as long as I can until the agony is too much, then plop, down on my butt I go. Unbelievable.
With each iteration of this pattern of riding and resting, the distance I can ride gets shorter, and the time I need to rest gets longer. And now, it’s not just my quads. My calves are burning, and my upper back and shoulder is aching from falling earlier. This is torture. And as if I don’t feel like a total failure, I’m also a huge damper on Phillip’s Whistler experience and it’s taking a lot longer than I thought to get to where I’m supposed to meet Jennie.
Eventually we get to where Jennie is waiting, sitting on the snow. “I’m so sorry, how long did you have to wait?” I asked. “An hour.” she replied unexcitedly. Yikes.
The whole way down the mountain, Jennie, who is on her third day of riding, and I, who is a big wimp, stopped time and again to rest while Phillip patiently, being nowhere near tired, waited for us to catch up. Though I’m riding through so much nature, I can’t enjoy it. It feels like there are marbles jammed inside my quads and calves. It can’t get worse than this. But, it did. Things got worse when we reached the top of Whistler Mountain.
There’s no visibility up here! It’s snowing and we’re in a thick, wet fog. All I can see are some skiers ahead and the trail markers along the left and right edges of the run. Everything else is just white. The ground, the sky, all blended together, it’s all white. My legs are killing me and I can’t see. I am not having fun. Jennie is right, “The day started out so well… but it went downhill from there.”
It’s not all bad though. The Peak 2 Peak Gondola connects the two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb. The name is a pun you see. A gondola arrives at the terminal and slowly makes its way around the U shaped track. Meanwhile, passengers disembark the moving car and new passengers walk on. It’s a cool feeling to be traveling along cables with such limited visibility. It’s like being suspended in a space of nothingness. I pass the time trying to catch a passing gondola in a picture. It isn’t until we were nearing the Blackcomb terminal that I get this shot. I’m quite proud of this one.
Meet Jennie and Tony, and Jennie’s drink chosen solely on the fact that it came with a plastic monkey. Tony shows us the videos from his day, shot from his helmet cam, and I show him the pictures on my camera, making sure that he sees my picture of the gondola. I’m quite proud of that one. “They should use this picture for their advertisement!” Said Jennie admiringly. Oh stop it, but please, continue.
After dinner and farewells, Phillip and I begin our drive back home. Unfortunately, because of the dark, we’re missing the view from the Sea-to-Sky Highway again. But our adventure is not over yet.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka is our final stop before going back home. Yes we already had dinner, I know. But… Don’t judge us. A bowl of warm soup and noodles is perfect after a long day of snowboarding. My whole body is tired, but I muster all my strength and channel my inner Naruto to unlock the revitalizing power of ramen.
That’s all folks! My very own Whistler adventure story. Some of you may be wondering, “I thought you were gonna write this post in third person.” Yes, I did say that I was going to write this post in third person. But a friend, who is a writer, whom I respect very much, said it’s weird to write a blog post in third person. And that’s why Andrew didn’t write his Whistler post in third person.