You know that feeling of anticipation the week before a big snow trip – checking the forecasts every day for weeks beforehand, and watching as a big front builds up just in time for your arrival.

The problem with Canada is just how bloody far away it is. 2 hours beforehand at Sydney Airport, 14 hours to LA, 5 hours wait in LA, 3 hours to Vancouver, and only 15 minutes to get to the next bus to Whistler or you’ll have to wait another 3 hours. So you bolt past everyone getting off the plane, are the first through customs and find the oversize baggage area straight away. The first truck trundles up full of golf bags – Canadians on their way back from Mexico. The next one has a few skis and boards, and you see your board bag tucked way at the back. “Hey mate, do us a favour and get that bag out first please”. No problem. Straight out the door onto the bus and a 2 ½ hour ride up to Whistler.

Cool – pissing with rain down low. The front’s come in and will be puking up higher. See a bit of old snow on the ground an hour into the trip – still raining though. Half an hour out of whistler – still pissing down. Mmm… Arrive in the village, and yep – pissing down even more. Get off the bus and hook up with Caty who I’m staying with, know I’ll get saturated if I don’t put my jacket on, and reach into the bag to find…. Fuck, someone’s knicked my jacket! Maybe it’s moved higher in the bag during the flight? Open up the whole bag to find… What the fuck? Size 6 ladies boots and a 148 board?

Oh dear…

After a 30 hour trip, sitting on hold to the lost baggage line for 3 hours ain’t that easy, but it had to be done. “No sir, no record of your bag here. Try back later tomorrow”. Call a number on the bag and leave a message… “sorry… um… your bag is exactly the same as mine and um…. I’ve got it. Sure hope you’re coming up to whistler and not going to big white or something”. As much as I can do for now.

Wake up to a call! Yep, they’re in Whistler and can meet me in half an hour, but my bag’s still at the airport. Damn. At least it’s still raining so I’m not missing much on the mountain. More calls to lost baggage. And yes, they can get the bag back to me in 2 days. At least I’m not getting straight back on the bus to Vancouver.

Then we find out how high it’s rained during the night – up to 2100m. Not great for a mountain that tops out at 2200m!

Oh dear…

The short of it is that once I got my board back the mountain never really recovered. I actually chucked on a pair of skis the first day while I was waiting for my board to turn up. We had a few nice clear days, but there was no point getting up the mountain before lunch – boilerplate in the morning and slush in the arvo. Was like Australia in mid September. 5 years ago I was in Whistler during the same week and had a foot of fresh almost every day. The Canadians are all saying it’s just been getting worse every year. They’ve got the 2010 winter Olympics and are worried they’ll only be able to use the top half of the mountains. A big worry when you see how much the place has grown in recent years – some seriously expensive real estate has sprung up.

We had thoughts of doing a heli trip while there, but the snow wasn’t worth the cash. I was also going to do a backcountry course, but that was cancelled because of the conditions too. During the whole week I did about three turns off piste (literally) before just giving in to the fact you needed to stay on the groomers. Such a shame given it is such a killer mountain. You could probably squeeze a maximum of 5 or 6 top to bottom runs in one day and cover about 50Kms of groomers in the process. And all those backbowls crusted up in the distance, not even worth bothering with.

I had planned to extend the trip to 2 weeks if the snow was going to turn on, but it never did. Just rain, 2-5cms of fresh way up the top occasionally and a few sunny days. In the end I decided a few days back in oz surfing down the south coast would be the best antidote – and a worthwhile decision it was too.

Of course I just checked the snow report and they’ve had 30cms in the past 2 days with more to come.

Luck of the draw. At least I got to drink loads of beer.



Owen looking quite thrilled by the complete lack of powder…