Friday, March 20, 2009

Mama Mia!

Because I celebrated International Woman's Day with a broken down car and mooching off my sister for rides and a place to stay in Calgary while my car was being repaired, it seemed important that I spend some quality time with some quality women in the mountains to set my feminine vibe for 2009 off on a better track. Also, being faced with the fact that my upcoming ACMG ski guide exam would be composed of exactly 11 boys and 2 girls occupying a tent camp in the Selkirks, I was craving a bit of estrogen-therapy.

My mother Lynda is an avid backcountry skier who has been at it since the days of leather ankle boots, ultra-long, ultra skinny skis, gaiters, wool shirts and pants. These days she sports her fat skis, dynafit bindings, AT boots, schoeller pants and makes it all look pretty darn easy. This winter she was working hard as a pastry chef for the heli-skiing company Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) so she didn't get to ski tour too much, but don't feel too bad for her because she did get to experience what many of us lower-income folks only dream of; heli-skiing. It all sounds pretty glamourous really, making towering and exotic desserts and fragrant fresh breads all week, and being swooped around in a helicopter on the weekends when there aren't quite enough guests to cram the heli full. We met up in Revelstoke at the essential Modern Bakery for some brekkie and java before driving up to Roger's Pass for a weekend of powder skiing. She humoured me and let me guide her around since I was practicing for my ski guide exam. I broke some trail, read the map, and mostly tried to find us some untracked snow, which is getting more and more tricky on a high hazard, clear and sunny weekend day at Roger's Pass. We got to witness some avalanches triggered by explosives across the highway from us, and even saw some folks nearby trigger an avalanche large enough to bury a person. Exciting times in the mountains! We ran into some friends at the Glacier Park Lodge and enjoyed some beers and dinner with them before retiring to our room to do it all over again. Yes, I am really lucky to have such a cool mother!

Mum touring with Macdonald, Avalanche, Eagle, Uto, and Sir Donald keeping her company

Like mother like daughter

The next phase of my women's ski week was spent with my dear friend Kitt Redhead. Kitt is an accomplished skier and mountain woman, and an ACMG assistant ski guide who has worked for a variety of heli, cat and touring operations and has completed all sorts of huge ski adventures in Norway, Alaska, France, and of course, Canada. Kitt and I were roommates in Squamish for a few summers and got along famously, but the last few years while I was living in Salt Lake we lost track of each other a bit. Kitt's most recent HUGE adventure is motherhood, with the birth of her son Thoren four months ago. She makes the transition from guiding to motherhood look graceful and effortless, but even she craves ski touring days. After graciously putting up with me crashing at her place in Revelstoke while I prepared for my ski exam, we agreed we had to do a ski day together, so we left Thoren with his Dad and a stash of breastmilk for the day, and we boogied up to Roger's Pass. The snow was a bit heavy, but the day was fantastic all the same. We hardly even noticed time passing as we ambled up the skin track, chatting away and enjoying each other's company and just being out in the beautiful mountains and fresh air. We were fully on the same page in terms of where we felt safe to ski, and it was great to have some feedback from a woman who I know and respect who has gone through the ski guide's exam that I am about to do.

Kitt enjoying the mountains

Where the f@#% are we?

Kitt shredding the waterfall gnar

Another ski touring party at Roger's Pass (yawn)

Tomorrow the culmination of my winter begins. I am flying in to Moberly Pass, in the Adamants for my ACMG assistant ski guide exam. I am really looking forward to spending a week in what sounds like cool ski terrain with a bunch of motivated, psyched people and some ace ACMG examiners. The nerves haven't got me yet, but there's plenty of time for that, like when I am leading my group up through crevasse-riddled glaciers or down through slopes with numerous persistent weak layers lurking and waiting to avalanche me.

1 comment:

marty said...

I know its a bit late, but Lois and I wish you luck on your exam, we know you've got the knowledge and skill.

LOVE Marty and Lois