Friday, March 2
Downhill Riders makes the bus ride down to your ski destination a little more enjoyable by having a licensed bus. No one wants to be stone sober for an eight hour bus ride so a little bit of alcohol goes a long way.
By the time we reached city limits the eight of us in our party, and nearly everyone else on the bus, had a healthy buzz going and would only increase the further south we drove. Most of the trip is a blur. I remember Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary and then Panorama – the moments in between are missing.
We stopped in Calgary so people could get a meal at Peter’s Drive-In. Suzi required more Gin so I offered to run down 16th Avenue with her. With time running out, and having ran eight blocks without success we decided we ran to far and turned back. Suzi investigated a nearby Safeway and I carried on back towards the bus.
I am not sure if this happened in the several minutes I was alone, or while I was running or something else but in the morning I woke up with a Calgary Transit pass dated for March 3 in my pocket. How it got there, I do not know. It is the mystery of the trip.
After the brief stop we continued on south and by 2AM we rolled into Panorama. It took a while to gather our gear from under the bus and find the condo but the eight of us made our way. Beer and cookies were consumed as a celebratory ‘we made it’ and around 3:30AM we passed out, the wakeup call would happen in four hours so we needed to get some rest.
Saturday, March 3
Fresh mountain air is a great cure for a hangover. That is if you feel it when you wake up. All of us felt a little intoxicated when we woke up at 7:30AM and collectively felt worse while we ate breakfast. There was greasy food in our stomachs, a beautiful day on the hill and a mountain of possibilities so we suited up.
This was my first trip our since Fernie last March so I was a little rusty and required a few blue runs to warm up. The snow was soft and the runs were not crowded. After a few runs we went up to the Summit and The View of 1000 Peaks.
Gord and I took off into our first double black diamond run of the day and quickly got into a situation bigger than we had imagined. We traversed a sketchy chute and made tracks where there were none to follow. Gord lead the way into a powdered area and avoided exposed rock and a hefty incline. It was a sign of things to come.
Following one of the runs Gord, Suzi and I went down I took a mogul to get some air and ended up casing my landing. I jammed my toe fairly hard in the boot and knew it was trouble. The poor sizing of my boots meant my other toe would be bruised as well, making a complete set.
One thing I wanted to do in Panorama was try the Taynton Bowl. It was nearing the end of the day and we made the hike along the ridge to find a decent looking drop-in point. We found Devil’s Drop.
It was a great run that seemed to go just keep on going. The only downside to Taynton Bowl is the long ski-out back to the village. Although after an intense run the mindless run is a welcomed change.
The evening was spent enjoying a delicious lasagna and salad supper while we drank and recapped our day. TBS was having a marathon of good movies so we stayed in, bought some more alcohol, a log for the fire and two decks of playing cards and our evening was set.
Cuban cigars were brought out, an ornament from a local tree was displayed and we finally called it a night around 1:30AM.
Sunday, March 4
We started the day off with bacon, eggs and toast cooked at our leisure at our condo, courtesy of Gord, Andrew and Tyler. The delicious smell of bacon summoned everyone to the kitchen.
Once the gear was packed under the bus and the condo cleared out we hit the hill for day two.
My feet were hurting from the skiing the day before and sliding into my boots the pain was amplified. I began to doubt how much I had in me but would tough it out for a few runs to see how comfortable I felt.
Suzi, Gord, Tyler, Andrew and I went straight to the Summit when we decided to attack Taynton Bowl for what would be my last advanced run of the day. We began walking along the spine of the mountain, passing several chutes when our destination became focused on the highest point we could reach.
If I was going to do one run today, I wanted to do it from there. After half an hour of hiking we came to the boundary line of Panorama which had a sign that clearly spelled out our fate if we were not careful.
After we crossed the boundary Tyler and Andrew turned back as the remaining three of us trekked upward. It was a single file path with several feet of unpacked snow on either side. We spread out as we walked and no one said anything the higher we climbed. Each of us were alone in our thoughts contemplating what was going to happen and anticipating the powder.
Another fifteen minutes passed before we reached the summit of the peak and had a view of everything. It was nearly noon, two hours after we left our condo at the bottom of the hill. Suzi and Gord spotted the best drop-in point and we geared up.
I tightened my gear and strapped my polls in and was the last to drop into glorious deep powder.
Unfortunately, in addition to having sore feet with every turn my bindings were loose and as I leaned too far back into a turn I popped out of my ski. I did one tumble roll and landed in chest high snow. Somewhere above me, buried beneath the snow, was my ski.
I spent the next while wading through the snow and digging a trench as I struggled upward. I recovered my ski and fastened myself together and continued downwards. The powder was deep and soft. The conditions were amazing.
Two hours of pain and walking was worth it fort his moment. After navigating the remaining steep, powdered and mogul sections we were home free on the flat ski out.
It was now 1PM, three hours since we hit the first chair, and we called it a day with several pitchers of beer and lunch at Crazy Horse. The time flew by and soon enough we had to load up the bus and make the long drive back home.
We rode into Edmonton at 11:30PM and went our separate ways. The trip was amazing and would gladly go back to Panorama given the chance. Here is to Psychoholic 2007!