Skiing


So you know how in the last blog I was complaining I was going to have to live on peanuts just to break-even. And that I was going to have to be sooo froogle throughout the Winter. Well I followed that up yesterday by spending a shit-loads of cash. How ironic.

I got up yesterday. And one of my money saving measures, and something that was recommended to us by our supervisor, is to take packed lunches rather than eat at any of the resort cafes. I didn't have any kind of portable food storage mind, ie a lunchbox, so first off, I headed down to the dollar store. $1.50 for a little sandwich box. Not bad. I was planning on scoping out the health-food shop as well today, or supplements shop as I'd term it. But I could just tell from the outside that it wouldn't really cater to me at an acceptable price, so I walked on by. One other thing I needed, was a bottle of water. Not for the water. But I needed a bottle to carry water in. And in my experience, the cheapest way to do that, is just buy a bottle of mineral water, and reuse the bottle for the next 9 months.

So for that I went to Sobeys. And somehow, this trip to Sobeys to buy a bottle of water, and a couple of basic ammenities, mainly bread and milk, turned into some huge shop. There were just a shit-load of special offers, especially on long-term products, meaning canned foods. I must have picked up at least 15 cans of stuff. Most of them costing me $1 or less. And there was a load of other stuff I ended up with as well. Ended up spending over $40 in Sobeys! I probably have about 2 weeks of long-lasting food now, so I won't have to splash out on shopping for a while. But fuck. I only came out for a sandwich box and a bottle of water. And I ended up spending $40! Not cool.

Once that was back and unloaded, I was pretty much out the door again straight away, and making a bee-line for Sportuccino's. Because I really needed to get my ski boots today. But as I'm walking down there, I see Devyn leaving the shop and locking it up. "Back in 25 minutes" it said on the door. So I needed to kill a bit of time. So first I went over the road to Sears. I was hoping they had a cheap Xbox in there or something. But they didn't. Not in store anyway. This was more of just a collection place I think, despite the size of the shop. I got given a catalogue and told that anything I order from there will get delivered to this shop. Then I tried a couple of budget shops located down this same street. Surprisingly I hadn't been into either of these yet. Man, I wish I had done earlier. They had pretty much anything you could want, but just shit and cheap. Like dirt cheap DVD players, and TVs, and clothes. A bit like a Wal-Mart store, just much, much smaller. They even had food sections. I'd bought 3 packs of instant noodles from Sobeys this morning. Reduced from 39¢ to just 29¢. I thought I was getting a good deal. These shops sold them even cheaper. And there were other "special" prices I'd seen at Sobeys this morning, that these places were undercutting. I'm sure I'll be back here again.

And I was hoping that this would have passed the 25 minutes by now. But it hadn't. So in just kind of wondering along, I decide to go into this big clothes store I haven't been into yet. I wonder about. It's got some good cold-weather clothing. The kind of thing I might need at some point throughout the Winter. But nothing interests me especially. Until I get to the Winter boots anyway. We had been recommended to buy Sorel boots by the mountain before we came here. And this place had loads of them. So I got the help of one of the people here. By the way she was talking she was one of the owner, the manager, or someone who had been working there so long they'd become part of the furniture. But she knew her shit. After a lot of trying stuff on, I end up walking out from this shop with a pair of snow boots, I think costing $120 (possibly $110). As well as some insoles, and a pair of Winter socks. I can't remember the total cost. But for someone who is supposed to be watching what they spend, it was a lot. The way I see it though, I'm going to have to wear these boots pretty much everyday this Winter. It has already been as cold as -15°C at the mountain in the daytime. And it will get as cold as -30°C. I don't know exactly how that translates to farenheit. But these boots are good to -100°F. So I won't get cold feet. But damn. This purchase wasn't even on my list for today, and I just spent over $120.

Obviously not having a car, I had to log these boots back to the condo before I could do much else, because they were rather large. And came in a rather large box. So I log them back, and it's almost 15:00. I was hoping to get my boots bought by about midday today, so I had the time to get down to Columbia on the edge of town, and get the bindings adjusted. But with Devyn leaving the store just as I was getting there earlier, I had somehow gone and spent a further $120+ I wasn't planning on. This time though, the shop was open.

When I go into the shop, I must have been speaking to Devyn for a good 5 minutes before we even get onto ski stuff. She even remembers all the crap I forget, like which foot is biggest, that kind of thing. I don't even know that. But it makes buying boots a load easier when you have someone who remembers all that stuff. When I get round to asking if they have any boots in, she animatedly points out the piles of boxes sitting around the shop. And guess what? There was a pile of 10-12 boxes there. And where was my size? That's right. At the bottom. So we kind of have to get the box out without tipping the pile over. It doesn't work. I get crushed by a shit load of ski boots. But we got them out. These were 10.5 (US sizings). They were border, border, borderline, the right size for me. My left foot, which I'd previously been told was the bigger foot, just touched the end of the boot. The way I was seeing it, they inner boot would flatten out, so with them just about being ok now, they'd be fine after a bit of use. With the absence of any size 11 to try, I went for them. These were only $110 I think.

Apparently in BC, you need goggles to ski as well. Something to do with the sun. I did something very uncharacterstic here. I didn't buy the cheapest option available to me. I'd even bought compliments value deodorant this morning at Sobeys. And I've been shaving without shaving foam with a blunt razor since I've been here. It's tearing my face to shit. But it's all in aid of saving money. Yet here, I ended up buying the second cheapest pair of goggles. Pretty much, just because Devyn sold them to me that way. Normally I wouldn't sway my purchasing based on what a sales person says. After all, it's in their interest to sell you the most expensive product, not the best value or most appropriate product. But I actually trust the guys in this shop so much, someone was actually able to up-sell to me. I don't think that's ever happened before. I ended up spending $45 on a pair of goggles, rather than paying $25. That's just unheard of for me. And I got some poles in here as well. Devyn knows me so well, she doesn't even bother asking about requirements or anything. She just goes straight for the cheapest ones. Awesome. It was kind of like having a personal shopper. Just for a poor person. And seeing as I've bought every bit of equipment that I have from here, she know every skiing thing that I have already, so is like, "don't you want a helmet as well?" I do. I mean, I probably really need a helmet. But they start at like $60. So I've just told her I'll see her in a week when I've broken my face on a tree or something. The boots, goggles and poles all came to over $200. Combined with snow boots and a massive shop at Sobeys, I'd spend nearly $400 today. A helmet as well might push me over the edge. But seeing as when I first started looking as ski equipment, I was being quoted upwards of $1,000 to fully kit me out, the fact that I got skis, boots, poles and goggles for little over $250 is pretty satisfying. And I got everything sorted in time. Just. I was close to panic-buying boots when I knew that these guys wouldn't be getting any in until now, seeing as I initially needed boots today. But the $400 price tag offered everywhere else just put me off. Glad it did. I'm no expert. So what the fuck do I need expensive boots for? If I decide in a month, once I can ski properly, that I need better equipment, then so be it. At least I won't have wrecked expensive equipment learning. I can learn on shit, and invest in some better stuff if I really feel the need later. Though in all honesty, I think it's just better value, rather than shit. Probably last years models or something, so costing a load less. And my skis and goggles are 2nd-hand, so that's why they were cheap. Doesn't matter to me though. I'm not the kind of person to have a fit because someone reads the newspaper before me.

Once I had this stuff back at the condo, it was close to 16:30. I wanted to get to Columbia before it closed at 17:30, to get the bindings adjusted to fit the boots. So for the 4th time today... 4th time!, I left the house with the intention of spending money. I've made this walk before. And I've written about making this walk before. It's 15 minutes each way on concrete. In snow... it takes a while. And it had been warm enough all day to be without gloves. I was conscious that it was starting to get a little late by this point, and I would have to have my hands out my pockets for the whole trip to carry my skis over my shoulder. But despite this, I decided it was warm enough to go without gloves. Wrong! I had to keep on alternating shoulders with my skis, so I could have my left hand warming up in my pocket, and then my right hand. And then my left again. And then my right again. And I had to keep this up all the way to the shop, and all the way back again. And in the snow that is now thickly sitting on the ground all around, this took about 45 minutes. And you know what the really great news is. After all of that, which included quite a big hill, it turns out Columbia is closed on Mondays. Fucking great. Look on the brightside. I suppose I needed the exercise. Walking in the snow, up and down hills, carrying skis. It's one positive I guess. At least I didn't end up spending even more money today. Though I'm not sure it would actually cost anything to have the bindings adjusted.

I was umming and erring all of last night as to what equipment I wanted to take with me to the mountain today. We weren't going to be skiing, but I could maybe take one ski boot, and my skis, and take them to Lusty's to get the bindings adjusted. Lusty's is the rental and repair place at the mountain. And then I could take my new snow boots as well. After all, I'm going to need this stuff at the mountain, probably all on Wednesday. And it's going to be enough of a challenge taking ski boots, poles and skis at once, seeing as I don't have a bag big enough to hold any of them. Add in snow boots to that mix, and it'll be a pretty challenging trip. Despite this, come this morning, I decided not to take any of my equipment to the mountain. I'm still not sure how to actually wear the snow boots. They're the biggest shoes I've ever owned. And it's taking a bit of getting used to that look. And then I'm assuming that I'll be back in time to get the skis and boots to Columbia today to get the bindings adjusted. So why take them to the mountain. In the end, I just decided fuck it. I can take all this stuff tomorrow. Deal with it then.

And although I may regret that tomorrow, for right now, it was a good decision. My initial plan for today, was to walk down to Sobey's to catch the 2nd bus, because last time I caught that bus from outside the pub, it was so full that some people couldn't get on. But then this morning, I look at the copy of the bus timetable that I have. And it has no mention of a Sobeys stop on it at all. So I decide that to be on the safe side, just in case it isn't stopping at Sobeys, I'll just go to the pub. Afterall, last time I went for the bus at this time, was the day of one of the orientations. And I got on then. There were no orientations today, so it should be all good. Wrong! As the bus pulls up to the pub, the bus driver opens the door. "Do you want the good news? The bus is full." Great. I'm not sure how that is good news. He kind of says, "I may be back in a while to do a second trip, but it's not up to me. Assume that I'm not coming back." What the fuck kind of thing is that to say? I might be back later. But I might not. Who the hell is going to wait for the bus that may never arrive? In the last blog, I said of a Canadian chic who "rocked up," as I was waiting for a bus then. Well she was here as well. As were many other people. But as I walked off to hitch a ride, she was coming as well, so I waited for her. We were followed closely by a couple of guys who I thought were lifty's as well. But I'm so bad with faces, I just couldn't tell if I'd spent my whole Sunday in a room with them. At least talking to this 2nd-year lifty, I could find out some stuff about the job.

Predictably in this situation, there were 4 other people trying to hitch down there. So there was 8 of us in total. Luckily it only took 5 minutes to pick up a ride. There were 3 of us in the back of this car. And out of the 3, I was by far the smallest. So it goes without saying it wasn't a cold journey. We made it there at 09:00, pretty much to the minute. What a hassle this bus has become. I'm pretty much just bypassing it now. Hitching there is more reliable than getting the bus. Waiting for the bus is just slowing me down.

We're back in the same room as before for training. And with us, we also have some workers from other areas of the resort. Front-desk, house-keeping, that kind of thing. The safety guy with the big dog from orientation, was giving another semi-pointless lecture on safety. How to lift without breaking your back etc. The kind of crap that everyone has done before. W.H.M.I.S as well. That stands for something to do with hazardous chemicals. I don't remember. I wasn't paying much attention. I don't even handle chemicals, so why would I remeber what that stands for? You know, this crap annoys me. Can't they just ask us about what experience we have at lifting or something? Save wasting everyone's time. I'll dead-lift in the gym, significantly more than I'll ever be asked to lift, as a lift-operator. So why the hell do I have to sit through a video about lifting things? It's damn health and safety gone mad. If I can lift the weights that I do in the gym, how am I going to injure myself at work, lifting lighter weights?

Once this general health and safety talk was over, we got rid of all the non-lifty's from the room. Did a bit more theory training. I was busting for a piss, and decided to leave the room at a natural break. I managed to do it at the most important time though. I found out once I got back, that we were going to have an extra long break, because there was staff skiing today. There was also something about some kind of test.

Man. You can imagine how pissed off I am. All I've wanted for months, is to just get a couple of runs skiing. But in deciding to leave my skis at home, I have forfeited the chance to get some skiing in before we get assessed on our ability tomorrow. I was cursing. That wasn't until later though. For now, we got split up into 3 groups again, to do some practical things at different lifts.

I was at the gondola. This is like a lift, that gets people from the bottom of the village, to the bottom of the mountain. It's not really a ski lift. It's just to save people, staff and guests, from having to walk up to the bottom of the mountain all the time. I've had to do that many times already. And although it only takes 10 minutes; maybe less, you don't feel so safe in all the ice and snow, having to climb so many stairs and hills. This is the lift you work at if you injure yourself so much you can't ski anymore.

This little talk was given by one of the crew chiefs. And I'd asked him if there was any way I could get skis. No. After this little talk, we were splitting for lunch. We had an hour and 20 for lunch today, because it was staff skiing. And when we went to pick up the passes, Matt, my supervisor, hands one to me. I say to him, I don't have any gear with me, is there any point me taking a pass? He says no, and kind of takes the pass back. "Is there any chance I'll be able to rent gear?" I ask him. "Probably not. But take a pass just in case." So I take a pass, just in case.

I decide it can't hurt to try the rental place. I'm with another guy without any equipment either. But once we've made the walk to Lusty's, one door has a chair in front of it. The door than I spoke to him through a few blogs back; that is locked. Then there is one door unlocked. But I can see through the glass, that there is only people in there doing some kind of cappucino training. It's a cappucino bar in there as well. So, dejected, I head to the great hall with this guy I'm with. And there, we find 4 other lifty's without equipment. They all start ordering something. It's eating away at me that I can't get to ski. Because I'm confident, that given a couple of runs, I'll be able to get back to the form I had when I've skiied previously. But seeing as I've only skiied for 2 days in my life, and the second of those was nearly 2 years ago, I just need those one or 2 runs to get my ski legs back. So in the end, I decide that fuck it! I don't care if I interupt their cappucino training and make a dick of myself, I'm going to ask one of the cappucinoers if they can rent me skis. So I leave the others, saying I'll be back in a second. Just going to double check that I can't get equipment. And back I go.

They've stopped their cappucino training by now. And there is just one woman behind the bar. I ask her if it's possible to rent some stuff. And she points me in the direction of Lusty. He's attaching the binding of some guys snow board. And all I'm thinking, is hurry the fuck up. If I can get skis, it's already probably gone 12:00. I have less than an hour as it is. So when this fucking boarder, after Lusty has been screwing for a few minutes, says "Did I say I wanted the board left-foot forward? Sorry, I meant right-foot forward. Man my heads just not right today." Man I could have punched this jackass in the face right here. That cost me at least 5 minutes. Probably more. Really fucking funny nob face. In all this time, I'd kind of realised that there was a queue of people waiting. But they were waiting patiently. There was a part of me that thinks that I should have let them go first. But when Lusty is finally finished doing this retard's board, he looks at me. No way I'm turning down that opportunity, so I just ask him if it's possible to borrow some skis for an hour. I could have kissed the bastard right here. He gives me a details card to fill out. Then measures my foot, and gives me some boots. I get them fitted, and he gives me some skis. And as I remember after almost leaving, he even gives me some poles. For no charge! My God I was so happy at this point. I only had about 45 minutes to be back now. I was out on the mountain in a shot. I felt a little bit bad not going and telling the other 5 who were sitting in the great hall that I'd actually got equipment. But I don't think Lusty was too happy about loads of staff there taking things. And I was short of time, so fuck them.

First off, I made it off the top of the lift, without falling over. Score. But in my haste to get to the hill, I'd forgotten that my hat was actually in my pocket. You notice that when you're sitting on a ski lift. But that meant I had to drop my poles, take off my gloves, get out and put on my hat, then put on my gloves, and then wrap around my poles again. And this gave me time to look at the route I'd be going. Fuck. That was steep. I was fucking petrified standing at the top of this hill looking down. And I think I must have been stood there frozen for about 10 minutes. A lot of people I knew went past in that time. But I just stood there. I couldn't really remember how to ski. And I actually did consider saying fuck it. I'll just get the lift down.

After about 10 minutes, I actually grew the balls to go for it. I was conscious of how busy it was, and I'd found a quiet moment. But as I go, fuck I pick up speed quickly. And I make it maybe 30 yards ok. But the speed I'm getting up is scaring the crap out of me. And what I've always been told to do if you're getting out of your depth; fall over. It's better to fall over now, than get to an even faster speed and crash out when you can't control it. I'm only about 30 yards from the top of the mountain, but I crash out good and proper. I can't even remember which way I fell. But I'd told Lusty that I was a beginner, so he must have adjusted the bindings so my skis didn't stay on. So as soon as I fell, my skis fell off. Then, for maybe 15 yards, I slid on my back, head-first, just looking up at my skis getting further and further away from me. And all I was thinking, was of this safety talk this morning. This guy was telling us of some girl who tried to walk down the mountain without skis once. She ended up falling, and sliding in the same position that I was in, straight into a tree. She ended up with permanent brain damage. We didn't get the details of how bad it was, but she was pretty fucked up be all accounts. And here I was, sliding the exact same way. Then I was thinking of Devyn telling me how I needed a helmet. And what did I say? "See you next week when my face is all fucked up" or something like that. And I was close. I ended nearly sliding, not into a tree, but a pole that was holding up a fence to divide 2 runs. It wasn't a good start.

What made it worse, is I couldn't even remember how skis worked I was that inexperienced. It took me, maybe another 10 minutes to work out what I had to do to the skis so that I could get the boots to go back in. I knew I had to press something down, but after about 10 minutes of trying, I eventually figured out that I had to press the back down. So I'd been on this run, green run, about 20 minutes. How far had I made it? Maybe 30 yards. I lost most of the yards that I slid for, because I had to climb back up and fetch my skis. Man I was out of my depth. It was a pretty spectacular crash though. Especially seeing as I'd only just got off the lift.

Once I eventually got back up though, I started back down the moutain. I started slowly, and within a matter of yards, it was all coming back to me. I started feeling comfortable with what I was doing. And as I got comfortable, I was able to go faster and faster. I didn't know the run, so I was a little wary of hills I couldn't see over. But I made it down nearly all the rest of the run, at a slow, but respectable, speed. And it was just at the final corner, I was a little wary I couldn't see over this hill, that I semi-deliberately, fell over again. But this was barely a fall. Especially compared to at the top when I was rolling and sliding, and skis flying everywhere. This was more like standing in front of a matress and falling backwards onto it. My skis didn't even come off. Man, by this point, I was so hooked, I just wanted to go again. After the initial period of shitting myself at the top, that was so much fun. And I just about had enough time to get another run in, if I was quick, before having to be back after lunch.

So I went on up the mountain again. And having got my confidence back, I made it down the run this time in no trouble. Felt confident. Didn't fall over once. Man, it felt so good to be able to ski again. All I can say, is thank fuck for Lusty. I could kiss that guy for letting me borrow skis. We're being assessed on our skiing ability tomorrow. Not as in are we good enough to work here, but to see what level of skiing we are at. Which runs are we suitable to work as lifty's on. If I'd been assessed based upon 10 minutes of standing at the top crapping myself, I'd have been put on the gondola for the whole season. Now, though, having made it down a green run without falling over, I'm a bit more confident about this test tomorrow. Man, I could kiss that Lusty-man. I needed that!

I just about made it down in time to get my gear back to Lusty, and get down to the hall. Fuck I was so happy by this point.

We were back in the 3 groups again after lunch. And next I was at the magic carpet. This is sort of a conveyor belt for beginners to get up the practice slope. So I learnt all about how this works, and a lift next to it. It was kind of at this point that I regretted not bringing my new snow boots. Because my North Face shoes; just not cutting it. They were soaking in this thick snow. I think it was just the fact that I was wearing the woolly, good to -40°C, socks, that my feet weren't falling off. And it was also around this time that the snow started to fall again. Long may it come. After that second run, I love snow all over again.

From here we were down at another lift, to get shown how this works. And then we were back at the magic carpet to do a load test. They wanted the conveyor loaded with as many people as possible, ie, all the liftys, to test how much weight it could take. This is the test I missed hearing about when I took a urine break earlier. I was worried about some kind of assessment for a while after I heard this. It was really just a case of standing on this conveyor for a while, pretty much just throwing snowballs at people. And after this, it took a little while to cover up the conveyor, before we headed back to the lift we'd been at before come here.

We were here to do a lift-evac. Evacuating a chair lift. They needed 6 volunteers to be evauated from the chairs. The way I saw it, if I'm being evacuated, I can't do anything wrong. If I have to evacuate someone, I could fuck it up. So I volunteered.

So 6 of us get sat in this chair lift, 2 per chair. And we get taken out over the mountain. And they stop the lift. And somehow, they're going to evacuate us from this lift, some, I dunno, 20 or 30 feet up. Too far to jump anyway. I didn't really know how this was going to happen, so I was pretty much learning as I watched from above. But they load a gun. I was hoping not to just shoot us down. It actually shot a rope, over the lift cable. They then pull up some T-bar. And just like when you go rock climbing, 2 people at the bottom, hold onto this rope. Once you're sat on this bar, and pushed away from the chair, they slowly lower you down to the ground. It took a while. Must have been, maybe 20 minutes, just to get the first 2 of us down. And fuck, that T-bar crushed my balls. It was quite fun though. I've now been evacuated from a ski lift. So that's fun. I now know what I have to do. Which is essentially just talk people down. Another department takes care of all the use of the gun, and the ropes etc. I'll just have to talk a person down if this ever actually happens.

It was quite a fun day. Skiing. Evacuated from a chair lift. So many things could have gone wrong today. If I'd worn cotton socks, I think I might have frost bite on my foot seeing as how wet my shoes got. If I hadn't had a change of heart, and instead of going and sitting in the great hall at lunch, took a long-shot at possibly getting ski equipment. And it worked. And had Lusty been in a lesser mood, I would have been watching from the bottom. As it turns out, I got in that skiing I've been yearning for, for months now. And I've figured out how skis work again. More specifically, the bindings. Because I've been sitting at home looking at my skis since I bought them thinking how the fuck do I work these. But now, touch-wood, come tomorrow, I'll be able to do some decent skiing when I'm being watched. I was so, so, close to not going back to the rental shop. If I hadn't, I would be crapping myself now. And even more, when I got to that first ridge tomorrow, whilst being assessed, I'd be falling over. Or I'd just be stood there. Pertrified. Somehow though, I hope everything has turned out well.

We did maybe 30 minutes more theory after the lift-evac, but then we were done for the day. I wanted to bring my work-pants home to see how they go with my snow boots. So I went to my locker and collected them. So somehow, on a day when I was supposed to be taking all my gear to the mountain, I end up bringing stuff back. It was only about 15 minutes until the bus back by this point. But if the bus was full in the morning, what's to say it won't be full now? So I decided to hitch back. And as I was waiting, another lifty came up. We got picked up after around 5 minutes by a couple of guys working up at the heli-skiing place, I think they said. Ice-cube blasting on the radio. Dog on the back-seat with us. Man, I love hitching. It's so much fun. Just meeting new people everytime. You get the bus, it's the same everytime that you ride it. You hitch a lift, you get new people to talk to. Different music playing. Might have a dog. It's just so much more fun!

I watched ½ an hour of TV once I got in. Which gave me the chance to figure out how the bindings on my skis work. After having no choice but to figure it out earlier, seeing as I was stuck on a mountain, I could work it out now I was back.

And now, tomorrow. My final day of training. As I've said, I have a shit-load of equipment to take with me to the mountain tomorrow. Too much to be confident of hitching a ride with. So my plan for tomorrow is to get the early bus. The 07:05 bus. By all accounts, the 08:15 bus this morning was virtually full as it left Sobeys. The early bus shouldn't be so much of an issue though. And to make sure, the plan is to take all my equipment down to the Sobeys bus stop. I know that I'll have to hang around in the great hall for an hour, probably by myself. But if it gets all my equipment to the mountain, then I don't care. Then, we have a ski-test tomorrow. And there is some kind of test on what we've learnt in training as well. I think it's just questions randomly being fired at us though. I don't think it's a written test or anything. All being well though, by the end of tomorrow, I'll have my first shifts in my filo-fax. And I'll have had more skiing, hopefully on my skis. I'll take them to Lusty for him to look at the bindings. But I was able to fit my boots into the bindings earlier, so they may even be ok without any attention. I am hoping though, hoping, that should tomorrow go without any hitches, I will be a qualified lifty 24 hours from now. Not qualified actually. I don't think there is any qualification. But saisfactorally educated to work on these lifts. That's what I mean. All being well, that will be how tomorrow goes. Now I can ski, bring it on!


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