Monday of week 4 and the temperature took a nose dive, -30C up top with wind chill! As we have an extra person (Mike) who is out on the 2 week Revy package we have 2 instructors, which made for more intense training sessions as we were split into a 3 and a 4. Instructor Matt took the boys and Geoff took the girls (plus Kandy Ken!) Mike – being the new guy - was obviously out to make a big impression and decided the best way was to stack big style in a tree run, taking out the instructor and snapping his binding in the process. Not to be outdone Gary tried a superman impression with a double eject and powder faceplant! Gary’s assessment of this was ‘that wasn’t thunder just then, that was my arse slamming shut!’
Tuesday and still no snow so Geoff’s team decided they couldn’t avoid bumps all week as there was sadly no snow in the forecast just yet. They spent the day on Pitch Black and Devils Club, riding bumps and destroying short turns in between. Clearly Kathryn decided that if the boys could do it, so could she managing a double eject on Pitch black and Kandy Ken feeling a bit left out tried to jump a drainage ditch and almost landed it but only with one ski! Mike had his binding fixed so Matt’s group spent the day and most of the rest of the week in the trees and in the North Bowl.
Wednesday was a planned day off for most of the team as the first aid course was to be held. It turned out only Becky was attending so Gary, Mike, Owen, Kathryn and Ken all went skiing for a few hours whilst Karen had a leisurely day in town and on the magic carpet with one ski on. The first aid course was great, a good opportunity to meet the locals, get lots of relevant information and a Canadian standard level 1 first aid at work qualification valid for 3 years. It turned out Becky was probably best off as it really was the big freeze with the temperature dropping to -42C up the mountain, poor Aussie Owen who had only previously probably experienced lows of +10C took the afternoon off to recover and de-frost!
There were various individual skills and drills being worked on all week by everyone, some seemingly simple and some crazy from learning to pivot to bottle caps down the shins of boots to stop leaning too far forward! Friday rolled around and even though we were all ready for a beer or two Becky, Gary, Owen, George and Karen had AST1 to look forward to on Saturday morning. So Friday night’s big entertainment? Curling! It was BRILLIANT!!! Led by Kandy Ken in his racoon hat we gate crashed a massive birthday party at the curling hall, had cheap beer and a hilarious time learning to curl on the ice!
First day of the Avalanche safety course was a huge learning curve for everyone, taking onboard all the information about the snow pack, learning how to use our equipment and we even got to watch the avalanche dogs go to work as they were doing a demo for some Japanese exchange students who strangely they buried in the snow and then had a race between a man with a probe and the avi dog – fantastic to see them in action and it makes you realise how important they are.
Second day – ‘the big dig’ was more full on with simulated avalanche scenarios involving all of us working together with transceivers, probes, shovels and full ski kit. The first rescue went well but was time consuming as none of us had ever done it before, the second ran a lot smoother, finding all 4 casualties within ten minutes. Concurrent activities to keep warm whilst Angus the instructor set up included checking and analysing the snow pack for weak layers (this involved digging which kept us warm as the clouds had rolled in ready for snow expected this week!