At 5:50 I found my self waiting for my Scandinavian driver and crew in Fairview. Everything was very quiet, which is uncommon for Fairview – the party place for all exchange students – and gave me space to really start thinking of the quest lying in front of me: To conquer Mt. Brew on skis. Considering the fact that I’ve never ever, to cite Line, “had anything sliding underneath my feet before”, the very thought made my knees shake a bit.
But then Mattias and Jacob arrived taking my mind off things as we loaded the car and went to pick up the semi-Scandinavian Kris. The trip up to our meeting point with the others went by pretty quietly as we were all pretty tired.
Arriving before our trip-leaders Line and Christian, I had some time to check out the eager telemarkers who all looked very cool and professional in all their fancy gear. Not that I looked any different, I guess, having borrowed all of my Norwegian friend’s equipment, but the feeling that this trip might turn out to be a bit out of my league kept popping up in the back of my head. Fortunately, all seemed very welcoming and happy, eager to get started with the trip.
After the arrival of the trip-leaders we began to climb the first part of the trail by car. Driving as far as we dared considering that we had to get down too, maybe in snow, we parked the cars pretty far up (sorry, but have no idea where that point was geographically). Then the real fun began with people gearing up, and finally we started our hike.
Within the first 10 minutes I had established two very fundamental facts:
1) Ski-boots are not hiking-boots
2) Don’t bend over in front of someone when you have skis attached to your backpack
Being a fairly experienced hiker, I had expected the first part of the trip up to the hut to be the easiest. What I quickly realized though was that this was not going to be a walk in the park. With boots that were trying to eat my toes and a really heavy backpack due to the extra ton the skis weighed, I started to look forward to the point where we could get the skis on. Sliding and cursing my way up the mountain, patiently accompanied by Frances and Line, I finally made it to the meadows where it was time to get the skis on.
Feeling like an exited five-year old trying to ride a bike for the first time, I attached the skis to my boots and with a few tips from my peer skiers, I took my first step as a skier. Aside from one little fall into a creek (which was followed by a pair of very slow skis) I quickly fell into a good rhythm and was actually enjoying myself. The last part of the trail up to the hut was a bit challenging due to the return of an old knee-injury, but turned out to be rather interesting in the end. Almost at the top, we were approached by two alcoholics, who, it seemed to us, were wearing some rather peculiar skin-coloured tights. Staring rather a lot trying to figure out what they were wearing, I quickly looked away learning that they in fact weren’t wearing, well, anything… Not exactly what I had expected to see up here in the beautiful nature, and while I tried to figure out the reason why any man would choose a rather freezing environment to show off his, ehm, capabilities, the reaction from Frances and Line told me that this wasn’t in fact as unusual. Which then made me wonder what exactly I could expect the night to bring, considering all those crazy Canadians all together in a small hut. Also, I remembered some old VOC’er telling me that it really wasn’t necessary for me, being female and a newbie, to bring neither booze or sleeping-bag; some advice I, at that time, only had considered as an innocent, teenage-spirited joke…
Climbing the last bit wrapped up in my own thoughts, I reached the hut at around 2 pm – as the very last. But having listened to Line’s stories about other hopeless exchange students who’s backpacks she’d had to carry and how it had taken them 17 hours to reach the hut, I actually felt proud of myself. Especially when they then told me that this was indeed their fastest beginner trip! (Yeah, I’ll believe anything you guys tell me!)
After being greeted with a small applause from the cool and fast telemarkers in the hut as well as a very cold Rittersport, I decided to stay in the hut with Kaley while the others went skiing around the hut. I resisted the urge to crawl in my sleeping-bag for a small nap, and instead decided to do some research of what to expect from a night in the Brew Hut and started reading the guest-book. Quite an interesting reading, a lot of things have gone down on mt. Brew!
When the very eager skiers returned to the hut after a couple of hours, we all started to prepare our fantastic dinners. Having teamed up with Kris, I had the delicious choice of both lasagne and a beef stew – both very good though a bit liquidy
To my relief (or disappointment??) the rest of the night went by chatting, drinking hot chocolate and melting snow for drinking water – that is, no nudity, excessive intake of alcohol or invitations to join people’s sleeping-bags.
Instead, the more experienced voc’ers entertained with stories about the olden days while the newer/international members exchanged educations, backgrounds and a common passion for the outdoor life, with a bias towards skiing, of course. Being a beginner skier surrounded by very passionate skiers and ski-instructors, I quickly picked up on the whole skiing world including the, for me, very weird concepts of heli- and catskiing. All in all a very good night! Even the trips to the outdoor house were okay – trips everybody should be a bit scared about after watching the Norwegian movie “Død Snø” (“Dead Snow”), here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYz2CQnm3fo&feature=BFa&list=PL412C00A956F490C4&lf=results_main (the scene I’m talking about starts at 9.10)
Since hut-time of course is three hours in advance, and since no one was that keen on going with Sam for a last run, we all went to bed around 9 pm. Having brought earplugs (thank God!) I had a pretty good nights sleep, and we all woke up to a beautiful day the next morning! The sky was a lot clearer and even though the wind started out pretty strong it eased up a bit over the morning. All of us, except Ditte and Kris who decided to stay in due to injuries, headed out for some skiing. This was yet a new thing for me: to ski down a hill! Chris had the doubtful honour to lead me to my first hill and after some basic tips from him and Frances, I fought of my fear of heights and went for it. And I actually managed to survive!
Next quest was then to get down the whole mountain. I was on the first of two teams to take off at around 12, and aside from some difficulties with finding the right way down, we managed to do the descent in about 4 hours. I chose to keep my skins on, which made me a lot slower than the rest on the steep bits but was nice when we had to climb a couple of hills. All in all I think the descent went all right. I mean, I did fall. A lot. All the time. But the others were great at laughing at me in a nice way and I always managed to get up on my skis in the end. I was even a bit sad to get off the skis when we hit the forest, but I must admit that was mostly because of the uncomfortableness of the boots rather than out of affection for my telemark skis.
We reached the cars at around 4, and after the great relief of getting out of the ski-boots, we had our farewell and the Scandinavian car began its slow way down. It had snowed quite a lot since we came up the day before and since we didn’t have any snowchains, we managed to get to the main road without any detours over cliffs.
I had a really good time on this trip! Christian and Line were the greatest leaders and I think our whole group was excellent! Even though I kind of felt like the only proper beginner since everybody was so freaking good at skiing! But that said, I didn’t feel that much of a burden, and your good spirits, right from the parent-like enthusiastic cheer when I did my first run down a hill to your patience when it took me half-an-hour to attach my skis, really made me want to do more skiing! Which I did. Last Wednesday. And it was AWESOME!
So, thank you so much Christian, Line, Sam, Chris, Frances, Bart, Fiona, Jacob, Joel, Mattias, Mikkel, Kristofer, Ditte, Robert, Mark and Kaley! You guys are the best, see you in Whistler!