Well I guess this is a trip report of sorts, just of a very long trip….
On August 31st, 2011, I stepped off the plane to a grey, drizzly Vancouver morning. I didn’t know a soul. Everything I had to begin the year was on my back. Everything was new and exciting – a beach? On campus? Cool! A blue whale skeleton? Awesome! A toque? What on Earth’s that??? The sun came out and it stayed out, I didn’t know what people were complaining about the Vancouver weather for! (I quickly learned).
Eager to get out, I found my way to the basement of the SUB and through a maze of corridors to the VOC clubroom. There I was welcomed with Katherine’s familiar accent, signed my name, paid my money and promptly signed up for my first trip that weekend. Julia Stafford took me up Lynn Peak, where a beautiful view of Vancouver and some vicious mosquitos awaited us. Next weekend, I joined a gazillion other exchange students climbing the Lions with Aron Zahradka. Then finally, my first overnight trip and first time out of Vancouver! I met the infamous Veenstra, although at that point I didn’t know he was infamous, forded a river with 9 others all piled into Piotr’s truck and then turned around and went to Phelix instead. Longhike. Haha what crazy memories. I never even made it over to the beer I was so busy having fun. Turns out I can’t table boulder. Slack lining however, is particularly addictive. My first ski trip. I got to learn what these strange things known as “telemark skis” are. I got lost (and was never allowed to forget it…). I got closely acquainted with the snow and I learnt to get up in powder while wearing an overnight pack. A habit which continued and a skill which I perfected. Hollyburn, Intro to Backcountry, Girls’ Trip, Waitangi Trip to Sphinx…. I went on everything I could and slowly, thanks to many very patient teachers, got slightly less useless on skis. I learnt to keep my drink bottle upside down so it won’t freeze shut, I learnt to de-ice my skins and take them off while wearing my skis. I forgot my helmet, I forgot my gloves, I forgot my skins. I had people bail me out and wait for me while I fell over yet again. I got to know Squamish and Pemberton better than Vancouver. I skied powder up to my chest and finally understood why people think trees are fun and not just a bloody nuisance. I experienced lots of type 1 fun, a little type 2 and a lot of faff. I learnt to lead climb and tried rolling a kayak. I became more comfortable wearing an avalanche beacon than nail polish and spent 2 days hanging in a harness behind the Norm Theatre preparing for the climbing competition. I learnt the magic of voile straps. I was never without bruises and the clubroom usually contained more of my money than my bank account. I skied in June and finally – finally – had my first day on skis where I didn’t fall once.
Basically this year has kicked ass. No question that it was the best year of my life and that I crammed in way more than I thought was possible. I made some of the best friends of my life and saying goodbye was the worst part of the year. I have so many people to thank for all of that, and I’d love to thank you all individually, but so many people have contributed to my life in Canada that I’d be here forever if I did. So to all those people, thank you so much for driving me, waiting for me, teaching me, answering my endless questions, searching for me when I was lost, lending me your skins/gloves/sunglasses, sharing a tent/pots/dinner, taking photos, laughing with me, partying with me, singing with me, showing me this beautiful part of the world and making my time here so special. I’ll be back. I don’t know when yet, but I think that much is certain