05.01.2006 -5 °C
The journey to Banff was a modest affair. Passed by Calgary's own snowboard park (apparently covered in artifical ice crystals to compensate for the lack of snow from the freak 15 C 'heat wave' that melted all), the skatepark (largest in North America) and remnants from the 1988 Winter Olympiad (to be re-used again soon as they won the bid again). I'll quite happily leave the the ski jump and such like for nutters like Eddy the Eagle, 28m jump is still mighty impressive when you see it in real life). Chatted to a dude on the bus and realise how lucky I am to have the winter free from work, reality it seems is an 8 day week and continual harrassment from moody tourists, how lucky I am!
Arrived in Banff, shared a cab with what turned out to be the only (almost) females staying at our digs (Int Youth Hostel - voted 4th best in the world no less). This proved to be a problem for the more libidous of the male ski fraternity, common problem in ski resorts across the world ;o) Hostel is great - bar, restaurant/cafe, ice climbing wall, clean for the most part except our room which smelled of 7 dat old camenbert left in the sun courtesy of 2 hygienically challenged Kiwis.
View from the hostel:
Enjoyed the delights of some of the greatest snowboard resorts in the world - Sunshine Village & Lake Louise. In need of snow but still not bad conditions for this time of year - some powder to be had, and a very intimidating snowboard park into the mix at Sunshine. plus Some excellent hiking opportunities even for the Lehman sans transeivers and the like, oops need to get out of that habit but was quite safe really. Came across a kicker on a hike straight from the movies but managed to resist somehow. Here's a pic of halfway thru the hike, real hard work as it shows...
Some curious decorations in the bars and restaurants on the mountains - quite common to find heads of deers, bears, moose and the like adorned on the wall (not sure how that is legal/ethical considering we're in a national park and they are all protected species, but hey). This one took the biscuit, apparently the dog deer is a viscious breed ;o)
Spent a single day at Lake Louise which was fun. The week before was very sunny hence lots of iced moguls and the like, with a dusting of snow on top to hide the evil within, nice. Still some fun on the front side breaking warp speed and popping rollers.
New Year was quite a story really. Managed to twist my ankle on New Years Eve (first day of riding), absolutely convinced I'd broken it with shooting pain up my leg and seeing black spots in front of my eyes so headed to the Medical center. $600 later ($350 for registration, $105 for xray, $185 for consultant, $29 for crutches) I hobbled out with the a diagnosed Arixsar Ligament Strain, more commonly known as a twisted ankle, ha ha. Hypocondriac I am not but it seems the pain got the better of me this time (and my wallet). Dosed myself up on Ibuprofen and crashed until 9.30ish where we decided it was too sad to stay in bed so loaded up with some speed JD and pitcher drinming, down to town square for 12 with fake champagne and a crowd of peeps, top night all in all! Anyhow, 2 days later I was back on the slopes, ha ha. Banff Hot Springs I discovered was a great way to recover, outdoors in 34 C pool in the snow, doesn't get any better than that!
Reflecting on Banff, it was a cool town, very quaint and all but a little too touristy and somewhat taken over by Tourist shops and the like. Mountains great too but a little distilled for my liking, very family orientated and safe. No doubt if I stayed longer and explored Delirium Dive (Sunshine) and backcountry would be more fun to be had but give me raw, rugged mountain any day.
View down Banff Main Street of Sulphur Mountain
Next stop Golden, my home for the winter, to ride the infamous mountain Kicking Horse, oo er.