First Mountain Trip 2011

The Canadian Rocky Mountains are as impressive as any mountains I have seen. When you see them they look similar to the Alps, Pyrenees, or the Himalayas. For the most part they look like classic mountains, rocky, craggy and the highest parts are alpine, above the treeline. They are not as high as the Himalayas but are higher than the Alps and the Pyrenees. There are areas where the snow stays all year round. The Rockies are more accessible than the Himalayas but not as populated and they are way more remote than the European mountains which are even more populated than Asia’s giants.

I live relatively close, in North American terms, to the Rockies and have been visiting them since I was small. They are easily accessible and because they were a part of my upbringing I didn’t realize that they were anything special until I was in my mid twenties. Then one day I was driving across the Rockies on Highway 1  and I looked up. Ever since that day I have been enamoured by the sight of them. It’s funny how a geographical feature can call out and draw me in. I want to see what is on the other side or maybe there is a snow patch half way to the top that looks as though it would be skiable and provide me with 20 or 30 turns.

Last weekend I went to Canmore to attend a couple of courses put on by CANSI, The Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructor’s. Saturday was a day on cross-country skis, skinny skis, to those that dabble in all kinds of alpine sliding. Twenty-five or so instructors got together at the Canmore Nordic Center, a 1988 Calgary Olympic legacy facility, to trade ideas on teaching and learn the newest ski techniques. It was a good session the conditions were ideal and the temperature cooperated, it hovered around zero allowing us to stand around and chaw as always happens at these ‘conventions.’ One of the facilitators lives in Canmore and has the opportunity to observe the Canadian XC Team (which does very well on the World Cup circuit) train. He has spent a lot of time analyzing the way they ski. As a result CANSI has revamped their approach to skate skiing. We all had a chance to preview and try out the modifications that have been gleened from the top athletes in the sport. The long and short of it is that I think skate skiing will be easier to learn, and therefore easier to teach. The things we tried increased how fast we moved but they also increased my heart rated very quickly and I’m guessing I will have to be able to maintain a high rate for a long time because I didn’t see any opportunity for a rest.

Sunday was the update for telemark skiing. It was a slightly smaller group that met in the parking lot of Sunshine Village for a day of resort skiing with a similar agenda of providing instructors the opportunity to tune up their teaching and skiing skills. The morning brought some badly needed fresh snow. We skied 15 cm of new snow all day as we concentrated on how to bring the CANSI telemark technique in line with the state of the art understanding of alpine skiing used by the Canadian Ski Instructor’s Alliance.

The convention was good, personally I learned quite a bit and it helped to get my mind that has been muddled by summer activities into winter mode, but one of the best parts of the course was not the content, it was the location. Just being in the mountains brings about a state of calm. Maybe it’s because when ever I’m there I am involved in one or another of my favorite activities or maybe it is just because I’m dwarfed by their stature and I get a feeling of accomplishment standing a top such a geographical giant, maybe it is just a locale away from the city, but whatever, I always come home invigorated and cannot wait until I am able to go again.

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