Sunday, January 22, 2006

Friday 20th Jan: Steering, pivoting and a night of alcohol

The end of the week was spent concentrating on steering and pivoting. Steering the use of the legs to steer the board; pivoting moving your centre of mass to pivot the board of different parts of its length. Unfortunately on Friday there was another fresh 10cm so we spent all day playing, well jumping actually. At the beginning of the course, one of my objectives was to complete 180 off a jump. Well that objective was met, albeit not very prettily, on Friday, well several times on Friday. In the afternoon we did three runs of the Short Squaw, which involves a steep descent through trees which then opens onto an unused run with lots of natural jumps, the feeling of pulling off the 180 was fantastic, and I guess the next progression should be a 360. Kinay Kinay Kinay!!!

Since Saturday was to be my first day off in a while I had decided to go out on the Friday night. After dinner Shane, Alan and I went to play pool. The pool table was broken, well the incorrect cue ball was being used so that every time the white was potted, we had to get the staff to open the table to get the ball out. To try and restrict the white going down a rule was decided that everytime the white went down we had to get a round of Sambukas (sp?). At 2.30 am I eventually got home after playing and winning pool against everyone in the only bar in town, a recipe you may think for a punch up, but I think the alcohol immunized me against any negative local town thoughts. A good night was had by all, but I can't remember getting home, although I did phone Audrey at 2.30 am and spoke to her for an hour. I think I heard her yawning (at 4.30 am her time) and said "your not trying to go are you". Very funny!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Wednesday 18th Jan: First Aid Course - Avalanche Transmitters

Part of the course and I guess an important part of becoming an instructor is to learn basic first aid. This Wednesday we completed an 8 hour introduction to wilderness first aid, have the certificate to prove it! I really enjoyed the course, once I had managed to dynamite myself out of bed. The main crux of first aid was the ABCDs:

A - Airway - Check it isn't blocked.
B - Breathing - Check for breathing.
C - circulation - Check for circulation.
D - Deadly bleeding - Check for Deadly bleeding.

I really do feel prepared to help in any first aid scenario.

We were also given (not in first aid course) Recco avalanche transmitters, which we should install in out boots, or helmets. These are rather like the store protection sticky labels you find on the back of CDs. Not that we do any dangerous stuff anyway, err I mean we are always in the backcountry hiking on cornices, and 72 degree slopes; but it is comforting to know that I have these with me.

Tuesday 17th Jan: Level 2 in the pyramid pivoting and steering.

Building on last weeks stance and balance, this weeks topic is pivoting and steering. Pivoting correctly will only happen if you are standing aligned on your board, hence level 1 stance and balance from last week. Pivoting should occur around the centre of the board, for normal riding, and leads to you performing a professional carved turn, where the whole edge of your board is used. In the majority of cases learner and intermediate riders lean back with an open stance on their board, but are still able to turn, by using there back foot as a sort of rudder, fishtailing I believe it is called. The correct way for perfect carved turns is to be balanced correctly (centered and perpendicular to the slope), and to use the whole edge of the snowboard, so that it bites into the slope and produces a perfect 'C' in the slope.

Steering is the correct movement of your legs and knees whilst riding your board. One drill we tried was riding our board with out hands on knees, using them to steer around the bends. The upper body should always be relatively still (for normal turns) and I believe this technique is a component of performing the professional carved turns. My analysis of this technique has not been fully comprehended yet, so I will wait until Thursday and Friday to complete the Steering definition.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Sunday 15th Jan: Recreational Avalanche Course Day 2

Today involved hiking up an untracked mountain, and performing some tests in snow to establish whether the conditions were safe. After hiking for two hours, and digging pits to establish slope stability and layers, we rode down the untracked terrain. The view and initial ride was awesome dude! However we then hit the trees and the wood was quite dense, so after falling into my 1000th tree well, I was pretty knackered by the time I reahed the bottom. I have noticed my legs getting stronger, yeah don't laugh, so I think the days are getting easier. Establishing progress is always good! The course finished about 1pm, at which point we all had a good meal and a drink, the food was probably just ok but it was very welcome.

Saturday 14th Jan: Recreational Avalanche Course Day 1

After a busy week training I was pretty knackered by Friday night. Over the weekend we had a two day avalanche course, which involved trekking far, using transceivers, and digging pits. I quite enjoyed the science bits of the course, and knowing how to use a transceiver was pretty cool dude! One test involved the instructor hiding five beacons, and one body without a beacon, then as a team we had to dig out the bodies, and using a probing rod find the other body. I was surprise that after 10 minutes we had found all the bodies, good news if we ever have to search for anyone; given that there is 50% survival rate after 30 minutes (due to suffocation, if the trauma didn't kill you). By the end of the day I was knackered and wet, had something to eat and hit the sack early on, so I could ready myself for the hike tomorrow.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday 13th January - Stance the first level of the pyramid.

This week we have mostly been concentrating on the stance on our boards, concentrating on keeping hte body hrizontally and vertically aligned with the board. Snow falling almost every day has meant that the lessons have been cut shorter because we should experience the snow rather than doing drills on the runs. We have done a lot of steep tree riding which started off very difficult and I can honestly say at the end of the week I can notice some improvement, but to say I was even more of a novice through the trees would be streetching the truth a little. There is a run called Beer-Belly whic after a short hop thorugh some tight trees appers out of no where, which then descensds on some steep terrain, and then finishes with some boarder-cross through the trees at the bottom, we did this today again, and I am very happy with my progress through these runs. Admittedly there are a lot of face plants, but as the phrase goes, "If you ain't falling you ain't learning". Tonight we have the theory for our Avalanch course, and then we are being picked up at 7.15 am Saturday and Sunday for the practical on the mountain. Was looking forward to a lie in, but there you go, better to do it now rather than later hey? Saturday night we are watching Trail (town nearby) in a ice hockey competition, so looking forward to that.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Live From The Slopes

The angle of the trees shows the extreme terrain from today. This place has an unreal amount of snow. Kinay!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Monday 9th January: Birthday!!!!

Well today was / is my birthday and this sounds like a cliche but; I have just had the best snowboarding day i have ever had!!!! Powder so deep it was too deep, slopes so empty, literally no-one around apart from the Non-stop crew, and being trained by an excellent teacher Aubrey. The last run of the day was swa-eet because the main lift up the hill had closed, it had been snowing all day, we hiked up from another lift we had been using and boarded down from top to bottom in the deepest powder, with clean lines, felt like I was in a snowboarding video. Brilliant! One of my best birthdays ever. I know when people say that this was the best, and that was the best, it tends to become a bit of a cliche, but this seriously was an absolutely fantastic snowboarding day. The only thing that could have made it better if my family and friends could have experienced it too!! In the evening everyone sang happy birthday and I got a cake, which was really sweet.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Canada: Days 1-4

As my internet connections are few and far between my frequency of online blogging will be also. After the initial mixture of trepidation and excitement, all my fears have been laid to rest and everybody on the course is "normal".

Thursday 5th January 2006 - Traveling to Red Mountain
The trip here was a bit of a monster clocking up approximately 20 hours, 9 hour flight, 3 hour second flight, 5 hour bus transfer. When we arrived we headed strict to bed. I have my own room in the "downstairs penthouse", as we have called it. Dan, another computer programmer from SE London is in the other room. According to the organisers we were placed there for a bit of peace and quiet, with the youngsters upstairs. The house is the "frat" house of the company with the other houses appearing to be over a quieter more refined nature. On the first day one of our fridges was full of beer, which reflects the collective nature of the house inhabitants.

Friday 6th January 2006 - Tour of Rossland
The second day (6th Jan) was spent on a tour of the local businesses, in which we got lots of free goodies, including chocolate from the grocery store and badges from the chamber of commerce. On a small stroll down town, everyone is so friendly in this (3500 ppl) small town. We spent the afternoon relaxing and bonding in the frat house; the evening spent on our welcoming banquet. To illustrate the small and friendly nature of this town, the mayor came to meet us at the meal, and was very keen to encourage people to move / invest in the town. This place has a great small town feel which you don't tend to feel in the bigger urban scrawls. After a few beers at the only real bar, The Flying Steamshovel, we went home for another nights sleep as the next day was our introduction to the slopes.

Saturday 7th January 2006 - First day on slopes
Saturday (7th Jan) we traveled to the slopes and were met by, The head of the lodge, the mountain manager, and the head of the ski patrol; who all welcomed us to the mountain and gave us some useful advice for our stay, although I cannot remember it at the moment, however do not travel out of bounds, will stick with me. There are four snowboarders and one teacher, Gene (Me), Dan, Dave, Alan, and someone else yet to turn up; our teacher is Aubrey. Everyone is of similar abilities, which was a major relief, which will be good for the whole group to see each other progress at the same rate. The snow of the mountain is fantastic, with approaching 360 degrees of ridable mountain available on both Granite and Red. It was a little cloudy today, a mushy at the base, but the emptiness of the slopes and the style of the mountain indicates that the next few months should be awesome, or "stoked" as I should be saying as I develop my snowboarding vocabulary. We went through the terrain park, with the visibility being fairly low, I nearly launched myself off a small kicker (for the skiers that is a jump), luckily my superhero snowboarding prowess avoided any injury. The instructor pointed out a "rainbow" rail which is a semi-circular pole, protruding out and back into the snow, he said we will be spending some days practicing those; I think that will be a good day. That evening I was pretty tired so I went to bed at around 9pm, and slept until 10am the next day, an epic sleep which I am going to enjoy having over the next three months.

Sunday 8th January 2006 - Day of rest
Lazily emerged from bed at around 10pm and headed downtown to find a local coffee shop. Found the Grind Cafe bar, an organic coffee shop, a place I think I will head for my chilled out, book reading coffee sessions. There was quite a bit of snow last night and I think some people have headed for the mountains, but I am going to take it easy, don't want to be knackered (err someone must have possessed me for me to write that), for the first day of training tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

LFNAtrix: Montage of my life up to May 2004

Another highly amusing self portrait of my life recently uploaded to google here.

Off to Heathrow / Canada tomorrow for my trip to Red Mountain / Rossland, a mixture of apprehension and excitement has taken me to a new level. Heres to a full season (well almost) at a snow resort!!!!


Sunday, January 01, 2006

Canada Address

Here is my address in Canada:

Gene Conroy-Jones
c/o Mark Impey
Box 1533
British Columbia