Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 1: Revelstoke, B.C.: Scoring Weed, Dead Skiers

I) Hotel Review: The Maple Leaf

- mid-priced hotel, $170 or so per night with lift ticket and free Internet.

1) Location:

- 100 yards from Trans-Canada highway. Like mom used to say: When crossing the street, always looking both ways for 18-wheelers.

- a 40-minute walk from small, downtown Revelstoke area with bars and restaurants.

- 15-minute shuttle bus-ride from the mountain. Bus is free and runs regularly and on time.

2) The Room:

- I am going to be here for 11 days and ask the desk clerk for something nice and quiet. He gives me a key.

- The room has a queen bed and smells like Frenches yellow mustard.

- Clerk gives me a second room. It has two queen beds and an efficiency kitchen. Smells like French bread and old ski underwear. I'll live.

3) Overall Impression: Satisfactory

- Points deducted for

a) Broken toilet seat: it is missing a bolt and slides around when you sit on it. It is also child-sized (I won't go into details: let's just say the seat is unusually small and neither my ass nor my equipment is unusually large.)

b) The hotel restaurant: Arby's

Erik and I go in for a meal. The place is devoid of patrons and staff. A lone hostess stands behind a cash register. A super-sized couple stands in front of us discussing a take-out order with hostess. The discussion is taking a long time. Maybe they are ordering lots of food. Judging by their girth, the couple must be regulars. Erik and I leave and eat at the Burger King across the highway.

II) Revelstoke Mountain Overview.

- Revelstoke wants to be the Jackson Hole of Canada: a mountain known for challenging terrain and nice facilities. The kind of place that attracts expert skiers and wannabees like me that want to be able say, "Yeah, I skied Revelstoke's North Bowl."

- The mountain claims to get 40 to 60 feet of snow per season. (resorts in New England may get 25 feet in a good season.)

- The mountain has the highest vertical (5,620 feet) of any resort in North America -- more than Whistler, more than Jackson Hole. Vertical measures the ski-able height of the mountain. Many Colorado mountains are 11,000 feet high, but the resort is located at 8,000 feet (11,000 feet minus 8,000 equals 3,000 feet of vertical.) The more vertical, the longer the challenging runs.

Things to fear on Revelstoke Mountain

- The North Bowl: Located on the backside of the mountain, this bowl is home to Revelstoke's scariest terrain. To enter the North Bowl, you have to ski down chutes located between rocky outcroppings, sometimes called cliffs. Here is a video of a relatively tame chute. Here is a not-so tame drop in that is about 20 feet high. I will not be dropping in like this.

- Tree Wells: The area around the base of trees can form a well, as much as 10 feet deep. The well is often camouflaged by light snow. Fall into a tree well head first and you experience a deep snow accident, which can lead to suffocation in minutes.

- Dead bodies: Ski resorts often have signs on trails that warn about unmarked obstacles. Normal obstacles include: rocks, roots, and stumps. At Revelstoke there appears to be another kind of obstacle.

Day One:

Alarm goes off at 8:30. I had unpleasant dreams about North Bowls, tree wells, cliffs, and dead bodies. I don't want to go skiing today. But we ski and live and go to happy hour.

At the table next to us sits a snowboarder dude. Waitress approaches him.

"What can I get you?" she asks.

He looks at her name tag. "How about a Tanqueray and tonic, Miss Erin from Australia?"

"Want to make that a double?" she asks.

She brings his drink.

"How's life down under?" he asks.

She runs her hands through her hair.
He runs his hands through his hair.

She flirts. He flirts. She tugs on her tight shirt to cover her cleavage.

Flirt, flirt, flirt, flirt.

There is a pause in the action.

He leans in.

She leans in.

He asks for the order: "Erin, do you know where I can score some weed?"

Erin approaches us.

We order draft beers.

"Would you like to make that a pitcher?" she asks.