This is Joe’s final post from Canada

Our 4th day began with an unfortunate phone call. Our excursion to go Heliskiing was postponed due to the poor visibility and low ceiling. We had our ski boots at the shop, so we headed up with our skis and skied the Blackcomb Mountain. We walked right onto the same gondola we waited for 30 minutes the day before. Not only was there no line there, we didn’t wait in line for a lift all day. Even the cafeteria wasn’t that packed. However, due to the gold medal hockey game starting at noon local time, there was a loud group watching.

The lack of people and the amount of terrain were spectacular. The visibility was the worst I’ve ever skied in. Most of the day we could only see at most 2-3 chairs infront of us. The cloud sublimated on our goggles like rain on a windshield. Even when the clouds shifted and allowed for better horizontal vision, there was no way to see the terrain or fall lines. The light was so flat, we fell many times because we thought we were going down hill when all of the sudden, we weren’t. It was very tough to ski the whole day in the “ready” position.

We decided to quit skiing at 2:30, so we skied to the bottom to pick up our shoes. When we got to the Heli shop where we left them, they had closed for the hockey game until 3:00. We couldn’t go back up because it took at least that long to get back on the gondola and get to another lift. We watched the end of the game on the big screen at the base. After it was over, we went to pick up our shoes. To avoid a $2 bus fee back to our hotel, we decided to ski with them to our hotel. We took the other gondola to the top of Whistler Mountain. When we got to our run to our hotel, we were told it was closed. They said it was too late in the day. Not only that, but because of the amount of material that still hadn’t been cleaned up from the Olympic ski racing, the gondola wouldn’t be open from our building to the top for the next two days. So much for having a ski-in/ski-out. We skied back to the village and took the bus back.

The day ended spectacularly with a soak in our hot tub and pool and dinner at the Mongolian grill in town. We were in bed early to wake up and check the conditions for heli-skiing in case we had to ski the regular mountain again. The low clouds had all blown out and the sun was eeking through the lightly overcast skies. We grabbed breakfast before heading out to the bus to the heliport. Because of the Games, the heliport had the same security check as the airport. There were also 3 pads occupied by the Canadian military for patrolling the valley. We went through a quick avalanche beacon training course then prepared for the day.

The trip went up 6,500 feet to an elevation of 8,500 took all of about 15 minutes. We went behind the Blackcomb ski area over glacial fields up to a point called Shark’s Tooth, named for obvious reasons. The landing spot on top was no more than 10′ x 14′. After unloading all the skis and the 4 skiers in our group, the chopper was off and we were left stading there on top of two separate glaciers. We skied off the Shark’s Tooth to the Tremor Glacier. Our big fat skis we rented kept us from breaking all the way through the crust into over 8 feet of snow. They also helped us transferring from turn to turn by acting as like a springboard to jump out of the snow. The turns were effortless and soft. The views were endless and breathtaking.

However, after two runs the snow started to warm up. Turns became more of a chore, and the next glaciers had more traversing and more steeps. A few crashes in the deep stuff really took a lot out of us. We made it through the last two runs and stopped for a lunch of sandwiches, juice boxes, soup, tea, and a desert bar. We took a few pictures, then headed back to the heliport. We decided to make it a cheaper night and stopped at the market for steaks, salad, and noodles. After a soak in the hot tub, we cooked them up and had a great meal and were ready for lounging by 6:00. A truly amazing day.

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