Monthly Archives: March 2007

It’s not just a resort, it’s a lifestyle*

* © Rob Read 2007.

We’ve made it to Whistler having driven through some amazing countryside. We went from a snow covered town in Golden through to Kamloops on the first day which, if it had seen any snow showed no evidence of it at all when we were there, in fact just outside of town I saw some people playing golf. The following day we left Kamloops and travelled on route 99 which is the scenic route to Whistler, the scenery was incredible, I can strongly recommend the drive if you get the chance.

I’m not too sure what to make of Whistler, I expected it to be big but it’s massive, the village itself is something to behold, you could spend a day here without having any intention of going up the mountain which is where the quote from Rob came from. The terrain that the resort offers is incredible too and in some ways it looked similar to that at Red, you can see the potential here if it were a powder day. One thing I have noticed as well is that Whistler definitely has plenty of yo, there is so much sagging going on it’s unbelievable and it’s not just the youth that are at it, today Rob and I saw a couple of blokes in their late 40s who had some going on.

I’m off to the Burton store to get some of these trousers (check the listed features…).

The Sunshine bus

Though Kicking Horse was receiving some snow fall the freezing level was steadily rising meaning that you had to stay up top to ride the good snow. This was limiting the terrain that we could access somewhat so on Sunday night we decided we would leave Golden the following morning and head to Sunshine Village who had had 18 cms in the last 24 hours.

We left the Kicking Horse River Lodge at about 6.30 in the end, the early start a ride awakening after having only got up early on a powder day for the last 2 months and even then, that would only be at about 7.30.

We had chosen a hostel in Lake Louise and intended to drop the bags off en route to Golden.

The drive to Lake Louise was spectacular, as we were driving through the pass the sun was just beginning to rise meaning that there was a slight golden hue around the mountains that we were passing. We had entered the Rockies and the make up of the mountains was clearly different. They are very much larger and more striking, similar somewhat to the Alps. As we continued and it became a little more light the sky took on a really pale blue colour and clouds hung motionless around the mountains that surrounded us, some of the clouds with slightly pink under glow where the sun was reflecting on them. It was an incredible sight

Having dropped our kit off we headed over to Sunshine along with every other family in the area by the looks of things. When we arrived we were told that it was the beginning of Spring Break in Alberta.

Sunshine is very much like the big resorts in Europe that I have been to but with the added air of a Disney theme park (and associated cost) too. Having fought with the masses to get to the ticket booth we boarded the Gondola which takes you to the base of the resort.

Again, the vastness of the place hits you, there are 8 high speed detachable quads whisking people off in all directions a huge lodge and other associated buildings / shops / pubs. We rode a couple of runs off of each chair struggling to find any steep slopes, even the stuff marked as blacks seemed fairly tame. I did manage to find some powder and got some nice turns in, always enough to bring a smile to my face.

In the afternoon we headed over to another part of the mountain and did manage to find some decent terrain though it was really tracked out and covered in moguls, still it gave us some soft turns.

After the day’s riding it was off to Banff to have a look round, the town is like no other ski town I have ever seen, incredibly commercial and huge too with that same air of Disney to it. There were bus loads of people being shipped in and the same types of shops selling crap memorabilia to the hordes of tourists.

We left quickly and made our way back to the hostel in Lake Louise. We’d booked ourselves a private room but soon discovered that the idea of a private room was far from that of the ones at the Kicking Horse River Lodge, to boot the place stunk and was full of large groups of families on joint holidays with Dads parading round in leggings whilst the Mums cooked super sized portions of lasagne. The seasonaires were even something to behold, lots of indoor wool wearing going on (Nath you would have loved it) and even one bloke wearing two caps. Very Yo. We decided that we wouldn’t be staying another night.

It has to be said at this point that I am growing more and more tired of hostel life, I long to be able to walk in to a kitchen that isn’t busy, that has clean work surfaces, where the utensils / cutlery / crockery doesn’t reside on the draining board, where you can find a quiet room without people and most of all, somewhere where I don’t have to live out of a locker.

We’ve decided to head over to Whistler without riding Lake Louise as there is 16 cms due on Wednesday night with a further 14 on Thursday night. We’ll be breaking the journey down in to 2 days as the total distance looks to be about 800 kms.

Back to the good stuff

Friday came and so did our time to leave Rossland. I awoke with a bit of a sore head after the previous night’s activities (they were however a little more restrained than you might think.) got my stuff together and went out to where we had left the van to start packing up. On opening the door I saw some random with a tank of something on the back of a pick up spraying the top of the van. I was suffering a little so I chose not to ask and went back inside for a cup of tea.

The van has the sort of problems that you would expect from a vehicle that’s nearly 30 years old, a couple of the windows are held in with Duct tape, it smells a bit, the heater makes a funny noise, the transmission is a bit cranky, it burns a bit more oil than it should, it’s not exactly economical and it won’t win any speed contests, etc etc. There was one other problem though that was perhaps a little more serious, the old skylight on the roof was missing and had been replaced by a bit of plastic which was held in place with some tape. Who knows when this had been done and by who, it is suffice to say though that it was no longer watertight and that travelling on the rear seat of the van required that the passenger wear a wetsuit and snorkel.

What I had witnessed was actually an act of good will by one of the hostel guests. He was working on the condos that are being built up at the hill and had offered a solution to James. His solution was to tar the roof of the van. Not a bad idea you might think, and other than having attempted to waterproof James as well it looked as though he had done a good job. We loaded up and drove out of town.

I was sat in the back facing the rear surrounded by luggage but able to spread out a bit so apart from watching everything in reverse was quite content. After a little while, say about 10 / 20 miles out of town fragments of tar started falling from the roof, I flagged this to the others but we weren’t too concerned. What little we knew, shortly the rest of the tar disappeared from the roof leaving a gaping whole which, considering it was raining needed to be fixed fast. We stopped at Castlegar where we found a Canadian Tire (A cross between a Halfords and an outdoor store of some description.). We ended up buying a clear storage container and some Duct tape (If it can’t be fixed with Duct tape you’re not using enough and all of that…) and fixing the roof up properly.

We were on our way again and once the rain cleared up we were afforded some magnificent views, particularly when during the ferry crossing. I’ve uploaded some pictures from the crossing which can be found here, they don’t really do it much justice though unfortunately.

As we approached Revelstoke and the start of Roger’s Pass and Glacier National Park sadly the sky clouded over meaning that visibility was pretty terrible. Still, sat in the back and facing out I was able to observe a couple of things, firstly, the whole pass looked as though it had seen a lot of big slides recently, there were so many deposit areas it was scary, it certainly brought home some of the warnings that Harry our avalanche awareness course instructor had given about the size of these things. Secondly, the articulated lorry drivers in this country don’t like slow vehicles they would let you know this by driving as close behind you as possible without parking on you, now, you can imagine that when you’re facing out of the back windows it’s quite scary when all you can see is the radiator grill of a very big lorry doing somewhere in the region of 60 mph. One even went as far as sounding his horn for us to get out of the way. I was somewhat relieved when Rob obliged.

Anyway, the conditions here at Kicking Horse are excellent, we’ve had 2 new dumps in the last couple of days meaning that we’ve been riding powder again which is nice. The intention is to ride again tomorrow and then to relocate to the Banff area either tomorrow night or Tuesday.

Wax on, wax off

I’ve been following a thread on the Yahoo Scrum Development group recently, in it a discussion has been taking place as to whether or not the name of Certified Scrum Master course is in fact a little misleading when in actual fact, the course that you attend neither ensures that you are a master nor does it test you in any way to be able to certify that you meet a given set of standards. The inclusion of the word master I presume is due to the fact that Scrum defines a role within the team of Scrum Master, the arguments against the word certification do perhaps have some foundation though.

Inevitably, as the mailing list thread was actually started by a post from an author with a subject of “Scrum is not Agile” (The premise of which was that a lot of companies are jumping on the Scrum bandwagon and then calling themselves Agile, when in fact Scrum is just a step down the line to Agility, something with which I agree.) other opinions about how effective Scrum is come to the fore, in one of these, an author states that he thinks that it’s not until you have implemented Scrum, in part or wholly on at least 3 projects that you can see where the practices it defines stand or fall and certainly not until you can start to criticise it as a process. In a reply to this author, I think Kelly Waters makes a good point that principles should come before practices (The reply links through to a blog post which is well worth a read.).

In a conversation that I was having with somebody the other day he said that if the movies were anything to be believed you could get a black belt in any given martial art by meditating in a monastery for a couple of years. By the same token I don’t think my attendance, or anybody else’s for that matter, of a Certified Scrum Master course certified me nor made me a master, it aided me in bringing clarity to some of the reading around the topic that I had been doing and also allowed me to ask Mike Cohn, a well respected member of the Agile community, some questions that my reading hadn’t covered.

We’ve recently sent some people on a CSM course which has aroused others’ interest in the subject. When I saw an email from somebody requesting attendance of one of these courses I was a little sceptical as to the reasons behind the request and if I’m honest, a little annoyed. For me it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the main goal which is to deliver software more effectively. I think that taking an Agile approach will aid us in achieving that, I also think that there are elements of Scrum that can form part of the solution but it’s more important for me that people realise that it’s necessary to understand the principles behind what is being proposed before jumping on the next band wagon, be it Scrum, XP, TDD, FDD etc.

All change please

Having spoken to Jo about the options I had open to me I’ve decided to stay on in Canada, I’ll be moving on from Rossland though. Rob, myself and another couple of lads from the hostel have bought a van (Sadly Nathan will be leaving us tomorrow to make his way back home.), it’s a third generation Ford Club Wagon and she’s a beauty, I’ve included some pictures below.

Ford The Club Wagon Blacked out windows

The plan is to get it insured today and to pack up all of our stuff before setting off early tomorrow. We’ll be visiting Kicking Horse, Lake Louise and Whistler and then Rob and I will probably hire some bikes and ride around Vancouver Island for a couple of days. The route we’ll be taking can be seen on Google maps here, by the looks of things we’ll travel through some amazing country side, I’m looking forward to it.

It’ll be a shame to leave Rossland, in particular Red Mountain and the Hostel and of course all of the people that are here too, we’ve really enjoyed ourselves and I would strongly recommend a visit at some point if you can make it.

This town is coming like a ghost town

We’ve got back from Kicking Horse and the conditions at the hill show no signs of getting any better and it seems as though people are leaving in droves.

I’ve been trying to contact Opodo to see what I can do about moving my flights but their call centre is worst than useless. Whenever I have called I have received a recorded message telling me to call back as they are experiencing high volume of calls, Nathan did manage to make it through today only to spend in excess of half an hour on hold. We ended up talking direct to BA anyway and Nathan has been able to move his, however, I was told that even though they are the same tickets, booked through the same people, because I booked mine earlier I have been given a non transferable one. Top chimping from Opodo. I’m going to stay up late tonight and see if I can get through on the phone.

Rob is moving on too but to another resort, if I can’t change my flights I’ll be joining him too, Whistler had 50cms yesterday, so we’d probably be starting there and then potentially moving on to do a couple of days at Grouse and Seymour respectively. All of this riding will be tempered somewhat by my knee which is still in quite a bit of pain. I did a few runs today and even having dosed myself up on Ibuprofen before going I could still feel it twinging throughout the day.

links for 2007-03-19

Just another day of pow at the horse…

Is what the white board at the bottom of the gondola reported on Tuesday and Wednesday and they weren’t wrong.

Monday morning held a lot of promise, there had been about 30cms overnight on Sunday and there was more snow forecast to fall, we were already grinning. Unfortunately though the Gondola stayed closed due to high winds. We stayed and rode the Quad lift here pretty much all day to get the legs back, it was a good day with lots of fun. All the lift closure really meant was that the powder would be even deeper the next day.

Kicking Horse from what I can see is made up of a number of bowls which are accessed by various ridge lines. The surrounding scenery is incredible. Everything here is very clean and polished, a big contrast to Red, there is a huge amount of terrain, though not as varied as at Red and  I must confess, I have found myself thinking that I wouldn’t want to do a season here, I think I might get bored. I think that Red is definitely the more rounded package. I hope that as and when the investment comes to Red it doesn’t spoil the nature of the resort too much.

The hostel here doesn’t disappoint either, it’s an amazing building built from wood with really high ceilings and big fire places. I can recommend it highly.

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent riding said bowls and in said powder, definitely worth the drive.

Today was a bit of a lazy day for me, sadly my knee is really hurting again which meant that I only ended up doing a few runs before going for coffee and carrot cake. I’ve stocked up on more Ibuprofen though which will hopefully see me through the trip.

There’s 20 cms due tomorrow which will make for more good but a hard decision to depart on Saturday. On the flip side though, Kathleen the owner of the hostel in Rossland has managed to secure us each a ticket to a BC DC gig. So we’ll be rocking out.

I’ve uploaded a few more photos to my Flickr account taken in and around Golden / Kicking Horse, check them out.

Did somebody say Road Trip?

The last week has been fairly uneventful. I’ve taken a fair amount of time off because of my knee which is still giving me some grief, though it would appear to be on the mend which is good news, we’ll see how it goes though.

We’ve completed our Avalanche Awareness course which was excellent, a really good starting point that I would recommend to anyone. I’ll be back to Canada to do the level 2 course at some point.

After the incredible week of snow that we had the conditions have turned somewhat sour. The mountain has been a mixture of hard pack ice and slush and as I write this it has been raining for the last 24 hours or so and is forecast to continue to do so for the next 3 days. The freezing level has risen too which means there’s no possibility of snow up top.

Rather than go stir crazy by sitting and looking at the walls of the hostel we’ve decided to rent a car and drive to Kicking Horse. Rob and Nathan have gone to pick up the car and should be back soon.

I’ve uploaded some more photos on to my Flickr account – take a look at some of those.

At one with the machine

The inaugural Mountain Shadow Hostel Ms Pac Competition was held on the 10th of March. There were 8 competitors from around the globe. The competition was close but I managed to win the title.

James, the cleaner here has made a video of the contests which can be viewed below.

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