This photo of Sunshine Village is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Recently I was part of a group of fellow Instructors training to be certified to teach lessons in Sunshine's Side Country, Delirium Dive & Wild West. Every year I have been at Sunshine I have been able able to attend a session in this gnarly terrain with our much revered Technical Director Casey Bouius. Every time it has been incredibly fun, memorable, and slightly terrifying.
Before each session Casey has dropped a slightly cryptic hint about what to expect during the day. The first year he asked me if I was feeling agile which translated to mean we were going to enter the Z Traverse. This is a steep path to narrow for my 165 length skis turned sideways. Bellow the empty space inhabiting the underside of my tails is a very unnerving high consequences drop. I understood that if I slipped I needed to try to drop my hip into the uphill side of the mountain but wasn't sure if I could actually do so in the heat of the moment. It was my second lap ever in the Dive and I remember how every turn I felt so incredibly alive having feared so completely for my life getting there.
The second year he proclaimed that he may have a surprise for us. The surprise was hiking in our ski boots over a narrow scree path with just enough snow to make it slick but not enough to make it navigable skis on. To our left a steep rocky slope resembling a cheese grater that ended quite abruptly in a cliff. However, at the end of this we had the honour of first tracks that season in Cream under a perfect bluebird sky. So this year when he said lets make our way back up for "the technical lap," I knew that meant it was going to be something harrowing followed by something amazing.
We traversed the Galaxy Ridge to the G4 Entrance and as Casey peered over the edge he furrowed his brow and declared the condition of the entrance to be pretty sporty. It had been quite a few days since our last snowfall and powerful Chinook winds had scoured the existing snow into the consistency of styrofoam. Part way down lay two large rocks that took up half the already perilously narrow ridge. And of course this entrance had the requisite drop into certain bodily destruction lingering menacingly in my peripheral vision at all times.
As I always do it these situations I pictured the worst case scenario in full gory detail, took a deep breath and then repeated my sticky situations mantra "No that's not what's going to happen!" Then I stepped in... When I got to the rocks I made a poor decision about how to get over them. I found myself stuck on the upper rock with my left knee in my left armpit while the right foot dangled just a few millimetres shy of the snow. I could hear Casey calmly encouraging me so I stretched a little further than I thought myself capable, thank you yoga, and made it to the staging area. One of my colleagues was there to great me with a good job Christine and each colleague to follow received the same heart warming congratulations.
In fact, I reflected at that moment how it was the company of my colleagues and the way we all had each other's back that was this year's reward for the risk taken. I had the overwhelming sense that I was part part of a tribe up on that mountain. Each member made bolder by the support and encouragement of the group. In my head I could hear the lyrics to Fire in Your Eyes by Chase & Status:
Always been a warrior
from back when I remember
now we stand together
I have never been a solo adventurist. Some people are and thats totally cool, however, I enjoy having a team to share the spoils of victory with. This day was a perfect example of precisely that type of situation that I live for. Just enough challenge to leave me and my tribe walking a little taller an with a slight swagger and we head off into our normal lives having just achieved something magical. A moment of pure mindful presence shared as a collective.