This is a question I have been asking myself on and off since Whistler mountain closed on the 22nd April 2018. I have always been very clear that the reason I came to Canada and to Whistler is to ski. I chose this resort out of all the other quieter, less expensive resorts in Canada because of its huge terrain. I spent a month or so training to be a ski instructor and an amazing six weeks teaching children how to ski. Now the lifts are closed and the snow is melting, what am I still doing here?
I don’t have a profound answer to this question. I’m not sure I even have a real answer. All I know is I don’t seem to be able to leave. All the people I have met here over the winter have been telling me how much I will love summer; how it is so much better than winter, how there is so much more to do. But when you are doing something you love, do you need anything more?
Over the last six months, skiing has become a huge part of my life. It has transformed from a hobby to a lifestyle – something I plan my week around. All of my best moments since being here have been on skis, whether it’s passing my instructing qualifications, helping a friend to conquer new heights, teaching my first lesson, winning a race, getting the freshest tracks on the biggest day of the year or starting each Sunday watching the sun rise over the mountains. This mystical place has won my heart and just because it’s closed for the winter doesn’t mean I can turn my back on it.
What I didn’t realise when I chose Whistler was that it has such a popular mountain biking scene in the summer. Those who know me well will know I don’t know how to ride a bike. It’s not something I talk about much, mostly because I find it embarrassing. People always follow this discovery with, “do you know how to swim?” as though I’m deficient in all of life’s basic lessons. Maybe this will be the year I learn to ride, if I can afford to buy a bike, but for now this activity is barred to me.
There’s lots of other summer activities that are popular with locals here like fishing, camping, frisbee golf (frolf) and swimming in lakes, I just need to find one that works for me.
In the last year while I traveled through South America I discovered a passion for hiking that I’d never had in the UK. I’d always thought walking was just a slow way to get to where you wanted to be. Thankfully, there’s a lot of hiking to do in Whistler and British Colombia. While I have to be a lot more careful not to wander into a bear here than I did in Patagonia, there’s still going to be places I can discover on my own. And anyway, if I need to be part of a group to hike, at least it encourages me to be more sociable.
So, while I might still be sad that the ski season is over, I’ll try to make the most of the summer in front of me and the beautifully transforming landscape that surrounds me here. It might not be a winter wonderland but it still beats the skyscrapers of London hands down.