Why am I still here if Whistler is closed?

IMG_0385

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?

IMG_0200

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?

30741274_10156303708974476_38152976174415872_o

IMG_0198

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.┬áThis 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.

IMG_0357

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.

IMG_0462

IMG_0482

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.

IMG_0491

My Canadian adventures: living in Whistler

1

I’ve been living in Canada for three months now. Although I’ve been in the same spot for much longer than my travels in South America, I feel like a lot has changed in this short space of time. My initial plan had always been to stay in Canada for the six-month ski season and to return to the UK in May 2018. But that’s no longer the plan.

I had thought that during my travels in South America I would have some kind of epiphany and know where my life was headed and what future career I should pursue. As it came to the end of those first four months travelling I started to realise that that wasn’t going to happen for me. I would need to explore lots of different paths until I found one that fits.

2

For now, I’m working in Guest Services for a property rental company where being talkative and lively isn’t seen as a negative like it has been in my past ‘desk jobs’. I have morning or evening shifts which give me flexibility to go skiing in the morning before starting work most days.

4

On Sundays I work up the mountain and it’s definitely my favourite part of the week. I catch the first gondola up at 7:45am and spent the day helping beginners get up after a fall. I have had a couple of Sundays now with fresh tracks in unskied powder and it’s just the best feeling. From this I’ve realised I want to work on the mountain next year – I want to be outdoors and I want to be active.

5

So I’m now taking the steps to make that happen. I have a visa until October 2019 so no extra work there. I’m improving my skiing technique and pushing myself more up the mountain. I’ve decided I want to learn to be a ski instructor and I’ve signed up for Level 1 and 2 instructing courses (which aren’t cheap). And importantly, I’m speaking to everyone ‘in the know’ about getting staff housing next season. It might not be a foolproof plan and I’m sure there will be changes along the way but for now, it looks like I’ll be in Canada for 2018.

3