Want to make it snow?

We recently did a fake survey, based on no known facts and came up with the made up number of 4.75.  That is the number of people who typically read this blog .  To you, the dedicated, I apologize.  Even to the .75 of a person who really rounds out this fake statistic.  I’ve been slack, I’ve been lazy, I suffer from a horrible affliction called procrastinatitis.  This disease is a creeper, having it’s insidious way with it’s innocent prey.  It has no know cure and it’s victims often display such symptoms as whittling away productive time using Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (JK, I don’t even know what that is!)  My time has been most ineffectively abused.  Most of it has been pissed away swooshing down the powder covered slopes of Whistler and Blackcomb, some of it has been wasted in the air, and the rest of my precious blog writing time was squandered on a new baby. (my wife may disagree with this one!) This is all water under the bridge now, as I have a very real, and time sensitive topic to discuss.  How can we make it snow?

 

Would you? For powder?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is much debate in the ski/farming world about artificially incentifying mother nature to make it snow.  The farmers are less concerned about snow than rain, but I’m inclined to include them as allies here because without them we would be soooo hungry!  This practice is called Weather Modification and the specific incarnation for us is Cloud Seeding.  This involves spraying small particles, such as aluminium oxide, barium, (like silver iodide) onto clouds in order to affect their development, usually with the goal of increasing precipitation.  The increased precipitation part sounds great, although I am slightly concerned about the idea of our snow pack consisting mostly of aluminum oxide, as I think it won’t be as fast as regular snow and could be very unforgiving to land on.  (ever jumped off a second story balcony into a pile of beer cans?  Don’t)

You can’t argue with science.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I feel like there may be a better, and possibly less invasive way to accomplish our goal of making it snow more, and more often.  With that in mind i’ve done some highly methodical research to see if there are any correlations between snowfall and other “outside the box” factors that the Weather Modification experts may have missed.  The Mayan calendar proved insightful (though very hard to read) and it has unfortunately expired.  The Farmer’s Almanac was also overflowing with sage divinations, but again the veracity of these predictions are as hard to prove as OJ’s glove size.  But then I stumbled onto something so elemental, so completely littered with hard evidence that I figured there must be some type of conspiracy in play to cover this up.  I’ve currently gone into hiding in preparation for the certain backlash that is coming my way for releasing this bombshell.  If you hear of some strange accident involving an unsecured piano falling on my head, or a single Peak Chair falling from the cable, you’ll know that “they” got me.  Here it is;  If you want it to snow, schedule a race.  

This guarantees powder?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s right.  The mountain of evidence is indisputable.  Whistler’s famous leg burning nightmare of a GS, the Peak to Valley; snowed every year since it’s inception (warning: evidence may be circumstantial at best, completely made is far more likely)  Whistler Mountain’s fabulous Winter Start festival, which included a World Cup downhill race was cancelled three years in a row for… you guessed it! Heavy snowfall, before it was unceremoniously shipped off to the drier and more race friendly climate of Lake Louise.  The final nail in the coffin is being driven in as we speak.  Currently in Whistler We are playing host to the future of ski racing’s glitterati.  The Whistler Cup.  Along with Trofeo Toppolino in Italy, Whistler Cup is widely regarded as the World Championships for U-16 ski racing.  The best and fastest gather from powerhouse alpine nations to blister slalom courses, strut their stuff, and show off the absolute pinnacle of spandex technology.  And guess what?  It’s dumping.  It’s a sneaky sort of snow storm, with rain in the valley convincing the non believers that it’s a sopping mess up there.  But up there, waaaay up there, it’s snowing. Hard.  And there will be powder for the lucky few willing to hunt it down.

 

Whether you believe me or not doesn’t matter.  I know, and they know I know, and now you know too.  If I were you I would find a place to hunker down and ride out the inevitable shit storm of controversy, as well as the threats and danger to personal safety sure to be brought against us as co-conspirators in unveiling this treacherous plot.  I suggest the top of Spanky’s Ladder, or the Highest entrance to West Cirque. With their total lack of grooming and absence of red and blue gates, there’s no way the shadowy snow merchants of the FIS will find us there.  Good luck and lay low.

Hope to live to ride a chair with you soon.

When It Rains It Pours – But In a Good Way!

Sure, the deepest and snowiest days of winter are pretty rad. Nobody can argue that. But what if you could have powder, sunshine, long days, and prime mountain biking / rock climbing all in the same weekend? Oh wait, you can…

Spring has sprung in Whistler, and it’s opened up a can of awesome-sauce onto those not-so-little mountains we like to call Whistler Blackcomb. While short-sighted fair-weather skiers cringed at the warm and insanely wet storms that were forecasted for the region, the gang at Extremely Canadian knew it was a perfect storm for epic spring adventures – on snow or off.

Sure enough, the storms rolled in wetter than a school girl at a Justin Bieber concert, priming the mountain from top to bottom. Down in the valley, the rains got a huge head start on the spring cleaning we need every year to pave the way for mountain biking and hiking. Meanwhile up top, the precip fell as that white stuff we all know and love, absolutely smothering the terrain with a healthy dose of sugar-coated icing to keep us entertained all spring long.

After each storm the clouds have lifted, the temps have cooled, and just to really shut the nay-sayers up, the elephant snot snow actually turned back into powder! Yep, cold temps and clear skies can do that. It’s the best kind of alchemy there is.

If this pattern keeps up, we’ll be skiing pow for the rest of the season, while the bike trails clear themselves naturally. No need for shovels and blow driers.

Life is good in spring time, especially when the top of your ski resort is 5000 feet higher than your valley trails and crags. Coming for a visit?

I’m out of words

I have officially run out of words to describe the current conditions in Whistler. Saying that you don’t have any words is not necessarily the best way to start writing something. It’s a medium that generally requires at least a passing acquaintance with words. But I’m out. They are all used up. The superlatives all seem to pale in the light of the reality.

These days it snows every day. Every day. 12/12/12, snow. Mayan apocalypse, snow. Christmas Day is looking like bulk snow. The best part is all of this magical white gold is coming in at consistently cold temperatures. Nowhere outside of Niseko have I seen this kind of volume with such high quality. Maybe Bogata. The Columbians know quality!

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Shovelling the driveway twice a day is a small price to pay!

I would like to thank the good people at Extremely Canadian for allowing me to pursue a career in deep powder skiing. The skiers that we’ve had in the clinics as well as the Backcountry Adventure tours have been scoring countless laps of deep fluffy goodness, and showing them a good time has never been easier. I’ve lost count of the number of times this week that I said “I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this!”

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The view from my cubicle.

With Christmas just around the corner I can’t think of a better gift for under the tree than the present that piles up flake by flake. We are in the middle of a weather cycle that is sure to become legendary and you need to be here. Planes, trains, or automobiles, do whatever it takes. When this ends, and sadly one day the sun will return to our lives, you don’t want to have missed it.

Hope to see you soon for a powdery holiday feast.

Derek and the Ex Can Crew.

Coming up for a breath

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks here in the promised land. Extremely Canadian has successfully hosted the Celebrity Ski Challenge for the Whistler Film Festival, co-produced a kick-ass Whistler Brewery fuelled rager with Columbia Sportswear, and we have skied pow. Oh have we ever.

The numbers verge on absurdity;
162cm in the past 7 days. 365cm total cumulative snowfall for the season. The season is only two weeks old!! That seasonal total would be a respectable December through March number in a lot of places, but we are just getting started.

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Derek Foose, in between breaths.

The Extremely Canadian gang has been doing exactly what you’d expect. Sampling the goods, testing terrain, and building iron legs to be at our best when you show up. We had a week or so without the alpine lifts running, but the generous folks on the ski patrol have been allowing us access by foot. While it may require a bit more time and sweat, the payoff has been well worth it.

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Gavin Phillipson enjoying the fruits of his hiking labour.

While we’ve been lucky recipients of Ullr’s bounty we certainly aren’t the only ones. Everywhere we are planning on going this winter for the Extremely Canadian World Tour is getting pounded! It’s dumping in La Grave, it’s dumping in Val d’Anniviers, it’s dumping in Japan. The only place it’s not currently snowing is Las Lenas, Argentina, but since it’s summer there we can forgive them. Basically wherever you choose, you’re going to score.

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La Grave parking lot.

Currently we are in between storms (meaning it’s only snowing 10cm per day instead of 30) and taking deep breaths before the next immersion.
The coaching crew is out with Peter doing the early season guide training, polishing skills and sharpening our summer softened minds. Saturday Dec 8 marks the official opening to the Extremely Canadian season and dammit, we are Ready!
I hope you are too…

Looking forward to riding the chair with you soon,
Derek and the Ex Can Crew.

Always listen to your inner skier

When I woke up groggy, with a head full of kleg from a stubborn cold my first thought was “I probably won’t go skiing today”. My wife is a baws with WB’s I.T. Department and her presence on the front lines was integral to the smooth operation of Opening Day.  Which meant my presence in the parenting department at our house was also integral.  That’s right, I missed opening day.  But that was yesterday.
This morning’s decision was entirely my own.

Reports from day one were hit and miss.  ”Good to be skiing, but…”  was the common theme.  Fair enough.  It is after all, november, and a mid february powder day probably wasn’t in the cards.  So hopefully my inexcusable lack of stoke is at least partly understandable.

A funny thing happened after my sleep addled brain made that Eeyore-esque decision not to go.  I rolled out of bed into the shower, and after drying off started rooting through the closet for base layers, ski socks and all the other detritus required for a day of shred.  As I cruised downstairs for coffee and a bagel my wife took in my half assembled get up and said “I thought you weren’t going?”  

“Ya I don’t think I will, probably won’t be that great”  apparently are the words that came out of my mouth.  It becomes obvious with the clarity of hindsight that I was not entirely in control of this situation.  As I munched down my breakfast, slapped five with the boy and headed out the door my wife stared at me like she was just realizing the truly handicapped nature of her chosen life partner (this is a look that crosses her face all too often).

The reality is that I wasn’t driving the machine this morning, my inner skier was.  My actions were a result of thousands of repetitions of the same process, literally on auto-pilot.  The fact that it was my first day of the year was irrelevant, as if the six awful months of snowless purgatory we just suffered through never existed.  This is what happens every day that ends in Y during ski season, and my inner skier was clearly not to be put off by something as trivial as conscious thought.

 

When I got to the mountain the coffee was just starting to kick but I still felt foggy and loosely held on to the idea that I probably wouldn’t go skiing.  It was only riding up the gondola, watching the snow swirl that I started to come to and realize how awesome it was going to be, not to mention how awesome it was to be riding a lift with friends on the way up to go skiing.  Then I stepped off the lift.

Jen Ashton proving that you should always listen to your inner skier.

I stepped out into a completely legit (for november) powder day.

Where the day before venturing off piste was totally unimaginable, today it was not only imaginable, it was the first thing we did.  As the snow pushed up over my thighs and bits flew into my laughing grill I realized how lucky I was to have that inner voice guiding me.  I can’t claim any great wisdom for making a good decision.  I should actually plead guilty for making a bad one, but luckily somewhere deep in there a passionate skier lurks, and that guy knows what’s up.

 From now on I’m listening.

 

Hope to ride the chair with you soon,

Derek and the Ex Can Crew

 

Introducing the Guru of Extremely Canadian’s new Backcountry Adventures: Keith Reid.

By now you are all probably aware of the new Backcountry Adventure program on offer from Extremely Canadian this season.  Up for grabs will be a guided backcountry experience outside of the Whistler Blackcomb boundaries, with a focus on safe travel techniques, mountain awareness, and finding the best snow accessible to those unafraid to invest a little sweat equity.

What you may not be savvy to is who we’ve got to run this new wonder program.  May I present to you Extremely Canadian’s newest cast member, and Backcountry Supervisor and Lead Guide – Keith Reid!

When word got out that Keith was going to be heading up the new program the response from those in the know in the snow safety and guiding world was incredible.  ”You got that guy?  Oh this is going to be big!”  Peter Smart, owner and Big Daddy boss of Extremely Canadian had this to say: “Getting him for this role is huge! Having Keith involved really legitimizes Extremely Canadian’s role in the backcountry industry.”

 

Keith is coming off a successful tenure as assistant operations manager and senior ski guide at TLH Heli skiing, and is heavily involved in the training of new and apprentice mountain guides through his role as an instructor for aspiring guides at Canada West Mountain school.  He has sat on the board of directors for the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, and is currently the president of that venerable organization.  Believe me, this is the guy you want to go out of bounds with!

 

Keith has been in Whistler for 25 years, and in that time has honed his skills as a skier, guide, and mountain savant to a razor point.  Throughout his career, along with a serious work ethic has come an unflagging passion for exploring the coast mountains and all the adventure they have to offer.   Keith says  ” The lift access backcountry/ski-touring opportunities on both Whistler and Blackcomb are among the best in the world and clearly stand alone in North America in terms of its scale, variety and quality”  This experience has brought with it an enthusiasm for the new role with Extremely Canadian.  According to Keith,  ”Developing and managing what will invariably become a world class Backcountry destination is an incredible and timely opportunity.”

Timely indeed.  The backcountry ski movement is blowing up.  Ski touring binding systems, boots, skins, avalanche beacons and all the rest have become the hottest developing products for industry manufacturers.  The spirit of exploration is alive and well out there, and as the race for the freshest lines intensifies in-bounds many are seeking to forgo the chase altogether, in search of a more soulful experience.  For all of you out there looking for something new, Keith is your man.

Welcome to the team Keith.  We (and all of you out there)  are lucky to have you onboard.

Hope to ride a chair with you all soon.

Derek and the Ex Can crew.

 

Mom, Myth, Legend…. Presenting Wendy Brookbank.

This week’s entry in the ongoing series of Extremely Canadian coaches biographies is none other than Wendy Brookbank.  Wendy is the rock star of the Ex Can family, and the rock star mom of her own family.  Star of page and screen, she’s got enough big mountain experience and savvy to get you to the goods every time. Throw in her infectious laugh and unmatchable stoke for skiing and you my friend are guaranteed to have a good time.  It also happens to be Wendy’s birthday today!

Scaring you with a smile!

 What’s your theme song? (not your favourite song, but the song that would play as you were entering a boxing ring)
“We are the Champions” Queen.  
 
 
Describe your pre-season prep,  how do you get ready for ski season?
Riding my mountain bike.  Not sure if it is a “pre season prep” or a total love for a different sport….. maybe skiing is my biking prep?? My goal is to ride the day before opening day and then be riding before the season ends.  No gym for this skier!

 What gets you fired up in the morning?
20+ cm’s and a  Double espresso.

Why do you love coaching steep skiing?
It sure beats the magic carpet with beginners!

 What is your greatest Extremely Canadian staff party memory? Better yet, what do your co-workers best remember about you at a staff party?
I would never let any of the secrets out of the bag though I do remember a Christmas tree being tackled to the ground by one staff member (name withheld), A knee blown jumping into the hot tub, minibike derby after too many beers……… just plain silliness!!
 
 
What’s your favourite type of Ex Can client?
The one that arrives on the deck with S7′s in their hand and a huge smile on their face!

 How many of Whistler/Blackcomb’s lifts have you done it in/on?
That’s a very private question……. only one man knows that answer! 

 Why do you choose to live in Whistler?
I actually live in Pemberton which it a lovely farming community 25 minutes north of Whistler.  We are at the gateway to world class ski touring,  sled skiing and mountain biking in Pemberton with the conveniences of Whistler just down the road.  Pemberton is also a thriving community ideal for raising my two daughters.  I have skied all over the world and can say that Whistler/Blackcomb delivers that best lift access skiing around.  After skiing here for more than 20 years I still find exciting challenges on the mountains. I never tire of them! 

Happy Birthday Wendy!

Ladies and Gentlemen…The Chad!

Uphill or down, we can't keep up.

I’m proud to present the second instalment in our ongoing series of in-depth coaches bios.  Today we crack open the skull of the old school and look inside.  Chad Hendren is a professional everything;  Skier, mountain biker, OG skateboarder,  marketing exec, and entrepreneur.  A bit of a Shaun Palmer of the North but minus the insane coke habit, although there is powder involved!
 
 
What’s your theme song? (not your favourite song, but the song that would play as you were entering a boxing ring)  
  I would actually call it my Podium song – Ghostwriter – RJD2
 
  Describe your pre-season prep,  how do you get ready for ski season? 
 Pre season prep for me basically is 6 weeks of Gym and a summer filled with Enduro and DH style mountain biking, along with riding to work every day.

  What gets you fired up in the morning?  
 Caffeine is my firing mechanism in the AM, bring it !
 The more the better.

  Why do you love coaching steep skiing?
 Because its super fun!  Duh 

Dans les Alpes.

 Where is your favourite place to ski outside of Whistler?
 Sphincter puckering La Grave, of course!
 
 
What is your greatest Extremely Canadian staff party memory? Better yet, what do your co-workers best remember about you at a staff party?     
 I have no memories from any Excan parties, they are all a blur!   But I do love hanging out with all my friends all in one place.

 
What’s your favourite type of Ex Can client? 
 I like the client that wants to push the limits but is tentative. I like taking people delicately out of their comfort zones and then putting them back in and stepping on the gas 

  How many of Whistler/Blackcomb’s lifts have you done it in/on?
 Sadly – zero.  However if there are any willing young ladies out there up for a Challenge, PM me on FaceBook.

  Why do you choose to live in Whistler?
 Whistler is never never land. Who really wants to grow up anyways ?

Extremely Canadian presents: Crystal-Rose Lee


Would you trust this face?

This is the beginning of a series of profiles on our illustrious coaching staff.  We will dig below the surface to find out what really goes on inside the heads of the people you entrust your health and well being to.  If you have a favourite coach, and want to know what’s rattling around their cage, fire us your questions on Facebook and we’ll hunt them down and get some answers for you.
We begin with perennial fan favourite, big mountain competition crusher, and ultimate advocate of the colour pink; Crystal-Rose Lee.
 
 What’s your theme song? (not your favourite song, but the song that would play as you were entering a boxing ring)
LL Cool J -Knock You Out
 
Describe your pre-season prep,  how do you get ready for ski season?
I try to bike as much as I can.  With three different cycling disciplines in the garage inventory I can keep it fresh and stay out of the gym for a little longer.  Once the weather has changed I go the gym.  Circuit class twice a week, three times on my own (more cardio and kettle bells) and this year will be a new one, yoga.

 What gets you fired up in the morning?
Looking out my window. I see how much snow has fallen on my car and when I see 10 cm,  I know there is more waiting up on the hill.  I get ready a bit faster, even before my first cup of coffee. LOL 

 Why do you love coaching steep skiing?
I love opening a whole new world to people and blowing away their personal expectations about what they CAN do on skis.  When you see someone hoot and holler and finish the day with the biggest grin on their face it is one of the most rewarding things.  They will be forever hooked…what’s a groomer again?  Haha!

 What is your greatest Extremely Canadian staff party memory?   Better yet, what do your co-workers best remember about you at a staff party?
Peter thought it was a great idea for me to learn how to ride a dirt bike at midnight… and sent me into a firewood pile…somehow I came out of that unscathed.But these are some of my fuzzy memories of the Ex Can team…Gavin having a no pants party…by himself.
Derek dancing with a post, either on the street or in the bar?
Leg Wresting in Merlins…

 What’s your favourite type of Ex Can client?
Open-minded, positive, ready for an adventure and with a pile of good jokes for the chairlift.

 How many of Whistler/Blackcomb’s lifts have you done it in/on?
I will never kiss and tell….

Follow me!

 Why do you choose to live in Whistler?
Whistler is filled with people who have chosen to live here.  I have the mountains at my doorstep, bike trails in my backyard, hiking trails no more then 10 min away and friends that share the same passions.  I grew up on these mountains, and while I have traveled to lots of other places, Whistler has something special about it that always brings me back.  It’s home.

Winter starts now.

I am an avid surfer.  I should rephrase that.  I am a horrible surfer.  Yes that more accurately depicts my relationship with mother ocean.  I do love it though.  I follow the World tour of surfing, occasionally watch contests on-line, and paddle out at every opportunity.  The trouble is that I live in the mountains, and the opportunities to get barrelled are few and far between.  An annual pilgrimage to Mexico or Hawaii, and the occasional mission to the west coast of Vancouver Island for some nut shrinking cork bobbing and super fun near drowning is about all I get.  In spite of the rarity, I love it every time.  Almost.

What I don’t love about surfing is sucking at surfing.  More to the point I really detest sucking at paddling.  Every time I go on a surf trip I hit the ground absolutely frothing.  It would be a lie if i told you I had never ripped apart my board bag in the lobby of some tropical resort while waiting in line to check in. Rummaging for board shorts, a leash and fins.  Then after getting publicly naked and into my shorts, running shirtless with a half assembled surf board through the lobby towards the beach leaving my wife to deal with the torn apart bag, check-in, and any other mundane non wave catching details including our son.  Awesome.  She is inevitably impressed by my passion.

Paddle, almost drown, repeat. Dreamy!

The trouble starts approximately 45 seconds after hitting the water.  Usually if there is even a small pulse of swell it’s about this time that I start wishing I had done the slightest bit of physical preparation for surfing before the trip.  You may be surprised to learn that slaying powder pillows, jumping off cliffs, and generally having a great time in the mountains is inadequate groundwork for paddling your ass off and getting pummelled every twelve and a half seconds.  Swimming on the the other hand is excellent training.  Do I swim before a surf trip?  Well that one time, almost.  Hot tubs unfortunately don’t count.  It’s usually around the fourteenth day of a fifteen day outing that my shoulders have started to come to life, propelling me into waves as if they were born to it.  Then I go home.  My newly acquired man-arms start to atrophy and wither away, back to their wintery prison where their only jobs are pole planting and hoisting pints.

The reason I’m going on about this is something Steve Mayer said to me the other day.  We were mountain biking up the Flank trail on Rainbow Mountain and I was sucking.  After a long rest while I recovered the ability to speak we got to chatting about what it means to be prepared for ski season.  Steve’s philosophy is simple.  Winter starts now.  Every drop of sweat between here and your first turns of the season has a purpose.  I can’t think of a better motivator than being able to get to the goods before your buddies,  and still be on your feet breathing evenly at the bottom while they are gasping for air, leaning on their poles clinging to life by their fingernails.  From that point on you are a pimp, and they will bow to you in the manner befitting a rockstar such as yourself.  It doesn’t matter if your season starts on opening day, or if you fly out to Whistler in mid February for a week.  The stronger and better prepared you are, the more fun you will have.  Bottom line.  It is heartbreaking for the Extremely Canadian coaches to watch the skiing versions of my surfing self come on our clinics excited beyond words, only to flail and have to give up due to a rebellion in the leg region.   This scene is sad to say the least, particularly due to the fact that it is completely avoidable.

Steve enjoying the fruits of his labour.

Right, so, if you’re planning on coming to ski with us this winter in Whistler, meeting us in Japan, Europe, India, or saving yourself for Las Lenas, do yourself a favour and put in the sweat now.  Otherwise you risk being like me, lying on the beach half drowned wishing you could go back in time.  Winter starts now.

Hope to ride a chairlift, or bike trail with you soon,

Derek and the Ex Can Crew