There I was at the edge of the cliff, a Big White Mountain double diamond slope called “Camel’s back” only 2160m (7086 ft) above sea level, and avalanche territory.
I pushed myself over the newly fallen "champagne" snow, my ski poles sunk two feet deep in some areas as I moved past the Avalanche warning signs.
That's when I noticed a fracture fault line likely from where the morning’s dynamite effort had lifted the snow, my courage wavered and I started to wonder if I should continue, especially alone.
“I didn’t get this far to turn around now” I said to myself.
I stared down the bowl of the mountain, rocks and darts of trees trailed the slope until what appeared to be at least 500m of flat snow blanketing towards the Cliff Chair at the bottom. I decided to ski across the crest to another slope run called the "Cliff" assuming the landing at the base point where I was facing would turn into a cardiovascular hike that I was simply not planning on endeavoring towards the end of my ski day.
I finally skied my way down the bowl towards the chair in deep powder pillows, when I reached the bottom the chair operator came out to talk. I asked him about the vast carpet of untouched snow at the base of "Camel's Back" he replied, “That's our lake underneath there, it provides the drinking water for the entire resort”, which confirms that had I skied to the edge, I was surely trekking over a hopefully frozen lake and in thigh-deep snow carrying skis and ski poles.
Thankful I did not choose that path, I continued my journey to conquer the summit, I head up the “Cliff chair” alone, empty benches in front and behind me, to the Big White summit 2,319m (7,606ft) above sea level.
Visibility worsened, without a sense of direction I couldn’t tell which way was forward
At this point it was snowing so hard at the top I could barely see the “ALPINE T-BAR” in the near distance that also carried skiers to the summit. There wasn’t another skier at the top, I had no markers indicating a piste existed around me and I knew the cliff edge was just to the left of me and knowing there were no runs down the backside of the mountain, my only choice was to go right. Visibility worsened, without a sense of direction I couldn’t tell which way was forward, I decided to wait for someone to come off the chairlift or T-bar to ask for directions.
Eight minutes passed and one uncertain skier appeared suggesting that I follow the T-BAR path down the hill until visibility improved to lead to an actual run, I took their advice and started down the non-traditional pathway pausing intermittently to let T-BAR passengers heading up the mountain pass by.
I could have felt embarrassed but instead, I was feeling assured that at least I was making my way down a hill without the need nor assistance of hailing ski patrol.
I found my pathway to the ski slopes part way down and headed away from the T-BAR trail continuing all the way to the base to conclude my 2017 ski holiday content that I had conquered another summit although not entirely in the fashion I would have preferred.
It was by far not my most challenging summit, in March 2016 I skied off the back of Mt. Whitehorn (Lake Louise Resort) 2637m / 8652ft, down a chute slope called Gully A, it's like peering down into a snowy abyss lined with rocks, the most exhilarating slope I have skied yet. However, given the conditions of the day, it reminded me to prepare myself for anything.
Be prepared for failure and use those teachings to achieve better outcomes
No matter the vertical, height, depth or distance mother nature, sports and life have taught me that you cannot overcome all odds through one determining factor.
You must be thoughtful about the pathways available and work with the elements (Mother Nature in this case), trust instinct and work as a team to get to the end of a project.
Be prepared for failure and use those teachings to achieve better outcomes on the next project, don’t give up and above all, try again at being awesome, people you don’t even know are observing your actions and are possibly trying to learn from your mistakes and your greatness.
The best part of this holiday was the “Bluebird” days, sun shining for millions of miles standing above the cloud line and seeing into heaven wondering what inspiring and wonderful things lie ahead of me in 2018 as I set out to help more amazing people in Toronto.
I love my job and the people I get to learn from everyday. Here's to more great projects and motivating more tenacious and skillful individuals all over the world in becoming the best success stories of their lives - the story of themselves achieving and building for their futures.