It's Saturday evening, and the party people in the house are not budging. There are lots of places to go, lots of booze to drink, and yet nothing moves. Why is that? Well, tomorrow is a powder day!
We decide to leave early in the morning. Whistler has this wonderful program called Fresh Tracks that gets you up the mountain at 7:30a (one hour before the general population is allowed to join). For the price of $16 (in addition to the ticket), you get breakfast and early access to the slopes.
So, there we are, at 6:30a: a bunch of people huddled in line, waiting for the ticket counter to open, while an impressive line is forming at the gondola entrance. That's for people that bought their tickets in advance. And since there is only so much food on the mountain, they sell only 650 tickets of Fresh Tracks.
Rumour has it they already ran out of tickets. Then someone says that can't be, they have been here when the place was crawling with breakfasters, and this was not one of those days. I feel relieved somewhat, especially thinking that some of the guys in the house mentioned spreading the rumour themselves.
I am pretty far ahead in the line, curse at the idiots that ask hundred questions when all you need is a ticket and a snowboard. But it's 7:15 when I get everything together and move over to the other line. My friends, who have EDGE cards, are waiting for me there. On the way, I witness how one guy leans his skis against the railing. They fall to the right, and then a cascade of snow equipment that was similarly leaning is falling to the right, until about a hundred items are flat on the ground.
Loading is fortunately faster. We get onto the gondola, go up to the Roundhouse and have a quick breakfast. If you can skip it altogether, you get more time on the slopes by yourself, but we are hungry. After eggs, pancakes, bacon (for the others), granola, and the like, we are on our boards.
It's pure heaven.
The groomed runs are flat and fluffy. We sail down without resistance, without obstacles. It's like flying for real. We get to the base, jump on the lift, go back up, sail down again. Nobody else on the mountain, nobody in line for the lift.
As lifts open, we move over. First only Emerald is open, but then Garbanzo will get us up, then Harmony, then Symphony. From the bliss of flying we move to the joy of surfing in the knee-deep powder. We shoot down chutes that would have been scary any other day, drink in the wake as it hits us, see crazy people perform crazy jumps, diving from rock faces or leaping over giant wind-blown crevasses.
Finally, Peak opens and we decide it's time to try something totally new. We run into the trees on the Creekside portion, get drunk in the constant turns, lose ourselves between the tall and the small firs and spruces, and somehow end up at the bottom giddy and white, covered all over in champagne snow.
What a day!