Remember a few weeks ago when Court and I spent the weekend relaxing, dining, listening to live music, and playing winter sports in the Crowsnest Pass?
During our trip, I checked another activity off my winter bucket list: snowboarding at Castle Mountain Ski Resort.
Located just 40 minutes from the Crowsnest Pass, it’s one of Alberta’s best ski resorts:
-Two mountains; a summit of over 7400 ft, with views into British Columbia
-Over 3500 skiable acres
-78 runs, 8 alpine bowls
-Average annual snowfall: 358″
-They offer cat skiing, skiing & snowboarding lessons, child care and childrens programs, etc.
-Lodge, pub & grill
I’ve lived near the Rockies my entire life and have only been skiing one time. I’m slightly embarrassed. Court has been snowboarding since before snowboarding was even invented, and he’s been wanting to teach me how to board for years. It’s one of those things that we kept meaning to do as a couple, but just never got around to it. Winter does this to people! It’s like, “I could go make something of myself… but then I’ll have to get out of my flannel pjs. I’m going to take a nap instead.” Just me? I should clarify: the old me would’ve said and done that. The new me embraces winter.
In the weeks leading up to our first snowboarding adventure we had many conversations that went like this…
Me: “Are you sure you want to teach me? I have a feeling you’re going to get really annoyed with me.”
I mean, the guy has an aneurysm when I use the “wrong” kitchen knife. I made sure to give him plenty of warning ahead of time that our snowboarding trip was probably going to end in divorce.
Court: “Yes, you’ll do great! We’ll watch a few YouTube videos, and practice on the bunny hill until you feel comfortable, then we’ll go on a ‘real’ run.”
Me: “I predict death in my near future.”
When we arrived at Castle Mountain Ski Resort, they provided me with a snowboard and we were on our merry way… to the top of Huckleberry. What’s Huckleberry, you ask? Let me show you:
… and then Court collected his life and accidental death benefit and lived happily ever after…
I had the scenario all played out in my mind before I even made it to the chairlift. “This is just like one of those murder-mystery shows. I’m going to be on Dateline… I hope my family provides nice photos of me.” Those thoughts transitioned to, “What would Courts life be like without me? What would he eat for dinner… WAIT. What would he eat for dinner?… Maybe I will live to see another day…”
And then I got distracted by the incredible views of the sun rising over the mountains as we ascended higher up the ski hill. It was so calm and peaceful, that I could’ve happily rode the chairlift all day. My worries were laid to rest.
That is, until it was time to get off the chairlift and… I didn’t fall?! I glided right off the seat, with complete ease, as if I’d been snowboarding for years. (I wish I could say the same about the chairlift-exits that followed. I haven’t stopped blushing/bleeding/laughing since then. Seriously, how mortifying!)
I’m not sure if this applies to all ski-hills or runs, but there’s a drop off and a little hill at the end of the chairlift that you have to glide down with one foot strapped into the board. It was the most terrifying moment of my life. You’re psyching yourself up and telling yourself not to fall, keep calm, and praying that your body and gravity will not fail you at this pivotal moment. 70% of the time, it works every time. (What movie is that from?)
We met up with Chinook Country Tourism for
Awkward Family Photos some group ‘action’ shots.
Ok, so, my first run. It took us about 30-45 minutes (or maybe a day?) to get down the mountain. Remember, this was my first time on a board and I had to learn the basics: standing, balance, stopping, carving… I don’t even know what the technical snowboarding terms are so I’m going to stop pretending like I’m an expert. Before snowboarding, I thought I was left-foot forward, but now I can’t be so sure. It just felt so unnatural and foreign. I tried boarding both ways and neither felt ‘right’. Is this normal? My first run was pretty good, considering we weren’t on the bunny hill and it wasn’t super-steep or busy like I had anticipated. The hardest part for me was turning – I didn’t trust myself enough to turn my back away from the mountain, and I’d psych myself up and fall.
“Hey, how do you like snowboarding?” our photographer Tom Buchanan called out to me at the end of one my runs. I think my response was, “I HATE IT… lets go again!”
All in all, I enjoyed my first snowboarding experience, and I’m excited to visit Castle again. I was disappointed that I didn’t ‘do better’, but I know it’ll come with time. Hey, at least it wasn’t as challenging as cross country skiing. If you can master cross-country skiing, you can achieve anything!
I think the real lesson in all of this is to hire a pro snowboarding coach from Castle Mountain to teach you how to board. Not your spouse. In all seriousness, the lesson for me was learning to get out of my own way. When we build crazy expectations (and real life mysteries) up in our minds, we create a mountain (ha) out of a molehill, and inevitably end up disappointed when things don’t turn out as we planned. It’s best to just go with the flow, stumble, fall, and get back on the chairlift. And, if that doesn’t work, eat a veggie burger in the lodge and call it a day.
Do you participate in any winter sports?