Kimberley Feb 22-26 2009 Tour Report

by Mitch Meunier

Participants cheerfully left Edmonton early Sunday morning in good weather conditions. The bus was brimming with enthusiasm and quickly adopted a buddy system. For better or for worse, we were all in this together, ready to conquer the slopes in sober condition (barring any hidden Foose hydration system, which was not evident…though it might not have been a bad idea). Great expectations lay ahead, and all cancellations were quickly filled with worthy stand-bys. All for one and one for all.

The trip down was fun-filled with anecdotes from Stan, Jim, and Dennis, the latter providing an interesting geological visual tour near the Kananaskis turn-off. Was it Mount Biscupid or Mount Molar?

As the result of imagination, cunning and stealth, Pat Campbell (to the envy of many) won a prize which we originally believed she would cherish forever.

Academy awards nomination sheets were passed around for a contest, winners to be named on Tuesday evening at the supper. The intrigue continued.

After a few pit stops, navigational help from Kathy Robinson, good coffee in Radium, and shopping in Kimberley for “refreshments” and such, we arrived at the hill at 5:30 pm under balmy B.C. spring conditions.  We retired to our rooms for a brief rest (except for the prep teams in 310 and 210) and all met later for a “split-level” gourmet dinner consisting of libations, munchies, fresh pasta and rolls, salad (home-made dressing…yum) and assorted goodies.  Thanks to Barb, Joan, Gwen and Stan.

Group at Kimberley

Group at Kimberley

On our first morning on the hill, we were met with a gentle snowfall, very mild weather and a series of gently rolling mystical clouds in the upper valley that amazed both photographers and those skiers seeking the unknown and the invisible. Riding the lift in and out of the cloud banks was truly an experience and underlines the blessings of the ski hosts provided by the hill, decked out in their yellow jackets, bright smiles and reassurances. Late afternoon arrived with an accelerated quiet, gentle snowfall, a harbinger of things to come. The groomers were out that night, like giant ants, crawling their way back and forth up those inviting hills, beckoning us to challenge them the following morning.

Tuesday, we awoke to find the hills newly blanketed with yet more snow.  The truly “seasoned” could hardly contain their characteristic lust for adventure, especially those who were inexplicably drawn to the “dark side” (come hell or high water), emboldened by their Monday experiences. The less foolish stayed on the front side where sanity prevailed.

Tuesday night was our “night on the town” for dinner at the quaint Gasthaus Restaurant in Kimberley where we were met by a congenial host and staff, an open bar and delicious Teutonic cuisine. Despite the open bar, most behaved reasonably well (there are always a few exceptions) and four winners of the Academy Awards contest were named – Barb Fowler, Ann Shopland, Joyce Liska and Linda Porter – each receiving a bottle of health drink which had somehow avoided consumption the previous night.

On the trail

On the trail

Wednesday was an optional Fernie day and started with snow in Kimberley which apparently followed the Fernie gang all the way there.  The Fernie ski hosts had been contacted in advance and met the arriving group, providing great assistance. The Fernites contended with corn snow and “somewhat limited” visibility but forged ahead, undaunted, ready with a story or two upon their return. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Kimberley gang (“smart money”) was met with clearing skies by noon and truly memorable snow conditions under perfect visibility. It almost made us forget the Fernie bunch until their boisterous and boastful return later that afternoon, bragging about their exploits, much of which was later discounted.

We awoke on Thursday (alas, our last day) to glorious sunshine, freshly groomed hills and the rush that comes with packing, more skiing and departure in a single day. Just prior to departure time at 3:00 pm, one insouciant member was observed trouserless in the baggage storage room, having squeezed every minute available that day for skiing. I wonder if he stopped for lunch or even tried the minestrone soup in the Lounge?

Snowy glades

Snowy glades

The trip home was quiet and introspective with only a few unsolicited singing outbursts from J.L. and her choir of angels.  It was obvious that our intrepid voyageurs were filled with thoughts of that memorable sojourn in the unique place that is Kimberley, Canada’s own Bavarian Alps.

The tour hosts – Barb Fowler, Joan Sterling and Mitch Meunier – would like to thank all their helpers and the tour participants for a memorable skiing experience.

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