An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: Gondolas, records, spring..? and the return of St Paddy

So the secret’s out, Whistler is yet again breaking its own snowfall records. December was the heaviest on record. During the month of February, we surpassed our annual average levels of snow (and trust me, its one hell of a lot ‘on average’!) and now February has been proclaimed as the heaviest on record to-date as well. For the books, March is shaping up pretty nicely too!

To many of course, none of this is exactly a hidden secret as Whistler has long been renowned for its heavy levels of precipitation. Thankfully though, at this elevation and location within the coastal mountain range, the heavy precipitation provides bountiful snow. Somewhat unfortunately for our friends a little further south in Vancouver, this usually means too many damp and very wet months….but what a beautiful city!

Other ‘events’ making both the local and more national news bites for the wrong reasons, comes the shock discovery of a European traveller to town, found stuck on a gondola overnight. Now, there has been a full investigation and it came down to a simple ‘lifty’ operator error, whereby she was allowed onto the gondola at night (this is a gondola that runs at a very low level close to the village and doubles as a means of transport to out tube park and to some Whistler Blackcomb staff housing), but unbelievably not counted off at the other end. Now, ‘all’s well that ends well’ as they say. Fortunately, despite not exactly being dressed for the mountains and temperatures dropping to around minus 9 C, she was found alive and well when the lifts were restarted at around 7.30am the next day. Apparently the ‘lifty’ in question has been dealt with and disciplined – no doubt sent back to Oz! I would also imagine that given the high level management statement issued to the effect that “all parties are now satisfied with the outcome”, that the poor, freezing young lass in question, is now several thousand of dollars now better off! At least, I know I would be!

We’ve also recently learned of a gorilla powder hound on our mountains. Check this out: I personally haven’t come across this hairy individual, or his fruity friend, but you should keep your eyes peeled just in case!

Now, there’s been talk of ‘spring’ being in the air. All it takes is a few spectacular days of sun and all of a sudden the seasons have changed and we all have a new perspective on life. Funny eh?! Well I can tell you first hand that this rather early prediction is a tad flawed. The sun has temporarily deserted us here in the mountains again as our weekly forecast is filled with sumptuous snow predictions (all be it scientific ones!) and having just returned from another trip down to our friends south on the highway for yet another consultation with yet another specialist, spring is most definitely not yet sprung down there either. My walk back across one of the number of city highway bridges was a precarious one as the rain and gusty winds nearly had me doing a Mary Poppins impression across the bay. Yep, down in metro Vancouver they still have some way to go before they start embracing a new season. Meanwhile, up in Whistler, we’ll have to wait just a bit longer still.

In truth, thoughts this week up here are probably already aimed at St. Paddy’s day. Probably don’t need the full explanation on this one, but given the celebratory nature of much of the youth residing in these parts; it is yet another great excuse to party hard. In fairness, there’s never any trouble surrounding this occasion around town as everything is well controlled and policed. Also, it is mainly locals involved (and a considerable number of vacationers in town), meaning that perhaps one or two of the slightly more troublesome characters that can come up from the lower mainland areas are not involved.

I for one will get to have my customary outside perspective on the manoeuvres from these events as I will no doubt be both working and / or not drinking. Trust me, viewing others activities from an extremely sober corner, does allow one to have a good laugh at others expense. It never ceases to amaze me just how predictable and bizarre one’s actions can become with a few alcoholic beverages inside them. You never know, one of the many casts from the ‘Twighlight’ or ‘Mission Impossible’ films shooting locally in and around Vancouver and the highway up to us, may pop up for a good excuse to get in a few snow turns and a few pints. After all, we all need to kick back and relax!

Roll on St Paddy’s and have a glass or two for me – Slaine!