An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: So you think it’s cold?

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So you think it’s cold where you are! Now, whilst I am not after any sympathy having chosen to live my life in the nape of Whistler and its surrounding mountain range, but let me briefly describe the last few days here if you’d indulge me:

Unless there is an ‘inversion’ (where a swell or warmer air traps colder air below it), you can usually safely assume that it is a good 5-10 degrees centigrade colder on the top of the mountains than down here in the village at the valley level. So, when I say that it’s been around minus 16C here in the village, don’t be too surprised when I tell you it’s been pushing toward minus 30C up top. This is without even considering the wind chill factor! Now, what this means is that most hardy folk (or simply those who’ve paid for a day’s lesson or skiing and want to get their money’s worth), will more than likely have cut their on-hill activities a bit short, most probably have spent a fair bit of time going in and out of the on hill restaurants and cafes and I can almost guarantee that someone will have a touch of frostbite to contend with.

To bring this down to the valley level; I’m back in full training again for various ultra runs and marathons and decided that I simply couldn’t face a day on the treadmill, so decided to head for the snow packed trails. Armed with two pairs of gloves, tuque (beanie) and two more layers of clothing than I am ever comfortable in, I headed for the door.

Cripes it was chilly! Always likely to feel warmer once a few minutes into the run as your core temperature heats up, I was actually concerned about over-heating – I needn’t have been! Having checked and re-checked the temperatures (I couldn’t believe them the first two times I looked) a few times with a friend, I negated to allow for any wind chill, but how bad could it have been?

There were definitely some areas more exposed than others (parts of the run, not my body!) and there was one point before I made it to relative safety in the enclosed trails when I was just about to literally turn away from my current trajectory and stop. Probably then quite likely to suffer more issues, while I considered my next move, but it had to be better than being wind battered with this arctic air.

Somehow I battled on, but not without a touch of discomfort, but made it to safety. Now in amongst the snowy trails, this is where I’m in my element. Not for everyone I know, but every footstep is a little bit into the unknown and the work rate just that little bit harder. Today though, I simply couldn’t keep myself completely warm – Enough to stay out there for a couple of hours, but my hands were like blocks by the time I’d made it home!

I’ve just read on the forecast that tomorrow has a likely wind chill factor of around minus 29C – Ouch!!

Just to add a little further to this picture, it’s presently too cold to grit many of the roads off of the highway as this simply won’t have any impact. OK, so I think we can safely say it’s a bit cold here too.

To be fair, in our particular part of the world here in the mountains on the west coast of Canada, it doesn’t often reach these temperatures, thank god. However, if you were to spend any real time in winter on the east coast of the country, then this would almost be considered the ‘norm’. So why would anyone go there??

You can only hope that those who are still venturing up the mountain slopes are playing it cautiously. Frostbite is a very real concern. Obviously any exposed areas are the first areas to consider protecting, but feet suffer too often in their boots as do our hands. I suffer from Reynaud’s disease, meaning in my case that sufficient blood doesn’t get pumped to my fingers. I’m certainly not alone in having these symptoms, but suffice to say, my fingers get painful easier than most, making me a prime candidate for frostbite in current conditions. Who am I kidding though – You won’t find me skiing in these temperatures!

I’ve already read a few reports from local facebook friends who mentioned minor frostbite and although for some, it is perhaps considered the ‘norm’ to perhaps suffer just a little bit over the course of a long winter season, but believe me – it’s not fun and unless you’re unfortunate enough to be either lost or trapped out on the mountain, common sense should really prevent this from ever happening. Sometimes a rare commodity around these parts – common sense that is!

So, despite everything I‘ve just written, I’m about to head out for another long run and I’m certain it’s going to feel perhaps just a tad chilly. However, if you do have a little more common sense that this author, consider staying in or at least wrapping up well and don’t suffer.

Here’s looking forward to some warm sunny days. Mexico here we come!