Columns: Enjoying the winter wonderland

GET THE &#$@ OUTDOORS

Scott Barkemeyer // Like Olaf, but better

I am very fortunate – a large part of my formative years was spent outside. Before my brother and I were in the picture, my parents spent winters in Austria, where they lived in a small mountain town and skied every day they could.

Growing up, I spent a significant amount of time in Fernie, BC, where we coincidentally had a family farm. In the winter, we skied with the view of the farm. Today, our old barn still stands, outlasting all members of my family.

Living in Northern Alberta, Fernie was 14 hours away, so my second home became Jasper National Park and their ski hill, the Marmot Basin. Throughout my high school years, I would spend damn near every weekend at Jasper, even skipping some Fridays to spend three full days on the hill. Because of my love for the hills, my best friends were patrollers, lifties and instructors.

When my family moved to Central Alberta, I changed my local mountain to Banff, often skiing Lake Louise, Sunshine, Norquay and Nakiska. Eventually, I learned of Castle in Southern Alberta, which has become one of my all-time favourite hills.

Now living in the North Shore, I have the “local three” (Grouse, Cypress and Seymour) as well as Whistler, for lift access and boundless terrain for my friends and I to tour. I have long held a season’s pass for Whistler. I have skied the local three, and can’t really complain since the mountains are so ridiculously accessible and close to home.

If you want to be a park rat, many suggest that Seymour is the place to be, Cypress has the most challenging terrain and Grouse has multiple different winter activities that can fill an entire day. All you need to do is pick a hill and decide which sport you want to partake in. There are a few options for those needing gear. You can purchase your own, rent, or borrow from a friend. The most convenient rental deal is at Seymour, where you can rent everything you want, jacket included. You can even pre-book your gear, which will ensure that they’re ready for you once you get to the hill. No fuss or responsibility to keep the edges sharp or having the right wax on your equipment.

If you are looking to purchase, hit up one of our local stores, North Shore Ski and Board, The Destination Slope and Surf Outfitters, The Boardroom, or Swiss Sports Haus. These people will give you the answers and ensure that you have a great day on the slopes. Having a good relationship with shops also helps in maintaining your gear.

For those looking to sweat a bit more, cross-country skiing is the way to go. Locally, Cypress offers both classic and skate at Hollyburn. They track, set and groom multiple times a day to ensure top-notch conditions. One of my favourite evening activities in the winter is to grab my XC skis, watch the sunset and smash out some laps under the lights. Need some expertise? You can get lessons on the hill. Need equipment? Deep Cove Outdoors or Siggie’s are the places to hit up.

Like always, make sure you are prepared to be outside no matter the activity you choose. Winters may not be as cold as back from where I come from, but if you aren’t prepared even a minus five degrees Celsius can be a bad experience, or at least one that people complain about around here.

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