SKI TRIP TO WHISTLER-BLACKCOMB 23 FEB TO 1 MAR 2002 - USMA-SKI58
From Jerry Lewis
Had a great ski trip to Whistler, and I am writing this mainly for future reference to any skiers planning to ski there in the future.
First thanks to the four from Washington who set up the trip. Tom Morgan and Gene Wilson were first to welcome me to the group when I made a late inquiry. They sent me literature, and informed me that Bill Edwards was going to be the "charming" leader of the nonskier activities. Pete and Lana Bahnsen provided the momentos, which were very comfy black, gold & gray ski caps -- required uniform at the sleigh ride, and very popular at other events. Thanks also to Grace Morgan, Ellie Wilson and Jan Edwards who made the four California classmates (plus 2 of the wives) and the four Easterners and their many guests very welcome.
ATTENDEES (as taken from 1-20-02, 30-day, countdown list): USMA 1958 Ski Group who gathered at Whistler Village Inn & Suites, included: Pete & Lana Bahnsen; Bill & Jan Edwards and daughter, Sarah; Frank Harlem; Ken Herberger, who arrived a day early and stayed extra likewise - shooting for 30 ski days a year); Jody & Dianne LeTowt; Jerry & Barbara Lewis; Palmer McGrew and son, Greg and a friend, WP-brat Bob Stetekluh; Tom & Grace Morgan; the Shely Family - Bill & Ann Shely and son, Bill & Marta Shely w/2 twin children and daughter, Jill & Dan Fleming; Dick Schonberger; Hugh & Ann Trumbull; and Gene & Ellie Wilson.
Had a rather late flight out of SFO to Vancouver, arriving around 6pm. They had the longest Customs lines. At least the officer wanted to talk about the US-Canada hockey game. I wished him luck, and he said, "You need the luck". He was right!! I now knew the time of the game, around noon on Sunday and about the time of our arrival at Whistler.
We stayed at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver in the downtown area. It is a historic place, and had a fantastic suite. I got a fairly good rate on the Internet, but our Whistler contact (Amanda) had about the same rate available. We paid about the same as we did for a regular room at Whistler. I might have rented a car, but was advised to take the bus which was slightly cheaper but we were forced to an early schedule since only one bus swung by from the airport to certain hotels and that was around 9:50 a.m. However, the cab driver was a retired engineer and also talking about the hockey game, and it was nice chatting with others on the bus.
We were first to arrive except for Ken Herberger who was already out on the slopes. The rooms were not going to be ready for another 3 hours, so we had time to see the village. At first we went next door to Brandy’s Keg which is a 3 story structure of bar and restaurant. The hockey game had already started, and the main room was jam-packed with Canadian hockey fans. It was great on the slopes at this time. The host noticed the US of USMA-Portland on my cap, and suggested that I come back in an hour when the hockey game would be over. The score was 2-1 in favor of Canada. Other bars were also packed, so we went to a place for lunch without a TV. I returned later to see the last 10 minutes of the game. It was then 3-2 and it looked like the US had a chance with a Canadian in the penalty box. You know the rest, as the Canadians quickly made it 5-2 and the Canadians went wild. I just stood by the host, and quickly made an exit. Even though the US lost, it reminded me of the West Point - Royal Military Academy rivalry, and it was nice to see the Canadians so happy with their first hockey championship in 50 years. Others experienced the celebration in Vancouver as they were making their way to Whistler. Flags were being waved on hockey sticks in celebration of the feat.
Finally, at 3pm we got our room, and the Ski58-2002 group started to assemble. We had a nice get-together in one of the lobbies of the Village Inn and Suites, caps were issued, and plans were made for the next day.
The skiers gathered at 9am for a guided ski tour of Whistler about 7000 feet, or 5000 feet above the village. I had to rent skis, so missed out on the tour but it was probably was a good thing so I could start at my own pace. Met up with Pete Bahnsen during a break and we skied together for a while, and met at the Roundhouse at 1pm for a lunch. Went down the mountain with the group, but on the second trip I had a couple of mishaps (ski came off, and later hit soft snow on an ungroomed trail). Later that evening, there was a lot of concern from those that waited for me.
We gathered next door at the Keg 3-6pm, for a nice social and excellent appetizers. For dinner Barbara and I went to Black’s Ristorante, near the gondolas, and had some soup and salad. Since I was happy with the place, I returned there the next day for lunch. After dinner a few of us gathered at the Chocolate Factory, and with no place to sit we went over to the Second Cup to enjoy our ice cream and coffee.
For some strange reason, which I learned later was due to wet boots, I could not get into my rented ski boots. So I exchanged them and missed the ski tour of Blackcomb which is comparable to Whistler but goes 1000 feet higher, or to the 8000 foot level. Instead, I made a last minute decision to join a ski school group. I think it cost about $100 Canadian which included the lift ticket. I was joined initially by 9 others, but they quickly broke the group down into smaller groups and we were down to five with the initial instructor who was a native of Japan. All the other students were British. Many Brits there - must be why they call it British Columbia. Instruction went from 10 till 3pm, with 45 minutes for lunch when I joined one of the Brits for lunch at Black’s. Great pasta, and the young lady seemed to enjoy the BLT and fries.
We gathered around 5pm for the van to Green Lake, where the sleigh ride was held. It was followed by a gourmet fondue dinner at Joel’s at the Nicklaus North Golf Course (Cost was 89CD (~$67US) per person. It was truly “one of the best” as mentioned before the trip.
Somehow, I again missed the 9am departure from the Village Inn but I think they left early. Still, I had not seen Blackcomb. So I jumped on that gondola along with 3 ski instructors. I picked their brain a bit, and they thought it was more difficult than Whistler. “Stick to the road if you want easy,” they said. I asked if they knew Taro the instructor from the day before; none did, "There are only 1400 of us (instructors)." They got off at the mid-station, and I was on my own when like Whistler, had to ride a chair to the top, or near the top. I heard tales of a glacier and T-bars so I stuck to the green, lower slope and the road as much as possible. It was so foggy though I thought I would get blind-sided by the crossing (blue, more difficult) ski runs. Reports from the other mountain were about the same; Frank said he could not see his boot, and it probably contributed to his swollen hand which caused him to sit out Thursday.
After about 3 hours of skiing, I left for Alpine High Tea at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Resort in the Upper Village, at the base of Blackcomb. (Cost: 20CD) There were a dozen of us enjoying the late lunch; the group consisted of nonskiers, and skiers taking the day off. This was followed soon by an invitation to the Wilsons’ loft to finish off the hors d'oeuvres. There was little room for dinner on our own after that.
I took off for the Cross Country Connection, about a 10 minute walk from the village. Signed up for a 1 hour lesson - ski rental package. It was my second lesson (one earlier this season), but it seemed like my first. I then made a couple of extended loops of Lost Lake, and altogether clocked about 2.5 hours of skiing excluding the lesson. There are about 32km of cross country trails, and I only covered a small part of them. Snow shoeing was also offered in the same area, and those trails crossed the ski trails. My arms were very sore after that experience. I did take time out for lunch, skiing to the Trattoria for lunch with the nonskiers.
On Thursday, the 28th, we gathered at the Brew House for dinner. It was at a part of the village I had not seen yet, but only about a 10 minute walk. Gene did a great job MC-ing the event, handing out awards for such things as Lost Gloves (Ken), Non-skier host (Bill E.), Putting up with DOM (Sarah), Ski School (Bill S.), Arriving a Day Late (Calendar notebook for Palmer), Injury (Tiger Balm for Frank), and Demo Skis (Dick). Most awards were clever T-shirts, depicted in the photos on the website. Jody explained to the table behind us who had to put up with our "boisterous" behavior, who we were. As the Canadian group left, they said that they were proud of us.
Most left directly for home or the airport, while we got another taste of Vancouver, staying at the Marriott Renaissance on the waterfront this time. Strolled to Canada Place that evening (Friday) to take in IMAX (Beauty & Beast), and Saturday, rented a car for trip to Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver. It was a great day for it, just as most of the days at Whistler were full of sunshine. We left on a 6pm flight, and almost got off early, but they discovered much of the luggage had been left behind. So it was a little longer than 2 hours getting back to SFO.
One memory I have was sharing the Quad-lift with a man definitely my senior. Turned out he was a former ski instructor there, rode the lifts free, was 84 years old and had 15 offspring working the slopes. So there is hope guys, and gals, for a couple of more decades of skiing.
SUMMARY FROM PALMER (who has attended all the Ski58 trips, from ‘97 to ‘02):
Whistler Village is a perfect ski resort. If I could design one from scratch, it is what I would design. It has the advantage, I think, of having been done just like that, designed to be a ski resort, not a town with a ski slope. I would recommend that anyone who wants a wonderful ski trip go there. It's a long way from my home on the east coast, but worth the trip.
My two "boys" enjoyed the trip a lot, too. Thanks for including them. Although they really hurt me the day I skied with them. I'm not back to health yet, but it was worth it to ski again with my son.
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