I didn’t think it was physically possible to step out into -32 degree temps without crying from pain. The sky was a brilliant blue, clouded only by my breath as I clicked into my bindings. This weekend has been brutally cold. We live right now to watch the outside go by as we stay warm in the gym, with drinks like the Glacier Warmer and down duvets inside the Chateau Lake Louise.
I skipped cross-country skiing yesterday because 1) I don’t like to xcountry; 2) I didn’t want to put that much torque on my newly healed foot and 3) it was just too damn cold. The Canadian Rockies-and me, personally- are seeing record lows. I thought anything below -10 was reserved for treks to Everest basecamp. I suppose that you hit a point where the cold all feels the same and it’s just the amount of time you survive in it that makes the difference between -10 and -32.
But I had to sack up and go outside. It wasn’t going to get any warmer during my stay and I really wanted to see the mountain.
Lake Louise was recently voted best resort in Canada and one of the top three resorts in the world. I had to make at least one run. Plus, the ladies World Cup downhill was scheduled for today. If they could get after it, so could I.
I donned a pair of thick fleece tights, soft shell ski pants underneath a wind and water proof shell pant. On top, I had a fleece sport bra, a thin base layer, a fleece sweater and a fleece pullover all underneath a down Helly Hansen jacket. I used toe and hand warmers, a thick neck gaiter, balaclava and even stuck a toe warmer inside the top of my helmet. I was as ready as I’d ever be. “This isn’t so bad,” I thought as I rode the lift. The gondola was still closed due to the cold.
Rob Story, Dan Markham and I slid onto the groomer. Dan said this was low snow for the time of year so we were stuck on the groomers. The terrain was hard, fast and crunchy under my rental skis. I wasn’t looking forward to flying down the hill with a bitter wind gripping my face but oh well. I could feel my cheeks and forehead go white. So far the fingers and toes went unaffected. At the bottom, the gondola was running so we took shelter inside. All it took was about 10 seconds on the next run to remind me that this was no average day out. I lost circulation in my right big toe and all feeling in my thumbs. Still we pressed on. One more gondola ride and it was straight into the VIP tent for a mocha and coffee-flavored Patron shot.
After lunch and a witnessing of Lindsey Vonn’s ‘comeback’ (her run put her in 5th place after a meager 40th yesterday) Rob and I motivated each other into a journey to the Top of the World. Two six-minute chairlift rides and hell did freeze over. I was done skiing in one run. I couldn’t feel my hands. I had to pull my fingers out of their pockets and bunch them around the hardwarmers with my poles dangling around my wrists for the entire way to the bottom. It was a race to warmth. I grabbed my boot bag and charged for the shuttle door. Back at the Chateau Lake Louise I had tunnel vision. My bathtub drew me in. It took over an hour for me to feel warm up again. And to know that I will never ever want to climb Everest.