Whistler

Whistler is my only cold stop on the trip. Every other country has been or will be much warmer. Temperatures dropped to below -20ºC at the peak of the mountains and yet that didn’t take away the fun we had in the snow!

The snowboarding experience there was undoubtedly one of the best I’ve ever had simply because the people I was with took things to the next level, and together we explored and braved the mountains like I had never done before. We found some awkward but stunning forest runs; pulled off some cheeky jumps here and there; dropped off cliffs just because it was the only way down … and quite a few other things! Anyway, I loved every single second of it and the company of wonderful people is what made the experience as good as it was.

“Go play outside.”

I went there with the hopes that some awesome friendships would be made and enjoyed during the time together … I definitely got that – and so much more! Huge shout out to the guys I met out there (admittedly most of them Australian) and hope to see you all soon someday, somewhere else!

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Home to the Winter Olympic Games in 2010
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Welcome to Whistler Village. Base of our adventures!
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“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

The snow conditions were absolutely perfect (most of the time). On my day of arrival, snowboard and boots were picked up at the rental place then I simply walked around the village making myself familiar with the surroundings. That day was sunny.
The following two days we had heavy snow which covered the slopes in a fantastic powder that made the next 8 days the perfect opportunity to carve the mountainside!

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No better time to have a fire dance than when it’s snowing!

“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a lift pass.”

The Alpine Lodge Hostel

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The Alpine Lodge was the base of our daily shenanigans. We all gathered around the main table in the living room after our long day on the slopes to chat, share stories and generally just enjoy each others’ company. More often than not, those evenings turned into games nights involving alcohol, such as card games and beer pong… For the most part I abstained from drinking too much because I wanted to be on the slopes in the morning without feeling sick! But still had such a blast with such a wonderful group of people! Alpine Crew was amazing. Thanks a lot for everything guys.

“You will never influence the world by being like it.”

Let us head up the mountains

Here’s an amalgam of pictures I took with my actual camera. Because it was tiresome to always get it out the bag and then put it back quickly (because it was well below freezing), I mainly used the GoPro to record and take pictures with. Sadly the pictures with the action camera are not quite so easily manipulated in terms of focus and lighting – but you do with what you have!

Thankfully, the weather was spectacular, despite the very cold mountain-tops, so photos and videos came out very nicely.

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“Sometimes, not saying anything is the best answer. You see, silence can never be misquoted.”
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I’ll never get tired of this kind of view …
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“The earth has music for those who listen.”
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Even with winds at 80km/h and snow hitting us hard in the face, we’re still going.
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It was so cold I couldn’t handle the idea of having to retake this photo … So I just leaned into the frame and hope I would fit.

“I love places that make you realize how tiny you and your problems are.”

First day on the slopes with Alpine Crew

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Technically, I’d had a day snowboarding before this one, but after two hours, everyone pretty much split off and did their own runs. It’s a shame, but I think it suited us all as some were still getting warmed up with the mountains and its special ways.
Anyway, this day was spent with Kevin (blue, middle) and Radha (right). The amazing thing about spending the day with these guys is that we all had more or less the same level boarding, which meant we could attempt new stuff together and feel confident we might not be the only ones to fall over … just kidding. Well, not entirely. We took on tree runs and single diamond slopes at a nice and relaxing pace, taking time to absorb the views and appreciate the company.

This was the my first day recording with the GoPro in an action-based environment, so I was still getting used to the idea of holding the camera in my hand as I was going down the slopes. It’s actually harder than you think to keep the image stable without having a camera stabilizer … as the days went on, the quality of recording improved a bit (I think).

Without a doubt, this was the best introduction to Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort I could have asked for. We had a huge blast riding the mountain and recording all the stuff we did (especially the falls, tumbles and jumps)! Thank you Kevin and Radha for that day. I’m sure you guys will continue to shred the slopes over the coming years, hopefully I’ll get to do it with you again sometime and maybe somewhere else!

“Life is better when you’re laughing.”

Shredding the slopes with Alpine Crew

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From left to right: Alex, Rhys (middle top), Billy (middle), me (middle bottom) and Blake. This picture was taken inside an ice cave on the Whistler glacier.

I am not going to write a separate section for each day I spent in Whistler, mainly because it will be repetitive for you readers – it basically involves a lot of snowboarding and doing dumb stuff while enjoying the powder! But with this crew, things were a bit different than what I’d call a normal day out on the slopes …

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

If you boys are reading this, I am grateful you’ve taken some time to keep an eye on the pictures and videos of us. We did spend an awful amount of time recording the crazy stuff we did – sadly, some of the cliffs we dropped from and the inevitable tumbles are not always on film (because ‘safety first’). But I’ve got some of it in the video and pictures below!

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Not part of the crew, but I thought this was pretty cool anyway! Always been fascinated by the working of this type of skiing.

“Children of winter never grow old.”

Some of the slopes were gnarly, for sure, but they made the days more and more exciting. We grew increasingly accustomed to the harder runs and took them on more than willingly, hoping to challenge ourselves and explore deeper into the mountains.

On this day, we glided across the mountain more than once, trekked more than once and watched each other drop off questionable cliffs … All in good spirits though!

I dedicate this video to everyone who was in Alpine Lodge, all those who were shredding the slopes this winter and those who wish they could be there! There is so much for us to learn from each other and so much enjoyment to take from it all – without a doubt, this was one of the best ski seasons I have ever had the opportunity to experience.

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Thank you Alex for being a true champ the whole time! I hope you hold onto your dreams and fight to make them come true. Keep that smile, it brings happiness.

One of the beauties of this trip was my increase in confidence on the slopes. I’ve been skiing/snowbaording for the last 14 years of my life (on and off with injury) but I had never really dramatically improved either my technique or my will to challenge myself. This time we took risks and fell over a lot. But every time we tumbled, we got back up and learned from it (we also recorded a lot of it to have a laugh afterwards!).
There is nothing quite like learning from the bottom up. I arrived with the mindset that I already knew how to snowboard – but when you have to hold a camera all day long and carry a backpack on all your runs, returning to basics is a smart choice. Thanks to the guys I was riding with, I was able to pick up on new and more suitable techniques in order to glide down the slopes as well as record in a more or less steady shot. Nevertheless, I allowed myself to see that I was once again a rookie in a sport I’d felt proud of – and with every passing day I felt the thrill of learning and succeeding all over again.

That is the best feeling: accomplishment.

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Mitch is rocking it.

“What imagination allows you to do is see it before it actually happens.”

I have spent my whole life dreaming about things that could happen to me, about things that I could do one day. And I had great dreams, especially when I was younger. But here’s the problem: I spent so much time dreaming, so much time imagining what could be, that I missed out on making those dreams become reality when the opportunity came around.

On this trip, my feelings of worthlessness have faded away. I know that I have finally accomplished something great, something that I can be proud of for the rest of my life. The dreams of travelling, opening up from my shell, meeting new like-minded people, experiencing the wildest days in unforgetable places and accepting myself for who I am – an imperfect human being – have all become reality.

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The awesome moment Rhys made the jump … which was followed by a wonderful landing in a tree.
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Best landing ever.
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Socialising in the Alpine Lodge (well, they were. I went to bed after my two rounds of beer pong …)
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Alex claimed this sofa nearly every single night after one too many drinks.

“Don’t cry because it’s over.
Smile because it happened.”

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“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere you find yourself.”
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“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.”

Something I have learned from the moment this whole trip began and has grown as I travelled further away is that people matter. Whether its family, friends or strangers.

I’ve had some of the most honest conversations about politics, life and deep emotions with people I met on the road. We’d never met before, but somehow we connected in mind and heart simply because we allowed each other not be scared of what the other thinks.
I have found that the most challenging part about meeting new friends is not approaching them, or starting conversation … it’s accepting your imperfection and being true to who you are. When you speak honestly about who you are and how you feel, a bond is formed even if only for an hour.

Before this, I always used to depend on myself to solve my emotional problems. I’d always think too much and end up doing nothing about them. But that’s changed now – I’ve learned to trust that other people really do feel the same way and they can understand what’s going through my mind simply because they have been where I was.

One person in particular I met on this trip, in Argentina, made me realise that I’m never alone in my mind, as long as you let others take a look from time to time. He made me feel like I belonged to something great and that I’d come through with these feelings. Thank you Suraj Rama.
The other person who made me change my perspective was Alex, whom I met in Whistler. He’s an all-round brilliant guy who will smile at everything and everyone because he’s a believer in positivity. Even when we were faced with jumping off a cliff and possibly injuring ourselves, he would smile and laugh at it even though he was scared. We all were. I admire his capactiy to see the best in people and strive to be the best he possibly can while always including everyone around him. He’s, in my eyes, a true gentleman. Thank you Alex.

“I want to inspire people.

I want people to look at me and say

‘Because of you I didn’t give up’.”

Thank you Whistler. Thank you Alpine Crew. Thank you Alex.

All the best.

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