Jay's Report - March 06, 2005

Powder Skiing, Steve Kuijt and Butt Darting at Island Lake - Special Report

Island Lake is a CAT skiing operation located a few bowls to the north of Fernie Alpine Resort. The loyalists to Craig�s Report might recall a report I wrote last year at about this time on the glory of Island Lake. I still have erotic dreams of the powder on that tour. See the "old reports" for March 7, 2004 to reminisce on the powder of days gone by. We returned this week for a repeat performance of the Brad Zumwalt Tour. It hadn�t snowed in the area for a couple of weeks so expectations were admittedly low. I even washed my car in the morning because it always precipitates after I wash my car. But no doing. We had to make tracks under an offensively bright, blue, clear sky. Admittedly the skiing wasn�t as euphoric as last year, but our tour was fantastic nonetheless.

Our Guides Steve Kuijt and Steve Whelan dug deep to deliver up a delicious supply of boot top clean lines. So good in fact, it caused us to mostly ignore the mixed presence of sink holes, death cookies, crust, heavy snow, crud, rock hazards and alders; all a result of lower snow conditions this year. This says something about the vastness of the area and also about the dedication of our guides to serve the best the area had to offer. Island Lake remains one of those special places in the world. When the CAT leaves you at the top of a run, it�s as quiet as a secret. You are stunned by the views; impregnated with tranquility. It�s a truly great place. Then it gets better; you get to float clean lines. And who better to do that with than Steve Kuijt? Aside from being a skilled guide, Steve knows all the great adventure skiers/boarders and is generous with his recollections. He weaves a great story and pulls you into it like you were there too. He�ll stare up at a sick chute and recall the image of the late great Craig Kelly straight-lining it in such a way that it�s not just a story but a salute. He�ll casually mention that he first met the innovative freestylist Wayne Wong in a powder 8 competition way back when. Where I grew up, we all had a pair of red, white and blue K2�s, just like Wayne Wong. And how about the time that Island Lake scenes appeared on the cover of Powder Magazine 3 times in one year? The thing is, it�s not just about the skiing with Steve. He�ll drift into stories of bear dens and great hikes and mix in local fact and folklore. He is more complex than he lets on, managing his group and the land he works in with an invisible hand, ever capable of administering some tough love to either. Island Lake, bless it�s heart, hope it never changes its essence. I�ll be back next year; no ifs, ands or buts.

Speaking of butts, Michigan Bob (aka Commodore Bob) was in Island Lake again this year with a familiar cast of the usual suspects for the second annual Butt Off. Butt Darting, for those that didn�t read my 2004 Report, is a sport where you must lodge a Canadian Loonie coin in your buttocks and gracefully step the distance of 11 of Michigan Bob�s shoes (Bob wears a size 16). You then position yourself over an ordinary beer glass and loosen your buttocks; the object being to drop the Loonie into the glass for one point. The first team to reach 11 points wins. Those that practice Yoga have an obvious advantage. By the way, you are fully clothed. But of course, our team won again for the second year in a row. Brenda (one of the guides) cheekily described our team as having �determination written all over those butts�. When Michigan Bob started to howl the Canadian National Anthem, I knew we had arrived in the Butt Dart hole of fame. See you next year Commodore Bob.

The conditions at the ski hill continue to be spring like. Nothing to really write about at length. If you like spring skiing, you will like the current hill conditions. I�m not much of a spring skier. I like my ski conditions the same way I like my beer; cold, plentiful and frothy. Forecast is for more sun. What can I say?

Several of the Island Lake pics courtesy of Mike Hill. Thanks dude.

Lines at Island Lake

Mike Delich administering snow farming technique at Island Lake

Steve Whelan, our Island Lake guide, letting it go with his big mountain beauties

Steve Kuijt in sun-safari head gear

The Big Man Michigan Bob, aka The Commodore demonstrates perfect Butt Darting form with the aid of two chairs

The Commodore awarding the Butt Darting trophy to yours truly.

Mike and Annika sacrifice another pair of skis at the ski hill to encourage more favourable treatment from the Griz but so far, to no avail