With all things running smoothly toward commencing the Banff 2020 SnowSkool course, the week began with the students departing to Calgary from not only Gatwick, but also places like the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, Australia, America and Taiwan. With a diversity of different people already mingling before even leaving the airport, the bus ride flew by as the students began getting to know one another. To welcome the students to their new home at the HI Banff Alpine Centre, the Food and Beverage staff catered for the post-flight appetites with a burger and beer night hosted in the hostel bar. With the students sharing stories of their pasts and excitement for near futures in one of Canada’s most epic locations in the Rocky Mountains, energy was high and the night was not without pleasantries and badinage.
The following day began with a late breakfast to allow plenty of rest after a long day of travelling with an introduction to the hostel run by the staff ensuing. After introductions were made and information was given about the hostel, the next stop was the Town of Banff. Adam and I took a group of students each on an introductory walk around to show them any essential places they might need to know about for the following 12 weeks. The walk was done very brisk with a number of necessary stops, as the welcoming weather reached a high of -25. Freezing is an understatement! The evening then granted another welcome and introduction, this time to the ski and snowboard instructors at local ski and snowboard shops. With any last minute essentials for the mountain bought with the guidance of their respective instructors and ride enthusiasts, everyone was chomping at the bit to get up hill.
Wednesday was the day we had all been waiting for: our first day up hill! With the smooth coordination of students and Sunshine Village guest services, season passes were handed out in no time, leaving ample time to get plenty of runs in before an afternoon of introductory lessons. With all the students braving the continuous freezing weather (this time of -28) the tone was set for an epic and fun season about to be had, regardless of the weather – although it was much nicer once the clouds cleared and it warmed up to a pleasant -2.
After 3 days of riding (and certainly feeling it!) the weekend was greeted with karaoke night in the hostel bar. With lots of singing being done by some undercover rockstars, good times rolled on with laughs and joy with a number of newly formed friend groups exploring the nightlife Banff has to offer. The rest of the weekend was then left up to the students to spend the time however they pleased, with events offered by the hostel activities coordinator Luke including night skiing at Mount Norquay, which was enjoyed by many. A skijor event then took place on Sunday, showcasing a variety of horse riding and skiing combined to entertain all visitors to Banff on a beautiful day in town. To finish off the week, the hostel pub crawl will give the students a chance to mix with the locals of Banff and kick start a fantastic 2020 season!