Spring Splash - the final weekend at Kimberley
06.04.2009 13 °C
Saturday 4th April - very warm
Today was special for two reasons. It was our first day out of work and so now we were effectively on holiday. But, on a larger scale, it was also Spring Splash in Kimberley. Spring Splash is a two day celebration of an awesome season held in the final weekend of the resort being open. Today was the day they held the Dummy Downhill that we had been building the super tanker for, as well as many other games happening throughout the day.
Spring Splash was also apparently a good enough excuse to warrant dressing up in retro gear. This had been our reason for visiting the thrift store the day before. So knowing that we would be dressing up for both days we had bought ourselves two outfits with accessories. So as Sarah donned a snug blue one-piece with large wide shoulders and mustard neck scarf I slipped into a pair of yellow and sky blue dungarees with a tie-die and neon t-shirt underneath.
We spent most of the morning riding with Vaughan, continuing to snowboard like we had for most of the season, except now with more old school tricks. Most of the way through the morning we headed down to the base of the hill as Vaughan was meeting up with his cousins. Down the bottom we met up with Jackie dressed in a snazzy red and blue onsite, however, more surprising was to see Eric again. He had said last night that he was leaving to Fernie today and would not be coming back. Apparently he had driven as far as Marysville (5 min out of Kimberley) before deciding to come back again. And so we headed up, the gang, all back together.
The gang, still together
After a few more runs were done we decided to take a break for a lunch of BBQ cooked Cheese burgers. We sat around for a while enjoying the burgers and the sunshine. One of the other games that was happening today was the Dummy Duct tape challenge. Where one person has to duct tape their partner to a wall. Two teams have three minutes to compete against each other and the person who stays up the longest wins. Sarah and Jackie decided to try and compete against Phil and Anali. So after only two and a half minutes (because we were ski school) and most of a roll of duct tape, the boxes Sarah and Anali were standing on were removed. At first nothing happened but after a few tense minutes one side of Sarah's tape began to peel of, Anali, however was looking fine. Slowly but surely every piece of tape on one side of Sarah was breaking off from the wall. This was over. And then without warning Anali's tape collapsed and she fell to the floor. Sarah was the winner and was awarded with a lovely bandana, Anali as runner up was awarded with a toilet roll holder. The obvious prize for a duct tape challenge.
Stuck to the wall
The next event for us to watch was the Dummy downhill. There were about 20 contestants entered all having made their own dummies which were to be pushed down the mountain over a hastily built kicker and into the parking lot, all cars having been removed. They were of various sizes and complexities but they all included a degree of creativity and the desire to see their hard work smashed into the concrete.
Our super tanker was due to go out third but due to its size was being driven up the hill rather than carried like all the others. As such it was not ready to be launched and so was skipped. In the meantime everyone else's dummies were being launched. There were some very well made creations and some which absolutely flew off of the jump. Highlights would have to be: The Dukes of Hazzard car made from a spray painted fridge which got absolutely obliterated when it landed; The space ship which wasn't attached to its base and so as the speed built up it launched off separately; and one of the very first ones made to look like a downhill ski racer which landed on its feet and everyone was waiting to get hit in the back of the head by another dummy.
Our tanker ended up taking so long to get up the hill that it was launched last and as it had been on display since noon was being anxiously awaited. Finally it was ready to go and as the commentator announced that they were pouring a strange liquid into it, it was pushed off. As it was a tanker piloted by Somalian Pirates we had made a series of hoses running through the boat, that, when a bucket at the back was filled would pipe coloured water or 'oil' out of the sides. And so it thundered down the run and began banking towards the edge of the jump run in. And then it happened. About 2/3 of the way down the slope it hit the edge of the run in and crashed. Well I say crashed but really it rolled about four times bouncing down the hill as it did so. Then the wind got into the cracks and the cardboard was torn from the wooden skeleton. It continued to tumble disintegrating as it went until it was a mere pile of painted papier mache and wasted time. Still we won the award for most impressive crash.
The super tanker, thundering towards oblivion
RCR had hired for our entertainment, two band to perform live at spring splash on both days. The first was a relatively ordinary cover band called RETRObution. As you can imagine from the name they played a collection of old classics and were uninterestingly good. They did however wear very colourful suits making them a little more respectable. Unfortunately they played the same exact set list on both days meaning they got a little repetitive.
The other band was much more interesting and entertaining however. I say band but really it was only one man playing enough instruments to be his own band. His name was Shane Philips and he was an awesome didgeridoo player. Its not often that you see someone playing a didgeridoo that well, more unlikely to see them playing it well in Canada. And I don't think I have ever seen anyone else play a didgeridoo whilst strumming a guitar and using his feet to play drums. All of them being played very well simultaneously. In Canada.
Dancing in the sunshine
Both bands gave off a very relaxed vibe and we steadily drank and danced our way into a great party vibe. Drinking so much inf act that when it came to driving ourselves home we were all hammered and so got Naomi (the only underage instructor) to drive us to Anna's house. Via the liquor store. At Anna's we ate pizza whilst playing drinking games and continued the party on. Eventually there were so many people that we didn't know, that we decided it best to head off to the Edge.
The live, and unusual music continued at the Edge. Here we found the Mudmen, a Canadian band that feature the normal guitarist, drummer, bass player, lead singer, bagpipers. Yup, two very large angry looking bag piping twins in kilts. The music was somewhat more screamy thrashy than the mellow tones of earlier and so we didn't hang around for too long. We had been partying for most of the day and knew that tomorrow would only find more partying. So we called it a night. Vaughan was pretty wasted by this point and so we had a bit of a mission convincing him that it really was time to go, but eventually he succumbed, and probably for the best. Luckily for Vaughan he had an easy 10 min walk home along normal roads, we on the other hand had to walk all the way back up the hill which took most of an hour. Knowing that it would take this long and how tired we were we took the shortcut. Famous last words. The shortcut was shorter, it was also steeper, more snow covered, icier and bereft of any handholds. I'm not sure it actually got us home any sooner but we did get there eventually. Phew, ready for another day of it tomorrow!
Sunday 5th April - quite a hot day
The second day of spring splash began quite a bit slower than the first. We were feeling quite delicate and didn't think that there was going to be much happening before about 1:30. So we decided to have a bit more of a lie in and then drive up to the resort for lunch time. We weren't just lazy, we were taking the truck so that we could clear out our locker as well. It was the last day of the resort being open and everything had to go.
We got up to the splash pool sign in sheet with minutes to spare before it was shut. For the second day of spring splash the main event was an 80ft (ok that was what we were told, maybe 50ft) puddle that people could attempt to ride over. And we wanted a turn. Unfortunately we were too late. We had thought that the sign in closed at 12 so we called Vaughan and Jackie to ask them to sign up on our behalf as we weren't going to make it in. Their response was that we needed to be there to sign a waiver but we had until 1:30. So with no rush needed we headed in to sign ourselves up. However apparently the sign in time had been extended so that more people would sign up but then they had reached the limit before the second deadline. Obviously there are only a set number of people who can ride over a pool, and 73 is the exact right amount.
Not wanting to also miss out on seeing anyone ride the pool I stuck around with Jackie whilst Sarah did a run with Anali, her duct tape rival. She did, however, return in time to see all of the contestants hit the pool. It was great. There were some spectacular crashes, some failed trick attempts, some amazing successes and some people who went just a bit too far too fast and launched out of the pool and into the crowd. Of particular note was Vaughan's attempt, he got all the way to the end and then stopped and sank about a foot from the end. He quickly unstrapped and waded back into the pool so he could splash the spectators. Also memorable was Shaun's successful attempt. Shaun is a local to Kimberley but is actually British. The part that will stick in the memory is that he is a disabled paralympic bucket skier and so was hitting the pool in what looks like a special chair on a single ski.
Vaughan adding some New Jersey style to the comp
Once the pool competition was over we were very excited to hear (twice) that they would be leaving the pool open for the public to use. This would be happening until Ski Patrol said that we had to stop. Awesome we got to try the pool after all and without everyone watching us too. I quickly ran inside to grab our boards and dumb my stuff. Me and Sarah had both picked up a second outfit from the thrift store that we could get wet in. So I madly rushed inside to get ready for the ensuing fun. However, ski patrol quickly marched over blockaded the pool. They may have been telling the truth but we certainly didn't expect ski patrol to stop us so soon. So to make up for it we went for a run down Boundary. Usually this would do little to replace an 80ft pool of water but as everyone was in the base area there were even fewer people on the mountain today.
Unfortunately the chair soon closed down for the last time and the Kimberley season came to an end. Still there was lots to do this afternoon, including watching our supervisor get his head shaved. Normally this would be a very uninteresting proceeding except that Dan had very long blonde hair and is well known for it. So to be shaving it down to as short as it goes was quite an occasion. We helped collect some money as he was shaving for charity before heading down to pack up our locker and put it in the truck. We made a quick detour to buy one of Shane Philips CDs and then drove off to have a much more relaxed evening than last night, with Jackie, Vaughan and a movie.
Monday 6th April - quite a hot day about 15 degrees
Now I realise that I just said that the chair had shut down, but I was lying. The chair would open again, but not to the public and only for one hour. Today was staff day in Kimberley and only the staff of the resort were allowed to ride today. And ride we did. The main chair was only open for an hour so we did one run on the front before heading to the back and doing laps of the Easter chair. We rode around for most of the morning with a load of the snowboard instructors doing all of our favourite jumps on the hill and riding all of the challenging runs undisturbed by Joe public.
All the staff in the pit
However after a number of laps we decided to check out the sunpit for some beers. And it was packed. We had visited both sunpits a number of times as the season progressed and had never seen more than a handful of people in there, but today there were so many people that an extra level of seating had to be built. Good thing we had enough snow for it. Steve from rentals the man behind the sunpit had also built a 10-man shotski. Basically two extra long alpine skis bolted tail to tail with 10 shot glasses screwed to it. It was very interesting to watch so many drunk people try and be coordinated and an impressive drain on alcohol.
After a good while of sitting, chatting and drinking we overheard talk of an out of bounds kicker and decided to check it out with lots of the other instructors. I had decided, very last minute, to start recording all of us snowboarding to try and make into a film. So with only two days worth of film on camera and today left to record, I settled in as the camera man. Everyone began hitting it fairly cautiously but after a few tentative ride overs it seemed that it wasn't as bad as it looked and before long Sarah and I were trying out a range of grabs whilst the others began stepping up the spins and flips.
Trevor doing a trick with a complicated name
After a good long while and a number of tricks being pushed just a little too far we decided to call it a day and head back to the pit. Unfortunately the relatively easy walk/ride here was an uphill hike after we were all tired on the way back. Sarah flexed her feminine whiles and managed to hook a lift with Dan on a snowmobile to get her back with minimal effort. However the rest of us began the long hike back. But then we heard it. The sound of another sled roaring up the back of the mountain. I quickly walked myself into prime hitch hiking range and was surprised to see Colin pull up beside me. Colin is a local and is friends with a number of the snowboard instructors. As such we have seen each other around a few times and he offered me a lift before I had to ask. It was a interesting ride back, Sarah being a small girl got to sit on the front of the sled whilst Dan sat/stood behind her and drove. Me, being a larger guy did not get this luxury. Instead I stood on one side of the sled and held one handlebar and a central loop between the two bars. This is know as riding tandem and is fairly easy and fun. However I wasn't quite expecting how much the sled would tilt as we went round corners, so much that I found my self running alongside at one point.
We all made it back to the pit alright and spent another hour or so chatting and drinking more as the sun began to sink in the sky. Kickers and empty slopes weren't the only draw of the day however, there was also the promise of a free meal. So, a little half cut, we rode down to the Stemwinder. The public apparently were already missing the hill as we saw a number of people skinning (walking up the hill on skis with special material on the base) in the opposite direction whilst walking their dogs. Not doubt expecting a relaxing ride down on an empty slope. But as we have noticed before, free food draws a crowd and all the staff were descending at once.
Chillin in the sunpit
The dinner was much like the previous examples. A buffet of good food made to taste all the better by being extremely hungry. Two drinks came free with the meal and so the merriment went on long past the sunset. The same band from the weekend returned, RETRObution, unfortunately they had decided that we hadn't heard them enough and so were playing the same set that they had for the last two days. A little two dimensional methinks.
Still it was good music to dance to, and dance we did, up until final call when everyone broke apart in order to find a ride down to the Edge. Luckily RCR had though ahead and we hoped on the complimentary bus into town. The Edge was buzzing again although no bagpipers this time, instead just music we all recognised and liked. The drinks continued to flow, the music blasted and the dancing got worse (or better?) The whole night had been going well, until we realised that this would be the last time we would see most of the people who we had spent the whole season with. And so as the evening started to wind down the good byes began.
It was hard going to know that this was our last night with most people, but all the same we had faced saying goodbye to Eric already and we knew that we would be in Kimberley for a while longer so this wasn't goodbye to Jackie or Liana yet. So really it was mostly about Vaughan leaving the next day, and we had a surprise in store for him.