Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.                 Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.                 Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.


I had a bit of an adventure earlier in 2009 and never thought of it (at the time) as a story worthy of writing down. But then, the weekend after it happened, over our traditional Sunday supper, I told it to my parents and they absolutely ate it up. I had them both in tears laughing by the end of it. “Dan, you have to write that one down!” they said…

It was the weekend of my buddy Brian’s “going away” party and my friend Chris’ birthday. We had made plans weeks in advance (something none of us ever do) and decided to spend the weekend up in the city. Brian was supposed to fly out to Alberta on Monday morning and Chris’ birthday was on Sunday, so we planned to go up that Friday, bar-star it both nights and somehow fit some snowboarding in there somewhere.

Personally, I had never even been close to a ski hill, much less strapped into a board or skis. The rest of the guys ranged in skill levels from decent to great and assured me that I could pick it up easily. I’ve always had the ability to quickly catch on to almost anything I try… so I figured this should be no different.

I booked Friday and Monday off work and got myself psyched up for a big weekend in Halifax. They never fail to be legendary! Then, right before we left on Friday, we found out Brian actually didn’t have to fly out on Monday, as planned, and Chris had to be back early for work. So, because of this, we decided to take 2 cars up. Brian would take his work truck with our friend Corey, and I’d ride with Chris in his Volkswagen Golf beater. Held together with zip ties, bubble gum, hopes and dreams, with bald ass summer tires, it wouldn’t have been safe under normal conditions… but about 30 minutes into the trip it began to snow… and snow HARD! We were tracking through complete whiteout conditions on the highway, 4 ways on, going at about half the speed limit.

“I hope you don’t mind going slow…” Chris says to me.

I shook my head and smiled. “More time for beer drinking!” I said smiling, and cracked my first Budweiser of the night.

We had stopped at the liquor store in Salmon River, so we started our journey on the number 1 highway (the old highway) and the roads were pitiful. We were taking them at a snail’s pace.

At one point, right before Digby, we were passed by a huge Brinks armoured security truck. Not surprisingly, about 2 miles down the road, we drove by it sitting backwards in the ditch with people crowded all around. Serves them right for being cowboys! People continued to pass us, likely upset by our extremely slow pace, but almost anyone who did ended up in the ditch further up the road. We drove by them all waving and smiling. Don’t they know? Slow and steady wins the race!

Anyhow, I drank, refilled (sorry) and threw out a good 8-9 beers before we eventually made it to Halifax and met up with the rest of the guys. I’ll try not to focus too much on the partying, but it helps to show the frame of mind we were all in the next day. It was a great night followed by a horribly hungover morning. We drank (a TON), we sang, we ripped up the bars, etc. Kris and I ended up returning to the apartment at 5:00am, in nothing but our boxers, with all of our clothes in a giant cardboard box dragging behind us… it was THAT kinda drunk. Fucking legendary!

The next morning we had planned to leave bright and early for Wentworth, a ski resort about an hour and half from Halifax. Unfortunately, it ended up being early afternoon before we were actually alive enough to even think about it. The whole drive there we were like a car load of death. You could tell no one was feeling it at all, but none of us wanted to be the one to speak up and ruin it. I was secretly starting to get really nervous about the whole thing…

We all put it aside and arrived at the hill around 2:30pm. Hungover, grumpy, hungry, sick and tired (aka Joel, Brian, Kris, Dan and Chris). We dragged ourselves into the rental shop and, after Chris almost got banned from the hill immediately for “inappropriate behaviour”, we found out they had NO snowboards left to rent. We could try skiing or snowblades (Chris said he would no longer be our friend if anyone took snowblades… which was tempting!), or just wait for people to return their boards. We went for the latter and decided to grab some food and beer at the bar while we waited.

It turned out that “night skiing” started at 4:00pm and it was significantly cheaper, so we decided to wait and do that instead. So, we all hung out in the bar for a bit and watched people coming down the hill, just to kill some time. As I watched them I can remember thinking to myself, “Man, that looks easy! Fuck the bunny hill, I’m gonna go right for the fucking top! I mean, how hard can it really be??

By the time 4 o’clock rolled around, I was super nervous but ready to roll! I had a good feeling about everything and, being that I’m usually a quick learner, I didn’t expect to hold the guys back too much. We filled out our forms, got our gear and walked over to the bottom of the bunny hill (they insisted that I start here… luckily).

On the way there everyone started giving me tips and advice. The pit in my stomach was growing, but it was still manageable. About 30 yards from the bunny hill I heard the unmistakable sound of a 2 stroke motor coming slowly down the hill… it was a snowmobile, towing a bodybag. I literally had to stop as the snowmobile motored past right at my feet. The person was obviously alive, but in great pain. I could immediately feel my heart rate increasing and the pit in my stomach was huge now. Fuck.

I wasn’t going to let myself get overwhelmed. I knew I was going to be good at this. I HAD to be! My hands were secretly starting to shake. We got to the bottom of the bunny hill and everyone strapped into their boards.

To our left there was a rotating rope, about 2-3 feet off the ground, running all the way up the hill. The guys all grabbed on and got towed quickly up the hill. They all looked a bit shaky, but I wrote it off as them being a little out of practice. It seemed to be easy enough…

I sat down and nervously started to strap into my board. With a deep breath I stood up… and fell flat onto my face. Fuck. Not a good start. I unstrapped one foot and stood up again, this time keeping one foot planted on solid ground. I pushed my way awkwardly over to the rope, strapped my free foot back in, took another deep breath and grabbed onto the rope.

The events that unfolded next rank very highly with the most embarrassing moments of my entire life…

The rope, moving unreasonably fast in my personal opinion, pulled me right off my damn feet! I panicked and got drug a good 15 feet on my face before I let go. Though no one was looking or laughing (out loud), I felt like a complete fucking tool. I had to roll out of the way (which is not easy with a 160cm piece of fibreglass tethered to your fucking feet!) for an infant, 4-5 years old at most, as she came flying past on the rope lift. Fucking show off!

I brushed myself off, swallowed my pride, and tried again. I made it a wobbly 10 feet on my board before biting it and racking up badly. This went on for what seemed like hours (probably 2 minutes or so, realistically) until I had completely given up on life.

Joel came gracefully gliding back down the hill to literally pick me up.

“Take the board off, man. We’ll walk up to the top of the hill together. Fuck the rope lift! It’s hard – even for experienced people…”

My hands were shaking so badly I could barely get my bindings undone. I’m not usually one to get anxious or embarrassed, but I was really torn up over not being able to figure this shit out. I got the board off and Joel and I did the slow walk up the entire hill. At the top I just sat down in the snow and lit a smoke.

Joel noticed my shaking, “You alright, buddy?” he asked.

“Yea, it’s weird though.” I replied. “I don’t know what a panic or anxiety attack feels like, but I think I might be having one…”

It was such a crazy feeling. I was able to rationally understand my situation, yet I still couldn’t calm my nerves. For the first time I was able to understand people with bad phobias. I could never comprehend how people could be completely petrified of something when they know, rationally, that there’s really nothing to worry about. This had never happened to me before. Nothing even close…

I eventually worked up the courage to try again. Joel, bless his little heart, stayed back on the bunny hill with me for at least an hour while everyone else hit the big boy hills. When they left I was still in a heap at the bottom of the bunny hill, stressed the fuck out, and unable to even stand up on the board. My goal was to be able to show them that I could do it by the time they got back!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t looking too good. If I stood up on the board, no matter what I did, I just couldn’t get an edge. If I leaned forward at all, I’d take off down the hill and crash immediately, if I leaned back (just trying to stay stationary on the hill) there’d be no edge and I’d lean further until I inevitably fell over. It was SO frustrating. It was like putting your feet together and leaning back on your heels… once you pass a certain point your body will instinctively kick a foot out behind you to stop you from falling. With your feet strapped to a board, you pass that point and you’re fucked. I spent so much time on my ass that there was actually a bright blue stain in the snow from my jeans.

Joel would even hold me up until I thought I had it right, but I’d still come crashing down the second he let go. I was bordering on a complete meltdown and ready to quit when Joel had an idea….

“Dan, what way is your board setup?”

I am definitely a left-foot-forward skater, so I setup my board with a “standard” stance. I explained this to Joel and, after a debate over what’s “goofy” and what’s “standard”, he told me to try his board instead. His was setup the opposite of mine, or “goofy”, which is right-foot-forward. This felt weird to me, but I was willing to try just about anything by that point.

“I can just imagine…” Joel commented as I was strapping into the bindings. “You will probably put this thing on and fly down the hill like a pro!”

I shook my head and laughed, “Not fucking likely, man. I’ve never been this bad at anything in my life.”

I finished up securing the board and, with very low expectations, I pushed myself up off my ass. I expected the same as all previous attempts but, miraculously, I was now standing on the hill with my heel edge dug in holding me in place!

“Atta boy Danny!” Joel cheered. “Now try going down the hill…”

I slowly bent my knees, pushed my toes down and turned into the hill. I fully expected to crash, just like before… but, for whatever reason, I was actually able to control my descent down the hill (sort of) and made it a fair distance without bailing! The improvement, albeit a very minor one, was all I needed to push on further. It was such a relief!

“I can’t believe it!” Joel laughed, “All that time it was just that your board was setup the wrong way!”

I couldn’t see it causing that much difference, but the proof was right in front of me. I’d improved 100x just by switching my stance.

“Let’s go switch your board in the shop and get a drink before we go back to the top!”

I agreed and we took a break. Shortly after, we walked back to the top of the hill (I still wasn’t ready to tackle that god damn rope lift!) and got back to my training with my newly configured “goofy” snowboard. I went into this attempt with very high hopes, happy to have finally conquered the mighty bunny hill! I strapped in and pushed myself up… and fell right back on my ass. I was right back where I’d started. After 10 minutes of repeated failure, I was ready to give up… again. It must have just been a fluke with the other board.

“Joel, buddy… let me try your board one more time, to see if it was just some sort of fluke.”

We switched again and, starting from the top of the hill, I was able to carve down the bunny hill like a… well, like a drunk retarded child… but I was up and I was in control! For whatever reason, it wasn’t my stance that was the problem – it was the actual board itself. I couldn’t for the life of me get an edge with my original, but with Joel’s I could actually do it enough to practice and get a bit better.

We decided to switch for good (Joel was able to use mine, and said he actually preferred it by the end of the day) and I got a few practice runs in on the hill. I even managed to take the rope lift back up!

My heart rate and anxiety was finally starting to come down and it was beginning to actually be fun! Looking back, I should have gone and switched the new board back to “standard”, since that’s obviously my correct stance, but I never bothered. I don’t know how much difference it would have actually made, though. Next time…

Shortly after, the rest of the boys came back to the bunny hill to check on me.

“Dan, I hear you’re starting to get the hang of it!” Chris said, who is the best boarder of our group, I’d say. “Go up there and show us your moves!”

We all wobbled our way up the rope lift and everyone sat at the top of the hill to watch me. I got a bit nervous again, but I was optimistic. After quietly psyching myself up, I pushed myself up and set off down the bunny hill. I carved my way almost all the way to the bottom and listened to the cheers from the guys above me.

“Looks like you’re ready for the mountain, buddy! Let’s hit the lift!!”

I was a far cry from being ready to conquer a mountain, but I figured the best way to learn was just to do it. Mostly I didn’t want to hold Joel back any longer, so we all got into the ski lift line up.

They had all been telling me ski lift horror stories that morning, so I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it. The lift ride itself wasn’t an issue… it was getting on and off it that worried me.

Joel must have been able to tell I was nervous about it, because he looked over at me and said, “Just take your board right off and carry it with you, man. It will make it a lot easier…”

So I did. Joel, Chris and Kris got in the lift in front of us and Brian and I waited for the next one. Right before we were about to get on, the worker violently stopped the lift and looked at me like I was a fucking r’tard. “Woah, woah, woah… you gotta have that strapped onto your feet there, bud” as he pointed at my board. “You can’t just carry it like that.”

Fuck! So I had to step off to the side, strap my board onto one foot and wait for a bunch of other people to board the lift (all of them looking at me and laughing… at least it felt that way). 2 or 3 cars later he let Brian and I back into the line and onto the lift. Luckily, getting on wasn’t too bad at all. Relieved, we pulled the bars down and I set my board onto the T-bar by my feet and tried to relax for the long lift ride ahead.

It’s a good 15 minute ride, I’d say. So, Brian and I lit some smokes and he told me all about his previous adventures on the hill that day. Honestly, it sounded like a blast! I just hoped I’d be able to do it…

Eventually, the end of the lift ride was finally in view. My nervous feeling came back tenfold. All I could think about were the horror stories I’d heard about exiting the ski lift. “You’re guaranteed to rack up your first time” everyone had told me, “We should take a video of you!” etc. This was going to suck…

“Hey…” Brian said, snapping me out of my thoughts. “Strap into your board, dude.”

Right! I had almost forgotten. I reached down and awkwardly strapped my right foot back into the bindings. With the end of the lift only about 30 yards away, I looked down and realized I had just fucked myself. I had strapped my right foot into the bindings with my feet still wrapped around the T-bar. Oh fuck.

I was now locked into the safety bar and it looked like Brian and I might not be making the exit! The Mission Impossible theme started to play in my head and my heart rate sky rocketed. Brian shouted frantic instructions to me as I tried to contort my legs in a way to allow the T-bar to slip between them. With only a few feet left to go I finally managed to squeeze my board free from the T-bar and we lifted it up just in time!

Unfortunately, this left me with NO time to prepare for the exit. It was on me before I knew it. I tried to quickly remember the tips I had been given but drew a complete blank. I saw Chris, Kris and Joel off to the right of the lift, watching and smiling – they knew exactly what was about to happen! I desperately wanted to spoil it for them with a graceful exit… but no, what happened next was far from graceful…

I heard Brian to my left, “Ok NOW! Jump!!”

I jumped! My board hit the hill flat, caught a front edge and I bailed hard; flat onto my face on the icy off ramp. I slid painfully down the slope and heard all of the people on the ski lift behind me go, “OOOOHHHHHHHH!!” and an eruption of laughter from my asshole friends off to the right. Fucking fuck.

They even had to stop the ski lift, so I didn’t get run over, while I did my best impression of a turtle trying to flip over. I eventually unstrapped my fucking board and walked over to my friends, with them still laughing their asses off.

“Fuck you all. Let’s do this.” I said, with a now-or-never attitude.

We went over (I fucking walked) to the top of one of the 21 (I think) routes down the hill. None of them had been down this particular run yet, but assured me that I could handle it. Perched on the top of the first part of the hill, the nerves came back even stronger.

My friends waited for me impatiently while I slowly strapped into my bindings. I was in no hurry to do this, but they weren’t going to wait around much longer. As soon as I was secured to the board everyone took off quickly down the steep starting portion of the run. Fuuuck.

I took a deep breath and pushed myself up. I honestly made out ok for the first 100 or so feet of the hill. I was carving slowly, basically snow plowing down the hill, but doing alright. Then I got courageous and built up some speed before I tried to switch from toe edge to heel. In the process I fucked up and bailed HARD onto my back. Well, my wrist actually broke my fall. I immediately thought I’d broken it. My vision wasn’t even cleared yet when I heard one of my buddies call out from further down the hill, “C’mon Dan, pick it up! Let’s go!”

Fuck. The pain subsided fairly quickly. It wasn’t broken, but I tweaked it pretty good (in fact, it’s still sore as I write this, almost 2 weeks after). I soldiered on. The hill was insanely fun! Tiring and stressful – but fun! It was about a 6-7 minute run (for me, anyways) down the hill and I improved quite a bit by the bottom. The final portion of the hill is a very steep drop that flattens out right by the lodge. Everyone flew off ahead of me, leaving me alone to finish the hill. I had more confidence, by this point, and decided to really give it some speed.

Up until then, I’d only carved and snow plowed back and forth… even on the bunny hill. I’d yet to actually go straight, nose first, down the hill. I couldn’t remember what they’d said… do I have to stay on an edge when going straight? Or do I flatten the board out? Shit, I couldn’t remember… I should have took it easy and then asked the boys at the bottom. Instead, I got going top speed and, right at the bottom of the hill, I crouched further and flattened out my board. Immediately I started to speed wobble. Before I could even correct anything, I caught an edge and cartwheeled end over end across the hard packed, icy terrain.

I was hurt. Not too badly, but I was certainly not a happy guy. My wrist, knees, neck and back were screaming. I took off my board and limped my way through the last leg of the run, over to the lodge where the boys were all patiently waiting for me.

“Dan, did you just rack up?” Chris asked me. I nodded, still hurting. “I figured! haha I saw you flyin down the hill and you disappeared behind that small building. Then you walked out the other side carrying your snowboard about 2 minutes later haha. You alright?”

“Yea, man, I think so.” I said, still stretching out my sore joints. “Sore, but nothing’s broken or anything…”

“You up for another run?” Brian asked right away.

I thought about it. I was happy with the fact that I’d actually made it down the hill in one piece, especially considering how my day had started. But another run might be pushing my luck… “Naw, you guys go. I’ll be up in the bar drinking away my pain.”

And that’s exactly what I did.

I spent the rest of the night in the ski lodge bar, nursing my injuries over cold beer. The guys went on a half a dozen more runs, at least. After an hour or so for the liquid courage to course through my veins, I actually became depressed that I had returned all my rental gear, as I really wanted to give it another try.

I was upset with myself that I’d given up so easily, but snowboarding is now very high on my list of “things to master”. I want to be able to snowboard and do it well… at the very least keeping up to my friends.

So, we will definitely be going back there again for another attempt. Hopefully that will mean I’ll soon be writing another story of how I conquered the Black Diamond hills of Ski Wentworth… but, we all know how it’s likely going to end up… wish me luck anyways!!

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.