New Years Day setback – leaving Whistler, BC for Sun Valley, ID

Well, Happy Fuckin’ New Year. That was how this post initially started, and I’m keeping it there as a reminder of how I found myself feeling dejected, depressed, frustrated, and feeling like all my efforts were totally futile. These are not good feelings have, especially in combination. I had been dealing with some tough personal matters that left me starting the day feeling close to tears. But I still thought I should try and make the best of things and headed out for a day on the hill, even with cold and very windy conditions higher up.

Following the recommendation of my buddy Mike, I parked in the parking lot near the Tube Park so that I could just ski down to my car at the end of the day. I got my shit together, clicked into my ski and started to pole my way across a flat section, before I needed to lower the blade of my outriggers to descend. One outrigger did not lower and I thought, crap, I was experiencing this in Revelstoke a bit but had thought I had fixed the matter. Perhaps snow was stuck or things were a bit sticky; but the outrigger blade still did not lower or flip back up. Shit. This started to trigger a cascade of emotions around my accident, and thinking, Fuck, if my accident had not happened, I would not need to ski with these stupid outriggers and have them break on me. I realize comparing my current situation to my old pre-accident self is not productive but I am just being honest in expressing how I felt.


The part in question is a single steel wire spring. This is what it looks like on the functioning outrigger

Well, I had to find a way to fix this key show-stopper of an issue. I thought Whistler must have an adaptive program with participants using outriggers who could help diagnose the problem, so I called them. No one picked up the phone, so I followed Google’s directions to the 2010 Winter Paralympic Village, where they supposedly are located. The place was pretty deserted and I could not find signs of an office, program meeting location. So I drove back to Mike’s place (where I was staying) to try and see if I could fix the issue myself. I took apart the outrigger and saw why the outrigger was not flipping down/up. The metal spring had broken.


Why my outrigger was not functioning: the spring had broken

Upon more Googling, I saw that Whistler Adaptive had a desk at the Carlton Lodge in the Whistler Village. So I jumped in the car with my broken outrigger and headed over there. The desk was unmanned. I asked around and found out that there was usually only someone there at 9am when lessons started and 3pm, when lessons ended. Okay, it was around 12.30pm at this point. Maybe the ski tuning folks might have some spare wire around and might be able to help me out. So I raced down to the basement to seek their help. The guy there was, not surprisingly, totally unfamiliar with this equipment but was willing to help me out if I could find some steel wire stiff enough, as anything they had was just too flexible. He suggested the hardware store in the Village. So off I went. They only had super flexible 18 gauge aluminium wire but I was desperate and thought, maybe this stuff could work if I put in extra wraps. I realized it would have been super helpful of me to bring my working outrigger with me to show the ski tech guys but, of course, I had left that behind. So I had to drive back to Mike’s place to get it. When I drove back from Mike’s to the Whistler Village, the parking situation had worsened considerably and I could not find a parking spot; and now my keyless remote car entry was saying the battery needed to be replaced. All the time in the cold had just sucked the battery life and I did not know if my car would even be able to start without a functioning car remote. Each of these are minor things, but when it was all compounded and layered upon my current emotional state, I just felt like crumpling into a heap. I composed myself and headed to the hardware store, again, to pick up a battery, and then back to the ski tuning desk.

Well, the wire was just too flexible with too low a yield strength. Fuck. Okay. I suggested, well, can we maybe try and make do with the remaining length of wire, unwinding it, then recoiling it to only have one loop on each side and see if that will work? So we tried this idea. This was the result.


The wire was too short and the bits sticking out need to be seated inside the black plastic

The ski tech guys were very nice and trying their best, but without a stiff enough wire, they could not do anything. So I headed upstairs to make sure I would be there when someone from Whistler Adaptive got there. Around this time I noticed my bowels had decided to malfunction. But I could not leave and risk missing this person(s). I waited until 3.20pm. No one showed up. I called the outrigger manufacturer to see if they might be able to expedite ship me the spare part. They were closed till January 3rd. I was tired of life. Of every thing.

My next stop after Whistler was going to be Sun Valley, Idaho. So I thought I would check to see if they had an adaptive program there that might be able to help me out. According to the internet, they did, and I received confirmation that it was sizable program. So I decided that my plan was going to say F-you to Whistler and drive there first thing in the morning. For good measure, I went by another ski shop to see if they could possibly help me. They could not.

I told Mike my situation and plan, and he kindly offered to pick some steel wire up in Squamish where he was, and maybe try and patch together something that evening. I was wavering, saying, nah, fuck it, but also not wanting to close out the option of a possible fix. So I took him up on his offer. Mike is very handy and managed to fashion a very similar looking piece out of the steel wire he purchased. We reassembled the outrigger together, but the steel wire still had too low a yield strength, and was deforming undesirably! It was not a diameter issue, but a material one. I did not know you could purchase different kinds of steel wire? (I also finally found out why a lower gauge wire is larger in diameter than a higher gauge wire).

I was sad to leave Whistler prematurely, because I wanted to spend more time with Mike. But I did not want to waste another ski day; dealing with this equipment failure would already cost me three full days.

I left Whistler in the dark, so most of the beautiful drive along the Sea-to-Sky highway was in the dark. I did manage to catch glimpses of how beautiful Vancouver is as dawn came upon us. I really want to find a way to live in Canada, especially British Columbia.


Back in the USA.

The drive into Washington was beautiful and seeing the Cascades in the morning light made me think about living in the Pacific Northwest. As I entered Yakima, WA, I found it amusing to see a sign that called the town the “Palm Springs of Washington.”

Driving conditions deteriorated though and became quite treacherous. I was driving 40mph on the 70mph I-84 highway through Washington for about 2 hours. I counted at least 12 over-turned vehicles, a few more vehicle “incidents,” an over-turned 18-wheeler. It was really icy and treacherous.

Monday's drive from Whistler, BC to Sun Valley, ID (well, Hailey, ID)

Monday’s drive from Whistler, BC to Sun Valley, ID (well, Hailey, ID)


A few hours were spent driving in very foggy, low-visibility conditions over a few passes.

I am finding myself back in Idaho after in less than 2.5 months. I must really like this state.


Visibility cleared as I descended into Idaho.

Conditions made for slow-ish driving to Hailey, and after about 14.5 hours on the road, I arrived at my destination with plans in place to fix my outriggers the next day.





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