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Maxed out

Waiting for La Niña

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So little time; so much procrastination.

If there’s anything worse for a terminal procrastinator than a project with a deadline so far in the future it’s barely visible, let alone not looming, it’s a project with no real deadline at all. Such is the shoulder season’s Dead Zone, that interminable time between late October and opening day of ski season.

The Dead Zone is a time for which coping mechanisms were created. If I could remember what they were, I could cope. But coping this year is about as easy as bringing an Olympics-related project in on budget.

Part of the difficulty of just waiting around for snow is remembering the kickass start to last season. You may remember last season… then again, you may have just rolled into town and only heard of last season. Whatever you may have heard, or think you may remember, we were not skiing waist-deep powder on Remembrance Day. It was the next day, you substance-addled optimist.

Coping is also harder than usual this year because this is allegedly a La Niña year. For those of you not entirely fluent in the language enjoyed south of south of the border, La Niña roughly translates into “the Niña”. You’re welcome. La Niña is the tarted-up kid sister to El Niño, who enjoyed some popularity on the pro wrestling circuit several years ago as a grotesque, masked villain, the kind of guy who favours sneaking up behind the golden-locked Good Guy and smacking him over the head with an ever-handy folding chair. But, in the best spirit of the Dead Zone, I digress.

La Niña generally bodes well for Whistler’s snowsliders. Except when she doesn’t. During one recent appearance, the kind-hearted, Earth Mother incarnation of La Niña brought so much snow with her that many features on Whistler and Blackcomb were distorted beyond recognition. Formerly steep slopes were transformed into advanced bunny hills because so much snow had built up at their bases. If memory serves, it was the year several tourists became lost and had to be rescued when they were silly or cheap enough to show up on ancient, straight, skinny skis and sank into powder so bottomless they couldn’t make their way back to the surface.

Of course, that was just before global warming was invented. That’s not entirely accurate. Technically, global warming had been invented by then… but the origins of it were still unclear. One group, the scientists — at least those not on the payroll of oil or coal companies — believed man’s never-ending quest for bigger SUVs and self-storage units was, if not the culprit, certainly more than a bit player. In the other camp we had the Saint Reagan, Ralph Klein theories of how, respectively, trees and dinosaur farts were largely responsible. Oh, you may laugh at such follies now — come to think of it, many of us laughed at the time — but you have to bear in mind we’re talking about the then leaders of the free world and Alberta, both of whom, in their own ways, had a lot more sway over what happened than all the scientists in existence.

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