Avalanche, and the dog who thought he was a man.

1966-’70 I skied every weekend at Whistler, from October to June. The next five years I skied every weekend an Mt. Baker, in Washington, USA. I had a ski shop in Vancouver called Scandia Ski Shop from ’67 – ’79.

http://www.mtbaker.us/1011/   16,4 m. snow in ’98-’99

On Saturday, July 17, Chair 9 opened near the old Chandelier restaurant site on Mount Baker Highway (the Chandelier burned down in 1999). The new restaurant and bar has a Wood Stone Corp. pizza oven and will be focused on offering organic food from local vendors, including buffalo meat from Twisted S Ranch in Ferndale, said co-owner Pete Cook.

Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/07/20/1534313/with-better-weather-whatcom-county.html#ixzz1Dy1Miw2c

Driving from Vancouver at 4 AM, a 2 1/2 hour drive, having breakfast at Bob’s Chandelier, and driving up to the ski area before the Park Rangers set up the snow chain controls. This way we got many more hours of skiing, than waiting in the lift lineups at Whistler at the time.

Ron …. and me, were the most eager, and my St. Bernard “Larsen” was always with me. Sometimes we went down the evening before, got drunk at the Chandelier, slept on the loft, and first on the hill the next morning. Bob, the owner was from Voss in Norway, or his family, he knew the beginning of a few songs from Voss, that was enough, he was one of us.

He loved the dog, and Larsen was allowed into the pub and restaurant as a normal guest, almost as an honorary guest. He could balance on the heavy wood bar stools, often had a pair of goggles and a ski hat on, always with a pitcher of beer in front of him, just like a man. One evening I counted nine pitchers, but he often drank from other pitchers than his own, and he could still walk, but walked on four legs, I done that too.

Larsen knew the way out, and went for a leak himself, and back in again. He also knew the washroom when he got thirsty for water, you often heard screams from the lady’s room when he was in there for water, he drank only from the tap, never the toilet. One day the weather was so bad, a real snowstorm, impossible to ski, and drive, we were at the Chandelier early afternoon

The place was empty, a few at the bar, Ron and me playing pool, and Larsen, the 200 lb. St. Bernard, sitting at a table, by himself, in a corner, a ski cap and goggles on, a couple of half full pitchers in front of him, quite a sight. This American came in, dressed for the hills, but never been there. Alone, probably never been there before, or after this event,  he took a look around to take in the local happening. He had stopped just inside the entrance, a world traveller taking in the local sights. Looking at us to see if we saw the same scene; this huge dog by himself, drinking at the table, leaning, head hanging, like as if he had a big hangover, just the way of the St. Bernard’s look. The couple at the bar did not notice, Ron and me saw him in the corner of our eyes, but pretended not to see him. He stirred at the dog, looked at us and the bartender, to se if we saw the same sight. He was like in a trance, seeing things in a dream; was the only one that saw this sight ? He did not believe his eyes, he shook his head, turned slowly around and left the place, never to be seen there again. I bet he does not dare to tell anybody about his sight of a drunken St. Bernard, it is like seeing a pink elefant, you don’t tell about it, but they are very real when you see them.

 Once, rather usually, the pub was so full, it was saturday night, that Larsen could not get through the dance floor to get outside, he jumped from the bar stool right through the window, it cost me $ 13,50 to fix it. Bob liked him so much, he actually got himself one, but he never replaced Larsen, Bob’s dog was a dog, Larsen, he was one of us, and always acted as if he was. At night, when it was time to climb the ladder to the loft, and find an empty bunk to sleep in, Larsen climbed the ladder, walked around, licked some sleeping people in the face to see if they were friendly, and after a scream or two, he climbed into a bunk and slept like a dog. One could sence in the morning that not everyone would disclose what type of animal they had in bed in the night.

One perfect morning, Ron and me took the chairlift up when it started, only the ski patrol was allowed, but we knew them all, and were accepted. Lots of new powder snow, the ski patrol went around to the places with avalanche problems and trew a hand-grenade to set them off. It is very effective, and a safe to prepare for the skiers that would soon flock on to this popular mountain.

Ron and me way kept in front of them, getting a shot at the powder before they let then avalanches go. I can’t remember the name of this run, but it is the last run down from the very top. A very steep start, and then a nice run, without moguls. The run with all the modules is the run and lift before, on the way dow to this one. That is where Wayne Wong started mogul skiing in the ’70 is, he was the very first !

I skied over the comb first, a jump over the edge, but I knew the run well. I did not see Ron, I was having a great run, the powder was several feet; soon to be disturbed by a roar of thunder, the whole mountain side came down after me. I skied in front of the avalanche, so scared I did not think of speed or anything, just survival.

I stopped when the avalanche stopped. looking back to se out for Ron. Not one sign. The avalanche was long and wide, as a soccer field. The thoughts raced through my head, the ski patrol could be half an hour away, my dog Larsen, was at the parking lot close to the cafe, looking for hand outs; what the hell do I do ?

I started hiking back up the avalanche, Ron had been on my right side when we started, far enough away to make his perfect swirls in the powder, without crossing my turns. I saw a dark item, and when I got up there it was the end of a ski pole, started digging, and voila, there was a body and it was Ron. Sometimes he could be a pain, like at four in the morning when I just had gone to bed, and he was waking me up to go skiing. This time I was really happy to see him. He was in a shock, not hurt but shaken and stirred. It took som time to get him on his feet, and then we wanted to get away before the ski patrol came, if they saw this, we would be in more trouble.

I think we skied most of the day, and went back to Bob’s for a beverage. It was a close call, as close as one come, for me or Ron, could be the last day for either one, stupid thing to do, lucky to survive; stay in the prepared runs and have fun.

The Chandelier was a great place to meet girls, in fact, about half of the skiers were girls, I had my eye on this Australian shela, good skier, nice to be and have around. I courted her at the party, but was still some surprised when she climbed in to my sleeping bag at the loft when the lights went out.

I got a small touch of a kiss and a hug before the party cramps set in, and she vomited all over my sleeping bag. That separated us by a few feet that night. We meet a few weekends after that, and got to laugh about it. She was a really nice girl.

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