At some point it was inevitable that I would find myself on the side of a mountain, looking down and thinking “nope, I cannot do this”.
Probably I should provide some context.
I recently went to Canada to discover whether it was possible to pick up skiing again after a 16 year gap.
It turns out it was, and so I had thrown myself in and as my confidence grew, so did my desire to push myself.
Which is how I found myself stuck on a mountain with nowhere to go but down.
It was my last day skiing, and I had decided to stop playing safe, and take an eight kilometre blue run down the backside of the mountain at SilverStar Mountain Resort – Canada’s third-largest ski field.
My mountain guide was very patient. "Just don't think about it," she told me. "Don't look down, look at me." I was in danger of thinking myself into a total panic, so instead, I focused on the yellow ski jacket zooming away from me, and humming Let it Go under my breath (it really works - I don't know why) I began to descend.
I made so many turns, and stopped a whole lot of times, but eventually, I made it. No tears. No falls, and no accidental detours onto a double-diamond black run. (There is one turn where it was touch and go.)
Looking back up the mountain afterwards, I felt (briefly) like I could do anything. And I wanted to go again. But I couldn't. Because it was my last day at SilverStar, and I still had to go fat biking, and tubing, and snowmobiling.
I had a lot to cram in.
So I jumped back on the ski lift, and headed up the mountain, because the SilverStar village is mid-mountain. You ski down to get to the chair lifts, and the majority of runs.
To get back to the village when you're done, you go back to the top, and ski halfway down. It means you get to see a lot of the mountain, and there are always opportunities to get diverted... and find yourself heading back down the bottom again.
Since I arrived at SilverStar I basically haven't stopped. I've skied every green run I could find, and packed in so many other activities that I am actually not sure how I was still standing at the end of the week.
My legs ached, my arms ached, and my cheeks were frozen from the cold but I was having an amazing time.
SilverStar is not like any ski resort I've seen before. Its unique position half way up the mountain, coupled with its quirky colour scheme makes you feel a bit like you're in a Hans Christian Anderson fable. There is something decidedly magical about it, and that's before you get onto the slopes.
Adding to the fairytale feeling is the sheer number of families and children. It's noticably a family-friendly resort, and the mix of runs really caters to groups of differing ability. Maybe you are like me and pretty terrified of skiing anything too challenging, but you're travelling with a total pro. No problem at SilverStar, the various chairlifts deliver you to myriad runs of differing ability that all coalesce at the bottom again. Who talks heading down the mountain anyway?
SilverStar is actually owned by an Australian, and I run into so many Australians on the slopes that I begin to lose count. I ride the chairlift one day with a man from Melbourne in his 70s who comes to SilverStar every year.