Graeme Park gets to ski more than you do. It comes with the job -- he's the ski patrol manager at Grouse Mountain, just outside of Vancouver. The 28-year-old has been on skis since he was 2, and he spent much of his childhood shredding Whistler and Blackcomb. Now in his ninth winter at Grouse, the Ashcroft native took a break from lapping the mountain to spill some secrets, including where to get a great burger, find the best groomers and find freshies on a powder day. He wouldn’t reveal his ultimate powders stashes, though. You’re on your own there.
Q: It just snowed 30 centimetres (see today’s ski report), and you’re not working, where are you heading first?
Graeme Park: Blazes is one of my favourite black runs after a big dump. It’s a great run to charge down, with lots of fun, natural terrain features. It also always seems to be the last run skied by everyone else, so there are lots of first tracks throughout the day.
Q: It’s been two days since it last snowed, any powder stashes you care to share?
GP: They’re out there, but half the fun is finding them yourself. I wouldn’t want to spoil that, now would I?
Q: Name the best groomer on the mountain.
GP: That’s a toss up. They’re not just my favourite groomers, but also my favourite overall runs on the mountain — Centennial and Paper Trail.
Q: There are four of us: One is an expert, two are intermediates and one is graduating from greens to blues. Can we stay together?
GP: Totally. The best thing to do would be to warm up on a couple of laps down the Cut, then head over to the Olympic Chair. The beginner and intermediate skiers can access lots of blue runs, while the expert can take his/her pick of black- and double-blackdiamond runs. All skiers will end up in the same spot to ride the chair back up again. Before you head into the chalet for some eats, the expert can swing through the Quicksilver Advanced Terrain Park, and if the beginner and intermediates are feeling up for it, they can access our Rookie Terrain Park, one run over.
Q: What’s the biggest draw to Grouse?
GP: We’re such a dynamic resort and cater to all sorts, whether you are a skier or rider looking for amazing views of the city while skiing through a winter playground, or whether you’re looking for a little more adventure and want to hit up our black-diamond runs or terrain parks. If you don’t ski or ride, not a problem. Book a tour on our zip lines, take some time to shop in one of our mountain-based stores, go for a few laps on our outdoor ice rink or rent a pair of snowshoes, and go for a trek into our Munday Alpine Snowshoe Park.
Q:Where can I take in the best view?
GP: I highly recommend booking a tour of our wind turbine, the Eye of the Wind. It has an elevator-accessible viewing platform just below the blade that gives you a 360-degree view of the mountain, the city and the surrounding wilderness. I can’t think of anything else like it in the world, and it truly is a one-of-a-kind view.
Q: Where should I go if I’m hungry (and what should I order)? How about when I’m ready to loosen the boots and enjoy an après ski beverage?
GP: I like to eat in Altitudes. They’ve got a great menu, but I’m old fashioned and prefer a good burger and fries to keep me fuelled on the ski hill. And you’d have a hard time beating Altitudes’ deck. Where else can you put your skis on the rack, walk a few feet and enjoy a beer, 1,100 feet above the rest of the city?
Q:Do you consider your job “work?”
GP: When I was young, my grandpa told me, “If you find a job you love, you never have to work a day in your life....” I love my job.