“Okay,” Ellie said, “That is extremely scary.”
“Yeah, I know. It creeps me out too,” Lilly replied with a shudder. “Can we watch something else, like The Amazing Race or Get Smart?”
“Sure,” Ellie replied as she scrolled through the list of videos on her brother’s iTouch that they were borrowing for the trip.
Ellie and Lilly were sitting in the back seat of the Saab watching a documentary on avalanches while they raced down the highway on their way to Whistler.
“Are you guys alive back there?” Lilly’s dad called from the front seat of the car. The girls had been glued to the screen ever since they had crossed the border into Canada.
“Yeah,” Ellie replied with a giggle. “We’re alive.”
“We were just watching this really creepy video on avalanches,” Lilly said, shuddering again. “Why do you ski in the backcountry if you know that you could be buried alive by an avalanche?”
“Yeah, I definitely never ever want to go skiing in the backcountry if there is ANY avalanche danger,” Ellie said.
“Well,” Al said as they sped around a bend in the road, “I bet that you will change your mind after you do go skiing in the backcountry.”
“It has to be pretty good if you know you are risking your life to do it,” Lilly said.
“Backcountry skiing is really good, and I have taken two or three avalanche safety classes,” Al replied, “Plus whenever I go out of bounds, I never go alone and I have an avalanche beacon. ”
“Okay, that’s cool and all,” Ellie said, “but l still don’t think that I will ever go out of bounds.”
“Suit yourself,” Al said with a sly smile, “but I bet that you will change your mind!”
The threesome fell silent as they sped down the road.
d d d
“Woah!” Ellie said loudly as she raced around their suite, “This place is awesome!!”
They had finally arrived after a three and a half hour drive at the Château Whistler. It was very fancy, by far the fanciest place Lilly and Ellie had ever stayed in.
“I call this bed!” Lilly announced to the room at large as she jumped up and down on it.
“Calm down girls, please!” Al pleaded as he walked in the door of the suite carrying two duffel bags. “And Lilly, don’t jump on the bed. I thought that you knew better!”
“Aww, Dad!” Lilly whined. She jumped off the bed and continued to explore while Ellie did her best not to laugh.
“Ellie come here!” Lilly cried from the bathroom. “The bathtub is the size a swimming pool!”
“Wow! This place is so awesome!” exclaimed Ellie in a voice that was a little too loud for a hotel room.
“Can you guys please tone it down a bit?” Lilly’s dad implored. “Why don’t you guys unpack your stuff while I go get the other bag?”
“Okay,” Lilly answered, “but can we just go ski for a half day or something?”
“No,” Al said “The mountain closes in half an hour so I think that it would be more trouble than it’s worth. We should get to bed at a reasonable hour though, so we can get up the mountain early.”
“Okay,” the cousins said together as they headed to their suitcases to unpack.
The threesome unpacked their things, ate dinner at the resort restaurant and retired early after getting all their ski gear ready for the next morning. It took a while to fall asleep since they were so excited.
The next morning, Ellie woke Lilly up an hour before the alarm went off, but they had to wait an hour because Al had told them the night before not to wake him up before the alarm went off. For the next hour, the girls quietly got ready for the day. By the time that the alarm went off, they had already eaten breakfast, gotten their things together, laid out Al’s clothes for him, gotten themselves dressed and phoned room service to send up Al’s breakfast. They easily made first chair.
“Do you guys want to stay on Whistler or take the Peak-to-Peak tram over to Blackcomb?” Al asked.
Al, Ellie and Lilly were sitting in the lodge drinking coffee (hot chocolate of the girls of course) and discussing what they were going to do that day.
“I wouldn’t mind doing a warm up run here and then heading over to Blackcomb to ski the Blackcomb Glacier,” said Ellie as she adjusted her new goggles. “Then we could do some other runs over there. I’d really like to try 7th Heaven.” She added as an afterthought.
“Well, that’s a great idea, but I’m meeting my friend Dave back here for lunch. Then we were going to go skiing until three thirty or so.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! You never told us about that Dad!” Lilly said indignantly. “Are we supposed to ski with Angela while you and your Angela’s whoop it up together on the slopes?”
“No, Lilly,” Al said wearily, “You don’t have to ski with Angela. What I was thinking was that we could do some runs on Whistler this morning. Then you and Ellie could have an early lunch and we’d put you on the Peak to Peak. I would meet Dave and you two could ski the glacier and do some other runs for a few hours. Then you could wind your way down to the bottom of Whistler at hook up with us by, say, 3:30? Does that sound good?”
“Yeah,” Ellie said happily. She was keen on the idea of skiing alone with her cousin, something she had never done before.
“Yep,” Lilly replied, sounding happier also. “That sounds great. I have no desire to hook up with Angela.”
“You have made that very clear,” said Al.
It had been hours since lunch and Ellie and Lilly were careening down the Blackcomb Glacier for a third time. As they neared the bottom, Ellie went into a tuck and yelled over her shoulder to Lilly, “ Race you to the trees!!”
The wind screamed in her ears as she sped across the flats in a tuck. Lilly was gaining on her fast but they were approaching the trees, which marked the finish line. Ellie skated as fast as she could, beating out her cousin by a nose. Out of breath, both girls collapsed into the powder on the side of the trail howling with laughter. When they finally stopped laughing, Lilly sat up and slung her backpack off her back and pulled a bag of Skittles.
“What color do you want?” Lilly asked her cousin.
“Well,” Ellie said, “It depends how many we can have.”
“How about we each have five now so that we can save some for later?”
“Okay,” Ellie said “then I want two yellow, one red, one green and one orange.”
Lilly carefully divided up the candies and put the bag back in the main pocket of her backpack.
“It looks like it’s going to snow,” Ellie remarked.
“Yeah, I noticed that too,” Lilly answered, looking up at the sky and then down at her watch. “We should go. We are supposed to meet Dad in forty-five minutes.”
“Yeah, okay,” Ellie said. She stood up and unfolded her map of the resort. “How do you want to get down? There are a bunch of routes and we don’t have much time.”
Lilly skated over to her cousin and took the map from her. “Well, because there are all of these trails crossing this one,” she said pointing to the map, “we should probably take this one.” They headed down the track.
A little while later, Lilly pulled over and beckoned to her cousin to follow. Ellie wove through a group of skiers and pulled up beside her cousin. “Is anything wrong?” she asked.
“No, but see this cat track here? Well, I think that we can go down that and then cut through to,” Lilly paused as she pulled out the map and found their location, “to this trail here.”
“That’s cool and all but this cat track does not appear on the map. It may not go all the way though, and if it didn’t, then we would have to skate back here and that would waste a ton of time,” Ellie said.
After some hemming and hawing and a few more examinations of the map, Lilly managed to convince Ellie to try the new route. A half an hour later however, Ellie was perched on a stump with a very unhappy look on her face while Lilly was studying the map.
“I told you we shouldn’t have gone off the trail,” Ellie griped, “We have been going in circles for twenty minutes!”
“Everything’s going to be fine,” Lilly assured her cousin, trying to sound more confident than she really was about their situation. Inside her head, she knew that she had made a bad decision. It would be all her fault if they had to spend a night outside in the snow.
“Bye, Al!” Dave called over his shoulder, “It was nice skiing with you!”
“Yeah!” Al called back, “’ hope to see you soon!”
Al removed his skis, placed them on the ski rack and walked over to the restaurant where he was supposed to meet up with Lilly and Ellie. He removed his gloves and checked his watch. They were late.
“That’s weird,” he thought, “Both Lilly and Ellie are very responsible. I was expecting them to be waiting for me.”
He walked up to the counter and ordered a mocha to take his mind off things. He checked his watch again.
“They should have been here fifteen minutes ago,” he thought, “I hope that they aren’t in trouble. I’ll give them fifteen minutes and if they aren’t here I’ll call ski patrol.”
He sipped his coffee with a sense of foreboding. “What if they got lost or kidnapped or one of them had got hurt?” he thought worriedly, “I was so stupid to send them out alone, when they are only eleven!”
He checked his watch again and stood up, pulling a phone out of his pocket. He dialed Dave’s number. This was a job for the ski patrol….