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NonStopSnow - Jake's Story, a gap year skiing in Banff

At school I wasntreally sure whether Id take a gap year or not, but Id decided pretty early on that if I did, Id spend it skiing. Originally I was thinking about working in a restaurant or as a chalet boy, in a large part because of how expensive instructor courses are, but eventually I decided that I may as well go all out and signed up for the Nonstop ski course in Banff. After Inter-railing through Europe in the summer, I spent most of the autumn and winter working a few jobs to earn enough money, and before I knew it I was on a flight to Calgary.

What surprised me most when we all gathered together at the airport (in -30C!) was the number of people on the courses there were over 70 people in Banff, not to mention everyone else at Fernie and Red. While this was a bit daunting for the first day or two as everyone was sizing each other up, everyone was in the same boat, and it soon meant that you could always find someone else to do something with whether its hiking Tunnel Mountain, ice skating or heading to Sasquatch for a night out.

The most unique thing about spending a season in Banff is the ability you have to ride at Lake Louise, Sunshine and Norquay, instead of just one mountain. Nonstop give you a season pass to all three, which means that you never get bored of the same terrain, and that gives you a lot of freedom to adapt your plans to the days snow conditions. Riding at all three definitely helped with the instructor lessons too, because there was always something challenging for the group to practice on.

I also did a fair few of the MORE activities, and Id recommend all of the ones that I did. The Calgary Flames game was amazing, and CAT skiing was hands down the best day Ive ever had on snow. The trips to Revelstoke and Kicking Horse were also great ways to get out of Banff and explore more of the Rockies.

What strikes you about Banff is how contrasting it is. Banff is always buzzing, and a steady stream of tourists mean that the nightlife is great, but it is enveloped by a national park that is completely wild. It was crazy that we could watch The Revenant in the cinema in the afternoon, and be exploring the same areas it was filmed in hours later. Ive never been a big one for hiking, but some of my most memorable days in Banff were spent exploring the surrounding areas.

My time in Banff ended far too quickly, and soon I was back home working to fund a bit more travelling, before heading to university in London from September. If you can Id definitely recommend exploring more of Canada after the course I didnt and Im already trying to figure out when I can go out for a summer!

Looking back on it, Im glad I chose to work earlier and go on the instructor course rather than try and do both out there. I know loads of people who loved working in a chalet etc., but for me it was amazing to be able to spend every day out on the slopes, not having to worry about the real world. My skiing and boarding improved loads, and while I never intended on trying to actually use my instructor license when I signed up, Im already planning to work during my uni break this winter.