I previously told you all that I landed a job, but I didn't give you a lot of information on it. As of Friday 13th April I will have finished my training and be a qualified Tour Guide / Driver. This stunning backdrop will be my office for the next 7 months working out here.
I'll talk about my role later, but where I am living is way too cool (literally) to not talk about. I am working for "Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure"- this company conducts tours on one of the most iconic and beautiful glaciers in the world. At the moment there are approx 70 employees here, however later in the season there will be around 250 of us. Staff range from: Cooks / Chefs, Maintenance, Water Treatment / Sustainability (we are operating completely off the grid out here), Tour Guides, Retail, Hospitality and much more.
The site where we are living is approximately 200kms North of Banff, and 100kms South of Jasper. All the staff live on site here in a compound similarly set up to a summer camp called "The Ice Palace". I share a room with another Australian guy from Perth, luckily we get on really well as we live in close proximity! This is the Ice Palace today (7th April), plenty of snow and ice everywhere, so walking around you're constantly slipping on the black ice.
The left side of the structure is where all our rooms are, everyone shares a room with 1 other person. On the far right is the common room, this is where we have all our meals, play pool & foosball, watch movies, play xbox/playstation and generally chill out.
The site is situated 1,900m above sea level, the average temperature at the moment is approximately -8 during the day and -15 or -20 at night time. This area is called the "Subalpine Region". We are situated at the lowest point in the valley and everywhere you look we are surrounded by enormous mountains. Currently the site is buried in 1.5m of snow, except where we have shovelled pathways to walk between buildings. Half the site is still under renovations so we are sort of living in a construction site for the next month or so.
All our food is provided and included in our rent, the chefs do an amazing job and the food is always delicious! Every morning for breakfast we are greeted by incredible views of mountains towering over us, which is such an amazing way to start each day. This is the view from from the kitchen/dining area, that mountain is "Mt Athabasca". At the summit, you can see the beautiful clear blue ice glaciers, which is what everyone is here for!
So other than just epic mountains and tasty food, I do actually have a job to do out here...
My role is a Driver / Guide, which means I will be operating coach buses and shuttling people from the main centre down onto the ice where they can explore the ice in more depth. I will be driving a large 52 person coach bus, as well as conducting tours at the same time. The process leading up to now has been detailed learning of the landscape, mountains, surrounding areas, plant & animal life as well as geology.
This has been an awesome experience so far and I have learned so much more than I ever expected to learn about Canada. For instance, I can tell you the difference between Grizzly Bears and Black bears, that their favourite food is buffalo berries, that they eat approximately 250,000 berries a day. I'm able to name all the surrounding mountains and I know about the history of the region too! Little things like this have been wonderful to learn and such an amazing opportunity.
I have met some seriously amazing, like-minded people out here already and established a strong friend group. Afternoons after work have entailed snow hikes, climbing frozen waterfalls, adventure, exploring and the occasional beer overlooking this gorgeous region. Everyone out here has such different backgrounds and has vastly different stories, but everyone is here for the same reason...trying something different, working somewhere breath taking and a sense of adventure.
During the colder season like now, a lot of the hikes and trails haven't opened yet as there is deep snow covering the way, however soon it will start to melt and every single day will be hiking, adventure, exploring, scaling cliffs and mountains, incredible views, hanging out with friends, camping and generally having an awesome time living an epic outdoors life.
Yesterday we picked up as many shovels as we could find and started digging out an area behind the site where we were told there was a fire pit from last year. With some determination and a few beers we braved the freezing cold and began digging for literally hours. After 3 hours of digging we had found the fire pit and uncovered some old bus seats from previous years used as chairs around the fire. Using and cardboard and timber pallets we could find we made a small bonfire, gathered around to get warm. Word spread and soon we didn't have enough room for everyone to crowd around the fire...just means there is plenty more digging to do, but that will have to wait for another day.
Stay tuned, there is so much more to come. So many adventures to go on and I am sure some incredibly stories. However for now it's over & out from the Ice Palace.