You are on page 1of 12

SAR Reports



Night at the Opera



The evolution of backcountry guiding in the Sea to Sky


February 21st, 2013




Week I N P I Q U E
Letters News Travel Sports Food Arts Music Pique Cal Classieds

#103 -1390 ALPHA LAKE RD., FUNCTION JUNCTION, WHISTLER, B.C. V0N 1B1. PH: (604) 938-0202 FAX: (604) 938-0201 Founding Publisher



Chief Operating Ofcer



Assistant Editor

Sales Manager

Production Manager

Advertising Representatives


8 12 50 52 62 66 72 82 85

One step at a time

The evolution of backcountry guiding in the Sea to Sky. - By tobias c. van Veen


COVER: This piece is inspired by vintage ski posters. A classic take on a modern theme. Just as Extremely
Canadian is exploring new avenues inspired by old ideas. - Olivier Roy

Arts and Entertainment





12 52 66


Organizations annual report outlines importance of service.

Classieds & Promotions Coordinator


Circulation & Reception


SKI CROSS TEAM TAKES THREE PODIUMS IN SOCHI Best result this season for team.
Improv collective The Fictionals bring their brand of comedy to Dustys.





Pique Newsmagazine is an independently owned and operated weekly newspaper serving Whistler. 16,500 copies are distributed to over 130 locations in Whistler and to over 200 locations from Vancouver to Darcy. The entire contents of Pique Newsmagazine are copyright 2013 by Pique Publishing Inc. No portion may be reproduced in whole or in part by any means, including electronic retrieval systems, without the express written permission of the Publisher. In no event shall unsolicited material subject this publication to any claim or fees. Copyright in letters and other (unsolicited) materials submitted and accepted for publication remains with the author but the publis her and its licensees may freely reproduce them in print, electronic or other forms. Letters to the Editor must contain the authors name, address and daytime telephone number. Maximum length is 250 words. We reserve the right to edit, condense or reject any contribution. Letters reect the opinion of the writer and not that of Pique Newsmagazine.

72 12 82 66

Vancouver violinist launches his Music at Whistler project.

Its time to enjoy a Night at the Opera and celebrate the anniversaries of both Wagner and Verdi at Millennium Place on Saturday. On Sunday take the kids on a nature walk with AWARE, enjoy basket weaving at the Squamish Lilwat Cultural Centre, then watch the Fire and Ice show in the evening. Something for everyone!


ISSN #1206-2022 Subscriptions: $45/yr. within Canada, $125/yr. to USA, $75/yr. first class mail within Canada. GST included. GST Reg. #R139517908. Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement #40016549.

4 | February 21, 2013 |


40 Feature


eith Read is patiently pla in one foot in d ly p placing n front of the other, climbing his way up the powdery slope, on o he , h der lope e, passing by scraggly Christmas trees at the glorious rate of b ra gly ris ee a us te a few hundred steps an hour. The wind whips o overhead, ur. w w ov d sending a sugary mist of snow cascading from the treetops. g m f di g f m t Above the muted green of the alpine forest is the electric th muted d p t ct grey sky. We are b a huddled bunch out in the wild, slowly y. W e but dd unc h ld making our way in the cold world of the Whistler backcountry m y ld o th W tle d Wh er y with guide outt Extremely Canadian. a ad adi The climb is perfection incarnate a wheelchair ramp b na incline, with wide, perfect switchbacks. As the president of the h wi pe p s s Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) and the lead f di ui h guide and program supervisor with Extremely Canadian, Read m h d now 52 and skiing since he was three is the master of efcient nc aste cie travel and movement in the backcountry. Under his belt is a mo ov bac U s repertoire of skills, from a things switchbacks and kic turns to kick e ki m all i backs crevasse rescue and wilderness rst aid. But above all stands the s Bu e ACMG motto: to s serve th public. His g the A MG s gentle demeanour belies an intense de depth o knowledge and experience drawn from some epth of wle om 49 years of skiing. Every second of a lifetime spent guiding rock, 4 kii g ery d fe me alpine, and skiing in the mountains has been subtly shaped into lpi pin sk n this meditative walk up and out of the Oboe drainage. Over the ku ut e Ob Ob nage course of an hour or so, we wind our way up and out of the f wi a d he h valley to the Flute col. all We are on skis, with climbing skins clamped to tip and tail, wi ns lam ip our touring bindings unlocked and our heel risers up. We are part di u ed is p W re of a growing legion of foot-propelled backcountry travellers who ng y tra are returning to the r s of th sport: before chairlifts, machineroots of the ar h cut runs, and restaurant-to-restaurant c e ca there we skiers cable cars, were ers ru s, a re w on long, waxed, wooden planks, skinning up hills and schussing w ,w ph sin back down. In this simple fact, little has changed, which explains ck nt im something of the allure of the backcountry. Its certainly not et ly about some faux adrenaline rush from ducking th ropes; the in sh fr u h backcountry travel has nothing to do with being a daredevil. ou t n ng Though there are unfortunately a growing number of newcomers h i com m who duck ropes without the knowledge, training, or equipment e an issue t this article will grapple with by e emphasizing t that t app users should get trained and hire a guide the majority of h ui t ma f travellers are educated and aware, and moreover, considerate de and thoughtful in regards to the consequences of their actions. que Once out in th untrammelled wild, its all about simply putting the h lle ou one foot forward in front of the other, taking in the alpine air, fo t nt ai gazing with a critical eye on the terrain, making careful and m ma an responsible decisions using the right tools and knowledge and esp i then letting it all come together in the mindless moment that ll c he ha

The evolution of backcountry guiding in the Sea to Sky

Story and photos by tobias c. van Veen

is the descent. Backcountry travel is a reective endeavour that kc e ende o culminates in the gestalt of powder goodness and this is what h es po ss t wh it means to take part in the evolution of ski culture as it rewires ure the clock by combining the benets of mechanization liftth bi g he on ftaccess to the high alpine with the p pace of self-propelled travel. ce g opel l ll vel

The mutant offspring he known as the ski gu o ski guido

With our touring boots set to walk mode for ease of motion, g et we are able to tromp our way up the track that Read has e ac ack a t d established, glid gliding on the atter bits, stair-climbing when is its ir mb b n it gets a tad steeper. Keith has his layers stripped, sunglasses ng gla on, and is using his poles to pack down user-friendly corners. n erExpending h caloric ca his i cache at a tremendous rate, Read end demonstrates what he means when he says that being a guide stra ra hat e t ng i means being a life-long athlete. Thanks to his efforts, the rest o h ffo er of us are scarcely breaking a sweat, following in his footsteps, y ep , taking in the vie talking ab view, about the beers well down wh when iew rs h he

40 | February 21, 2013 |

Feature STO R Y

complete. But Read, he is sweating and mo d moving and ga gazing up at the slope, trying to ascertain the path of least resistance op i sc n a and of the highest margin of safety. f ety Such is the labour of a professional mountain guide: lead the r p fes i ai ead way; break trail; ascertain and manage risk; do so with an eye to kt ge the clients desires and abilities (or lack thereof); and above all, bi iti bili with an effortless grace and calm th pays ultimate respect to that ay fo the mountains. But there are two traits that are becoming newly t mo B s that n emphasized in the ACMG repertoire: objective-based guiding, ed A iv with an emphasis o goal-based touring (as distinct from the touring is on s routine of mechanized guiding at helicopter/snowcat operations); nize o ; and backcountry coaching, with a focus on teaching backcountry an nt th s ea ntr tr travel skills, and at the more advanced levels, managing complex a eve and challenging terrain such as couloirs, steep chutes, and longg ter h s utes, a haul tours.

Deep snow drifts and crisp cold wind on the backside of Flute. | February 21, 2013 | 41

Feature ST ORY
Rocks? What rocks? Chad leading the charge into salt and pepper territory.

Canada has a rather unique guiding certication; unlike other countries, the ACMG breaks up what is elsewhere a unied program into the disciplines of ski, rock, and alpine, along with newer certications such as indoor gym climbing and hiking. The specialization of guide disciplines was undertaken to feed the high demand for snowcat and heli guides throughout the 80s and 90s, primarily in B.C. As Read notes, in this respect the ACMG has responded to the needs of the public. But whereas heli-ski guides were needed 20 years ago, today the emphasis is increasingly on backcountry travel. The Canadian Mountain and Ski Guide (CMSG) program is now emphasizing objective-based guiding and backcountry coaching. With Extremely Canadian, these two aspects are pushed to the forefront, as Read says, in a way that is pushing and rewriting what were trained to do as certied guides. In the Spearhead, says Read, this mean learning to utilize the terrain far more than it has been in the past, alongside an emphasis on backcountry skills and ski coaching. It is really challenging, says

Whistler Blackcomb has world-renowned terrain both in and out of the boundary, and theres no reason our clients shouldnt be able to experience that...
- Peter Smart
lunch, Simon keeps glancing back up at the powder football elds we have just descended. Finally, he asks: Do we have to go back up there? Yes indeed, indeed we do. Such is the way of the backcountry: what goes down must go back up. Earlier, on the down, the thigh-deep powder had him nearly defeated, but hes nonetheless mind-boggled by every turn, as the rest of us revel in what has been one of the deepest Decembers on record. Read led the descent, directing us where and how hed like us to ski. One of the primary safety tools that we have, to manage people in terrain, says Read, is coaching and controlling how they move thats how you keep them safe. Si Simon is Extremely C di rst i E l Canadians client in the Whistler backcountry.

Read. Extremely Canadian has done a really good job challenging people with terrain. Now were taking that into the hat backcountry, potentially doing bigger oing lines. . . its fascinating, and theres a lot of eres skills to be developed. At the moment, however, were just r, past the ropes off Whistler Mountain. untain. Extremely Canadians client is an lient affable Brit, whom well call Simon. Hes been to the outer reaches of chair-assisted hair-assisted skiing in Gulmarg, India, but this trek up and over Flute and down into Oboe Creek an introductory skills tour, indeed r, has him breathless and dripping. Read is ing. a patient teacher, throwing down tidbits of useful information on everything from rything folding skins to pointing out terrain traps. i Down in the quiet drainage over a huddled er

42 | February 21, 2013 |

Feature S T O R Y



Happy 2013!

- Dental Hygienists on staff


604-894-5111 Unit #106-1436 Portage Rd., Pemberton, BC V0N 2L1

M Matt & N Nat new spring arrivals! i i l !

Velo handbag available in Mustard, Fern, Cognac and Cloud

10% TUESDAYS mention this ad and receive 10% off of all products on Tuesdays

A leap beyond boundary steeps

The infamous steeps camp in Whistler founded by Peter Smart, Greg Dobbin, and Jill Dunnigan has been around since 1994, surviving the dual mountain merger and various owners, expanding worldwide to teach the steeps, powder, and what the neon-attired ski media used to call extreme skiing in locations such as La Grave, France and Niseko, Japan. But ever since being inspired by Trevor Peterson and Peter Mattssons No Wimp Tours in the early 1990s which was hardcore, says Dunnigan, pushing rst descents in the Coast Range Smart and Dunnigans vision has included backcountry guiding the steeps, couloirs, and long tours around Whistler. It is nally with the 2012/13 seasons that the approvals, paperwork, and politics have been resolved. With every step, Read is redening the nature of Whistler Blackcomb as a resort. As a Whistler Blackcomb afliated program, Extremely Canadian is the rst such service to go beyond the ropes. True, while Whistler Heli has been dropping off powder-seekers for some 30 years, and guide associations such as Canada West Mountain Guides and the Whistler Alpine Guides Bureau have provided private guiding services throughout the region, this is the rst ofcial foray of Whistler Blackcomb into the nonmechanized backcountry. As such, it redenes the very idea of resort skiing in North America.

Think on this for a second: it makes the backcountry a marketable aspect of the Whistler experience, but it also responsibly addresses the needs of a growing public turning to adventure beyond the resort ropes. Its a natural progression for what our clients are looking for and what weve always wanted to offer, says Smart, who thought up Extremely Canadian during a fateful daydream on a staff-housing couch. Whistler Blackcomb has world-renowned terrain both in and out of the boundary, and theres no reason our clients shouldnt be able to experience that, he adds. Well start to gain more recognition for (backcountry) skiing around here, says Smart. He points out Chamonix, France, where the number of mountain guides rivals the number of instructors; compare this to Whistler, where the number of guides could t into a few ratty Hagglund snowcats whereas the instructors would pack out the Conference Centre. Look at our skiable terrain its not that bad, grins Peter. In comparison [to the Alps], its pretty damn good in my opinion, and we have a hell of a lot more snow. And a lot more stable snowpack. So why shouldnt we trying to exploit that market as a resort? Smart adds that there are thousands of people worldwide who travel yearly for backcountry skiing; by attracting them to Whistler there is the potential for spin-off business, including more interest in ski guiding throughout the region. As Peter says, Why shouldnt we be recognized as a destination (for backcountry skiing)? Dave Brownlie, CEO and president of

Located in the Town Plaza across from The Gap 604.905.6290 | February 21, 2013 | 43

Feature ST ORY
Whistler Blackcomb, says that backcountry users are a growing part of the market, an important part of the market, and ultimately Whistler Blackcomb is positioned to be a leader in that market. Were chatting high up on the balcony of 7th Heavens Horstman Hut, soaking in the sun; Brownlie has already demonstrated his own skills in the steeps by slicing-anddicing down the soft steep bumps of the Bite in Blackcombs Jersey Cream zone, my own bouncing body and camera pack in tow. The numbers speak. Mountain Equipment Co-op reported a 40 per cent increase in backcountry equipment at the start of the 2012/13 season; U.S. online retailer clocked in with 43 per cent. sales of avalanche safety equipment are on the rise, particularly inatable airbags designed to keep a skiers head above the deadly rough and tumble of a suffocating slide. With a range of sturdy backcountry gear on the market designed to perform inbounds and out, skiers are turning to the backcountry for solitude, adventure, exercise, and powder much like the freeheel pioneers of modern skiing back in the rst decades of the 20th century. We encourage it, its a great experience, a healthy experience, and truly an adventure, says Brownlie. But the important thing is education. How do you ensure that the people taking that step have the tools, have the knowledge, have the partner, so that they do it safely? Thats what its all about, is the education. Thats a challenge for any [resort], its a challenge for our community. Though there has been an open gate policy with BC Parks indeed, this is part of Blackcombs agreement for t-bar access to the Blackcomb Glacier offering a backcountry guiding service as an extension of Extremely Canadians inbounds programs represents a step forward toward emphasizing guiding as the proper means to exploring what lies beyond patrolled terrain. Its a model that has been established in Europe for some time, throughout the Alps and especially in non-patrolled lift-accessed terrain such as La Grave. The point being that if you want to go somewhere, you have to have a guide unless you really, really know what youre doing. But thats not really the culture here yet; backcountry guiding hasnt developed in the same way, and many travellers, says Read, havent even begun to consider what is possible within the Spearhead Range. Whistler, says Read, has easily the best lift-accessed backcountry in North America theres no question that at alpine and tree-line, theres very little that compares, adding that hed be happier than a clam working and living in the Spearhead Range for the rest of his days (especially now that he has a two-and-a-half-year-old son). From a guiding perspective, says Read over a tea at The Lifts steamy Nesters locale, theres an incredibly broad range of options relative to hazards, to conditions, to abilities (in the Spearhead). . . . In terms of challenging terrain, one of the (Extremely Canadian) edicts is to tactically challenge your guests by terrain and coach them through it. The Spearhead Range has close to endless opportunities that function effectively in all conditions. of a need to put Canada on the map, and to think in world-class terms; to grasp that the local talent that lay all but latent here in the Sea to Sky could be showcased alongside the brash glamour of the American extreme skiers and the European ski mountaineers. So locals and visitors beware: its time to rewind the time machine to the early 90s Its 1993, and Whistler Village is awash in the cartoons and satire of locally made Toad Hall t-shirts then located next door to Araxi, now in Function Junction. Rollerblades and tie-dye headbands complement neon spandex and Hammer pants. Its late spring, and long before Whistler mountain began digging out the bike park as a new means of adrenaline addiction, the local ski bums are hackeysacking outside Cittas in faded and torn jeans. Its the height of rave culture, grunge, and neo-90s hippies. The village ends just north of the square, and the commercial scene is otherwise dead. Lost Lake is still hard to nd, and full of the buff and naked. At this time Whistler Marketplace is but forest, and there are more windsurfers living here than hardtail mountain bikers. Blackcomb staff housing, however, is already built and well broken in and Dunnigan, then working as a ticket validator for the mountain, thought she was going to be a dentist. With the end of the season in sight, all the cards were lined up to take over her Dads practice back home in Ontario.

Hot tub time machine: Bela Legosi is dead and Kurt Cobain is still alive
(a.k.a an alternative history of Extremely Canadian)
The hazy and at times somewhat strange story of how Extremely Canadian got its start is an important part of the puzzle when it comes to understanding how backcountry guiding developed for Whistler Blackcomb. Extremely Canadian grew out of that strange conux of passion and impulsiveness that drove the 90s here in Whistler, when smaller, start-up guiding and teaching outts operated independently on what were two distinct and separate mountains. It also grew out

The Spearhead Range has close to endless opportunities that function effectively in all conditions. - Keith Read

Peter Smart leads Feet Banks and crew for postcard posterity.

44 | February 21, 2013 | | February 21, 2013 | 45

Feature ST ORY
That is, until she laid some smackdown on an ungentlemanly suitor at Tommy Africas. Now, the story has to be told delicately, but such serendipity is the stuff of legend. If it werent for the following moment, Extremely Canadian would never have existed. Extremely Canadians inception can be traced right back to that one night at Tommys, when an inebriated visitors unwelcome advances were sharply rebuked by a few valiant retorts from Dunnigan. She then proceeded to do the right thing, and shamed his nationality while callingout that the (extremely) Canadians in the bar would never do such ungentlemanly things. Needless to say, this grabbed the attention of a few local Canucks. Watching the incident go down, Smart, a volunteer videographer for Ski Esprit at the time, turned to his childhood friend Dobbin and said, Look at that little girl beating up that guy! It was love at rst smack. And it all started from there, in a creative partnership that went on to dene steeps camp guiding in Whistler. The chance incident sparked not only a lasting partnership between Dunnigan and Smart hitched ski bums

Extremely Canadian guide Chad Hendren slices & dices Sylvain.

Its also about the rsttimer, says Smart, who is skiing more and more challenging terrain, who has always been inspired to (ski the backcountry), but doesnt want to make that jump into being a full-time alpine touring (AT) skier.
- Peter Smart



Mechanical Snow Removal Services

Manual Snow Removal


Anti-Icing Services

Dont get stuck in your own driveway... take advantage of our 24 years of Fast, Efficient, Reliable Service. Custom Pricing Options. Contact us today at: 604-935-3558 or email:

46 | February 21, 2013 |

Feature STO R Y
of the highest order but the founding of Extremely Canadian. But it didnt all roll out right away. That summer, now smitten, Dunnigan and Smart decided to get their Lives in order, and so packed up and headed down to the city. It didnt work out. While Smart was supportive of Dunnigans drive toward dentistry, her Dad, the dentist par excellence, wasnt. You guys have got to back to the mountains, said Dunnigans Dad. Youre like caged animals down here. And so they did. Dunnigan recalls her Dad laying down the life-advice: You can live to have a lifestyle, or you can live the lifestyle, he said. He was doing the former, xing up teeth so he could ski; but Dunnigan, he gured, could just get on with the real business, sans the bad breath and llings. So it was that summer that Smart, who had arrived in Whistler in 1991, got his daydream on. He had a radical, no extreme dude idea: provide Canadian-led steeps camps that showcase the Coast mountains. And this came about because he had been invited to ski in a few Warren Miller icks; and he quickly realized that the stars of the mostly American extreme skiing pantheon were just about as good as the cats he knew ripping around Whistler. Smart had ditched Ski Esprit to appear in Warren Millers Black Diamond Rush, undertaking ridiculous stunts in a sumo suit, which also starred World Extreme Skiing Champion and Whistler resident Wendy Brookbank. Wendy, who at age 20 was hucking her meat on skinnies which is to say, sending massive cliffs on 200cm+ toothpick skis had been discovered by Glen Plake. She appeared in close to a dozen Miller icks and went on to become one of Extremely Canadians rst ski coaches in fact, shes still throwing it down today. Smarts ski celluloid would continue with the Miller ick Vertical Reality; his latest lm stunts include Hot Tub Time Machine. Dunnigan says it was Smart who threw down the gauntlet when he realized that local talent could provide a unique steepscamp experience not only here in Whistler, but worldwide. Peter said that we should be showing what Whistler and Blackcomb have to offer, says Dunnigan. At the time, Warren Miller skiers Eric and Rob DesLauriers and Siamese twins Dan and John Egan were coming up to Canada to teach steep skiing camps in Whistler. So, Dunnigan says, Peter was like This is ridiculous sure theyre good skiers but theres tons of good skiers in Whistler. It was put up or shut up night, as Smart recalls, throwing down the fateful words of maple syrup challenge: Why arent there any Canadians doing this? Dunnigan, Smart and Dobbin got busy. As a junior racer who made it to FIS competition before having to face the fact he didnt have the funds to continue, Smart had all but burnt himself out after working his formative years in the ski industry, moving from his hometown in Montrals Eastern Townships to Banff. At age 24, he had arrived in Whistler to ee the ski industrys rat race. After his second year in town, Smart was working for Dave Wilson, who was heading up Blackcomb Ski School. As we say in the ski world, Smart sacked it up and pitched the idea on a one-page piece of paper. It all came down to a handshake deal at a construction site Wilson was working on. We had a program, says Smart, just like that. Game on. Extremely Canadian launched the winter of 1994/1995 with two clinics on Blackcomb and ve in Banff, during an era when close to a dozen independent ski camps peppered both mountains with a variety of skier-branded products. The early days were thin, as Extremely Canadian paid a cut to both mountains. Dunnigan remembers splitting a grand total of three thousand bucks between the three of them, with most of it going down the gullet during an epic dinner at Sushi Village. They were about ready to call it quits, but then the unthinkable happened: Whistler and Blackcomb became one big mountain. Whistler would never be the same. With the Intrawest merger of Whistler and Blackcomb in 1996, over a dozen independent operators were cut during an era of corporate consolidation. Various programs operating across both mountains, however, were kept on. It was in part thanks to Rob McSkimming, who at the time was General Manager of Dual Mountain Programs (and a jackknife of job titles), that Extremely Canadian soldiered on, along with the Dave Murray Ski Camps and Ski Esprit. It was also 1997 when Smart and Dunnigan put forth their rst proposal for backcountry guiding based upon the steeps camp model they had established. Such a proposal was no small feat, encompassing a full business outline, detailed marketing, tenure permissions, insurance and safety considerations, technical details and maps; however, as Dunnigan says upon retrospection, the idea was ahead of the time for the market, and the proposal was respectfully shelved. It would take another 15 or so years to see the light. Meanwhile, the steeps camp ourished. By 1997, Extremely Canadian had dropped Banff, added Whistler Mountain, and were undertaking 36 camps a year, with world tours to the big line Meccas of Chamonix, La Grave, and the resorts of Les Portes du Soleil that straddle Switzerland and the French Alps, adding Japan and South America as the seasons rolled along. They had not only demonstrated that Canadian coaches could teach the steeps in Whistler, but they had proven their technical skill and coaching acumen worldwide, by undertaking travel camps to the globes most adventurous, resort-based ski locations for steep-and-deep skiing. Fast forward to 2009, and one year before Whistler became dotted with the RCMP tents known affectionately as pigloos and stormed by the celebratory hordes here for the Winter Olympiad, the hard-working gnomes at Whistler Blackcomb gave the greenlight to Dunnigan and Smarts backcountry guiding concept

The Bushrat yanks the skins atop Cowboy Ridge.

Surveying the Poop Chutes from Zut-Zut.


Send an email to turn your heating, hot water and lighting on and o . Call CoolAbode 604-728-5354


For the Month of February Only - Come Celebrate with us!
*Excluding RMT and RST Treatments **Gift Certicates can be issued, but must be used by April 30, 2013 (no exceptions).

20% OFF 20% OFF

All Massage*

all Waxing at Beauty of Whistler

604-938-0777 | 4368 MAIN STREET, SUITE 206, WHISTLER (ABOVE 7/11) | February 21, 2013 | 47

Feature ST ORY
some 12 years after its initial pitch. Extremely Canadian had proven itself capable of exporting and undertaking steeps clinics worldwide, in challenging terrain from the Alps to South America. Now, the market had proven itself ready for backcountry guiding, with increasing commercial impact of the service. The process took three years. Smart, today a Level III CSIA instructor and Level I Coach is, in a signier of the times, stoked on the backcountry program. Its also about the rst-timer, says Smart, who is skiing more and more challenging terrain, who has always been inspired to (ski the backcountry), but doesnt want to make that jump into being a full-time alpine touring (AT) skier. was a particularly striking, yellow yer. ARE YOU GOING TO DIE? the title read. My mind turned this over. Apparently this is no longer a marketing phrase for one of Whistler Blackcombs agship clinics, and according to Dunnigan, was never ofcial to begin with. But I dug the spirit. It captures with precision Extremely Canadians particularly Canuck blend of gallows humour. Even though I have been riding entrance to Stefans Chute in West Bowl. I have become a lazy-ass powder skier. I never ski this chute. Especially this year: the entrance is rocky and exposed, requiring samurai turns and/or some brocage-ankle action to slide in. Chad leads the way with studious calm and awless technique. Once youve skied La Grave, he says, Whistler is small potatoes. I can believe it. Chad speaks of rappelling clients into chutes steep enough to require platformchopping in the pack ice. Even as a climber, I wonder how comfortable I would feel, not so much on the rappel, but skiing something steep enough that each turn must be executed with a steady eye for rm control. Its about exposure of the fatal variety: thou shalt not fall. Its a different form of riding than the mach-seven airplane turns in the high alpine, straightline chutes in pow, and pillow-bashing among steep trees the kind of riding that us B.C. kindred excel at. Its all about executing perfect technique while your parts pucker up. If you are going to die, youre going to have time to think about it. And once you get a bit used to the sharp edge of adrenaline, and the need for balance both mental and physical, its damn good times. And its this level of instruction and challenge that Extremely Canadian is looking to bring to the backcountry. The steeps program is relative to ability and inclination, and its the same with ski touring, says Dunnigan. Were looking to nd the right mix of people looking for the same objective with their day. That week, Dunnigan tells me that they rapped one party into Chamonix Chutes off Blackcomb; another was mission-based for a long day out to Fissiles steeper chutes. Smart talks about pioneering new lines down through the Shooting Gallery off Decker a series of

The steeps program is relative to ability and inclination, and its the same with ski touring. Were looking to nd the right mix of people looking for the same objective with their day
- Jill Dunnigan

numbers of visitors heading beyond the resort boundary. For the past three years, Dunnigan, Smart, and Read have been getting their logistical ducks in a row. The stars had to be aligned, says Dunnigan. We needed Keith Read. . . we needed the market as it is, and the desire of the general public looking for education and guided tours into the backcountry. As Dunnigan explains, the biggest part of such approval is achieving the ofcial go-ahead from BC Parks, which requires a thorough analysis of operational infrastructure including rescue plans, logistics, tenure, and community approval. Unlike independent Guides that operate in the Sea-to-Sky, Extremely Canadian as a guiding organization requires a tenure license to operate within Garibaldi Park. This means providing detailed information on the environmental, social, and

Are you going to die?

It was the uorescent yellow yer that caught my attention. Deep into my third pint while lounging on a leather couch at Merlins, I was not particularly given to meditate upon the inevitable demise of all mortals. Indeed, I was rather focused on recovering from a day spent out balancing on edge among Whistler Blackcombs chalky and spooky steeps. This recovery operation included devouring vast amounts of nachos and hot wings while matching each bite with the delights of fermented barley. Little did I know that death was staring me in the face. Among the 10 yers kept under glass and framed on the wall, all salvaged from Extremely Canadians 17-odd year history,

Whistler Blackcomb for some 28-odd years, I nonetheless found myself spooked and puckered that morning. Thanks to my teenage years spent on 210cm skinnies, I still execute jump turns when the going get seriously steep. Its something that Chad Hendren, my Extremely Canadian inbounds instructor, is keen to correct. Just roll the ankles, says Chad, demonstrating to me the mysteries of the brocage turn, which involves leaning over the tips and swinging the tails around with a snappy motion. The result is the same as a jump turn you are able to switch direction and descend within the width of your skis but keeps your planks rmly planted on the snow. I slow down my pace; its rst thing in the morning, theres some dust on the somewhat soft crust, and weve been practicing brocage turns off lower Excelerator chutes with varying degrees of success. Now, were standing at the rocky and exposed

ountain Orthodontics
Certi ed Specialist in Orthodontics

Orthodontic treatment for Children, Teens and Adults Call us at 604.892.5969
Traditional braces, Clear braces, Invisalign, and Inside braces No referral necessary Appointments are available in Squamish, Whistler, and Pemberton 48 | February 21, 2013 |

Considering Immigrating to another country?

LIVE IN ONE OF THE COUNTRIES WITH THE BEST QUALITY OF LIFE IN THE WORLD: CANADA Porta Immigration has opened doors to a better future for families from around the world, securing residency for qualied business professionals and their families to various desired countries.

drainages that eventually lead far down to the Fitzsimmons. There are many long, serious descents reminiscent of what one nds in the Alps that have yet to be ridden, he says, and most of them are right in our backyard. Staring you in the face.




For all your tire needs call Whistler Tire Co.

1188 West Georgia Street, Suite 1080, Vancouver B.C.

Contact us today!

604.924.9295 or 604.638.3838 | |

To know which way the wind blows

Simon is sweating. The Brit is half-grins and half-exhaustion, swamped in the thigh-deep powder, as we stand at the bottom of Oboe Creek, readying for the return skin back up to Flute col. I ask him how its going on this, his rst day out touring. This is bloody amazing, he says. Gazing across the valley of whipped-cream trees, he adds, I didnt think thered be so much snow! Indeed, its all snow out here in the backcountry, of all kinds, too: from delicious (yet possibly dangerous) buttery powder to scoured windcrust and refrozen ice nuggets; from chalky steeps to the snorkel deepness of the trees. Snow conditions, like the variable Coast mountain weather, can change from the good to the bad within seconds. And knowing how changes in the snowpack affect skier safety is crucial to making ones way safely in the backcountry. It is important to remember that one ridge over from the inbounds terrain of Flute is the backcountry; the slackcountry is a misnomer too easily applied to terrain that can be just as deadly as an objective many kilometres away. Alongside the avalanche, probe, and beacon, and besides the rst-aid kit, headlamp, survival tarp, and food, and in addition to the knowledge of an Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 (AST) course, riders should consider packing along the expertise, instruction, and skills of a guide whether to develop backcountry travel and skills, or objective-hunting larger goals, a guide is the next step forward in discovering Whistlers backcountry beauty.

7 days a week 604.962.8900

United Kingdom

United States

St. Kitts and Nevis

ut We Cour! ol &C

NOW HIRING | February 21, 2013 | 49