The question was a bit of a no-brainer. A week with the Orage team at Retallack Lodge? Sign me up.
So, I arrived last Sunday after the 9-hour drive through the mountains to a lodge full of film crews interspersed with a few guests and a gourmet dinner of Halibut with red pepper aioli, spanikopita, and dill roasted potatoes. The good life indeed.
On day 1, we were still waiting for skier JP Auclair and Murray Wais from Matchstick Productions to arrive, so we loaded a small crew into the cat for some warm-up in pounding snow with TJ Schiller and Michelle Parker. Phil Casabon, the fourth member of the Orage pro team, was nursing a broken rib and stayed in the lodge. That meant photo shoots and fun runs through pillow fields and steep tree lines in knee-deep blower. Not a bad warm up.
JP and Murray arrived that night to clearing skies—it was on. Bluebird Tuesday and sub-zero temperatures made for epic shooting and the crew got to work on the alpine pillows and chutes in a zone called Tabernac: a giant shoulder with enough big drops to keep high-end skiers busy for days.
The next two days were much the same: huge pillows and big drops in cold snow, interspersed with a few turns under the full moon. Then, the storm came again, snow began to pile up, and the Kootenay powder cycles that make the region a favorite of media crews and recreational skiers alike took over. Unfortunately, Michelle—who was skiing as strong as any female skier I’ve ever seen—hurt her knee when she found a rock in the landing of a seemingly innocent drop, putting a bit of a damper on an otherwise standout week.
Thanks to Cody Lynge and the Orage crew, and Phil Pinfold and the Retallack staff for an all-time week cat-skiing in the BC interior. If you ever have the chance to spend a week in the Kootenays—especially at Retallack Lodge—the answer should be obvious: Yes, please.
Photos: Colin Wiseman
01 JP Auclair
02 Michelle Parker
03 TJ Schiller
04 JP Auclair