“In Whistler men, there is one thing that comes before all others…”

Norman Maclean said there are three things in life you are never late for; church, work and fishing.  Well Norman, this aint Montana and we’re a long way from fishing season brother.  In Whistler men, there is one thing that comes before all others…

I got the call from my boss at Whistler Wired about 5:00pm Wednesday…that is, 5:00pm into 185cm in the last seven days.  We hadn’t been up the mountain and after three fresh tracks meetings with no new snow the call went something like this:

“Did you get my email?”


“I’ll pick you up at 7:30am.”


Being born and raised here, west of never, with a view of the Rockies, Purcells or the Coast Range in sight of my home since the third grade, I understand Norman Maclean and the big rivers well.  I can also tell you that even now, 40-some years later, there are still things between men that go without saying.  At least between men out here on our side of the country (yep, sayin’ it with my best western Canadian accent and no, I’ll never be able to teach you how to say Cal-GARY right if you’re from T.O.)  When you get the call in Whistler and you’re 5 months into a deep winter, you answer.

‘Whitey’, pulled up @7:20am – that’s what my boss calls the over-sized jacked up Whistler Wired crew-cab that likely came close to running you down Thursday morning when Nathan realized he had to go back home to pick up his ski pass – and my phone rang.

“I’m here.”

I had already plowed a foot of snow off the car for my wife before 6:30am for the fifth or sixth day straight like I was reliving a Spring Break in Whistler version of Groundhog Day.  No, this isn’t the Florida one with the bikinis and the girls gone bad, this is Whistler baby!  And like we told the new neighbour when she pulled up in her tiny Toyota, yes, it is like this every year.

I threw the fattest skis I could find in the back of the truck, Nathan turned up the snow report on the radio and we didn’t say much on the drive in.  There was 25cm by 5:00am and it was still coming down hard.  Office closed, phones on forward, gear in the back, Mountain FM saying something about 40 or 50cm, secret parking spot and a shot of 10-year-old scotch (tip for you young guys: when your boss gives you the deepest morning of the year off to ski pow and asks if you want a shot , you say yes.)

Men and boys, fathers and sons, owners and workers…it doesn’t matter on powder days.  When the snow falls there ARE friends on powder days.  Best friends.  We packed our boards over our shoulders, thanked the girlfriend, three wives, six kids and all the higher powers we aspire to between us for making this place our home and spent the next four hours living the white dream in the sub-alpine snow zone with the storm pounding down around us filling in our tracks (and while I’m at it, yes, thank the heavens for tossing down those lighting strikes off Crystal a couple years back…just saying.)  Thigh deep, chest deep, bottomless, timeless…

One of our guests called Whistler Blackcomb his Mecca this week…we call it home.

post script: 

Picked up my son Jack by 12:30 and headed back for more with my little man.



  1. When my son and I get the chance to ski in knee, thigh, even boot top powder, there is a feeling of accomplishment . Yes, accomplishment . That we have experienced the true rush of floating, burning thighs, and absolute bliss. Is this what people feel when they parachute or bungee jump? Adrenaline, sure, but following your son thru the pow, eating his wake of flakes is an accomplishment for me. To know I taught him young and to love the snow, and to pine for cm after cm of powder. To now watch him tear thru it like I did as a younger man, and to shed a tear to still enjoy it with him. This is what we ” West Coast” skiers live for. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does…….. Thank you for writing this article and making me want to respond because it TRULY hit home!

    1. Thank you John! I wrote a story about my son skiing last year…he put his old Rossi Vipers on backwards and I knew the world had changed. I’ve had twins for years but I was secretly proud that he wanted to be like dad. He was 6 and we went out on a 70cm day and I had to pull him out of the powder by his feet…I could go on. I hope you find some time to read more. One day our sons will look back and remember and listen for our voices under the snow…and maybe one day have sons of their own.


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