About 5 years ago is when I had my introduction to Retallack. Riley Leboe, Chris O’Connell and myself spent a few days there shooting photos in a puking snow storm. Over the years, we’ve enjoyed a few blue bird days, but typically the theme of our annual trip is epic snowfalls and dangerous avalanche conditions. This past January we scored a bluebird day or two, and the whole crew was able to fully appreciate the grandness of the Retallack tenure. I think everyone could agree that if it wasn’t going to puke big fat flakes, than deep blue sky’s would be just fine. I can say with total certainty that I’ve never skied bad snow there. It’s always pow.
One of the great fixtures of Retallack is legendary cat driver, Karl the Gnarl. What an experience to have him as your driver, constantly fueling the stoke with his infectious energy. He’s really become one of my good friends over the years and it was awesome to have him with us for this trip. A few days after our Armada shoot, Karl joined my brother and I for the sickest contest and party in snowsports, The Greg Todds NoBoard memorial which took place a few hours north of Retallack. It will go down as one of the best times I’ve ever had in the Kootenays.
I took one run with my Canon 5D Mark III and snapped about 200 photos along the way. I had a remote trigger that’s wired up to a little switch that sits in my mouth, where I can press a shutter button with my tongue. It’s a really fun technique but it’s also very risky skiing fast through the trees with a $4000 dollar camera in your hand. I’ve messed around with various settings in the past, and this time I was trying to get a very shallow depth of field shooting at f/2.8. Out of the hundreds of photos I took only a handful came out sharp and focussed but I really enjoy the effect.
Retallack Lodge is like a fantasy land. The powder is always fresh, the food is fantastic, and the vibe and energy of the lodge is something totally unique to Retallack. But its truly the people who make this place so special. The cat drivers, the guides, the lodge staff, and the owners all share the same vision of having the best time you could possibly have, and staying safe along the way. The snow globe has become a second home for me, and I’m very proud to be apart of this family!
After 4 amazing days at the lodge, the crew dispersed and I met up with my brother Neil. We drove through a pounding snowstorm for hours until we made it to the GT memorial. The sunny sky’s and stable pow of the previous week were no more, a fresh meter of snow accompanied by some wind brought us back to the BC we know so well: lots of snow and sketchy avi conditions. After the storm passed, the strangest thing happened. It didn’t snow again for an entire month. We settled in to our new camp spot in the Revelstoke Mountain resort parking lot and enjoyed one of the longest high pressure spells I’ve ever seen. While many complained, we managed to find perfect snow on a stable snowpack all the way in to the alpine for the duration of the drought. I’ll share some of those photos and stories in my next post.
Words & Photos by Ian Provo