“This is the strongest, but slowest, group that I’ve ever guided,” Guillame Crepault says. Strapped up, can we call that a backside compliment? Anyways, I can’t help but laugh at G’s remark. He’s been guiding our crew for the past two days at Gostlin Keefer Lake Lodge, a premiere catboarding operation in British Columbia. We’re here with a couple of our staff at The Snowboarder’s Journal, Mervin Mfg.’s Pete Saari (featured in Issue 20.4), Reno-based artist Hannah Eddy, and several other close friends of the publication. While everyone can handle themselves on every bit of terrain that we’ve come across, none of us are in any sort of hurry. Rather, we’re taking our sweet time to stop and smell the cedars on this three-day soiree in the Monashee Mountains.
Despite warm fronts before our group’s arrival, there’s still good snow up high, with variable run-outs to the pickup. Late March is finicky like that. G and the other navigationally gifted guides lead us to shadowy stashes that exceed everybody’s expectations. We find tree-jams and sidehits in sunnier aspects and even get onto a mildly technical line over exposure. When faced with tricky exits, we break, joke, then find our way to the bottom.
Now, I’m not going to write this bit about leading with optimism as if I’m coming from a place of profound enlightenment. Admittedly, it’s easy to keep spirits high when you’re shacking up in a luxury lodge, eating gourmet cuisine and have a snowcat with bucket seats and hot soup shuttling you to the top of beautiful backcountry runs in British Columbia. But it really is that much easier when everyone in your crew is onboard (pun intended) with the pace of riding that presents itself.
We spend nearly as much time—if not more—making jokes as we do turning our snowboards. While our roll is rather sluggish compared to that of Keefer’s regular clientele, and it’s not the same kind of cold smoke that we rode last January, these spring conditions still stack up for an unforgettable trip. A more relaxed rendezvous, one chock-full of deep laughs, much needed Vitamin D and time well spent in the mountains. Another reminder that when we gather with the right folks, time on snow generally proves to be pretty damn amazing—perhaps even more so than what we thought it could be.
Later that evening, snow starts falling. The guides say it may stack up to a few inches of fresh come morning. Pow turns tomorrow? I can’t help but laugh, and wonder what wine pairs with that.
A special thanks to Jeff Gostlin, Keith Byers, the guides, gifted chefs and gracious operations and lodge team members who work together to create such a fantastic operation. We’ll be back, and in the meantime reminiscing on fuzzy memories from our memorable time riding at Gostlin Keefer Lake Lodge.