Retallack Lodge

A snowy Selkirk heaven through the eyes of the cat-driver Karl “The Gnarl” Guderyan


[/vc_column_text][vc_separator border_width=”4″ el_width=”70″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]When Karl “The Gnarl” Guderyan flips you the bird, he grins a big toothy smile, looks you right in the eye and says: “It means I love you.” His long, unkempt grey hair is usually hidden underneath a woolen “tuque”—the Canadian term for beanie—and he’s wearing a bright orange, workman’s getup, so you can’t miss him. But that isn’t hard to do anyway: he’ll be the one waiting for you at the bottom of every run you take at Retallack Lodge. Guderyan is one of a few veteran snowcat drivers at the renowned cat-skiing operation—he’s been there all winter, every winter, for the past 15 years—and few folks know the lay of the land better than him.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Some people seek new adventures from their ski experiences, yearning to see unfamiliar places and far-off mountain ranges; for Guderyan, he has everything he needs in the Selkirk Mountains that surround Retallack’s inviting timber-framed lodge at the edge of the Kaslo River.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“The lodge itself was built on sweat equity,” he explains. “Whoever started Retallack: the guy that put up the timber frame, the guy that did the drywalling, the guy that put in the hydro-electric system, the guy that did all the concrete finishing, they didn’t get paid. They just got equity into this thing called ‘Retallack’ and the idea was that they were going to start a cat-skiing operation.”

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]As Guderyan describes the backstory of Retallack’s lodge, it becomes clear that Retallack was literally built on hopefulness—or maybe it was foresight—that this particular location, tucked away in the Selkirk Mountains an hour outside of Nelson, British Columbia, would fill a void.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_separator border_width=”4″ el_width=”70″][ultimate_info_table design_style=”design06″ color_scheme=”custom” color_bg_main=”#ffffff” color_txt_main=”#4a4a4a” color_bg_highlight=”#556a99″ color_txt_highlight=”#ffffff” package_heading=”STAT SHEET” package_sub_heading=”Retallack Lodge by the numbers” heading_font_size=”desktop:26px;” subheading_font_size=”desktop:24px;”]Years Operating: 22
Terrain Accessed: 12,000 acres
Annual Snowfall: 550 inches
Guest-to-Guide Ratio: 12:2
Lodging On-Site: Yes
Cat Types: Bombardier
Longest Run: 3,975 vertical feet
Closest Airport: West Kootenay Regional Airport (YCG), 2 hours[/ultimate_info_table][vc_separator border_width=”4″ el_width=”70″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content”][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”87106″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“I always think that just the lodge, the energy that it was built on—it wasn’t just another multi-million dollar project where everyone got paid and went home—it was the love and sweat of all those people that were committed to taking people up with a cat, skiing down and doing it all over again.”

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Turns out, that was a great idea. Since its inception in 1996, Retallack has grown to become consistently recognized as one of the best places to experience endless, deep powder snow, steep, challenging natural terrain and dreamlike gladed runs through old growth forest. It’s the kind of place that leaves you inspired in an overt and lingering way, and it’s that tangible, contagious energy that keeps Guderyan grinning.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“I coined a phrase a few years back,” explains Guderyan, with a tinge of excitement. “It goes: ‘I get high on second hand stoke.’ When the clients come down to the cat and I’m waiting for them, and they’re huffing and puffing and they’re high-fiving each other and then they’re coming into the cat, some of them may have just had the best run of their life… I get high on the second hand stoke that comes from that. I get high off of that vibe. That not only keeps me going, but it totally recharges my batteries internally.”

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Guderyan often places his reflections into poems and musings, which he shares over a toast at dinner each night. The effect of his thoughtful spoken words quiets everyone in the room; it draws the kind of attentiveness that’s seemingly disparate in our technology-driven culture. But a trip to Retallack brings everything into focus. What matters there is nothing but the skiing and the people you get to do it with, and that resonates from the countless professional athletes that have graced it’s slopes to the slew of clients that sell the place out year after year.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content”][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”87108″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]What attracts skiers, including early investors in the business, Seth Morrison and Tanner Hall, is two-fold, as explained by Guderyan. “It’s the amount of snow that we get out there… it is just usually snowing all winter long at Retallack. The next thing is the terrain, the terrain at Retallack is just crazy. Much of it is made accessible by that snowfall. In the summer, it’s just a rock field—just the most rugged terrain. You would never think that someone would be able to come down that, but after you get three or four meters [~13 feet] of snow, it starts to fill in and something that you think is impossible turns doable.”

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]With nearly 10,000 acres of skiable terrain, accessible by means of the two snowcats, miles of access roads and jaw-dropping snowfall at Retallack Lodge, it’s the kind of ski experience that lets your imagination run wild as you ski. Bottomless snow washes over your shoulders with every turn while your worries wash away and a childlike excitement takes its place.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“I just cannot leave here in the winter,” Guderyan says with a joyful voice. “What if I missed a big dump at the hill?”

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