One of the best teams in skiing tackles deep snow in BC
Part IV – Words by Chris O’Connell
JANUARY 13 – 14 – SNOWWATER LODGE
Dan Treadway sits on the leather couch in Snowwater Lodge and shows everyone photos from his bachelor party. He shows pictures of a bunch of drunken guys blowing up Molotov Cocktails with shotguns on an island. It looks fun as all hell, but also a bit unsafe. Definitely not activities for suburban kids. Dan knows he’s a big-time redneck and he’s proud of it. But Dan also has an almost uncanny ability to read minds of photographers and know exactly what they want him to do. As a photographer, all you have to do is imagine what you want the shot to look like, and it will happen with Tread. This ESP has gained him more cover shots in the past few years than any other skier on the planet.
Dan’s just as at home inside Snowwater Lodge with leather couches and high-class food and drink as he is on his snowmobile in the middle of nowhere with a cold Kokanee beer. Snowwater calls itself a “heli operation with a back-up snowcat,” which is actually the best of both worlds. Heli operations have it rough in the middle of winter; it’s not uncommon to go an entire week without being able to fire up the bird due to bad snow and weather conditions. When that happens you have some pissed off doctors and lawyers that just shelled out five grand for a week of skiing and wound up with a week’s worth of hangovers instead. Patrick Maloney, the manager and owner of Snowwater, prides himself on taking clients out every day, regardless of weather. The snowcat portion of the operation isn’t the level you’d find at cat-only operations, but it’s damn fine anyway, with some great pitches and insane snow and perfectly gladed trees that allow for full speed tree runs. Pat is a commercial logger by trade, so his runs are gladed to perfection and perfect for skiers of all abilities.
The Oakley team spent two days at Snowwater, and while the weather didn’t quite cooperate for the heli, we did manage to make it out for a few hours. The Bell 407 helicopter was like a Rolls Royce. “Check out the cup holders,” Seth comments on the armrest-mounted cup holders in the heli. “We can take our lattes up to ski.” The ride is quite the machine, quiet and ultra fast; it’s pure luxury. Kye and < ahref="https://clk.atdmt.com/MEA/go/strmbo070080000069mea/direct/01/">Tanner manage to get in a sick doubles line, and Seth, Treadway and Tony ski another face and then the weather socks in, allowing just enough time to head back to the comfort of the Snowwater lodge with its wireless internet, cozy fireplace, and full-on five-star food. Joe’s stories entertain everyone at dinner. He’s a loose canon and has some seriously funny stories to tell. From logging to skiing, he’s got one for every occasion.
A couple hours of sunshine the next day allow Tony, Seth and the crew to dive into two feet of fresh snow and rocket through steep trees at a hollering pace. Unfortunately, the lodge is booked for the next week, so we’re moving on in the morning. After our last gourmet meal, we’re sitting in Snowwater’s luxurious lodge, while Anthony works on the latest pole designs for his accessory company, Joystick, and reviews graphics for his upcoming Armada pro model skis. Tony has two jobs — professional athlete and business owner/operator — so he’s busy night and day. “It keeps my mind working and I have something to look forward to at the end of the day,” says Tony. “I like to be creative and I have a lot of ideas that I want to see made reality, so it’s a perfect outlet for me.”
Our stay in Nelson comes down to a quiet fireside night at Snowwater, with five of the world’s best skiers and their ever present Apple computers checking email and lounging around the warm lodge. Seth will go on to ski powder at other remote locations in the world. Treadway, Kye and Tony will head back to Whistler and fire up their snowmobiles for the best Whistler season in years. Tanner Hall will go on to win the X Games two weeks later. None will forget the powder of Nelson in January 2007.
JANUARY 15 – LEAVING
I am sitting in the Kelowna Airport, thinking about writing this story, and worrying about selling out the secret stash of the century. But then I realize it’s okay, because no matter how many people come to Nelson, there will still be plenty of powder for everyone. “I’ve never had a bad trip to Retallack,” Tanner says. “I can’t say that for anywhere else I have ever been. It’s always good and the terrain is amazing. The whole Nelson area is the best snowfall pocket I have ever seen. Great people, great town, great skiing… what more could I ask for?” Point taken, Tanner.