Opinion » Alta States

Alta States

For the sheer love of life



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And he’s not afraid to put his money where his mouth is. “The mountains in wintertime don’t suffer fools,” he says. “So if you want to stay safe, you’ve got to know how to play on the right side of the ‘smart line.’” That’s why Safrata has devoted hundreds of volunteer hours raising awareness for the Canadian Avalanche Association. Just last week, for example, he hosted a comedy night “fun-raiser” at the GLC. “It was the culmination of a three-week publicity campaign in Whistler,” he explains. “And while we did raise over $3,000, it was way more about getting the word out about all the good things this organization does for mountain travellers. I mean, these guys kick ass!”

Safrata comes by his interest in the snow sciences honestly. Trained to become an engineer — “I completed my university years with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics” — Al debated with himself long and hard before deciding to turn his back on his Southern Ontario roots (and expectations) in order to take a job as a sales representative for Garmont ski boots on the West Coast. “I love mountains,” he says. “Always have. Always will. Training on Kokanee Glacier as a kid, then coming out to Whistler for summer camp — I was always drawn by that special energy that the mountains exude. For me, there really was no contest when the time came to decide how I wanted to make my living. I just couldn’t imagine grinding away as an engineer for the rest of my life.”

Many years later — and many jobs later, too — Safrata now finds himself pretty much where he wants to be. “I’m in the fun business,” he says. “I get paid to play — to share my passion for the outdoors and the mountains with all sorts of people. And I see it as a one of my responsibilities to make sure that these people — my clients and customers and employees — get to experience that fun on a regular basis.” He pauses again. Laughs. “Why? Because unless I make a point of encouraging them to get outside and play, most of them just won’t find the time in their day to do it.”