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Alta states

Colin Pitt-Taylor: Keeper of the stories

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Colin was raised in Rosemere, a bedroom community of Montreal, and like many of his generation, he was struck by wanderlust in his early 20s. “I spent a year and a half travelling through the U.S.,” he recounts. “My brother lived in Vancouver, so in the summer of 1971 I decided to go visit him.” An avid skier, Colin had already heard rumblings of this new, remote ski area called Whistler Mountain. But when he got to Vancouver, he realized just how close it was to town. “So I went up to check that out too.”

There wasn’t much at Whistler in those days. A base lodge, a parking lot and a gondola up the south side of the mountain pretty much made up the ski area. But Colin was taken with the place immediately and decided to explore employment opportunities here. “The first place I stopped at was the Cheakamus Inn,” he says. “John Reynolds was working at the front desk that morning.” He smiles. “It turns out he was looking for a cook and I was looking for a job.” It was a marriage made in Whistler heaven…

“It was like being part of a big family,” says Colin of his time at the Cheakamus. “It really wasn’t like work at all.” He laughs. “We’d get up early in the morning, prepare breakfast for the guests and then we were free to ski until 3 in the afternoon, when we’d come back to fix dinner.” He stops speaking. Sighs with pleasure (and just a little bit of nostalgia). “Skiing here in the early 1970s was just amazing,” he says. “It snowed and snowed and snowed…”

New adventures were hiding around every corner. And buddies to share them with were always available. “I remember one memorable overnight trip I did with Rene Paquet and a few of the boys back in 1974,” says Colin. “We left after breakfast one morning, climbed up to Singing Pass and made our camp early in the afternoon at the Russet Lake Hut. There was a full moon that night, so at 2 in the morning we climbed up to the top of Whirlwind Mountain — it was so bright you didn’t even need a headlamp — and waited on the summit for the sun to come up.” His face splits into a huge grin. A dreamy look floats across his eyes — it’s almost like he’s reliving that moment. “I still remember the run down like it was yesterday,” he says. “There is only one word to describe the descent to the cabin — it was out of this world! It was one perfect powder turn after another. It felt like it was never going to end…” But end it did. For that very afternoon they were back at work at the Chekamus, preparing dinner for their unknowing guests…