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Saturday, July 31, 2004

More Photography by Mark Gallup

Photographer Mark Gallup shows us why lots of visitors to Chatter Creek prefer "the trees", where the powder skiing is usually best.

If you like the look of skiing the old burns, we had an earlier post with the same description

(Close the photo windows when done)

Friday, July 30, 2004

Chatter Creek's Vertebrae Glacier

Powder Skiing at Chatter Creek
Tracks on Vertebrae Glacier. The col at the top center of the picture is the entry point for the cat road. It's elevation is about 9600 ft. The glacier is large and offers many lines of fairly mellow skiing. The views are spectacular and embrace portions of North America's Continental Divide. Here's an earlier post showing Mt. Columbia and the Snow Dome. A predominant feature in the view from the glacier is the Sullivan Fault, a wall of folded rock. One of our favorite photos taken from the glacier is this view looking north.

The summit in the center of the picture is the highest point in Vertebrae Ridge, which slopes away to the south, a great steep-sided spine. Here's a view of the ridge as seen from the East Ridge.

Guests elect to visit the glacier as much for the views as for the skiing. For intermediate skiers, the skiing is marvelous. For expert skiers, the skiing is pleasant, but not challenging. However, the run back down the other side can be a different story. There are many lines there, and guides have choices, depending on the skill of their group and the snow conditions.

Vertebrae Glacier is east-facing and protected. However, sometimes the sun and wind will have "toasted" the other side and the "run back down" to good snow becomes a long cat ride. Nevertheless, guests still want the top-of-the-world experience and they rarely regret the time spent. The trip takes about 45 minutes, if there is no skiing on the way. Usually, it is taken in sections with stops for runs along the way, to break the journey.

Click here for another view from the top of the glacier and a shot of the run back home.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Mark Gallup Photo

Powder Skiing at Chatter Creek
©Mark Gallup

We promised some pictures by photographer Mark Gallup. Here's the first of a number to come. As we get more, we'll post them somewhere you can see them all. Thanks, Mark, for your generous permission for us to use your work. You bring out the joy of powder skiing.

Please remember that Mark's photos are covered by his copyright. If you want copies of Mark's photograph, please contact him through his Web site.

Monday, July 26, 2004

In case you have not eaten................

Powder Skiing at Chatter Creek
Chef Brett Kryskow and baker Tara Atkinson show off the fine fare that is the norm at Chatter Creek's Vertebrae Lodge. Meals are generous and of a high quality.

The good eating at Vertebrae Lodge starts each day at 7:30 in the morning with fresh fruit, cereal, and a hearty hot buffet breakfast.  During the day, between runs, guests browse on sandwiches, wraps, cakes, cookies and drinks as they ride the snowcats.  At the end of the day, guests are greeted back at Vertebrae Lodge with home made snacks or warm soup.  Dinner follows about two hours later.   An extensive choice of wines and beers are available from the well-stocked bar. 

Vegetarians and folks with special diets are well looked after by the kitchen staff.  People challenged by an expanding girth have to ski very hard to maintain the status quo while at Chatter Creek.

Our thanks to professional photographer Mark Gallup for the photo of Brett and Tara.  Mark also gives us a peek at the Vertebrae Lodge dining hall in action.

Chatter Creek boasts a succession of fine chefs.  Before Brett, in Vertebrae Lodge's first year of operation, chef Chris Duijts, owner of Golden's well known Kicking Horse Grill,  while on a four month sabbatical,  set a high standard for Chatter Creek, one that Brett and Tara have continued and advanced. 

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Mountain Lodge Construction Photo Journal launched

Mountain Lodge Construction at Chatter Creek
Chatter Creek partners Dale McKnight, Dave Markel, Matt Cochand and Dan Josephson

In the summer of 2002, the four young owners of Chatter Creek Mountain Lodges embarked on a monumental project, the construction of a large mountain lodge at their remote Rocky Mountain cat skiing site. Vertebrae Lodge would have 9300 sq. ft. of living space with comfortable sleeping accommodation for 24 clients.

At the end of the first week of July 2002 the building pad for the new lodge was clear and level. A stockpile of peeled and unpeeled logs were at hand, a portable sawmill was in operation and a mobile crane was on site. On December 25 2002, just 5 1/2 months later, the lodge was in full operation and the first 24 guests were roaming the lodge in awe.

In celebration of the tremendous accomplishment of the Chatter Creek partners, their families and their crew, a new photo journal is being launched.    Please take a look at our Mountain Lodge Construction photo journal (a Weblog, or "blog") to follow the history of the construction of Vertebrae Lodge.

Also, please look at the newly published article, 'Mission Impossible - Construction of a backcountry ski lodge' that may be found on the Chatter Creek Web site at:

Powder Skiing at Chatter Creek
Vertebrae ridge is a prominent feature near Chatter Creek. John Dunlop offers this photo of Vertebrae ridge taken while tree skiing on the East Ridge, a popular spot for Chatter Creek cat skiers. Miles to the north (to the left of the picture), a snowcat road crests the ridge at an elevation of almost 10,000 ft., giving Chatter Creek guests access to skiing on Vertebrae Glacier and its "top-of-the-world" vistas. 

Chatter Creek's flagship lodge, the 9300 sq. ft. Vertebrae lodge, is named after this ridge.

Thanks for the picture, John.

Please Write to US

We have been remiss!  We have neglected to publish our e-mail address. 

Readers, please feel free to write us at

We would love to hear your comments about Chatter Creek, about our little Web site, about snowcat skiing, log construction or any interresting topic.  If you have no particular comment, just say, "Hello", and let us know where you hail from. 


Your friendly Editor

Watch for Some Great Photography

The hallways in Chatter Creek's Vertebrae Lodge are graced by a number of stunning photographs donated by Mark Gallup, an old friend and long-time supporter. 

Mark is a professional photographer  who has done a great deal of photgraphy at Chatter Creek.

In the next few days and weeks, we expect to be able to bring you a few of the exceptional photographs Mark Gallup has taken at Chattter Creek ............................... stay tuned!

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Pictures by our Friend, Hans Gut

Over the past couple of years, your Chatter Editor has shared tours at Chatter Creek with Hans Gut and groups of Swiss skiers he has brought to BC.  Hans is a ski instructor at Silver Star Resort in Vernon B.C. and organizes summer and winter tours for European groups, mainly Swiss. He used to run a Bed and Breakfast in Armstrong BC., but we are told that is history.  Hans has pictures of Chatter Creek on his Web site at

These pictures were taken in 2003, during the first winter that Vertebrae Lodge was open.  In the first picture, the roof overhangs had not been completed and the outdoor furnace that heats the lodge had not yet been covered.  The plume of smoke from the furnace can be seen to the left of the lodge.   The 90 ft boom of the crane rises beside the lodge.

The second picture shows a giant "blowhole" that seems to form year after year.  We pass this feature on our way to Vertebrae Glacier.  It can be a bit of a playground for staff on snowmobiles, on the rare moments they get off work. 

The third picture is taken from the top of Vertebrae Glacier, looking across the glacier to the Sullivan Fault, a feature well known to geologists.  The mountains in the distance form part of North America's continental divide.

The fourth picture depicts a common occurrrence.  Skiers and snowboarders so taken by the view that they have forgotten why they are there.  Let's go guys!  Saddle up! There's skiing to be done!  In truth, a great thing about snowcat skiing is that the clients set the pace.  Unless there is a safety issue, guides never pressure guests to "move things along".  There's always time to admire the view, take pictures and "smell the roses".  Some groups are very "go-go", others are extremely laid back.

The last picture looks across the valley to the "Clamshell", a popular alpine bowl in the Chatter Creek tenure. It has lots of great lines.   A cat road can be seen rising up the left hand side of the bowl, just to the right of a rocky spine.  Perhaps we can ski there this afternoon!  If not, the ridge just visible in the foreground also has many great lines and there are many areas that are not in the picture.   So much terrain and so little time!

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Solitude Lodge Progresses

Mountain Lodge Construction at Chatter Creek
Back on the ranch, while most of us enjoy our summer, chainsaw artists Dale and Dan  are up at the Chatter Creek site battling the bugs and the flies and the summer heat, wrestling big spruce logs onto the rising walls of Solitude Lodge, their latest mountain lodge.

Click here to see and read more on the progress of the Solitude Lodge project

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Good Times at Vertebrae Lodge

Snowcat Skiing at Chatter Creek
When a group of old friends get together at Chatter Creek, they can have a lot of fun. They have fun on the hill, sharing the great skiing. They have fun in the snowcats, sharing terrible jokes and they have fun in the lodge with seances in the hot tub, games in the bar, and speeches and awards and more jokes at dinner.
It's pretty common at Chatter Creek for awards to be given for all sorts accomplishments (and misdeeds too). There is the "Pink Purse" award given for missteps on the ski hill. It moves constantly about each ski group during the day, to be finally awarded by general acclaim each night at dinner. Now, there is also the "Limp Cock Award", Chatter 's "Oscar", given for reasons we can't remember. Here we have our illustrious MC, Hartley, ex-water-ski champion awarding the Limp Cock Award to Al, ex national ski racer and ex motorcycle racer (well perhaps).
When last seen, the Limp Cock Award was decorating the water spigot in the kitchen. We mustn't lose track of that! It's a priceless and esteemed keeper with a long and honourable history.
Photo by Jennings.  Thanks Cliff!

Check out our gallery of Happy Campers at Chatter Creek.

Snowcat Skiing at Chatter Creek
Guide, Don Steedman skiing Spruce Slide on the west side of the East Ridge. How did the photographer get ahead of the guide?

Monday, July 19, 2004

We're being seen (some more)

We've been waving the Chatter News "flag" a bit and Luke of London (England) has taken notice.  Thank you Luke for your encouragement and advice.
In addition, Mark, the OutdoorsPro, has been gracious enough to mention us in dispatches.  Check out Mark's Alaskan photos.  They are great.
A footnote:  Take note that a couple of comments have been added to earlier posts.  These may appear in the future without notice.  We've heard from Norm Winter and Paul Daniel has told us about a backcountry trip in the Snowy Mountains. 

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Snowcat Skiing at Chatter Creek
Crichton's "cool rock" shot has found it's way onto at least one living room wall.   All part of the surroundings while snowcat skiing at Chatter Creek.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Help! Please link to us

We're just starting off with this Chatter Creek Newsletter and we have no credibility yet with the search engines like Google.   You can help us greatly if you have a Web site and will link to us
Chatter Creek has many friends, and many of those friends have businesses with Web sites, or even personal Web sites.  Please consider showing your friends and associates where you like to play by placing a link on your Web site, either to us here at Chatter News, or to the Chatter Creek Web site.
We hope others will link to us because they find us an interesting site.  Where necessary, we can provide reciprocal links.   A few quality links to this site will help Google find us and list us.
The information necessary for a link to this newsletter is:
Title:   Chatter News
Description:  Unofficial Newsletter about Snowcat Skiing at Chatter Creek
The information necessary to link to the Chatter Creek Web site is:
Title: Chatter Creek Snowcat Skiing & Snowboarding
Description: Snowcat Skiing and Snowboarding at Chatter Creek in the heart of British Columbia's back country.

Your help will be greatly appreciated.  Thanks! 

Passages at Chatter Creek

Snowcat Skiing at Chatter Creek
We are sorry to hear that Norm Winter, one of our favorite lead guides, will no longer be sheparding us to Chatter's best powder skiing. Norm is striking out on his own with a new heli-skiing business.  Good luck, Norm, we hope your new venture is a success. We'll miss you! 
We're sorry, Norm.  We apologize for the choice of photo. It's all we have of you at the moment.  Perhaps someone will come to your rescue with something more fitting for such an experienced, capable, qualified and distinguished ACMG Mountain Guide.
Watch this space for news of next winter's lineup of guides.  With the expansion, there will be at least two new lead guides and at least one additional tailgunner.

A New Excavator Speeds Progress at Chatter Creek

Mountain Lodge Construction at Chatter Creek
Dale and Dan have acquired a new (to them) excavator. It's a lot bigger and a lot newer than the old Hitachi that has served them so well over the years. The new machine is perfect for mountain lodge construction.
Dale is "itching" to get the new building up so he can attack the winter roads. There are so many places that the old machine was to small or too light or just too tired to deal with. The new machine will allow roads to be "punched through" some difficult places. Next winter, there should be quite a bit more terrain available for great powder skiing.

Skiing the Old Burns at Chatter Creek

Powder Skiing at Chatter Creek
Jamie enjoys some fine powder skiing in one of the old burns. The trees are a bit gnarly, but they are widely spaced and easy to ski.  It's way too much fun!  Man, I can't wait to get back!      Photo credit to Dave Harvey.

Views over North America's Continental Divide

Powder Skiing at Chatter Creek
Crichton Pike's photo from about 9600 ft., at the top of Chatter Creek's Vertebrae Glacier, shows Mt. Columbia in the center and the Snow Dome on the skyline, just to the right of center. The Snow Dome (the second low rise, furtherst to the right) is the hydrographic apex of North America. Snowmelt from this point flows into three oceans. The Snow Dome is also the source of the famous Columbia Icefield.

Click on photos to see an enlargement. Use the "Back" button on your browser to return to the newsletter.

Chatter Creek Cat Boarding Photos from Feb 20/24 2004

Note that the photos from Paul's trip have been removed by the formu. However they remain on the Chatter Creek Web site.
Paul Daniel, a Chatter Creek client from Neutral Bay, NSW,  Australia, has posted some great pictures from his recent tour to Chatter Creek.  As you will see, his pictures generated a lot of interest, including a response from Dave Markel, one of the four Chatter Creek partners.  Dave is also the author of the Chatter Creel Web site.  We hope that Paul will publish some of his pictures on the the Chatter Creek Web site.  By the way, Paul, the heavily folded mountainside is known as the Sullivan Fault.  We will try to get some information on this extraordinary feature from a friend who is geologist. 
Here is a hyperlink to Paul's trip report mentioned in the note below:   Backcountry trip in the Snowies

Few Openings Left in Chatter Creek's 2005 Schedule

Powder skiing enthusiasts who do not yet have reservations but  still want a cat skiing adventure  next winter at Chatter Creek are advised to call Merle McKnight at (250) 344 7199, just as soon as possible.
There are still a number of  openings before Jan 7, 2005 and after March 8.  The  booking schedule shown on the Chatter Creek Web site indicates openings on Jan 18 to 21, March 8 to 11 and March 15 to 29,  but those are the only dates indicated in high season.  These high season dates will likely fill very quickly as the fall approaches and people start to think again about the joys of powder skiing.
If you have waited too long to get the dates you want, and you are able to join a tour at the last minute, then consider placing your name on the Chatter Creek standby list.  You might get lucky!  Alternatively, don't shy away from the shoulder season, either in December, or in April.  The skiing can be excellent and it is a little less expensive.
On one of their earliest trips to Chatter, your editor and his mates encountered 150 cm of storm snow at Chatter, on top of a good base.  It was the lightest and deepest snow any of us had ever skied in. It was amazing!  The sort of thing we all read about, but never experience.  The time of year?  The second week of December!  If you have concerns about the shoulder season, talk to Merle McKnight.

Post your Chatter Creek pictures on the Web Site

Chatter Creek clients are encouraged to share pictures from their cat skiing tours on the Chatter Creek Web site. Please resize your pictures to less that 200KB each and attach them to an email addressed to Please identify any names to be given credit for the photos and the date of the tour when they were taken.

The subject of your email message MUST be PHOTOS (all caps). Otherwise your message will be discarded.

Alternatively, send us a link to a commercial Web site where you have already published your photographs. Look at the bottom of the Chatter Creek Photo page to see links to other pre-published client albums.

If you refer, send us your photos and comments and stories here at the Chatter News. Our email address is Photos should not need resizing. If you have really large photo files to send us, make contact by e-mail first and we will make arrangements to receive them. Thanks.


This newsletter is published by friends of Chatter Creek and is strictly unofficialReaders should always confirm any important information with the Chatter Creek office.  Please refer to the Chatter Creek web site for current contact information.

Powder Skiing at Chatter Creek
A pretty day in the Clamshell                       with thanks to Cliff Jennings

Web Site Upgrades

Chatter Creek's Web site is undergoing a facelift.  A number of new features have been added, including Chatter Creek's new Outdoor Gear store.   A complete line of quality outdoor gear can now be purchased on line, through the Chatter Creek Web site.  The products available online are entirely different from the clothing and merchandise that can be purchased by guests at Vertebrae lodge.
Most important, the Web site is being better optimized, so Internet users can find the site more easily.  Searches using keyword phrases such as "snowcat skiing" and "cat skiing" will now find Chatter Creek on the first or second page of listings returned by Google.  This is a significant improvement over the performance six months ago.   Users searching for "ski articles" can also easily find the Chatter Creek Web site.

The Web site is entirely  the effort of Chatter Creek partner, Dave Markel

Mountain Lodge Construction at Chatter Creek
Solitude Lodge Rises above the second floor

Parenthood and Lodge Construction

Well, if this is a newsletter, then perhaps we should have some news. What's new around Chatter Creek?

The big news is that Dale and Dan are both fathers.

On June 12, Lori and Dan welcomed their son Talus Gordon Josephson into the world. Talus weighed in at 8 lbs 7 oz. Mother and son are well and adjusting to one another.   Almost a month later,  on July 5, Isabelle gave birth to a very healthy 8 lb 9 oz son, Leo Micheal McKnight.  Fathers and mothers are "proud as punch".
The next piece of news is that Solitude Lodge is progressing.  Dale and Dan and their crew have been hard at work since early spring, before the ski season ended.  They harvested all of the logs they would need and skidded them to the site, well before the snow melted.  At least 100 logs have been hand peeled, and the sawmill has been running "full out" for weeks.  A huge amount of dimensioned lumber has been cut.

The following  pictures (above) show that the second deck joists are set and ready for decking.  That was last week.  It won't be long until the third floor is in place and they are ready to start the roof.  The building is at least three weeks further advanced than Vertebrae Lodge was at this point in the summer.
Dale expects that the third floor will have a half-height wall so that staff rooms can have windows for ventilation.  Consequently, Solitude lodge may be a little higher than Vertebrae Lodge.  The living area of the building will be about 7500 sq. ft.,  smaller than Vertebrae Lodge's 9300 sq ft.   It is planned that the first floor will contain the drying room for all 36 guests and that the bar and games room in Vertebrae lodge will be expanded to accommodate the 12 additional guests.  The two buildings stand face to face, with identical decks that meet to form a continuous level surface.  It will be an easy walk from one to the other.

Beside the drying room, the new building will have six double-occupancy guest bedrooms, a sitting area and a number of staff rooms and office space.  Bedrooms will have private shower, toilet and basin as in vertebrae Lodge.  The building will be less complex in that there will be no kitchen.

Friday, July 16, 2004

First Post to an Experimental Newsletter

Is a blog a good form for a periodic unofficial newsletter about Chatter Creek?  I guess we will find out soon enough.  This will be a learning process, and may be a little rough around the edges, for a while.  I'm pretty green at this, so bear with me and hopefully things will get better.  Either that, or this will be abandoned for a better vehicle.   First question is, "Where's the 'spell-check'?

Snowcat Skiing at Chatter Creek
Bluebird Days on Chatter Creek's Vertebrae Glacier 
                                                         photo by Cliff Jennings          Posted by Hello