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A Tribute to Thierry Cardon


by Rob Rohn, Director of Mountain Operations, CMH Heli-Skiing

In my first draft of this newsletter article I enthusiastically expounded on what a great start to the winter we’ve been having.  The 46th season of CMH Heli-Skiing is now in full swing.  All our areas are in operation, the snow is falling and the skiers have been grinning.  All this remains true, especially with the metre of fresh powder from this past week.

However in the last few days our hearts have been heavy with the loss of one of our longest serving and most influential guides.  On January 11 our good friend, colleague and mentor Thierry Cardon passed away at his home in Invermere after a relatively short battle with cancer.  Our hearts and best wishes go out to his wife Sylvie (yes they were married the previous week!) and his daughters Emily and Gillian.

Thierry Cardon, CMH Heli Skiing GuideI can’t overstate how profoundly Thierry influenced all of us over the course of his 36 years with CMH.  He was an innovative, out of the box thinker who pondered the multi-faceted challenges we face as Heli-Skiing guides and prodded the rest of us to do the same.  

In the aftermath of a tragic accident in the Bugaboos in 1982 he devised and successfully advocated for the use of what became the CMH runlist.  This simple innovation moved the decisions on where we should ski (and maybe even more importantly where we shouldn’t) away from the heat of on-the-fly operations that were subject to numerous environmental and human influences, to a team-based approach in the more objective environment of the morning guides meeting.  Like so many great ideas it was elegantly simple and blindingly obvious in hind sight.

Thierry lived our values – uncompromising in matters of safety and selflessly dedicated to creating a truly memorable experience for the thousands of guests who were fortunate enough to spend time with him in our mountains.  He was always the first to pitch in when there was work to be done and the first one ready to head out in the morning.  He had a wonderful sense of humor and a sage’s sense of purpose. 

He remained tirelessly dedicated to CMH right to the end.  On my final visit with him Thierry spent much of the time explaining his latest ideas on the chaotic nature of deep slab instabilities, ways to further enhance service to our guests and discussing our marketing initiatives.  He spoke with the calm urgency of a man who knows he has something to say and not much time to say it.

That day he was remarkably strong and at peace with his fate. He had no regrets. It was wonderful to reminisce and laugh with him.  He said he was headed on his greatest expedition yet.  Take care my friend; I have no doubt that you’ll reach the summit.

If any of you would like to share your memories of Thierry feel free to send them to us or include them in the comments section below and we’ll ensure that Sylvie and his daughters get them. At Thierry’s request there will not be a memorial or service at this time, but we’ll have a hell of a party to celebrate the life of this remarkable man after the season ends! 

We are also discussing ways to create a legacy that will ensure that Thierry’s unique influence lives on.  We’ll be sure to pass on the details when we have more information.

Life is precious; make the most of every moment!

With best wishes to all. 

Rob Rohn



Thierry was my first guide 6 years ago hiking in the Bobbie Burns. He was so enthusiastic and excited and being my first CMH experience I was hanging off his every word to take it all in.  
He was an incredible ambassador to the outdoors and all the fun you can have in it.  
I had a chance to hike and dine with him again this past summer in the Bobbie Burns and again he is a big part of some of my most treasured memories.  
I'll miss you friend, the world is a better place for having had you in it.  
My condolenses and love to Sylvie, Emily and Gillian.
Posted @ Tuesday, January 18, 2011 12:28 PM by Becky
Merci , Rob pour tout les bons mots a propos de Thierry , beaucoup de Gens du Québec ont connue ce grand montagnard ,et en garde un immense souvenir, sa passion pour le Héliski était communicative ,  
( que les cieux lui soit ouvert pour de nouvelles traces ) 
pierre verot (rep) pour la belle province
Posted @ Wednesday, January 19, 2011 11:02 AM by pierre verot
Thierry a enseigné le ski avec moi à l'école de ski d'Avoriaz pendant l'hiver 1969-1970. Même si je n'ai travaillé à ses côtés qu'une seule saison, j'ai gardé de bons souvenirs de lui et tous ses amis ont été très choqués en apprenant sa disparition. 
Anselme Baud a dit: « Quel évènement brutal; j'ignorais qu'il était malade et m'apprêtais à le contacter à l'occasion de mon voyage prévu pour la fin janvier au Canada, justement avec CMH. On se connaissait depuis longtemps; d'Avoriaz bien sûr, mais aussi pendant les mois passés ensemble en Amérique du Sud où il m'avait fait partager sa passion pour la musique (guitare et charango ), la montagne , la grimpe et le ski ...c'est un de mes très bons compagnons qui vient de partir. »  
Tout comme Anselme, un autre ancien moniteur d'Avoriaz, Patrick Wahle se souvient bien de lui: « J’ai toujours eu beaucoup d’amitié pour Thierry. Nous faisions de la montagne ensemble et avions fait la Haute Route Chamonix-Zermatt dans des conditions de haute neige exceptionnelles. C'est tellement triste de le voir parti … » 
Bon voyage Thierry là où tes compétences de guide vont désormais t'entrainer. Pour le moment tu vas tous nous manquer.  
JF Lanvers, Park City, Utah
Posted @ Wednesday, January 19, 2011 11:46 AM by Jean-François Lanvers
Rob, you've pretty much said it all and so elequenty!! But there is one story of Thierry that I must put in ink. Many of our early Dec Gothics skiers will remember this. It was a tough cold windy morning and we were battling "industrial" conditions, hard wind pack, not really good skiing. Thierry was the "extra" guide out trying to find us something. Anyway long story short, he did! He summoned all of us over to "Creme de la Creme" in the Monashees and upon our arrival he had a huge lunch table set up and an even bigger grin! He knew what was all around us. After lunch the group went wild on a wind sheltered ridge, with the cold afternoon sun shining brightly upon just perfect knee to waist deep powder with awesome stability and visibility. The energy level that night at the lodge was incredible and we all toasted Thierry several times. He was special and will be missed. Being in his prescence was truely a treat.  
Our sympathy and most sincere regards to Sylvie and his daughters.  
Ted Ritota & members of The Aesculapian Society
Posted @ Wednesday, January 19, 2011 2:52 PM by Ted Ritota
During the last week of heli-hiking this past September my husband and I had the privilege of hiking with Thiery.It was our first experience in the Bugaboos. At 85, Jim was in pretty good shape but injured a toe on the first afternoon out. I am not in any shape at 71 and have moderately severe spinal stenosis making down hill hiking painful. Thierry was our guide on the last day and made us feel like first class tekkers. He found places to hike, flora that he knowledgably discussed and anecdotes about life in the Bugaboos to tell us.He guided us with care and respect although we must have been the least able people he had ever led in the mountains. Our pleasure in hiking the Bugaboos and the memories we made were due to him. We are sadden that he will not offer the gift of the mountans to others and send our condolences to his wife and daughters.
Posted @ Wednesday, January 19, 2011 3:14 PM by Nathalie Borozny
Thierry rocked! I only got to be with him on one brief hiking trip, but will never forget him! He explained how the lodges provide emergency assistance to any and everyone in the area upon request as the heli zoom away to rescue some campers being chased by bears. His warm personality, energy, and passion for CMH and the mountains was evident even to rookies! What a huge gift he was to all lucky enough to spend time with him.
Posted @ Wednesday, January 19, 2011 3:16 PM by Jonna Naylor
I have hiked with Thiery on many of my heli-hiking trips, and I will always remember him as a great hiking guide. He had a quiet presence about him while still being so attuned to our safety and to making sure we had a memorable experience. I will miss him.
Posted @ Wednesday, January 19, 2011 4:11 PM by Anne Hipp
I knew Thierry at the Bobbie Burns in 1985. I was there with my father, Tibor, whom he guided on that, regrettably his only, CMH trip. Tibor followed Hans Gmoser's adventure from the very beginning of CMH. In March of 2005 I stepped off the bus at the Gothics and Thierry immediately greeted me, "Comment va Tibor?". I felt so welcomed and pleased that he still remembered my beloved father, who passed in 2002, 20 years later! I regret his untimely death and remember him very fondly. Jane Reldan, MD La Jolla, CA
Posted @ Wednesday, January 19, 2011 4:42 PM by Jane Reldan, MD
Thierry was my first guide in the Bobby Burns in 88 and my last guide in 2010 at the Gothics. He was CMH! His enthusiasm never faded. He could ski thru the trees, roll a smoke and have it half finished before we would show up. He taught me to powder ski. I will miss him.
Posted @ Wednesday, January 19, 2011 6:34 PM by George Levien
I met Thierry on his first guides training week, which I believe was in the Bugaboos in the mid '70's. Mid week, I busted up some ribs going off some ledges and I remember the delightful sense of humor he used to keep me laughing and grimacing over the next few days. Spent much more time skiing with him over the next few years and he was a terrific guide and person who will be missed by all who met him!
Posted @ Wednesday, January 19, 2011 7:15 PM by Ralph Jumago
Thierry taught me so much that i'm at a loss of where to begin. I worked with him both in the Burns and the Gothics. He had the ability to contribute his thoughts and beliefs in a way that was powerful and calm. I really admired him for that, the way he communicated so profoundly his ideas... and held this space around him that allowed for trust and security, there was no judgment, only accept and love. 
Thierry taught me to be ok with the here and now, to really live in the present. I believe he lived his own words and i hold in my heart the belief that he really had no regrets, and new he was moving on into the next realm of existence. He intrigued me with his knowledge of the stars and sky... and had my personality pegged from a mile away.  
I remember being so excited to see him, whenever i had that honor. We'd sit down and catch up, i'd see the familiar twinkle in his eye, and skip in his step... i loved listening to his voice, and his smile was sincerely contagious.  
One time skiing in the Gothics, we were alone on the top of Big Stope, two guides, no guests... ready to ski cut... haha! Ski cutting for Thierry!.. he did one long swoop across the top of the slope and was gone! He skied so fast all i saw was the orange flash through the trees below... unbelievable i thought, that man can ski!! and he loved it, i can still hear his voice ring out, his classic yoodle.  
I could go on and on about Thierry as my memories of him come rushing through... but for now, i'll simply say, I loved him and admired him... he was a huge influence and i'm grateful to have known and worked with him. He'll not ever be forgotten. I believe he is still with us, and with every twinkle of ice crystal in the air, that's Thierry letting all of us know that he's still here! :)
Posted @ Wednesday, January 19, 2011 9:46 PM by Lindsay Andersen
I had the chance to ski with Thierry many times during the 10 weeks I spent with CMH between 1996 and 2003 and I'm really sad to hear he's gone. 
I'll never forget how kind and enthusiast he was. Always a nice story to tell or a little joke to use to make us smile. 
I'll also remember the smell of the cigarettes he was smoking even while skiing, and how it helped me find him even in the deepest forests. 
Rest in peace Thierry.
Posted @ Thursday, January 20, 2011 2:57 AM by Vincent
Thierry guided me, my friend Bob Darrow, Alison Darrow and friend 
Mary about 34 years ago......... 
Thierry also has friends in the 
Woodstock, VT area where we live. 
We all love him and it is tough to 
say Goodbye.
Posted @ Thursday, January 20, 2011 7:53 AM by Huigh Hermann, M.D.
It was 1979 and Thierry and I are standing together at the top of Cannon Barrel. The pilot has landed at the bottom of that run on the flat run out in the open meadow. I hear the pilot over the radio say, "A bottle of wine to the first one down!" Thierry looks at me with that grin on his face and says, "I'll race you!" 
So we took off...I don't need to tell you who won. At dinner that night he shared his bottle of wine with me.  
Thierry and I had many great runs like that at the Bugs as I'm sure all of you have. I will miss his neck scarf flying in the breeze as he skiis away from us.
Posted @ Thursday, January 20, 2011 8:29 AM by Jerry weis
I was lucky to work with Thierry way back in the 70's early 80's at the Bobbi Burns & Bugaboos, he had fun with the remote control helicopter he got from my husband Jack........ 
they were great years.
Posted @ Thursday, January 20, 2011 10:42 AM by Liz ( Birtle ) Sharp
I learned so much from Thierry each time that I saw him and had the pleasure to join him for dinner at any of the lodges. Strangely enough, I don't think that I ever hiked with him. However, those dinner conversations will live in my memories for a long time with topics ranging from guest service, his love of guiding, the stars, the early days of CMH, his life in many great conversations. Thank you, Thierry.
Posted @ Thursday, January 20, 2011 10:59 AM by Jane Carswell
I only knew Thierry briefly. I visited CMH as a heli-painter and Thierry had dinner with our group several times. Many of us were intrigued with this strong, silent man of integrity. Given the opportunity, I am sure we would have enjoyed exploring the depths of his personality. I know he will be greatly missed by his friends and family and I would like to send my heartfelt condolences.
Posted @ Sunday, January 23, 2011 9:47 AM by Laurel Alanna McBrine
I had the pleasure of skiing with Thierry for a week in the Gothics, and I am not surprised to read about his contributions to CMH and the fond memories of him held by others.  
Thierry was eager to share his knowledge of the mountains with us, and he was frequently creative about how he imparted some of that knowledge. I will always remember one day when we were skiing through the trees in deep powder. Thierry suddenly stopped, took off his skis, and told us that he wanted to make sure that we really appreciated how deep tree wells could be as he stepped into a nearby well. I am sure that he was confident that he would be able to easily climb out of the well, but that was not to be. The well was deeper than he anticipated, and we had to shovel him out!  
I know that he will be missed, and I send my condolences to his family and friends. 
Posted @ Sunday, January 23, 2011 1:26 PM by Linda Bentley
I had the pleasure of skiing with Thierry in the Gothics, and I still remember his wry smile even in terrible weather (which of course resulted in great skiing). He will be greatly missed. 
Posted @ Monday, January 24, 2011 3:27 PM by Sam Williamson
As Jean-François Lanvers wrote it in a previous comment, Thierry was more than a friend, he was a "copain" (buddy), We taught skiing together in Avoriaz in the 60's and early 70's. 
Before being a ski instructor he worked in the ski patrol. After the season we would drive to Chamonix or any other places where we could enjoy spring skiing or mountain climbing. When he was preparing his admission test to the "Aspirant Guide" exam, we would "race" piling huge vertical drops in the least amount of time. I thought I was in shape after one year and a half in the "Chasseurs Alpins" (Alpine troops) but it was not enough to keep pace with him. He was a "chamois" (mountain goat). Each time we slept in an alpine hut we had so much fun that a couple of times the hut keeper asked us to sleep outside (Grands Mulets - Chamonix and Cabane Monfort - Verbier). Always the last ones to arrive at the hut, the last ones to get up but we would catch up and arrive to the top among the first "cordées". This was the Thierry I knew. 
I am going to open a bottle of fendant in his memory and also put an extra glass for him. He would like that.  
Mes pensées vont à Sylvie, ton épouse, à Emily et Gillian tes 2 filles. 
Salut Thierry, on se reverra un jour...
Posted @ Tuesday, February 01, 2011 10:27 AM by Patrick Wahle
It is 3:30am in the morning and I can't sleep thinking of the loss of Thierry. I just found out this evening at dinner with friends who we Heli Ski with that Thierry passed away.. I was sickened to hear and my heart goes out to his family and all of you at CMH... I skied with him twice at the Gothics the last couple of years and he was always so gracious and fun to ski with.. He will be greatly missed and I'm proud to say I got to be with him the two times that I did... 
Tina Willmore 
Park City, UT
Posted @ Saturday, February 12, 2011 4:25 AM by Tina Willmore
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