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.
I 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.