The Heli-Ski Blog

Boarding for Breast Cancer prescribes powder skiing medicine

Posted by Topher Donahue on Jan 29, 2013 7:37:00 AM

This coming weekend, February 2-4, the acclaimed Boarding for Breast Cancer (B4BC) is hosting a new event, ReTreat Yourself, at Red Mountain Resort, near Rossland, British Columbia. Rossland is just over two hours north of Spokane, Washington, and four hours south of the powder epicentre of Revelstoke, BC. Lead by a star-studded cast of inspiring women, ReTreat Yourself is a celebration of breast cancer survivors and all other women who find medicine in the mountains.

The ReTreat Yourself weekend is a healthful bonanza of skiing, snowboarding, yoga, meditation, music, discussions and journaling - with a couple of surprises thrown in here and there. The event leaders, shown clockwise from top left, include Linda Kennoy, a life councelor from Colorado, ski legend Kasha Rigby, pro snowboarder Megan Pischke, professional chef Marianne Abrahams, yoga instructor extraordinaire Kristin Campbell and pro snowboarder/Doctor of Chinese medicine, Kendra Starr:
boarding for breast cancer

To find out a bit more about the event, part of B4BC's Shred the Love Tour, I talked to Megan Pischke, the spiritual leader of ReTreat Yourself.

TD: How you take these things that most people view as sports and turn them into medicine?

MP: It’s definitely one of the most valuable lessons I took from my sport of snowboarding- it healed me, and it continues to do so. From my experience, nature is healing, the air, the trees, being in “Gods” space if that’s what you want to call it. Its where I can disconnect to anything that doesn’t serve me, and connect into what I really am and where I came from and where I will go- my belief is that this in everyone, if they could just let go of what maybe their mind is telling them (especially about trying new things, not having time for it, etc.) , and FEEL the connection to their true selves within nature, and THEN adding a sport is a bonus, As there is no time for lists, phone calls, even worries, and your focus becomes in the moment. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, or even an hour from now, pure concentration on the NOW. This is where the mind/body connection comes in, and this is where I believe all healing begins. And then of course the endorphins, the excitement, the overcoming fears. Gosh, the list goes on…

TD: Rossland, one of the favourite stops on the Powder Highway, seems like a great place to hold this event. Where are the 10 "survivors" from in general?  Are they travelling far to attend?

MP: Rossland is amazing - its off the beaten path and “out there” compared to other places I have held these retreats. And love it for the adventure! We have gals coming from Squamish and Vancouver, BC, Jasper, Alberta, as well as Kansas, and even from as far as Tennessee.

TD: When you've done these events before at both surf and ski destinations, how does the dynamic of the group change over the weekend?

MP: You know, honestly women are great at making friends, being open to the experience, and very comforting to eachother. Interestingly enough, I have not seen a group that doesn’t start off powerful - really, every time I am humbled and blown away from the beginning. And I would say, there are beautiful lifelong friendships and camaraderie formed by the time it comes around to goodbyes.

TD: How good of a rider do you need to be to really reap the rewards of this program? I see you suggest intermediate to advanced, but where is the sweet spot in ability level - if there is one?

MP: The suggestion this time around was based on the fact that Red Mountain is known for its intermediate/advanced terrain (this place really does kick ass!), and really this was more for the general public who we also invite to attend. We of course welcome all and any levels - and appreciate the fact some gals want to take advantage of the fact that we have fully certified mountain instructors to help them try snowboarding vs. skiing and vice versa. We have never-evers, and I love it that some want to just go for it - regardless of their age or ability. And of course, we always have intermediates/advanced who want to take it to the next level, and also why I bring my pro athletes in (and because they are amazing in their own rights!), to inspire these gals, and encourage the push.

I shared the news of ReTreat Yourself wth a close friend of mine who on Friday underwent an operation to remove breast cancer. With the wounds from the operation not yet healed, she will not be able to attend this weekend, but upon learning of the event she replied: "I would do it this weekend if they'd let me! It's important. Not just for fun, but to meet other people who are going through it and do something together that is good for you in this life."

She'll be there next time.

The B4BC Scholarship Fund, sponsored by The North Face, is providing 10 fully-paid ReTreat Yourself spaces for breast cancer survivors. While the 10 sponsored spaces are already spoken for, there are still ReTreat Yourself spaces available for paying guests. For more information, contact Megan Pischke at, or to support the cause, contribute to B4BC.

Topics: Revelstoke, British Columbia, Events, resort skiing, powder skiing, Snowboarding, powder highway