If there were no survivors, where do the stories come from?

If you find yourself bent over double, one hand wrapped around the binding of a snowboard buried tail deep in snow to the side of the sub-peak bootpack at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, you and I might have a few things to chat about.
If you’re out of breath because today is Wednesday and on Tuesday night you racked up a bill at the Village Idiot you can in no way afford, before attempting some questionable dancing at the Regent Hotel’s ‘Tooneys’ Tuesday night, you and I have probably already had many a chat about many a thing.
Though it is possible neither of us remember any such conversation.
Take a look around; enjoy the sight of a particularly gnarled pine tree weighed down with a winter’s worth of snow, framed against the backdrop the most spectacular mountain range you and many of your fellow hikers have ever seen.
But if you, like I, have done this hike so many times over the course of the winter you have stopped casting your eyes to the horizon to fully appreciate the circumstances of your situation, take your arse back to the base of the hike and start all over again, because you deserve the pain you ungrateful little shit.

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Take a deep breath, exhale.
Evoke your inner Englishman and utter a stream of swear words so obscene it’s like you’re actually Richard Hammond on a bicycle in peak hour traffic.
Take a deep breath, exhale, and realise in a moment of clarity that this is one aspect of a life you have dreamed of since first discovering snowboarding more than ten years ago.
You will begin to enjoy the mountain air in your lungs a little more than you are struggling with the tequila fermenting in your gut; potentially so much so you will stop forcing your sense of guilt onto an imagined audience in the third person and I may start referring to these non-problems as my own.
So I took a deep breath, exhaled and continued on up the face of Mt Mackenzie, following in the footsteps of three friends and thousands of powder pigs and hungry hounds working for those turns, burning for those turns on the bowls and ridges surrounding Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

Karine and I had hired avalanche beacons and along with Max and Jeff’s back country experience, fully specced gear and avalanche training, we were able to lull ourselves into a sense of security.  
The boot pack was well laid out on the face ahead of us, as the many sunny days of this Spring/Winter had given many a punter an opportunity to search out fresh tracks, so it seemed to be simply a matter of following that to the peak and hoping for the best – with an awareness of the worst.

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With one eye on the bootpack and one on the many cornices over hanging the 50+ metre drops to the bowl below, we reached the summit of Mt Mackenzie  in t-shirts and, in my case, a boozy-sweaty mess.
After a breather and Geoff’s participation in the #whereismoke Instagram hashtag, we strapped in and headed down the ridge for the entrance of the Brown Shorts chute which would lead us back to the inbounds area of the resort.
It would be a bittersweet descent; without fresh snow since the previous Friday it was unlikely we would find any new tracks down the chute, but any avalanche danger was substantially lessened for the same reasons.
So there wasn’t much more to it, but to eye out a line, keep my weight heavy on my back foot, keep my ears open for any unusual rumblings from on high, lean over the edge and take the drop.


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