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Saturday, February 12, 2005

Welcome to Chatter Creek Snowcat Skiing . This site introduces the men and women who operate Chatter Creek and make it such a delightful spot for a winter ski vacation. In five years, Chatter Creek has become well known for providing a superior backcountry powder skiing experience. Chatter Creek has developed a devoted clientelle who return year after year, largely due to the excellence of the staff. That and the wonderful powder skiing available in the 130 sq. km Chatter Creek cat skiing tenure.

For more information about the Chatter Creek staff, look at the Chatter Creek Staff at Play site. Also, please look at Chatter Creek Summer Crew and the Chatter Crew at Work photo galleries. You will see many of the Winter staff hard at work on the lodge construction projects.

Scroll down (best) to meet the Chatter Creek winter staff and to see lots of candid staff photos, or use the following links: Andrew Prosser    Brenda Lenahan    Carly Caplette  Ceri (Keri) Willott  Charlotte Visser   Chris Hacker  Christoph Lotter  Dale McKnight   Dan Josephson   Dani Loewenstein  Dave Healey   Don Norosky  Herb Bleuer   Ian Kirschner   Ilyssa Madge  Isabelle Thibeault   Jerry Cook  John Dougall  Jubilee Cacaci   Julie Piercey  Ken Black   Lori Larwill   Kristen Page   Kristi Easton  Marc Beleyme  Merle McKnight   Mike McKnight   Nichola Gilbert  Todd Nunn   Pete Tashman   Pete Willott   Tara Atkinson   Tim Widmer  Tyler Mills  .  

This Ski Weblog (blog) is part of the Chatter News family of photo galleries about cat skiing and cat boarding at Chatter Creek.

Dale McKnight

Dale McKnight, Chatter Creek owner & partner, road builder, father of Leo, husband to Isabelle
Chatter Creek owner, Dale McKnight on his way to spend 12 or 14 hours building new snow roads. Dale and his partner Dan keep the Chatter Creek operation going. If a cat driver has trouble negotiating a soft snow road, Dale is right there on a snowmobile, ready to "horse" the cat up and on its way. Dale's skills and creativity in building cat roads are legend and help make the on-hill operations as smooth as they are. Dale McKnight is the proud Daddy of Leo and is Isabelle's husband.

Dan Josephson

Danny Josephson, Chatter Creek owner & partner, mechanic, log builder, father of Talus, partner of Lori
Dan Josephson with his favorite form of transportation. Chatter Creek owner and equipment operator extraordinaire, Dan helps keeps Chatter Creek going. While his partner Dale McKnight spends countless hours out in the excavator or the road cat building cat roads, Dan Josephson fixs everything from snowcats, to coffee makers, and from generators to chain saws. Between them Dale and Dan keep things humming. Besides, Chatter Creek, the pride of Dan's life is his new son, Talus. The love of his life is Lori.

Merle McKnight

Merle McKnight, Chatter Creek office manager, the friendly voice of Chatter Creek, wife of Mike
Merle McKnight is the "heart and soul" of the Chatter Creek office. For over five years, Merle has been the friendly "voice" of Chatter Creek, stick-handling bookings and trying to accommodate everyone. She has been involved in all aspects of the management of Chatter Creek.

In another life, Merle ran a printing business in Golden and was an accomplished commercial artist. As volunteer president of the Abbeyfield House Society, Merle was instrumental in the funding and construction of a home for the elderly in Golden. Merle McKnight and husband Mike were also involved in the construction and operation of the original Whitetooth Ski area in Golden.

Mike McKnight

Mike McKnight and Merle in front of Vertebrae and Solitude Lodges. Mike has participated in almost all aspects of the development of Chatter creek. After a career as Park Warden at Lake Louise, Mike thought he had retired a year or two ago. However, his days have been filled by Chatter Creek chores ranging from helping to load guests in and out of helicopters, to looking after much of the company's business in Golden, to helping with summer construction projects and with solving endless problems relating to equipment and procuring materials for the lodge site. Mike McKnight provided a lot of the basic log-building expertise for the "Bath House" and later helped with Vertebrae Lodge. Much of the equipment used to construct Chatter Creek belonged to Mike.

Mike was insturmental in the development and operation of the original Whitetooth Ski Area that has now become Kicking horse Resort. Mike and Merle recently sold a beautiful log home that Mike had build above Nicholson and they plan to retire soon to Penticton.

Chatter Creek manager, Jubilee, with cat skiing guides Josh & Herb and tailgunner Dani
Assistant lodge manager, Jubilee with guides Josh and Herb and tailgunner Dani (pronounced "dunny")

The guiding staff in 2005 includes Andrew Prosser, Herb Bleuer, Josh Milligan, Gord Irwin, Shane Kroger, and Dave Birnie. The assistant guides include Charlotte Visser, Will Devlin, Ken Black, Pete Tashman, Todd Nun, Dani Loewenstein, Niki Kriese, Mark Mallet, and Paul Hardwood.

The cat drivers are Pete Willot, Don Norosky, Brenda Lenahan, Marc Beleyme and David Healey.

Andrew Prosser

Chatter Creek ACMG guide Andrew Prosser & cap
ACMG Mountain guide, Andrew Prosser has been a lead guide at Chatter Creek since 2002. Andrew is from Halifax. His east-coast experiences included crewing on 1 ton sailboats and making boat deliveries. An attraction to mountains brought Andrew west and he worked for about 10 years at Lake Louise as a lift mechanic, before moving to Golden. Andrew Prosser is a millwright who specializes in rigging and tower work and, in the summer, he works on chairlift installations. He's a handy guy to have around machinery that is prone to breaking. As much as he enjoys his mountain life, Andrew would love to do some more sailing. We've heard from a number of older women that they really enjoy Andrew's guiding.

Herb Bleuer

Chatter Creek ACMG Guide Herb Bleuer
Part time guide Herb Bleuer joined Chatter Creek in 2005, after six years with Monashee Powder Adventures. Herb brings with him over 35 years of experience as a heli-guide, a cat skiing guide, a ski instructor and as a heli-operator. Herb's quiet demeanour and sense of humour is very popular among Chatter Creek's guests. Recorded history does not go back far enough to tell us the last time Herb fell while on skis. Herb Bleuer is From Wengen, Switzerland and was teaching skiing in New Zealand as far back as 1965. Herb was one of the charter guides at CMH Heli-skiing, and one of the first heli-operators at Whistler. Here's another photo of Herb with some other icons of backcountry skiing in BC.

Ken Black

Chatter Creek ACMG Assistant Guide, Ken Black shows off his ARC'TERYX staff jacket
ACMG Assistant Ski Guide, Ken Black is from Okatoks, Alberta, but now lives in Golden. Ken has been guiding at Chatter Creek since 2000. In the summer months, Ken Black works for ski areas and backcountry operators installing and maintaining telemetry equipment such as remote weather stations and radio repeaters. Ken enjoys surfing, mountain biking and some climbing, but his real passion is girls.

Isabelle Thibeault

Staff manager, Isabelle Thibeault and son, Leo McKnight, on an Alpine Helicopter flight to Chatter Creek
Future employee, Leo McKnight enjoys his first helicopter flight with mother Isabelle Thibeault. Isabelle helps manage the lodges and manages the guiding staff. Isabelle Thibeault is a trained assistant guide and is Dale's spouse.

Lori Larwill

Prior Chatter Creek lodge manager, Lori Larwill and son Talus Josephson
Another future Chatter Creek employee is Dan Josephson's son, Talus, here with his Mom, Lori Larwill. Lori set up much of the original organization for the operation of Vertebrae Lodge and now works part time, helping with lodge management.

Jubilee Cacaci

Chatter Creek lodge manager, Jubilee Cacaci, at work on the books
Part time Lodge manager Jubilee Cacaci hard at work on the bar records. "Jube" has been bartending and managing at Chatter Creek since 2003. Jube is a "spark" who lives up to her name. During the summers, Jubilee looks after a grizzly bear named "Boo" who lives on a 22 acre habitat on the mountain at Kickung Horse Resort. Jubilee Cacaci conducts interpretive tours and performs research in the habits and knowledge of her furry ward.

Tara Atkinson

Chatter Creek baker supreme, Tara Atkinson
Tara Atkinson is a professional baker and makes "mean" cookies. She also bakes extraordinary birthday cakes, great bread, rolls, buns and every other form of baking imaginable. Tara Atkinson has been at Chatter Creek since 2003 and she hails from Golden.

Pete Tashman

Chatter Creek Tail Gunner and ski area consultant, Pete Tashman
Pete Tashman has been involved with Chatter Creek for a number of years, either as a tail guide or as a consultant in the tenure application process. We don't have the "scoop" on Pete yet, but we believe that he was a backcountry guide in the US for a number of years and that he was responsible for obtaining the Mica Creek heli-skiing tenure. Pete Tashman left Mica Creek Heli-skiing last year and joined Chatter Creek as a full-time guide. We wonder if Pete still collects baseball cards.

Todd Nunn

Chatter Creek assistant guide, Todd Nunn
Assistant guide, Todd Nunn makes sure there is lots of food in his cat every morning. Todd Nunn comes from Canmore where he runs a rafting business. He comes to Chatter Creek to tail guide and relax. This photo is not a bad dream. We could not decide which of two photos of Todd we liked more, so we used them both.

Charlotte Visser

Chatter Creek tailgunner, Charlotte Visser
We don't have a portrait shot of Charlotte Visser, so this will do for now. Charlotte has been a very popular tail guide at Chatter Creek since 2003. Hailing from Bromont in Quebec's Eastern Townships, Charlotte has Dutch parentage and speaks Spanish and French. She is an expert telemarker and enjoys cross country skiing and mountain biking. Charlotte's summer experience includes three years in South America as a treking guide. Last summer, Charlotte Visser was engaged in Health and Safety work with a Mongolia geological exploration project. Interesting as Mongolia was, the highlight of the summer was a visit from Trevor.

Dani Loewenstein

Dani Loewenstein hails from South Africa. Dani (pronounced "Duni") joined Chatter Creek in 2005 as a tail guide. He's a very friendly chap who seems to perk right up when Kristen is around. Dani Loewenstein has been a great help with the Chatter News.

In the summers, Dani teaches rock climbing and other outdoor activities at Strathcona Lodge near Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island. After the end of the 2005 ski season at Chatter Creek, Dani spent some time at Sentry Lodge in the Selkirk Mountains west of Chatter Creek and he did an eight day ski trip in the Freshfields, east of Chatter Cree. At Freshfields, Dani skied off of sseven different peaks and had a pretty unique vantage point of some of the Chatter Creek terrain.

Ian Kirschner

Ian Kirschner works part time at Chatter Creek as a tailgunner.

John Dougall

Ski photographer, John Dougall
Ski Photographer, John Dougall displaying his day's work to guests in Vertebrae lodge. John skis with guests all day, taking candid photos and then spends half the night printing shots for guests. John has a long history of outdoor photography and has worked in many situations, for many clients. We've set up a Weblog (blog) for John called, "Ski Photography by John Dougall".

Nichola Gilbert

Formerly a marine biology student, Nichola Gilbert has come all the way from Palmerston North and Rotorua in New Zealand to serve drinks at Chatter Creek. Nichola is part Maori, which accounts for the great smile. After four years at Lake Louise in lift ops, maintenance and operations management, Nichola came to Golden to work at KHR. She learned bartending in Prince George, where she spends her summers with Jay tree planting and fighting forest fires. As a fire fighter, Nichola Gilbert works on initial attack and on mop-up. Hard work! When she's not serving drinks, Nichola enjoys a little snowboarding.

Tim Widmer

Tim Widmer, one of Chatter Creek's friendly bartenders. Tim hails from Australia. We like to think that Tim came to Canada to learn about good beer. However, it also had something to do with finishing up two degrees at Queens University, one in Science, and the other in Commerce. Last year, Tim Widmer worked as a bartender at Lake Louise. He's contemplating some forestry work and river rafting for the summer. Tim recently won a wager over who might put whom in the hot tub. It was not much of a contest.

Christoph Lotter

Christoph Lotter hails from Bavaria, near Munich. He had worked in German, Swiss and Austrian ski resorts before coming to Colorada in 1996 on an exchange program. From Colorado he moved to Montana and then to Big White near Kelowna. After a year at Big White, Chris moved to Golden to work at the Kicking Horse Grill. He tried construction work for a while, until an injury side-lined him. In 2003, Christoph Lotter was invited to come to Chatter Creek where he has been chef and carpenter, working in 2004 on the construction of Solitude Lodge.

Jerry Cook

Jerry Cook, one of Chatter Creek's two chefs. Jerry has been cooking for a long time. He owns the Kicking Horse Canyon bed and breakfast in Golden with his very charming wife Jeannie. Jerry started at Chatter Creek in 2005.

From Toronto, Jerry Cook came west in 1974 to spend 5 years as a sous chef at the Chateau Lake Louise. For three of those years, Jerry would stay on with the caretaker staff, when the Chateau closed for the winter. He loved the beauty and quiet isolation of winter. Following Lake Louise, Jerry spent some time at Sunshive Village and then had three years at Num-ti-jah Lodge at Bow Lake near Jasper. He then ran Storm Mountain Lodge located on the Radium Highway before a stint running Laggam's Bakery in Lake Louise. He is probably best known for starting and running the Lake Louise Train Station restaurant. After living in Field, BC for 20 years, Jerry Cook moved to Golden seven years ago, and now co-hosts his Golden BC Guest House with Jeannie.

Brenda Lenahan

Brenda Lenahan splits her time between the ocean and the mountains. Brenda says, "Believe it or not, this will be my 17th season in the ski industry and I guess I've been driving cat for over half of that time. I was at Island Lake Lodge for 8 or 9 years, ....and this will be my second season at Chatter Creek.

Summers are never the same. I've worked on docks and on yachts, and at surfing and fishing lodges. I spent two seasons on a dive charter yacht. I'm always working on the "what next?" plan.

I like to play. Scuba diving, surfing, kayaking, salmon fishing, snowboarding, x-country skiing....... and on and on.

Last year, I bought a little shack in Tahsis, on a remote part of the west coast of Vancouver Island. The mill there shut down a few years ago, so houses were going for peanuts (mine happens to have a million dollar view).
What else can I say......."

Thanks for that, Brenda. The 2005/06 winter season will be Brenda Lenahan's second season at Chatter Creek as a snowdat driver. During the past autumn, Brenda helped with the firewood and with other work in getting the lodges ready for the 2005/06 winter season.

Pete Willott

Pete Willott is an oldtimer at Chatter Creek. Cat Driver, jack of all trades and right hand man to Dale and Dan. In the summers, Pete works for the National Parks.

Marc Beleyme

Marc Beleyme, carpenter and log builder in summer, snowcat driver in winter. Marc worked on Vertebrae Lodge and is an "old-timer" at Chatter Creek. Marc Beleyme is from Banff and use to heli-log with Dale, Dan and Matt.

Dave Healey

Cat operator, ski patroller, cinematographer, cook, lodge manager, Dave Healey came to Chatter Creek from a varied background. Originally from Burns Lake, Dave grew up in Keromeus where his parents were orchardists. His Dad built and operated the Red Ridge Fruitstand, a local landmark with an interesting history. Dave studied film in Ryerson College in Toronto , then moved to Banff where he became cook and lodge manager at "Half-Way Lodge", originally a waystation on the route to Assinaboine Lodge. He worked at Lake Louise for about 10 years, and then moved to KHR as the assistant leader of the ski patrol. Dave Healey has six years of experience fighting forest fires and has worked on trail crews in the Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks. Revelstoke is home for Dave, where he enjoys ski touring and rock climbing. Dave enjoys the staff at Chatter Creek. He feels they work well together and "get the job done".

Don Norosky

Don Norosky hails from Newdale Manitoba. That's prairie country for those who don't know. Raised a wheat farmer, Don spent the last three years driving combines as a contract harvester. Hence the nickname of "Combine Don". Don has been snowboarding and operating lifts in Jasper during winter months, doing trail work in Marmot Basin during the summers and harvesting during the fall. After a weekend ski trip to KHR, Don moved to Golden to work in a joinery mill. He heard about Chatter Creek and hired on as a cat driver, carpenter and general maintenance person. Last fall, Don Norosky did some cooking for the Solitude Lodge construction crew. Combine Don is enjoying himself at Chatter Creek. Snowcats are a lot smaller than combines, but the routes are not as flat and definitely not as straight. The photo on the right was taken as Don was preparing himself to receive the Pink Purse for his cat driving prowess high on Megahooped.

Kristen Page

Kristen Page gives awesome massages at night and helps keep the lodge clean by day. Kristen has been at Chatter Creek since 2004. Kristen hails from Topley, near Burns Lake, BC., where she worked for a number of years. Kristen Page studied Massage Therapy at Foothills College in Calgary and has spent some time in Thailand, where she studied Thai massage. She has also travelled in Guatemala. When she's not working, Kristen really enjoys an opportunity to ski with Dani.

Kristi Easton

Kristi Easton is from the Crowsnest Pass in Alberta, where she lived in the path of the famous Frank Slide (1903). She studied massage in Calgary where she met Kristen Page and was introduced to Chatter Creek. Kristi lives in Golden where she does some part time massage when she is not visiting Dustin at Big White. Last summer, Kristi Easton worked in Jasper, but plans to travel in 2005 to Thailand and Australia.Kristi's a skier who enjoys rock climbing and hiking. She's doing massage and housekeeping at Chatter Creek.

Tyler Mills

Tyler Mills - Chatter Creek bartender and lodge hand
This is Tyler Mills who works in the kitchen at Chatter Creek. Tyler works in a fishing lodge in the summer and has lived in Golden for about 5 years.

Ceri Willott

Keri Willott, Chatter Creek oldtimer
Ceri Willott now works only occassionally at Chatter Creek. Ceri (pronounced "Keri") is from Bancroft, Ontario and has completed both a degree in Kinesiology and 2-year graduate program in Sports Therapy. Ceri Willott moved to Golden to buy a home and to do some snowboarding. She cooked for the Chatter Creek summer construction crew in 2002 and in 2003 and in 2004 she worked at Vertebrae Lodge as a masseuse. Ceri really enjoys the casual atmosphere at Chatter Creek. More recently, Ceri worked for two seasons at Balface Lodge, where she played a role in lodge management and guest relations. We believe she is now working in Whistler. We miss her!

Ilyssa Madge

Ilyssa Madge started with Chatter Creek in 2004 and works just part time in 2005. Ilyssa is from Calgary and but now lives in Canmore. Her introduction to Chatter Creek was through a chance meeting with Lori in a pub. She really enjoys the staff at Chatter Creek and working shoulder-to-shoulder with Dan and Dale. When she is not working in the kitchen or bartending or helping around the lodge, Ilyssa Madge is adding to her 17 years of soccer experience either as an outside mid-fielder with a men's tean in Canmore or as a center midfielder with a women's team in Calgary. She also spends some time thinking about Brian.

Carly Caplette

Carly Caplette enjoys a break from housekeeping and lodge chores for a day of riding on the Vertebrae glacier. Carly joined Chatter Creek in 2005. She hails from Aldergrove, near Vancouver, but now makes her home in Golden. She has worked at Manning Park as a housekeeper, a parks facilities operator and as a liftee at Gibson's Pass. In the summer 0f 2005, Carly Caplette will head to Otter Lake Provincial Park at Tulemeen, near Princeton, where she will be the park operator looking after campgrounds and trails.

Chris Hacker

We did'nt have a portrait of Chris Hacker, so we showed some of his handiwork plus a "little something" from Chatter Creek's first "International One-Piece Ski Suit Day". However, we just got a photo of Chris, so we're shoing it all. Chris is a man of many talents, not to mention his obvious satorial splendor. "Hacker", as his is affectionately known around the lodge, hails from Waterloo, Ontario. Chris has an MBA degree and experience as an account manager with an Ontario high tech firm. However, he gave up the bright lights to build stairs and frame windows at Chatter Creek. Chris Hacker is a "timber framer" and builds high-end cottages in Ontario, during the summer. Please send us a photo, Chris. Do you have other beautiful ski suits? For a better eye-full, click on the image.

Julie Piercey

Julie Piercey worked at the lodge for a short time in 2005 as a masseuse, but headed home to New Bruniswick mid-season to be with her honey.

Alpine Helicopters

Although not part of the Chatter Creek staff, Alpine Helicopters' friendly pilots are key to the operation. This is Dave.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Leo McKnight with Dale and Isabelle. Future mountain guide, equipment operator, builder, businessman, logger, librarian ?? One thing is certain, he's going to be a big boy.