Catskiing Began At Selkirk Snowcat Skiing
Snowcat skiing was pioneered at Selkirk Snowcat Skiing in 1975 by our founder, Allan Drury. Over the past 40 years, Selkirk Snowcat Skiing has developed a deep and loyal following amongst powder and backcountry enthusiasts looking for an alternative to traditional lift-serviced and helicopter skiing.
In the late 1960s, Allan Drury was one of the first skiers to venture into the BC mountains with the iconic Hans Gmoser and his then “upstart” Canadian Mountain Holidays. A life-long skier (he even grew up with the legendary McConkey ski family) Allan’s early heli-ski experience, coupled with his kamikaze spirit, led him to ask, “Why can’t I do this?” As always, he knew he could. He remembered as a ski instructor in Aspen, seeing snowcats ferrying skiers to areas soon to be open via lifts.
Back then, skiers rode on benches in the back of the cat with umbrellas to shield them from the flying snow. So Drury contacted Bombardier and helped them design a 12-passenger snowcat with an enclosed cab on the back. Now all he needed was a great place to go skiing.
When Allan and his wife, Brenda, decided to pursue opening a backcountry ski operation back in the early 70s, they had first dibs on one of the most spectacular, snow-drenched, vertically-blessed parcels of land anywhere in the world. By happenstance, they stumbled upon a veritable ski Shangri-La, Meadow Mountain – located in Meadow Creek, just north of Nelson BC at the head of Kootenay Lake. Spectacular peaks surround Selkirk’s tenure on Meadow Mountain, framing what is often cited as the best cat serviced terrain in the world. With cat roads that reach a staggering 2,530 metres (8,300 feet) which access wide open alpine bowls, mellow glades and more aggressive but skiable trees, and challenging steeps and chutes and glades, powder enthusiasts the world over soon became enamoured with the place. Not only because of it’s perfect combination of stunning terrain and incredible snow quality, but also for the rich family atmosphere that is one of Selkirk’s most cherished virtues.
Since Selkirk first opened its doors Allan influenced the lives of many – and not just skiers. His passion for the sport and his take-no-prisoners attitude to the slopes had even the most reluctant skiers exploring the wild and stunning terrain of the Selkirk mountains. The same people would come back year after year, in part for the amazing snow and the beautiful terrain, but also to ski with Allan. He was, quite simply, a magnetic personality.
Whether it was flying off a jump on “Chuck Your Lunch” (one of his favourite runs), yodelling through a powder field, or recounting the day’s events in the evening at the lodge, Allan’s love for life in the mountains was profound and infectious. One of his skiers described him thus: “He was a true gentleman, a man of honesty, courage, and clarity. You probably know the Yiddish word that bestows the highest possible honour to a man. The word is “mensch”…. Allan was a mensch and I am privileged to have known him.” Another skier describes Allan as “a man who lived his dreams, but more importantly, invited countless others in.”
Today, Selkirk Snowcat Skiing is known throughout the world as one of the finest commercial backcountry operators in the snow sports industry. Its family atmosphere; genuine commitment to staff, guests, and surrounding community; respect for the environment; and high operational standards are all reflections of Allan Drury. Whether he was paragliding above Meadow Creek, windsurfing on Kootenay Lake, hitting golf balls on the back nine (his field out back, mostly) or sharing time with his beloved daughters Andrea and Rachel (both accomplished skiers) doing all of the things the family loved, Allan made sure that every moment on this earth counted. Sadly, Allan passed away in January of 2008. He is deeply missed by his family, friends and guests of Selkirk Snowcat Skiing.
In 2001, along with their two young children, Shannon and Liam, Paul and Megan Osak left the corporate world in Toronto to carve out a new life for themselves in Nelson BC. An adventurous spirit and a desire not to settle were the main drivers behind their move. The family bought a local business and quickly found themselves part of the fabric of small town living. In 2007, and in what would turn out to be a prophetic move, Paul stepped in to save the floundering Whitewater Ski Team.
His energy and enthusiasm was instrumental in rebuilding the club and attracted many new families. While the kids raced, Paul and Megan could always be found volunteering somewhere on or off the course. Ironically, it was Megan who first learned that Selkirk was for sale and the couple decided to pursue its purchase. And, in December 2013, Paul and Megan became only the second owners of Selkirk Snowcat Skiing in its 40 year history. As they enter their third winter at the helm of Selkirk, Paul and Megan purchased the Drury farmhouse which served as the original lodge until 1987 and have also undertaken a major renovation of the guest wing of the lodge. They continue to upgrade and improve the operation both on and off the mountain to enhance the overall guest experience. Paul and Megan are proud to carry on on the long standing traditions which make Selkirk such a magical place and continue to set it apart from its competitors.