Smokey – Another trip we came out on one time and this was a bad one too, the same thing happened. I had asked Bob Hand if I could get some time off to fix the trail up in case this happened again, but he refused to let me do that. There was no way I could do it without taking time off.

Lynn – But we never waited that late again.

Lynn – Because we had such a horrendous trip out with the horses trying to cross the river to get out for the first Christmas, we weren’t going to do that again. So the next Christmas we stayed and we had our own tree. Of course we had a million trees to pick from! I made all decorations. There could be no lights on it because we had no electricity. I painted pine cones. I still have some of them that I use every year here. I painted walnuts with some gold paint and stuck a little stick in them to hang them up. I threaded popcorn. I made tin foil stars, tin foil streamers and whatever and white paper stars and stuff like that, and we had a very respectable looking tree!

Smokey – We even had a turkey! We brought it in late because we walked in. Some of the guys that had been to the house at Indian Head found some of our old decorations that we left behind in the attic. Bill and Moe Vroom sent us some. It was a nice “blast from the past.”

Smokey – Nobody told us when we should have brought the horses out. The next trip, when we were bringing the horses out to the Ya-Ha-Tinda for the winter we ran into the same thing. The river was frozen, except for one channel and that would be on the west side. So I thought, “Okay, I’ll ride down this channel then to where we were the year before.” But as we started going it was getting narrower. The ice was blocking us in and there we were. I couldn’t turn. I had all these packs on. I had to leap my horse up on the bank. It was just rocks there and a few little spruce trees. So I hollered at Lynn, “Don’t get underneath your horse. You lead your horse. You get off and lead her.” Because she had to jump out of the water on to the bank. That was about the hairiest, I’ve ever had. That was worse than anything. I had the horses tail tied which was lucky because one would fall down and one would help the other one up. We ran as fast as we could and then there was a spot there on the side of the river where I could hold my three horses. I went back to see where Lynn was and she was hollering, standing underneath the horse. One slip and it would have been into the water for her. She would have been killed there, sure as hell and the horse too.

Lynn – Every time I tried to move the horse would try and move too. So I just stood.

Smokey – I had to get her out of there so I led the horses fast and we were slipping and falling until we got out. Then the third winter we just crossed it. Everything was fine. It was open water.

Lynn – Oh, I liked it out there (In response to the question, “Did you like the warden life?”) But when it was time to move, I was more than ready to move. (Smokey and Lynn moved to Saskatchewan River Crossing in 1961.) Enough of this business! I’d done it and now I wanted to move onto the highway where we could get a car and have electricity and go to town like everyone else in civilized society! That’s it.

Smokey – Well I wasn’t too fond of skiing (in response to the question, “Is there anything about being a warden that you didn’t like?”) I am a snow-shoer. Skiing just wasn’t my thing and I climbed because I had to. When we first climbed though, I had rubber boots! There were guys from Manitoba with oxfords on and we were supposed to climb these glaciers and go up on the ice and rock ridges. I climbed a waterfall wearing rubber boots with Tony Messner ahead of me! He was hanging on the rope trying to stabilize me with his two fingers like this (demonstrating). Water was coming over the falls. I was digging into the ice, climbing with my rubber boots on and he was ahead of me. There was no way he could have held me if I had slipped. We got up on the glacier and then they wanted us to fall into a crevasse so that they could do a rescue! Well on this one exercise I was the only guy who had never had this training before. The other two guys had been on training and most of them were instructors. We were supposed to go into this crevasse that had an airplane in it. Bonnet Plume Glacier I think. This was with Walter Perren. The guys from Manitoba just turned around and went back. They were scared to cross this chasm. It was really crazy because we didn’t have the proper equipment. I remember this one chasm. You looked at it and you saw a sheer drop on one side and a sheer drop on the other side and you maybe had a about a four foot jump to go across. The Manitoba guys said, “That’s it. We’re going back!” But George Balding and I jumped. He was the only other guy. He had a little more experience than I did, but not much. Walter Perren and all the instructors and more experienced climbers properly equipped waited ahead of us.

Smokey – There is something more that I remember. When we were first learning to repel Tony Messener said, “Well Smokey pick somebody and go over. You are going to learn to repel. Tie the rope.” So I tied it. “You think that is going to hold?” I said “Yeah, I think so.” He said, “Okay get somebody, anybody and you got to repel with him.” So I said, “I’m taking you!” I looked around and everybody is looking at him! He kind of pulled his head back a little bit and looked at me! He said, “Okay.” Well the way he was, you know, he had all these heavy wool sweaters on and stuff. I thought he was a big man. I thought he would be way heavier. But I picked him up. He was light, but I tell you, when I went over his knees were banging against my ribs. He was scared! I said, “Well if I go, you go with me!” We had some funny times there.

Smokey – Like the first time I was skiing at Cuthead, they gave us these skis and then the skins to put them on for climbing. They were manmade skins. We climbed up with the skins on. Nobody told me to remove them. I tell you I did come down that hill with the skins on!

Smokey – There was another time we went to Sunshine. We got on these pogo sticks (T-bar). It slipped through my legs and I went down. I was dragging and every time I was going to let go, I would see a sign saying “Do Not Let Go”!” My arms were stretched out. It dragged me all the way to the top of the mountain! Boy was I tired, but it saved walking up!

Smokey – Then there was another school that we attended, at Sunshine again. It was cold. We were going to make ice caves and sleep in the ice caves. This is where Malcolm McNabb showed us how to make an igloo, like the Eskimos. Malcolm and the instructors slept in it. I think Malcom’s first wife was an Eskimo. Some of us guys went up the gully, dug into the snow bank and made an eight foot long tunnel and an area big enough for us to sleep in. We left a ledge big enough for everyone to sleep on. It was close to the lodge and there was a staff party that night. We had been drinking rum and playing the guitar and singing in the cave after work. Some of us attended the party. Coming back to the cave from the party, I found someone lying on the ground outside the ski shack. I pulled him into the ski shack, covered him up and got the fire going. He would have froze to death if I hadn’t found him. Then I went up the gully, I was the last guy in. Everybody was sleeping after an evening of drinking. It was 35 below outside and 35 above inside. I closed the “door” of the cave, leaving it open a bit. I tied my wrist to a pole through the roof for air. If need be, I could get air into the cave. It was lucky that I did that because when I woke up later I was drowsy. I couldn’t breathe. I knew that I had to untie the rope and open the door. I shone a flashlight around the cave and I thought everyone was dead, about six or seven guys. It was scary! I made myself keep crawling towards the door. It was a mile to that stupid door! It was blown shut. I poked and punched until I finally got a hole opened up. Then I got a breath of fresh air! I didn’t say anything. I never told anybody about that (they’ll read it here). I had the door open by then. I shone a flashlight and everyone seemed to be breathing okay. We could have all died in there. It was lucky that I was the last guy to come in. That’s as close to death as I ever want to get! This would have been around 1961. Larry Trembley and Ed Carleton were there to name a few. Only one guy managed to get a nice warm bed in the lodge, guess who?

Smokey Guttman and Bill Park – Sunshine Ski School 1962