A lifelong friend of the Andrew’s family, Paul ‘Harv’ Wright has watched the McGillivray Pass Lodge transform from a family co-op ski lodge to a fully fledged backcountry guiding operation. We chat with Harv about Whitecap’s past and present and try to get him to dish some dirt on young Lars, who has described Paul as an ‘Uncle’ figure.
How were you first connected to Ron, Lars and the Whitecap family?
I teamed up with Ronnie in the 70’s through mutual friends. We had some wild ski trips both in the backcountry and heli-skiing. Climbing, scrambling, and everything in between. I was from the East, so Ron was extremely generous in introducing me to the B.C. wilds. I got to know the Andrews family via their generous invitations over 40 years. That included the rambunctious young Lars.
You must have an embarrassing ‘Uncle’ type story about Lars to share with us?
When Lars was 11, Ron brought him along on a “Masters Ski Racing Day” that I had organized. Lars had never been through gates before. He put us all to shame. Aside from being embarrassed by Ron’s double pole plant technique, it was a fun day. Afterwards there were drinks, then dinner. There seemed to be lots of moves being made between the ladies and the gents, alongside many jokes and stories that an 11 year old embraced with flapping ears. This was probably the point at which Lars was originally corrupted.
What is the biggest change you’ve noticed at Whitecap?
The immense improvement in creature comforts for the guests. I am not saying it was rugged in the early days. But with indoor facilities, showers, saunas etc., the après has been made more comfortable and commodious.
What do you hope will never change?
The stunning beauty of the tenure. To be in the amphitheatre of Whitecap is to be in a spot that is inspirational in its beauty and rawness.
Tell us a little about your photography?
I have been a lifelong photographer and have always dragged a camera along on my adventures. Previous to focusing on photography full time, I was an Orthopaedic Surgeon. When I retired from that I took up photography as a full time commercial job. It was a great new challenge. I got to shoot commercial jobs, work at world championships, the Paralympic Games in both Vancouver and London and also won a few international awards.
Favourite image at Whitecap:
This image of Buzz Bowl reflects so much of how I feel when entering areas like this at Whitecap. I love the power of the mountains, the texture of the snow, the feeling of the cold and the warmth of the sunshine. Somehow it sucks deep into my soul. I was away from it for several years while on chemotherapy. The return to it again was all the more exciting.
I represented Canada with this image at the World Photographic Cup in Australia. I won the Bronze Medal, but really it was Whitecap and Canada that won it. The competition was judged by photography masters from all over the world and it is evidence of how beautiful and stunning the rest of the world found the capture.
A close second would be the image of Ronnie with his orange gloves on!
What do you think makes Whitecap different to other backcountry touring lodges?
There are other spectacular lodges in Canada’s backcountry, but what sets Whitecap apart is the energy of the staff and the amazing ski terrain that can be accessed so quickly from the lodge. With the inventory of sun protected runs, you can maintain wonderful skiing without the need for constant snow refreshes. Every aspect of the operation has the Andrews signature on it, and no one can replicate that.
Favourite record in the Whitecap vinyl collection?
No question, Edith Hart and Jo Bonamassa – Black Coffee. Played loudly and proudly by Ronnie.
Any inside tips for Whitecap first timers?
On night one, jump right in on the dish duties and quickly join the Whitecap Team.