A lot of people meet me for the first time and think my name is Maria. They probably saw it written somewhere and made an assumption. My name is actually pronounced “Mariah,” and it’s just the first of many surprising things about me. Born into a family of doctors and lawyers, the well-worn path was carved out for me from the start. Who could blame my family? They defined success in the way they knew best. The problem? Our definitions didn’t exactly line up.
I’ve always loved being outside. Specifically, in the cold weather. I went to college in freezing Quebec, Canada but soon after found I needed more than sub-zero temps to spark my interest. Western Canada had the cold and the mountains to boot. After graduation I headed out to British Columbia and never looked back. There, I found an outdoor recreation program where I was immersed in fresh powder and the world of back country skiing. Since then, I’m happy to say I have never left the West behind or even once had a nine-to-five job.
I founded Snowwater Heliskiing nearly 20 years ago now. Yikes. I partnered up with my actual partner, Patric, to make this dream come true. He’s a life-long outdoorsman, a forester, an arborist—and lucky for me—he’s also a sommelier. Together, we lead small groups up the mountains and down through some of the freshest powder on earth. We’ve been equipped with a Ram 1500 Limited to tackle icy backroads and navigate snowy terrain. We load up the bed with skis, radios, survival packs and toolkits, and we take a snowcat in tow. It’s amazing what that truck can do. The snowcat is just towed in as a backup plan, by the way. We’ve got a B2 A-star helicopter to take us to that hard-to-reach Kootenay powder at the top.
Our passion is taking small groups up in that heli and showing them the life that we’ve fallen in love with. It’s amazing. Once you get people out in the fresh powder, they smile all the way from their toes. It’s a completely different smile. Almost like they’re remembering what true happiness really is.
We don’t take credit for this feeling, though. It’s one that we share. The feeling comes from being surrounded by nature. From showing people what it’s like to be in the most remote, spectacular and impossibly beautiful places. Once you’re out there, you’d be surprised at how the mountains change you. There’s a shared sense of awe and an immediate desire to protect these remote places.
That’s probably the biggest gift this path has given me. It started out with a love of powder, for sure, but that love is surpassed by a greater need to preserve the land I found. That’s what happens when you go out and carve out a path to a place you love—you want to protect it. Because who knows? Maybe there’s someone else with those same first loves of wild and wilderness just looking to carve fresh tracks on a trail of their own.