INTERVIEW / Pleasure Snowboard Magazine Editor / Markus Fischer (Fischi)

Europe’s powder peddler of Canada’s Catskiing goods.

Catskiing Canada caught up with Markus or affectionately known as “Fischi” the editor of Pleasure Snowboard Magazine.

Markus Fischi @ FWA Powder / Photo: Colleen Gentemann
Markus Fischi @ FWA Powder / Photo: Colleen Gentemann

On the heels of a film project at Monashee Powder Catskiing with film crew iSenseven for upcoming editorial and film Kaleidoscope  (click here for link) on Catskiing in the great white north. Fischi shares his experience with Canada’s SnowCat Operators.

Most people don’t know that Fischi is also an avid windsurfer, when he is not shooting snowboarding on one of the four corners of the globe.  On all accounts (no offense to the German people) But he is very funny for a German guy with a great open minded attitude and approach to working on set filming in the backcountry.  We decided to throw some questions at him to share a little bit about the guy who is really helping bring Catskiing’s message to the doorstep of the powder hungry Europeans.

 Markus, can you tell us a little bit about your background?  Where do you live?

I’m from a small town just out of Munich/Germany. I started pleasure mag together with some friends about 15 years ago, when we were working together in a warehouse to earn some money for university. since then, snowboard photography and travelling to all kinds of winter destinations has taken a special place in my life. i picked up photography in university (when i studied graphic design) and it has been fascinating to me since then.

 As editor of Pleasure Snowboard Magazine.. what trends are you seeing in the backcountry experience?

People are getting more serious about going to the backcountry. some years ago, people were talking ‘backcountry’ when they were riding next to some pistes in resorts. nowadays, lots of people hike with snowshoes and splitboards to reach some terrain they were not able to ride before. also for shooting stuff, crews go out far into the backcountry with sleds, helis and cats to get unique shots in untouched terrain. I guess its men’s longing to get out into nature as far as possible to have a break from their jobs and get away from the masses.

 You have been working a fair amount of writing/photography and filming in Canada at Catskiing Operations can you share with us about the filming and editorial that has resulted from this?

We have had two really big stories over the past years about cat operations, a third one just in the making for the very next issue of pleasure mag. first one was a story about powder mountain. this was my first cat operation ever and we had really good conditions. the trip resulted in a big feature and the cover of our 10 years anniversary issue. the second big trip was just before the olympics. we drove the whole ‘powder triangle’, from powder mountain all the way to FWA at fernie to K3 at revelstoke and back. what made this trip special was to have three completely different operations in one feature and of course to have a nice roadtrip in between. our last trip so far brought us to monashee powder snowcats last season. the article is just in the making, so i have to keep the shots secret at this point. just some basic facts: MPS is an insane lodge in the middle of nowhere with thousands of acres of rideable terrain with a super good crew and they probably have the best chef at a cat operation worldwide. we could ride there for a full week, so now you know what to expect in our next issue…

What i can show here, is a panorama photo that we used for our booth at the ISPO tradeshow in munich just some days after the monashee trip. it meant, i had to compose the panorama on site (in full resolution), send it via satellite internet from the lodge. it got printed to a huge size to fit the background of our booth. we came home the same day, the tradeshow opened and it was already there. so sick!

Monashee Panoramic / Photo: Markus Fischi
Monashee Panoramic / Photo: Markus Fischi
 What was something really interesting from the last trip to Canada?

The size of the country! MPS is right in the middle of interior BC, so we had to decide to either go from Vancouver or Calgary. It took us almost two days just to get near MPS and another half day to get up to the lodge. we later learned, that we could just have flown into Kelowna, which would have saved us about two days… you live, you learn.

Road tripping out in Canada / Photo: Markus Fischer
 What is your perspective of Catskiing? What do you think Europeans know or think about Catskiing?

I think its a really great way to get into the backcountry. you have really good guides (and i think i can speak for all cat operations) around you at any time who try to minimize the dangers of the backcountry. in europe, people still don’t know too much about catskiing. most people are well aware of heliskiing, but the price tag keeps it a dream for most of them. if more people knew, that there is a less expensive (and still very comfortable way) to get to untouched terrain, it would become more popular. but it will always have a more exclusive touch to europeans, as heli and cat operations aren’t allowed in almost every part of europe and scandinavia due to the lack of space.

What is your favorite aspect of Catskiing?

Being able to ride in almost any weather condition! thats for sure the most important advantage over heliskiing. Even in unstable snow conditions and in total whiteout you can still ride in the trees quite well.

 How does it compare to other  powder experiences around the world you have filmed?

Everything has advantages and disadvantages. if you hike, you have a very limited radius and you can’t bring too much gear. the riders are already done by the time you reach your spot.  with sleds, you have a big radius, you can bring alot of gear, but you have to get sleds first, learn to ride them (lets say its a love/hate relationship in my case) and you still need someone to guide you. both of these ways have the big advantage that you can pretty much stay as long as you want at any spot that you think is worth shooting.

With the heli, the average day is super hectic and you can’t bring too much gear. everything needs to be organized to fit into a tight schedule.
shooting at a cat operation is more easy. of course, you also have to stick to a schedule as well, especially when you are going with the same cat as the customers. you don’t wanna be a hold up. you can still skip a run or two to build a kicker or prepare a spot. and the most important advantage for shooting is that you always get to rest your bones on the way up. you have your sandwiches on board and your drinks. you can talk with the riders, what they wanna do next and so get a good plan of what to shoot next.
 What is your favorite Catskiing Photograph?

Well, i got three so far (which also represent the three operations i’ve been shooting at):

– Xaver Hoffmann, powder slash at Powder Mountain
this was the cover of our 10 years anniversary issue. xaver has been one of germany’s most successful contest riders at that time. he has attended two olympics, countless world cups and is one of my all time favourite riders. he only flew in the day before from a icy pipe contest and had not ridden real good pow in almost two seasons. the shot was taken on the very first warmup run, where i didn’t even want to bring the camera. luckily i decided otherwise…
– Sani Alibabic, frontside 180 at rock garden, Fernie Wilderness Adventures
Sani Alibabic @ FWA Powder Catskiing Photo: Markus Fischi
Sani Alibabic @ FWA Powder Catskiing Photo: Markus Fischi
This is an outtake from our ‘powder triangle’ feature. sani has been a long time travel companion over the past decade. he had his first shot in our very first issue in 1997 and has always been a good friend since then. he quit his pro career last winter and is now team manager at burton europe. the shot is from ‘rock garden’, my favourite spot at FWA.
– Stephan Maurer, powder slash at K3
This was probably one of the sickest lines i witnessed catskiing. the whole gully was way steeper than it looks on the picture and got super narrow in the middle with not too many room for mistakes. stephan just went for it. i like the moment when he is still ‘floating’ almost weightlessly into the first turn before dropping down.
 What is the future of “Catboarding” in terms of board technology?

I brought a ‘AESMO’ on our last trip. thats a board with just a soft deck instead of bindings. it looks more like a surfboard with a deep swallowtail, a really wide nose and a very unique 3d bottomshape. wolle nyvelt, salomon pro and freeride legend makes them. You just attach a doggy leash that you keep in your back pocket so the board won’t ride away when you fall and thats it. the conditions at catboarding operations are ideal for that as you don’t have to traverse too much and you always have enough pow around, so you don’t need bindings. its a completely new experience. if i would go on a ‘normal’ catboarding trip, i would only bring this baby. so much fun!

Of course anything, that is made specifically for riding pow is perfect in these conditions. thats why we combined our second trip with a powderboard test. you can’ get better test results anywhere else
WTF is this???? Photo: Markus Fischer
 If you could ride everyday in powder where would that be?

Anywhere in BC! i just love the terrain and the people there. its for sure the best area in the world to travel to when it comes to riding pow.

 Tell me a little bit about your experience at: FWA (Fernie Wilderness Adventures)

Super nice, down-to-earth operation. nice small lodge with alot of charme and super good guides. ‘rock garden’ was probably one of my favorite photo spots!

 Tell me a little big about your experience at K3 Catski

Karl is one of my favorite guides. the terrain was just perfect. different to the other operations, because you stay in a motel in Sicamous and get shuttled every day. perfect if you wanna ride during the day and have some nightlife in Sicamous or Revelstoke.

13) Tell me a little bit about your experience at Monashee..

Pure luxury! the owners Carolyn and Tom have found the perfect spot for their lodge, have a perfect team, a perfect chef and rideable terrain that would be named ‘state’ in some other countries.

Tell me a little bit about your experience at PowderMountain..
The most outstanding feature of powder mountain is – besides its incredible terrain – its closeness to whistler and to vancouver. perfect for combo trips!
 What photographers have been a big influence on your career?

My favourites are for sure Dean ‘blotto’ Gray and Andy Wright. I have always admired their work and their professionalism and I really like both as a person. another big influence (especially when it comes to riding/shooting in BC) is Mark Gallup. this guy is just great. its because of him that i always wanted to shoot deep in the canadian backcountry. i’ll never forget his shots from island lake lodge. and you can just spend hours juts listening to his stories. he is a true legend!

What is your favorite “post catskiing” activity you enjoy while in Canada?

Outdoor hot-tubbing! no matter if it was the wood-powered tub at FWA (with my editor chickening out because he was afraid of the cougar ! Or the big hitech pool at Monashee: its always good to relax in the hot water with some brewskies and recap the day riding. best feeling in the world!

Wood buring Hotub at FWA / Photo: Markus Fischer

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