It’s strange working for a website that does 98% of it’s activities online. Mousseau, Nutz, Turner, Mr. Bishop, and I all work out of the NS office in Montreal, but apart from that the vast majority of our contact with content creators, advertisers, athletes, and members is done online. We’ve all spoken on Facebook, NS messaging, in forums, via email, et cetera, but until now I’d only met a handful of the people we work with IRL.

But if there’s one place that can bring a group of 12 rag-tag Internet strangers together, it’s Mantana; either that or turn them into mortal enemies.

Situated at the far corner of The Ark, an old repurposed motel that now serves as the Windells staff housing, Mantana is an old building with one large open space, 5 couches, 3 broken TV’s, 1 florescent light, and 6 cubby-like bedrooms with linen-less bunk beds, no doors, and walls that don’t reach the ceiling, not even in the bathroom. There were too many of us to fit in the pro house so we ended up here. When we first stepped into the room none of us were in the brightest spirits, but after we killed all the spiders and had a few beers to help us acclimate, all the faults faded away and the humour of the situation shone through.

5-Star Living // Photo: Jamie Walter

I know this is a series about Mt. Hood, and I promise I’ll get to skiing eventually, but I imagine that staff housing is really where most of the great stories are written. Any time someone came by to hang out for a while they always ended up sharing their own two cents about the time they spent here. Like how when the Line guys lived here, the whole crew would throw soggy toilet paper over the wall any time someone tried to take a shit. Or when [insert anonymous pro’s name here] had a crush on the girl who slept immediately adjacent to the toilet. He was so embarrassed to go in front of her that he spent the entire summer turning brown as he desperately held it in until they made it to the mountain. Or anything that anyone ever said about what went down when the wild child himself, Rory Silva, lived here.

Every night guys like Noah Wallace, Ethan Stone, Joey Ciprari, and Jeff Curry would roll through. They all knew Mantana was old and a bit sketch, but simultaneously held it to some kind of reverence for all for the hilarity and chaos that it fosters.

For us it’s no different. Every night there’s something going on. On the second night Dominic Laporte went fishing and instead of small mouth bass, he hooked the biggest bullfrog we’d ever seen. Trevor Jansen and I recorded a Windells Trick Tip, Party edition - the ever-elusive Thumb Gun. Sure enough I don’t need a key to shotgun anymore. Gavin Rudy clogged the toilet twice, after which Bishop bought the most toxic chemicals that you could imagine and rage cleaned the bathroom for close to an hour.

Dom on the Pond

Fishing for Frogs

Everyone seem truly happy there. Every night they’re in the sun drinking beers, going out in the boat, playing Mexican Golf, having bonfires, you name it. Our last night was also Lucas Wachs' birthday and it seemed as though every single person in the Ark joined in. People come to Hood for the skiing, but from what I’ve seen, I think the real experience is more about the people you meet and the stories you make here at the Ark. There's just something about that place...

Our last night at Mantana // Photo: Jamie Walter