Joel Trethowan, managing director of marketing consultancy Alchemy One, is a fan of fearlessness, on and off the board. He answers our Time Out Q&A.

How long have you been snowboarding and how did you get into it?

For more than 12 years – it started when I was an exchange student in Canada. I lived in a town called Kelowna, which is an hour from the Big White Ski Resort, and I managed to get up the mountain about four times a week over the winter season.

Do you ever go backcountry?

Joel Trethowan: "If I hadn't been wearing a helmet I probably would have died."
Joel Trethowan: “If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet I probably would have died.”

Peter Braig

Yes, at Soho Basin in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. It’s an incredible resort, with no more than 24 guests on the mountain each day and no chairlifts. A snowcat takes you up the mountain to the board backcountry, where you feel like you’re the only rider.


How often do you go snowboarding and where?

I try to go twice a year for a week and then about three times a year for a weekend. My ideal is more, but I need a mix of sun and winter holidays. At Alchemy One, we work with more than 160 consultants around the globe, so I often travel and add on snowboarding where possible. I ride most often in Canada, Japan and New Zealand.

What’s your favourite ski resort – and why?

Favourite is very difficult, as I love so many resorts for different reasons. Big White and Whistler [in Canada] both feel like home to me. I have spent so much time at both, dedicating myself to learning – falling and picking myself up again and again.

Most memorable snowboarding experience?

Each time at Soho Basin has been great – no two days have been the same. The team is dedicated to making your experience special. Half way through the day, they provide the most amazing lunch at the Alpine Hut. For those who haven’t been, it’s a must.

Ever been caught in a storm, whiteout or avalanche?

Yes, I have been caught in two snowstorms in Canada, one at Banff and one at Big White. Thankfully, I was with a group of experienced boarders both times.

Who would you most like to go snowboarding with?

I’m a big fan of entrepreneur Alain Chuard, who is a former professional snowboarder. I follow him through business, so would love the opportunity to board with him.

Tips to become a better snowboarder?

The No.1 thing is to try to let yourself go, to be in the moment, allowing yourself to embrace fearlessness. The best techniques for achieving a fearless state include mindfulness and meditation, which I practise every morning, and listening to music when on the mountain.

Ever been scared on a mountain?

There are moments I’ve been terrified, whether it’s trying a drop for the first time or a completely new run – the adrenaline is pumping. The best lesson in life is to push the boundaries. We have applied these principles to Alchemy One: I chase the adrenaline in both fields.

Serious injuries or catastrophes?

I once had a horrible accident on Big White, when I tried a drop and fell hard on rocks covered in just a light powder. I cracked the top of my jaw and was concussed. If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet I probably would have died. Let’s just say it wasn’t the best phone call to make home.

Favourite gear?

I’ve always been a Burton fan and the majority of my gear is Burton. I mix it up every now and then – I also really like Matthew Williams’ Nike x MMW Collection and am awaiting the arrival of a new jacket.

Dislike about snowboarding?

T-bars. I’ve had too many horrible moments to count, like getting embarrassingly dragged up the mountain or flipped off a T‑bar.

How important is the après ski?

It depends on the situation. Where possible, I add snowboarding to a trip, even if only for a day. It’s often just me, and with this comes clarity and calmness. Some of my best business ideas have come from this time. When the time aligns, the après ski is an awesome wind-down. I’ve met some wonderful people and built connections around the world this way.

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