• 49 years old
  • Born on December 3, 1968 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • Passed away on March 28, 2018 in Pemberton, British Columbia, Canada.

A bright infectious smile has been dimmed.

“The black heads, the white in the wings
that haunting call, the loons
echoing down the lake
a Doppler chorus,
wondrous game
That call across the water
Across the years, so special
So distinctive, our bird, with those red eyes
And that haunting call"

-Raymond Foss

On Wednesday, March 28, one of our community’s most dearly beloved and respected members passed away. Lisa Korthals - mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend - died in an avalanche while guiding in the mountains near Pemberton B.C. She was 49.

Lisa was known to many, carving out a life in the mountains surrounding Whistler and Pemberton for the past 30 years. As one close friend remarked, she was “a proper legend”.

Lisa was born in Toronto and raised there with her two brothers. She attended Brown School and Branksome Hall before moving out to the west coast in 1987 to attend UBC. Her adventurous spirit and athletic passions chafed under the confines of university life. Being an accomplished canoeist, perfected over many summers attending Camp Wapomeo, she began to heed the calls of nature and started venturing to Whistler. Having learned to ski in the hills of Ontario under the guidance and inspiration of her mother, Judy, and also having taken a trip to Whistler during her last year of high school, the temptation was too great.
Getting a job with the Whistler Mountain Ski School sealed her fate, and she began a love affair with the Coastal Mountains that refused to abate.

Lisa began to pursue perfection on skis and quickly started adding qualifications to her list of impressive achievements that culminated with her reaching the pinnacle of ski instruction, the Level IV certification.  Not slowing down in her summers off the slopes, she continued to pursue her passion for canoe tripping with Camp Wanapatei, specifically long and remote adventures down the Moisie and Coppermine Rivers. These were unsupported missions in the barren landscape of Northern Canada that she co-led with her dear friend Andrea Dorfman. In hindsight, they are truly epic accomplishments.

At this point other passions called. Lisa was always  a peripatetic adventurer constantly looking for new challenges. Her close friend Leeanne Patterson introduced her to rock climbing and Lisa took to it like any skill she perfected, with drive and determination. The natural outlet to this was attending Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops to study in the Outdoor Adventure Program.
These college years were punctuated with working at Outward Bound leading river rafting trips in Idaho and rock climbing trips to places like Joshua Tree and Smith Rock.

In 1997 Lisa moved to Pemberton, fleeing the perpetual housing crisis of Whistler. She immediately fell in love with a piece of property 10 km north of town in a small nascent neighbourhood called Walkerville. She homesteaded here in true Lisa fashion, getting a friend to build her a tiny 10 x 10 shed that she lived in for two summers. At the same time she met her future husband and life partner, Johnny Foon Chilton, in a skiing contest. They proceeded to build their dream home on the hill.

Soon after settling in Pemberton Lisa decided to concentrate on ski guiding as a winter profession and began the Canadian Ski Guide Assoc. certification.  This led to working at Mike Wiegele Heli-skiing and gaining a Level 3 ticket. Her summers were occupied with horticulture, working for the municipality of Whistler.
Climbing and big mountain skiing became central to her life, taking on big objectives with her husband Johnny, culminating in the climbing and skiing of University Peak in Alaska. A daunting feat, skiing 2,700 meters at 50 degrees plus, Lisa became the first woman to log a descent of this face.

By this time family beckoned and Lisa gave birth to son Tye in the summer of 2005. Settled into her cozy neighbourhood , living alongside close friend Wendy Brookbank and raising their son, she decided to stay close to home and took a job as a guide with local Pemberton heli-ski operation Coast Range. Again she excelled here and became the operations manager for two seasons.

A long off-season demanded a shift in gears and she decided to enter the real estate trade as a realtor for Remax Whistler alongside her neighbour and long-time friend Erin McCardle Stiel. As well, her husband Johnny began to make skis from local yellow cedar and Lisa dove into this endeavour, sharing Johnny’s passion for the technical and artistic complexities of making skis.

Lisa transitioned to Whistler Heli-Skiing soon after and became a part-time guide as her real estate business began to flourish.

Lisa was a sublime skier. Fluid. Graceful. Powerful. An absolute dream to watch. Her son Tye has learned the trade well from this incredible athlete and is becoming a complete skier at the tender age of 12. Her passion for skiing and adventure were matched by her dedication and love for Tye.

She transitioned from rock climbing to mountain biking. She was dogged in her pursuit of excellence in this sport like everything else. Her texts to me about “cleaning” a trail became legendary.

Lisa is survived by her husband Johnny, her son Tye, her mother Judy, her father Robin, her brother Jamie and a colossal list of friends. She was pre-deceased by her brother Chris. She was a connector, a truly social being, a hugger and a kisser. She made people feel special. She was full of raw emotion and deeply felt love for everybody who crossed her path. She lived life INTENSELY. She leaves a massive hole in this community and in so many hearts. Her smile was extinguished by the whims of nature but its luminosity and power will forever be etched in our minds.

A Case Of You
Just before our love got lost you said 

I am as constant as a northern star and I said,

Constantly in the darkness

Where's that at?

If you want me I'll be in the bar

On the back of a cartoon coaster

In the blue TV screen light

I drew a map of Canada

Oh Canada

With your face sketched on it twice

Oh you are in my blood like holy wine

You taste so bitter

And so sweet oh

I could drink a case of you darling and I would

Still be on my feet

Oh I would still be on my feet

Oh I am a lonely painter

I live in a box of paints

I'm frightened by the devil

And I'm drawn to those ones that ain't afraid

I remember that time that you told me, you said

"Love is touching souls"

Surely you touched mine 'cause

Part of you pours out of me

In these lines from time to time

Oh you are in my blood like holy wine
ou taste so bitter

And so sweet oh

I could drink a case of you darling

Still I'd be on my feet

I would still be on my feet

I met a woman

She had a mouth like yours, she knew your life

She knew your devils and your deeds and she said

"Go to him

stay with him if you can

But be prepared to bleed"

Oh but you are in my blood you're my holy wine

You're so bitter

bitter and so sweet oh

I could drink a case of you darling

Still I'd be on my feet

I would still be on my feet


-Joni Mitchell

Lisa's service was held Thursday April 5, 2018 in Whistler.

Posted by David Peters on 3rd December 2018
I am very sorry for your loss, and send my condolences.
Posted by Kit DesLauriers on 27th November 2018
Lisa, I just found this page and decided that for the ones you've left behind at the moment, I wanted to share some sweet memories. The moments we shared were brief but you made a mark on me as a woman who loves life, laughs easily, is humble, happy, and makes those around her happy. We met at Red Mountain, with LeAnne, and you two were so genuine that I literally road tripped from Wyoming to come climb with you that summer of 2002! We camped on the river after climbing at Squamish then drank tea in the sunlit early version of your Pemberton dream home. You reminded me to ignore the girls on the Freeskiing tour who were not friendly because life is too short to share anything other than love and skiing as hard as you can because it's what you love to do. Fast forward 14 yrs, and I was looking for a decent ski for my young daughters at our home mountain of Jackson Hole, of course my online search for shortest and fattest landed me on FOON and I bought an 'extra' pair that Johnny had made for Tyler not only because they looked beautiful but because they came from your family. Your positivity is carried on with love, Kit
Posted by Maria Grant on 29th April 2018
Lisa was so special to me. I haven't stopped thinking about this since it happened. I so wished I could have been at her service to say goodbye, but for everyone that could show up, there were many others who loves her who couldn't. Lisa and I took most of our guide courses together and she was always a huge inspiration to me, both in how she conducted herself professionally as well as how she lived her life in general. I am crushed for her family. Her smile is forever etched in my memory. "Hey Babe"...thank you for everything you were Lisa. xoxoxo forever.
Posted by Anna Keeling on 18th April 2018
Jonny Foon, it’s been years & years. I remember that you married lisa. We have sons the same age. It’s a terrible thing for you to lose your life partner & mother of your son. My heart goes out to you & all your people. Take solace in Lisa’s beautiful life & gather your awesome peeps around you to remember this awesome-sounding lady who I sadly only ever met briefly. Fond memories of my time in your community. Love from Anna Keeling
Posted by Michael Blair on 15th April 2018
Robin My sympathies on your loss. I can't imagine anything more painful than the loss of one's child. Michael
Posted by Alan Chesick on 5th April 2018
The snow falls gently, falls gently down, And the sky opens wide its gentle arms, And the voice that was laughter and love all in one Sings only in silence, a whispering now.
Posted by David Peters on 4th April 2018
I am very sorry for your loss and send my condolences to Lisa's family.
Posted by Mike Roger on 4th April 2018
Lisa and I met back in the glory days of Whistler( early 90's) when we all had that adventurous , curious , carefree spirit. That spirit never left her and her legacy will continue through memories of her and of adventures to follow. The Foons were some among our very first flower delivery clients that got on board with their wonderful Walkerville neighbours, who are all so very close. The highlight of my week was stopping at Lisas greeted by her sparkling eyes and bright smile and letting her have first pick. That sense of gratitude and leaving with a hug always made my day.Just like with flowers, we have to appreciate the beauty in people and in the environment that surrounds us. Unfortunately , the most beautiful things in life are often gone too soon. I will remember Lisa every time I deliver flowers
Posted by Courtney Albert on 4th April 2018
Lisa was one the warmest, kindest, and most hilarious people I know. There was rarely a time I wasn't wiping tears away from laughter when we got together. Now I wipe more tears away, for her family, for her friends, for her community. I miss my friend. But I am so happy you are with your Chris, Lisa, and I know you are laughing where ever you are.
Posted by Melinda Baxter on 4th April 2018
Lisa and I bonded over a summer spent at Outward Bound together in the early 90's. We worked a course together and I have wonderful pictures of her wide smiling face to always remind me of her special light. We laughed a lot that summer and she has always remained a friend since then though we never saw each other again. I'm so sorry this has happened. It's devastating! So much love to her family and community in BC. <3
Posted by Harold Hoeg on 3rd April 2018
I didn’t know Lisa well other than through Facebook, but I will never forget the wonderful bluebird day (12/30/14) I spent with her heli-sking at Coast Range. She even convinced me to have Johnny make me a pair of skis - which he did! I will never ski another day on my Foons and not think of Lisa. Thoughts and prayers to Lisa's family and her extended Whistler/Pemberton family. RIP Lisa
Posted by Sarah Brown on 3rd April 2018
I would like to express my condolences to the Korthals family. Both Chris and Lisa had a big impact on my life as an adventure guide and educator. I met Chris at Camp Chief Hector when I was 19 and he inspired me to attend the Adventure Guide program at Thompson River University. I later had the pleasure of taking one of my ski courses with Lisa in Whistler. Even though we only spent a week together, she was an inspiration and role model for me as a young aspiring female adventurer. We never really know the ways in which we inspire people and impact their life paths. Both Chris and Lisa had a profound impact on my life. I hope it brings your family some peace to know that your children’s adventurous spirits live on in the hearts of so many people that were inspired by them.
Posted by Brian Stoddart on 3rd April 2018
Lisa, I didn’t know you as well as others, but what I knew, was you had an unconditional way of treating people you met, with openness and curiosity and kindness. I remember when when I first met you , your smile and happiness was undenying and would brighten anyone’s day , as you would mine .I’m blessed to have been a part of your life, your presence here will never be forgotten, but forever missed ! Shine on you crazy diamond , heaven has just become brighter !
Posted by Kate Felstiner Lowe on 3rd April 2018
The Felstiners and the Korthals families grew up together in Toronto. We were always in awe of the energetic endurance adventures the Korthals family were embarking on. We watched from the bunny slopes while they gamely signed up for sailing trips, cross country ski marathons, alpine ski tours and extended canoe and whitewater trips... It did not surprise us when Lisa and Chris found their nests on the West Coast in the middle of those astonishing Coastal mountains. Since childhood, we have watched Lisa grow and take on ever more challenging pursuits. We may not have had Lisa's skill or daring, but we shared her high energy and love for the outdoors. Our family have lived in the UK for 20 years now, so we have watched from afar as Lisa's long list of accomplishments has grown and her own family has sprouted and flourished. Even though we have not known Lisa well for many years - we know she was made of Spruce and Granite and Wheels and Spokes and deep Snow and that all of this was stuck together by Community and Family and Love. Our son is going on a long whitewater trip on the mighty Moise River this summer - we will send him off and think of Lisa's life-long passion for adventure. If he's lucky - he will develop one tenth of the skill and passion that Lisa had. We are 8000 miles away - so on April 5th we will be planting a Spruce tree here in the UK in Lisa's honour. We look forward to watching it stretch for the sky, just as Lisa always did.

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