The Canadian Rockies offer some of the world’s best ice and alpine climbing, but they also have some of the finest big mountain ski runs in North America.
New routes and big sends go down when weather cooperates but what happens when conditions are not ideal. In Canada, spring brings unreliable weather from east to west and is commonly referred to as the June monsoon. Rain, drizzle, showers, sleet and down pours spoil the climber’s plans to climb dry rock. Some climbers hit the plastic and some turn to sports such as kayaking, running or biking. In the Rockies when it rains in the valleys it snows on the peaks and therefore it is common for climbers to switch to skiing.
Colin Haley, one of North America’s elite alpine climbers, moved to Canmore this spring hoping for alpine climbs to be in condition. The June monsoon arrived early this year bringing with it cold temperatures and heavy snows which are not ideal for alpine climbing. Luckily Colin’s climbing partner and Calgary local Jon Walsh, one of Canada’s best alpinists, is prepared for Rockies spring weather. Walsh is known for his cutting edge ascents around the world from Baffin Island to Patagonia to the Himalaya. In the Rockies when the weather is not good for climbing Jon goes skiing.
With Haley and Ptor Spricenieks, Jon skied some classic big ski lines on some of the Rockies famous mountains including Mount Victoria, Mount Lefroy, Mount Athabasca, Mount Andromeda and Mount Temple. After skiing out from Mount Victoria Jon and Colin climbed on the Quartzite rock at Back of the Lake at Lake Louise, “We managed 6 pitches of rock and 4000 feet of skiing that day, multi-sport at its finest!”