Jim Elzinga is one of Canada’s few elite alpinists whose focus has consistently been on a search for new more difficult routes on the world’s most challenging mountains. While Everest today is climbed mainly by the route Sir Edmund Hillary climbed in 1953, Elzinga’s time on Everest was to try an unclimbed route by fair means – without the use of traditional Sherpa support.
In the Canadian Rockies, Elzinga has made the first ascent of Slipstream WI4+ 1,000m with John Lauchlan, the first ascent of The Elzinga/Miller 5.9 WI4+ on Mount Cromwell, the first ascent of the Northwest Ridge of Mount Alberta 5.9 V with Barry Blanchard, dozens of new ice and mixed routes over the past 45 years and more. Elzinga made the first winter ascent of the North Face of Mount Robson in 1989 with Barry Blanchard and Ward Robinson in -40°C temps. Elzinga also made a -40°C ascent of the Ramp Route V+ on Mount Kitchener with Lauchlan in the dead of winter.
Abroad, Elzinga made the first ascent of the South/Southwest Ridge VI of Mount Logan in 1979 with Raymond Jotterand, Alan Burgess and Laughlan over 15 days. With Steve House, Elzinga climbed the previously unclimbed southwest face of Brahamasar II up a 1,000-metre burly alpine line. On the mighty Nuptse, Elzinga and Peter Arbic climbed within 350 metres of the summit after spending nine days climbing The Southeast Pillar. It’s the high-point for an alpine-style attempt on the grade-VI wall.
Photo of my climbing partner John Lauchlan on day 12 of the first ascent of the SW Buttress of Mount Logan (5,959 m,19,551 ft)- Canada's highest mountain. John was killed in an avalanche while attempting the first solo ascent of Polar Circus Feb 5, 1982. In a erie coincidence ice climber Mark Salesse, went missing on Polar Circus Feb 5, 2015 after an avalanche, the 33rd anniversary of John's death. Head over the Gripped.com to read more on John and Mark and the eerie tragedy of Feb 5. @grivel @scarpana
About Everest Light
Elzinga travelled to China in 1983 and after three weeks of negotiation with the government returned to Canada with a permit to climb the mountain in the spring of 1986. He called this expedition Everest Light.
Against enormous odds in extreme conditions, over 61 days, Elzinga led a small, dedicated team in climbing a new route up Everest, enabling Sharon Wood to be the first North American woman to reach the summit.
In the last twenty-one years, only two other new routes have been climbed on Everest and despite seven attempts no other expedition has successfully climbed the Everest Light route.
On November 7, 2007, shortly before Sir Edmund Hillary’s death, Elzinga received an award of recognition from the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation for his outstanding leadership of the Everest Light Expedition.
Then at 9:00 pm ,after what felt like an eternity ,Sharon keyed the radio and shouted,"We're here,we're really happy up here!"Through the telescope we watched Sharon and Dwayne unfurl a Canadian Flag-Sharon the first North American woman on the summit of Mount Everest. Poof,the wind ripped the flag out of her hands.It sailed like a piece of kleenex against the evening sky. Now they had to descend the North Face in darkness after spending 20 minutes on top.
Elzinga 2019 Canmore Show
Elzinga has spent decades based in and around Canmore and is considered a local legend. From climbing with many of the greats named above to swinging tools with the late Marc-Andre Leclerc, Elzinga has remained connected to the old and new when it comes to climbing.
He will be sharing stories from the above climbs at the Canmore Brewing Company on March 21. The event is free and there will be beer from the brewer available.
The show starts at 7 p.m. Visit the event page here for more info.