John Walsh Gettin' After It In The Rockies

Like we said in his previous few posts, while most people are trading their skis in for bikes, Jon Walsh and friends are just getting their ski legs started. Spring conditions in the Canadian Rockies were tricky, but they're still getting after it! Here is a snippet from his blog...

Often in May, I focus a lot of my playtime on skiing some of the bigger alpine lines the Rockies has to offer. The inspiration I find in this range seems to be unlimited, and having my psyched friends Colin Haley and Ptor Spricenieks around increased the stoke even more.

Conditions this year were tricky though. A drought with summer-like temps at the beginning of May, followed by mixed weather with very little precip or good overnight freezes was the grim reality we had to work with. This combo made it tricky to get as much done as we hoped, but we still managed. I've generally been patient, and skied a lot of steep lines in powdery conditions. But the reality is, that often when snow sticks to icy north faces, the sun quickly changes the surface of it to something else. With snowpack and surface conditions going through constant change, the temperatures need to be carefully monitored. Timing needs to be calculated for both safety, success, and for maximum pleasure. Getting the goods in prime conditions requires some luck perhaps, but definitely a lot of forethought. The snow finally came near the end of the month, and on the 26th of May, we got lucky and skied Mt. Temple from it's summit it amazing conditions.

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Here are a few shots from Jon's adventures, with Jon behind the lens. More available on his blog. All images by Jon Walsh unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.

On the West summit of Lefroy. The main summit, about two meters higher is about 50 meters behind us, and guarded by some ripe cornices we weren't interested in climbing across.

Colin shredding chunky corn on the West Face of Mt. Lefroy, with the classic East face of Victoria in the background.

A couple hours later, we had recovered a stashed pack of rock climbing gear and were enjoying perfect climbing conditions at the Back of the Lake. Two feet of snow on the ground and shirts-off conditions all day, even while belaying! We managed 6 pitches of rock and over 4000' of skiing. Multi-sport at it's finest! Colin, warming up on Wicked Gravity.

Next up was the Silverhorn, the peak to the right of Athabasca, and the ski line is the sun shadow line right of center. Unfortunately a wind slab turned us around about half way up, but better safe than sorry. At least it still yielded some good turns.

Colin & Ptor kicking steps.

Ptor in his element. Always fun to ski around so much blue ice, especially in sweet powder!

The columbia icefields seemed like the best option considering the short weather forecasts and Colin and Ptor were psyched for Mt. Andromeda's Skyladder, the sunlit ramp right of center. It's one of the most classic steep lines in the Rockies, and was fun to revisit it, as it had been 14 or 15 years since I had first skied it.

Another early start.

Fine positions on the summit ridge.

Ptor in the Skyladder.

A view of Mt. Temple from the 3.5 couloir, (photo taken several years ago). Our next objective was it's SW face which is the shaded one, that drops left off the summit. And with 50+ cms of new snow, it was a memorable run!

Ptor, in the upper part of a long run down Temples SW face. What a run it was. I was stoked to be skiing on my G3 Empires for this run, especially as the snow got heavier near the bottom.

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Jon Walsh

Author: Jon Walsh

If you're recreating in the mountains near or far, odds are Jon Walsh has been there, and put up a first ascent or descent while he was at it. A true adventurer, Jon is renowned for his constant pursuit of new ice climbing routes, alpine climbs, big wall ascents, and unskied lines in the Canadian Rockies and beyond.