The winter of 2015 may go down as a dry one in the Rockies, but there was plenty of snow blowing around above Banff and Lake Louise, Alberta, the two iconic towns at the gateway to Canada’s first and most iconic national park. As part of a shoot for Alberta Tourism, photographer and athlete Jimmy Chin joined forces with a crew of locals and friends, including Outside’s Grayson Schaffer, and headed north on what will surely become a rite of passage for future generations: the Instagram road trip.
Photo: There’s no heli-skiing in Alberta, but pilots can land at a few select locations to deliver their clients into the backcountry for hiking, camping, and high-altitude photo ops. Here, Chris Jerard, Jess Fleming, Tatum Monod, and Schaffer get dropped near Mount Assiniboine.
Chin frames up another perfect square in a seasonal ice cave that forms on the Athabasca Glacier.
Canmore-based ice climber and paraglider Will Gadd, 48, makes his way up a feature he and Chin dubbed “the birth canal” in the Ghost River Wilderness. Warm conditions soaked the pair during an afternoon climb, but, thankfully, Chin’s camera revived after conking out.
Utah-based skier Kalen Thorien lays a track across a frozen Bow Lake, one of dozens of lakes that line the famous Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park.
Alberta-native and pro-skier Tatum Monod making a gameplan with Thorien near Banff, Alberta.
Known as the Icefields Parkway, Highway 93 connects Lake Louise with the national park outpost of Jasper, three hours to the north. Big backcountry couloirs line the road for most of the way.
Monod in the ice cave near the Athabasca Glacier visitor center. The Monod family has run Monod Sports, the ski and mountaineering shop in downtown Banff, since 1949. Monod recently broke out in the freeskiing world, landing a Red Bull sponsorship and several appearances in popular ski films.
Schaffer traversing Bow Lake, Alberta
The dry winter also meant good snow stability. Here, Thorien makes her way up the backside of Surprise Pass, out of Lake Louise. The couloirs on the other side descend right to the lake.
Monod hiking for turns on the northern boundary of Lake Louise Ski Resort, one of five lift-accessed ski areas within the boundaries of the national parks of Alberta.
Chin and Monod bootpack up a perfect couloir on Surprise Pass, Alberta. Blowing snow made for some creamy turns on the way down.
Chin bends a ski on Surprise Pass, above Lake Louise.
Thorien peeling her climbing skins near the summit of Surprise Pass—and having just a little bit of fun in the process.
Monod throwing it down the white hallway off Surprise Pass, Alberta.
Will Gadd getting vertical in the Ghost River Valley, Alberta.
Thorien, Athabasca Glacier, Alberta.
Little people in a big landscape, Bow Lake, Alberta.
Monod looking for the next line at Lake Louise Ski Resort, Alberta.