The Alsek Pass Boulders lie along the shore of an ancient lake located on the border of Kluane National Park in the Yukon Territory of northern Canada. The scene is stunning with a backdrop of vast sweeping vistas in wild grizzly bear country. Well-sized outcroppings of beautiful green and red, climber-friendly stone are set as the main stage. The area is located about 15km west of the small Yukon town of Haines Junction that has a population of around 600 people.
We can all enjoy bouldering in the majestic Alsek Pass thanks to a legend in Yukon climbing, Paul Henstridge. I had the pleasure of experiencing the grandeur of Alsek Pass for the first time in 2008. I was spellbound by the beauty of the place and the quality of the stone. When I heard that Paul had developed the area, I got in touch. Paul has been climbing in the Yukon for decades and has developed uncountable routes, ice climbs and boulders around the territory, concentrating around his hometown of Haines Junction.
When we met, he had recently had a severe motor-vehicle accident from which he has been valiantly recovering despite the doctors’ negative prognoses. I’ve been documenting Alsek Pass with Paul very sporadically over the years on one-day missions. He’s got a perma-psych that is contagious and a playful determination that will put a smile on your face. Every year his body is more able to move around on the rocks but it’s not just the progression that’s inspiring, it’s his authentic and overflowing appreciation for the beauty of life.